Browsing Tag


DD+, Dresses, Tried & Tested

Tried & Tested: The Pepperberry Summer Clothing Challenge

Yep, I’ve been back to Pepperberry, purveyors of clothes for ladies with boobs. This time I was invited to take part in their Bloggers’ Summer Clothing Challenge. Basically, I got to choose an event and Pepperberry would dress me for it! I was sent down to the Oxford Circus store in June, where a set of frocks had been picked out for me to try on. I then picked my favourite and styled it up for the event in question. I chose a picnic with friends for my birthday, though I ended up swapping that for an afternoon in the pub (I didn’t trust the weather). I had planned to wear the dress on the day, but it ended up being a bit too restrictive. The moral of the story? Don’t pick a super-fitted dress with a synthetic lining, then put on 5lbs and expect it to still fit on one of the hottest days of the year…

The service at Pepperberry was, as always, great. I can’t really fault the Bravissimo / Pepperberry team. They’re friendly, knowledgeable and really love what they do. They also fitted me for a new bra while I was trying my dresses and I, of course, ended up buying it. I love the friendly atmosphere in store and the fact that if something isn’t in stock in your size, you can order it there and then and get it delivered to your home for free. As there are only a few stores around the country, it takes the stress out of going all the way there only to find your size is not in stock.

I just want to show you the pics from the day I tried the dress, to confirm that that they don’t allow women to walk out in dresses that are clearly a bit on the tight side! In fact there was a lot of attention paid to getting exactly the right fit. On the day the frock was the perfect fit, but it’s amazing what only a few pounds will do to my hips and tum, and now it doesn’t look half as nice as it did back then and has a bit of a tendency to ride up and crinkle. This realisation has forced me back onto the exercise regime that’s been sorely lacking in the last month, and I’m just beginning the hilarious ‘Bootcamp for Tummies’ challenge via work, so hopefully that’ll help too. I really would like to be able to wear this dress properly before the Summer is out!

I tried three dresses in total. The black one above (the ‘hepburn’ £59) I really liked but it’s very similar to other 50s dresses I own, and this was a Summer challenge and I felt the black was a bit dark and safe. The other dress I tried was a purple jewelled shift (£69). It was very pretty and fit me well, but the dress was just not my style at all. My boho days are over and I wore so many similar dresses as a teenager that now they just seem a bit outdated to me!

So I went a bit mad and picked the dress I wouldn’t normally go for, featuring colour I never wear – yellow. You can see from the pics how pale my legs are, and I always think of yellow as a colour that goes with a tan, but I think I can just about get away with this. It’s a close call, but with this challenge I wanted to come out of my comfort zone a bit and try something new. I know the print won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but if there’s one thing I love it’s a mad, mad print!

The good news for you lot is that this review’s taken me so long to do, that the dress is now in the sale, for £39. I will warn you though, it is quite a shiny fabric that will ride up, so if in doubt, go a dress size up. There’s quite a lot of detail across the front, with contrast seams that can pull if it gets tight (as you can see!) so beware your sizing and get the right cup size too. The cups come up relatively small on this (I’m wearing a ‘curvy’ but I tried the ‘really curvy’ too and very nearly got that one. It was a close call).

Oh, and I know you noticed the shoes. Aren’t they amazing? They’re the ASOS Powertrip heels, now down to ridonkulous £18. I insist you buy them! They’re surprisingly comfy for such high heels.

Disclosure: Pepperberry let me keep the dress as a gift. However, I was not paid to write this post and all opinions are my own.

Clothing, Dresses, Lingerie, Retro / Vintage, Special Ranges, Swimwear

Vintage reproduction clothing (Pin-up, burlesque & rockabilly) – The ultimate shopping list!

It’s not hard to see why so many  women turn to fashions from the 40s and 50s when it comes to making the most of their bodies. The era’s pin-up girls, ‘cheesecake’ models and Vargas girls all had waspish waists and sexy curves. Actresses had hourglass figures that their clothes could barely contain (think Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Diana Dors) and all women wore girdles that sculpted their bodies to perfection and bullet bras that gave the appearance of a Joan Holloway-esque bosom on even a petite woman.

