Fitting Room Adventures: Pepperberry
Pepperberry is the recently relaunched clothing range from underwear afficionados Bravissimo. Available in sizes 8 – 18 in three bust sizes (curvy, really curvy and super curvy) it aims to cater for women who’re fed up of having to buy a size bigger to accomodate their bust. As a DD/E cup, I own a couple of dresses from the old Bravissimo range (bought in the sales!) and they’re a beautiful fit, but in general the range had a tendency to be a bit frumpy and boring at times, so I was excited to see what they came up with in this new incarnation. I’d heard whisperings that there was a bit of a 50s influence, and the image above (the first to be released) definitely supported that idea…
So off I trotted to Bravissimo’s Oxford Circus branch to take a look at Pepperberry for myself.
Sadly, I don’t really think on close inspection that it’s that different from what Bravissimo were offering before. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but for such a dramatic relaunch I was expecting more than a couple of token 50s dresses amongst all the usual jersey and satin. It’s still very much aimed at an older consumer looking for a working wardrobe and the odd formal frock, and a lot of the dress shapes are almost identical to ones the brand has been offering for years. There’s quite an emphasis on basics (like well-fitting jersey tops, shift dresses and lightweight jackets) and all the lengths are very classic and practical. None of this is a problem, but it’s not particularly exciting either.
For example, I tried this blue bow detail dress, which I think is very pretty, but even on my 5’7″ figure, I just feel it looks a tiny bit out of proportion and verging on the mumsy. I stood in the fitting rooms looking at this for ages trying to decide if I liked it or not. I love the colour, I love the fit around the bust, but it’s just that tiny bit too long. However, this one gets a definite thumbs up for anyone who’s 5’8 or above and busty – finally a dress that doesn’t finish around your bum!
I also tried on the coral shift dress in a heavy stretch satin with a diamante trim belt (£69). And let’s just say this was not quite so successful! I think this is one of the duds of the range, which is odd because it’s very similar to a Bravissimo dress I own. Alas, never before has a dress managed to look too small AND too big on me at the same time! I think the problem is the bust darts, which point up and outwards, giving me cone boobs, and the belt, which doesn’t stay where it’s supposed to be (and sits far too high up for my liking). But never fear, for there’s salvation just around the corner…
Quel surprise! The dress I ended up falling in love with was the one I’d first seen in that original promo image. I do love a good 50s sundress, and words can’t express how well this dress fits – it hugs my waist, but doesn’t pull at all around the bust, and because there’s a full skirt, I can get away with the 12 (Curvy) without it pulling around my hips like the red dress above. As I stepped out the fitting room to see this in the bigger mirror, there were two other women trying it on, both completely different heights and weights to me, but it worked for all of us. I can tell this is going to be one of the stand-out pieces from the collection and I actually think that purely for the fit, it’s worth the rather steep £55 price tag. Unsurprisingly, this is the frock that came home with me at the end of the day!
Overall, I think Pepperberry is heading in the right direction, but a few more directional pieces wouldn’t go amiss next season. There were a few other pieces that stood out that unfortunately weren’t in stock in my size that I would like to go back and try. The two-tone floral jersey dress with a deep V neck looks gorgeous in real life, and the Full Fifties Dress is also a big seller and comes in a lovely duck-egg blue. I also have my eye on the red notch neck shift dress, which is very Victoria Beckham-esque.
I’d also like to see them expand their size range: 8 – 18 is not particularly inclusive and I’m sure there’s a market for these items in plus sizes. Maybe next year!
Disclosure: Pepperberry allowed me to take home one item of clothing free of charge. However, I was not paid to write this feature and all the opinions are my own.