Oh, you predictable bunch! It comes as no surprise to me that my posts on 1950s style dresses are, by far, the most popular pieces on Big Girls Browse. And who am I to complain that one of my favourite looks is also one of yours? As far as I’m concerned, any excuse to spend a few hours hunting down yet more fabulous frocks with those trademark nipped-in waists, full skirts and fabulous prints is good enough. Though I am going to bankrupt myself soon enough if I keep buying things as I do ‘research’. This round-up of another ten great Summer dresses includes a few old faithful brands, a couple of new ones, and hopefully some styles to suit all budgets and bodies. I hope you enjoy!
I’m finishing up my Vivien of Holloway dress reviews today with the third and final dress. This is the Peggy Lee day dress in green (£69), a cotton number with an A-line skirt and contrasting white collar and pockets. Of the three I’ve tried, this is probably the most costumey. The other two can easily be modernised, but as far as I’m concerned, you may as well go the whole hog with this one! So I pulled out my retro glasses, put my hair in a mock-bob with some roller curls and hunted down some hair flowers so I could give this dress the 40s style look it deserves!
We’re on to my second of three Vivien of Holloway dress reviews, and this time it’s the turn of the positively fabulous ‘Grace’ dress, a silk, full-circled version of the Jezebel I tried last time. It’s the most expensive VoH dress at £110, but there’s definitely a reason for that. The fabric is really nice quality, very heavy so it hangs well, and there’s loads of it in the dress – though there are side seams, this is a nice full skirt, not an A-line masquerading as a circle!
If you’re one of the manypeople 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…
If you’re a longterm visitor to the site (or indeed, a friend) you’ll know that vintage inspired swimwear is a huge passion of mine. I’ve yet to venture into proper vintage (it’s the fear that it’s been a bit to close to someone else’s ladyparts that stops me!) but I do buy a lot of retro stuff. If it’s polka dotted, ruched and contains the same amount of fabric as at least a dozen tiny triangle bikinis, it’s likely to find its way into my swimwear ‘wardrobe’. I must have about 20 bikinis and swimsuits by now, which is a bit ridiculous given that I don’t go swimming, am not a member of a gym, and have only had one beach holiday in the last four years.
It’s not hard to see why so many curvaceous 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…