I know from reading comments and looking at search terms that many of us wish we could eschew badly-designed, poorly-fitting modern pieces for something more flattering from the past. But finding true vintage pieces from that era for a larger figure can be difficult. Most good pieces are expensive, and many come in very small sizes, especially on the waist.

So three cheers for the many great brands and retailers who’ve allowed us to get a bit of that old-fashioned glamour in modern sizing. Some of the labels below stock plus size, some don’t, but I’ve chosen to include them all for reference.

This page lists some of best vintage reproduction or vintage inspired online retailers I’ve found. The list covers everything from 40s tea dresses to 50s tiki dresses, and I’ve also included some burlesque lingerie and my favourite retro swimwear brands so you can get the complete package. Don’t forget your hair either! Every wannabe pin-up girl should invest in a good set of hot rollers, some hair set and Lauren Rennells’ amazing ‘Vintage Hairstyling’ book for the perfect pompadour or pin-up set!

UK Stores

L – R: Vivien of Holloway, Tara Starlet, Get Cutie, Pin-up Emporium, Pin-up Parade


Vivien of Holloway – Famous for her circle-skirted halter dresses with boned tops, Vivien actually offers much more, including amazing sarong dresses, pencil skirts, sailor trousers and loads of different prints. Plus sizes are stocked, but the dresses use vintage patterns, so it’s worth heading to the Holloway Road store if you can to try a few on. I’ve got six VoH dresses and can’t speak highly enough of the fit, but you must go by waist measurement.

If you want to know more about this brand, see my reviews of Vivien of Holloway dresses: The Jezebel, The Grace and The Peggy Lee!

Pin-Up Parade – One of the best stockists in the UK for vintage repro brands from the USA like Stop Staring and Bettie Page Clothing. Move fast if your size is in stock, and keep an eye on the sale pages – I got a Bettie Page dress for £35 recently!

The Pin-up Emporium – A UK option for big US brands Stop Staring and Bettie Page Clothing (stock is limited but they have key pieces like the Bettie Page ‘Captain’ dress) as well as What Katie Did lingerie.

Tara Starlet – If Swing is your bag, this label offers up some brilliant floral tea dresses and early 40s styles. Unfortunately sizing is limited so anyone over a 14/16 (myself included) may have trouble…but if we hassle them enough, maybe they’ll increase the range?

Collectif – 40s & 50s inspired dresses, cleverly divided into full-skirted and fitted, wiggle dresses. Well-priced (approx £40 – £70 for a dress). Lots of rockabilly prints including tropical, nautical and polka dot. Also some lovely Mad Men-esque coats and pin-up girl tops. Good range of sizes with most items available up to size UK 22.

Dolly Dagger – Rockabilly-influenced online store that stocks Tara Starlet, Stop Staring and many others. Good for polka dots, pencil skirts and swimwear, plus a lovely range of exclusive 50s style dresses in florals and taffeta.

Love Ur Look – Lovely capsule collection of vintage inspired dresses in quirky prints including florals, cowboy print and bird print. Prices are all under £100.

Freddies of Pinewood – Do your best land girl impression in Freddie’s high-waisted jeans and 40s tops. Or try some dungarees if you dare!

Get Cutie – Not technically a vintage repro company, but if you like the full skirted styles and the rockabilly look, these cute dresses handmade in Brighton will be right up your alley. Choose your dress shape and then pick your quirky print (including some cool Varga girl style offerings and tattoo prints).

Vintage Allure – 30s – 50s style dresses for around the £70 – £100 mark. Lots of nice polka dot circle skirted dresses and some beautiful wiggle dresses with wing-bust detail in the ‘tinseltown’ section. Limited sizes (up to a UK 16 approx).

Big Beautiful Barbara Brown – Huge selection of pre-made and custom dresses, including a section of Marilyn Monroe-inspired dresses (Niagara pink dress, The Misfits cherry print etc). 1920s – 1970s covered, though the real emphasis is on the 30s – 50s with lots of floral tea dresses and fitted suits. Sizes 6 – 26 available.

