Retro / Vintage, Tried & Tested

A date with Vivien of Holloway part 1: The Jezebel 50s wrap dress (black / polka) - (archived)

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If you’re one of the many people who found this site via my vintage reproduction clothing shopping list, you’ll know I’m a fan of the 50s look. So when one of my favourite reproduction vintage brands, Vivien of Holloway, got in touch to see if I’d like to try out some of their dresses for this blog, I obviously jumped at the chance. I already own five Vivien of Holloway dresses, but these ones are newer styles, away from the classic halter neck shape the brand is known for, so I was intrigued to try the new shapes and see how they looked.

Spotting the perfect opportunity to go to town with the photos and be a diva for the day, I popped my rollers in and roped in my talented friend Natalie as photographer. I’ll be showing you the three dresses over the next few days in a series of blog posts.

Dress one is The Jezebel pencil dress (£89). I tried it in black polyester satin with a red polka dot bust and side peplum, but it also comes in various shades of duchess satin for an extra £10. I teamed it with heart-shaped sunglasses and Irregular Choice cherry print peep-toe shoes, and then pulled some shapes against the wall!

The dress is super-fitted through the waist, with a crossover wrap front and wide-set sleeves which have plenty of room for a bigger bust. One of the reasons I like Vivien of Holloway dresses is that they cut to vintage patterns and vintage sizing, so the size on the label may be bigger than you normally wear, but the cut tends to be small on the waist and bigger elsewhere which is great for an hourglass or pear-shaped figure like mine. All the dresses I tried were labelled size 16 but made to fit a 38 bust and 30 inch waist. The Vivien of Holloway team always advise you go by waist size for a good fit – when I first visited the shop a few years ago the first thing they did was measure my waist before letting me try anything on!

My waist is 29.5″ so the fit of this dress was near-perfect. As a general rule, the polyester and cotton dresses are a little roomier than the heavier satin ones (review to come!) so the Jezebel fit well, but it wasn’t too tight anywhere and didn’t feel uncomfortable. There was plenty of room in the hips and the bust, and I love the little peplum detail on the side that gives the effect of a tie waist without adding any bulk or needing to be perfectly knotted. I think the shape is really lovely and the plus with this compared to other Vivien dresses is that you can wear a bra with it. It’s also worth noting that Vivien of Holloway dresses have proper sturdy zips going up the back, not those horrible concealed zips up the side seam that catch, break and refuse to zip up over seams. The dress feels very well-made and sits well without riding up, and it doesn’t crease loads when worn.

Obviously, we had to run one of the pictures through a vintage-look filter. Instagram, eat your heart out…

The dress is available for £89 at Vivien of Holloway in sizes up to B46 / W38 (approx size 22). To see the full range of colours and prints available, click here.

Disclosure: The dress was borrowed from Vivien of Holloway. All thoughts are my own and I was not paid to publish them.

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  • Reply Roisin February 28, 2012 at 11:07 am

    This is gorgeous! I have four Vivien of Holloway dresses and they’re so beautifully made. I mightn’t have thought to go for this style, but you look killer in it!

    • Reply Gemma February 28, 2012 at 9:19 pm

       I know this is VoH sacrilege, but I might actually like this shape MORE than the halter…

      • Reply Roisin February 29, 2012 at 4:40 pm

        Oh, no I think I agree actually! Might have to save a few pennies and make one of these mine….

  • Reply Smokeyeyesmua February 28, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    You look gorgeous what a fab dress!

  • Reply Natalie Mulford February 29, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Guh! I love it so much! It’s suits you so well!

  • Reply Lauren March 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    If I could wolf whistle, I would. You really suit 50’s pin up girl! And I love that it’s available up to 22 I bought a wiggle dress from them in a 22 not realising it corresponded to a size 16. I was gutted but I may well have to save up for this one 🙂

    • Reply Gemma March 2, 2012 at 8:07 pm

       I can absolutely see you in this! It’s such a fab dress.

  • Reply Shazza August 13, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I tried this very dress on at the weekend. Having been a massive VOH fan for a number of years I usually go for the halterneck circle dresses but I have recently lost 3.5 stone and wanted to try something a bit more slinky. I visited their shop on Saturday and thought I’d give one of these a try and was actually rather suprised how amazing it looked on me – I didn’t come home with one (this time) as I ended up buying a black pencil dress instead but this is next on my wants list for sure!

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