Soho’s – Primarily a punk / emo clothing store, this makes the list because it stocks Hell Bunny, an alternative clothing brand that does a lot of 50s halter dresses in prints, lace and polka dots for a lot less than you pay for the more pin-up style brands. That said, these are simpler styles with none of the boning or super-wide skirts you’ll find elsewhere. Also look out for Criminal Damage, who do a great sailor dress with a pencil skirt.

Puttin on the Ritz – Art deco inspired website stocking 1930s and 1940s inspired reproduction clothing with a big emphasis on daywear. ‘The Harlow’ dress is worth looking at for potential brides. Customers can provide measurement for the perfect fit.

Able Grable – Small collection of custom-made dresses with a 30s / 40s inspiration. Great silk pieces, including evening gowns, day dresses and a nautical number. Keep an eye on opening dates – they can be limited and at time of writing the store is closed for Winter.

Lady Vintage – Swing dresses and floral styles, the classic ‘Hepburn’ a-line dress in polka dots and lots of lovely affordable full-skirted dresses (£30 – £50). For a review of the swing style, click here.

US stores (most ship internationally)

L – R: Bettie Page Clothing, Bernie Dexter, Pin-up Girl Clothing, Mode Merr, Stop Staring


Stop Staring Clothing – Probably the best-known producer of vintage-inspired wiggle dresses and bombshell frocks. Loads of great stretch dresses, satin cocktail dresses and swing dresses. Check sizing – stretch bengalene is not particularly forgiving. This has celeb approval too. Paris Hilton is a big fan, and Ashley ‘Twilight’ Greene was their model before she hit the bigtime.

Mode Merr – Retro dresses with a modern twist, separated into ‘good girl’ and ‘bad girl’ sections. Lots of embroidered detail (anchors, horseshoes, poodles and so on) and pencil skirts, fitted dresses and ruched gypsy style tops.

Daddy O’s – Rock and Roll store with a massive range of Stop Staring dresses (probably the biggest online away from the official site) and men’s bowling shirts. It’s a bit of a nightmare to navigate, but the stock is great.

Pin-Up Girl Clothing – One of my favourites for gorgeous wiggle dresses and pin-up styles. This big boutique stocks most of the big vintage brands and their own ‘Pin Up Couture’ label. Also the place to go for some very cute retro-inspired shoes and swimwear.

Bettie Page Clothing – Discovering the flagship store in Las Vegas was like stepping into my dreamworld, so this is another favourite of mine and I own three Bettie Page dresses now. Like Stop Staring, the best items are fitted wiggle dresses that make the most of a waspie waist! – If you visit the shops above already, you’ll know Bernie. She’s modelled for just about every vintage reproduction retailer going. Now she has her own store selling some beautiful pieces for burlesque and vintage chicks.

Babygirl Boutique – One of the biggest boutiques for rockabilly and alternative clothing. It’s got all the big names, plus lots of accessories that can be hard to find elsewhere. Check out the sunglasses!

My Baby Jo – website of the cute LA boutique selling great vintage styles you won’t find elsewhere (look out for the gorgeous garden party dress) and brands mentioned above. The undergarments section has some great retro lingerie too.

Whirling Turban – Stunning bombshell dresses, tiki frocks and 1950s style wedding dresses, many with a trademark ‘wing’ detailing on the bust. Offers off-the-rack or custom (in some styles) in loads of prints, from leopard to bright tropical florals.

Trashy Diva – Clothing line specialising in great dresses and suits with a 40s / 50s vibe in amazing old-fashioned prints. Lots of nice Summer circle dresses and shirtwaisters. Very good prices (lots for circa $100) and international delivery is affordable too.

Corsets and Lingerie

L – R: What Katie Did, Fairy Gothmother, Playful Promises, Hepburn & Leigh


What Katie Did – The place to go for corsets and lingerie, including fully fashioned stockings (with the must-have french or cuban heel). If you want to go the whole hog, the bullet bras and proper girdles are a great alternative to modern shapewear (and much sexier).

True Corset – Classic overbust and underbust corsets in various fabrics, sizes go up to about a 24, plus loads of other burlesque and lingerie treats. For a review, see here. – The biggest range of fully-fashioned stockings made on vintage machinery by brands like Gio and Cervin, as well as plenty of more affordable modern interpretations. Also have their own range of 40s-style suspender belts and matching lingerie.

Playful Promises – Modern lingerie brand with a big dash of pin-up inspiration. Come here for longline bras, pretty girdles and suspender belts, and diaphanous, boudoir-inspired sets.

Hepburn and Leigh – stockists of Kiss Me Deadly, for a modern take on vintage lingerie (think suspender belts, deep knickers and push-up in lieu of bullet bras). The styles are pretty, the items well-made (I’ve got the ‘Alouette’ set) and kudos to KMD for going up to an E cup! The site also stocks Playful Promises, Cervin and others.

Miss Katie – Yet more corsets, this time a bit more costumey and over the top. Think blue corsets with big sailor collars and white pinstripe numbers with matching skirts.

Fairy Gothmother – Don’t let the name fool you, this site stocks a lot of really beautiful high quality steel-boned corsets and has a good crossover from its goth roots into the world of burlesque. They’ve also now got a big dress section. Definitely worth checking out if you like the wasp-waisted look.


L – R: Modcloth, Skinny Dip Swimwear, Pin-up Girl Clothing (above), For Luna


Esther Williams – Williams appeared in countless movies during the golden age of Hollywood, often in fabulous high-waisted bikinis or sexy one-pieces. Now she sells them to the public. Ignore the terribly 90s photography – these are the bees knees when it comes to retro swimwear. At time of publication, sales on the site are suspended, but some of the sites below (Modcloth and For Luna) stock the line.

For Luna – Small but perfectly formed online swimwear boutique. The only UK stockist I’ve found for Esther Williams, also has What Katie Did swim and Jantzen. Also stocks the Red or Dead swimwear collection which has some fab pin-up girl styles.

ModCloth – Retro and indie superstore with an amazing selection of very reasonably priced retro swimwear, including polka dot two-pieces, nautical inspired sets and Esther Williams swimwear. If nothing else, it’s a good place to see the line photographed in a more modern way!

Skinny Dip Swimwear – retro-inspired swimwear from the people behind lingerie / hosiery brand Leg Avenue. Includes cherry print halter bikinis, white broiderie anglaise trimmed swim dresses, and plenty of polka dots.

Etsy stores

L – R: Dig For Victory, Zombie Doll Clothing, Audrey and Grace, Fables by Barrie


Dig For Victory – Beautiful 1950s style dresses made from vintage fabrics. Sized up to 16 with custom sizing available at extra cost. If you’re a Betty Draper fan, this is the one for you! I’m definitely saving up for my own floral frock! You can also shop in the UK at

Jack’s Daughter – 40s, 50s and 60s inspired dresses, including buttoned tea dresses, halter neck swing dresses and a good dash of polka dot. There are also some very cute bikini top and skirt combos in tropical prints. Made in Australia.

Zombie Doll Clothing – Made to measure dresses, tops and corsets in rockabilly and retro tattoo prints. Lisa will even do custom designs, so if you’ve see a fabric you love, drop her a line.

New Vintage Lady – A seller who specialises in plus sized vintage. The store is mainly patterns, so you’ll need to get crafty, but you’ll occasionally find clothing there – usually items over a 40″ bust.

Miss Brache – Amazing retro ‘maillot’ swimsuits (take a look at the ‘ooh la la’ set!) and rockabilly dresses. The designer will custom make everything up to a US size 24.

Fables by Barrie – Vintage styles with a modern twist – mainly sailor-inspired. Amazing red, white and blue swimwear and button-detail pencil skirts.

The Red Dolly – Very well-priced retro swimsuits and bikinis in spots, stripes, block colours and animal prints.

La Drama Queen – More retro swimwear. Cute bikinis with halter tops and ruched sides, and amazing chevron striped swimsuits.

Note: This is by no means a complete list of retro reproduction shops and sellers, but it did take a long time to put together. Please do not republish it without my consent. If you wish to borrow portions of it, or if you use it to compile a list or feature of your own, please link back to this page – share the love!

Accessories, Clothing, Coats & Jackets, Dresses, Shoes, Tops & Tees, Uncategorized

Top Ten: even more ‘buy now, wear later’

There’s no real link between these ten products except the fact I love them and I will be investing in some of them ready for when the Sun finally shows its face! This Summer, I’ll be eschewing the more off-the-wall catwalk trends (jogging pants? Leather shorts? I think not…) for something a bit more flattering.

On the relaxed, bohemian side there’ll be an update on last Summer’s gladiator sandals, pretty maxi dresses, nude wedge sandals, 50s sundresses and vintage-inspired doctors bags. For something a bit more dramatic, I’m thinking chandelier earrings, waterfall frills, graphic print dresses and military inspiration. All these items are available now, so get shopping before they sell out!

Digital gemstone slinky one-shoulder dress £55 at ASOS
With a hint of Alexander McQueen and Peter Pilotto, this dress is perfection if you have the guts to try it!
Cut-out wedge sandals £30 at New Look
A great lattice-style vamp and a comfy but high-rise wedge. Nude lengthens the legs, too.
Waterfall side jersey dress £22.50 at Simply Be
The frills add a distinctive touch to an easy-wear shape. Who said plus size needs to be dull?
Blue swirl print maxi dress £120 YLB at Wallis
Yasmin Le Bon’s amazing, 30s style boho maxi dress is top of my wishlist.
Mischa Barton doctor’s bag £75 at Tesco
Maybe Mischa should ditch the acting all together and concentrate on her fab boho bags?
Maui Atlantis dress £65.99 at Fever Designs
The perfect 50s tiki sundress for holidays and Sunny spells!
Butterfly wing cascade clip earrings £62.50 at The Earring Boutique
Pricey shoulder-dusting chandeliers that look like old Hollywood antiques.
Green thumb blouse £98 Anthropologie
Anthropologie do relaxed beauty like no other – this top is expensive but fab!
Aileen pink tie-dye gladiator sandals £15 at Boohoo
A coloured update on last year’s must have, I lived in the black version last year.
White bird printed military jacket £29.99 at River Island
The feminine way to try the military trend, I love the juxstaposition of styles.
Clothing, DD+, Dresses, Featured, Sale shopping

Boob-friendly dresses from Bravissimo

Bravissimo has long been the secret haunt of girls with D+ boobs. Stocking all the big brands that cater to larger breasted ladies (Freya, Panache, Kalyani, Masquerade etc) in loads of back sizes (not just large, but small) and providing a measuring service that’s second to none, I know ladies who’ll sing the praises of this shop ’til kingdom come. In fact, I’m one of them! The Bravissimo angels can lift and support even the biggest boobs and sell pretty, not frumpy designs. And as if that wasn’t enough, they also sell special big boob clothing!

Offering up standard UK dress sizes with three choices of chest measurement – curvy, really curvy and super curvy – these clothes aim to avoid that annoying gape or pull that you find on the chest if you squeeze your D+’s into standard sizes. This is particularly useful on dresses and v-neck tops, which often end up revealing far too much bra as the standard cups strain on larger chests. Instead, you get custom-cut coverage, but without having to go bigger elsewhere. Lots are super-fitted and ruched at the waist for a gorgeous hourglass shape, too. The selection of secret support tops and nightwear is also great – after all there’s nothing worse than saggy boobs in bed!

Sizes go from an 8 – 16, so not particularly great if you’re a plus size, but with the generous cup sizes on these babies, you might well be able to fit comfortably into a smaller size than normal, meaning size 18s shouldn’t rule the range out if they have a store nearby where they can try on.

Right now there are various items on sale, including the lovely 40s style spot print dress’ for £39 and the fluted sleeve dress for the same. Outside of the sale, get a bit of Summer daytime chic in the incredibly flattering nautical striped jersey dress for £45.