Reviews: Magnified Corolla Dress, Contemporarian Dress, Cornellian Dress, Memory Of Feathers Dress, Assemblage Dress

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A bold print; an odd fit.

Thanks to everyone for all the birthday wishes, cards, and emails yesterday! I'm still catching up today but will write everyone back. You're all wonderful and it made me feel even more special on a pretty cool day. I had a fantastic haul yesterday which I will photograph for an upcoming post (give me a week or so). In the meantime, here are some reviews for a Sunday morning.

Magnified Corolla Dress ($168), size up
style #19707017, turquoise (046)

Hips, we have a problem. The problem isn't you. It's these damn dresses that keep coming out, forgetting that many women have them. After absolutely adoring the print of the Magnified Corolla Dress ($168) on the rack, I knew I was in trouble the moment I saw the pinned drapery at the hip. I agree with the thought that this dress would have been too shapeless if something wasn't done to it. But I fail to see the logic in pulling material into a bunch. It's not a wrap so it just looks odd. People at parties will tell you your dress got caught on something. Mean people will just point and laugh. Note how even in the model shot they really hid the defining part of this dress. That should be a clue that something is off. When the intentional looks unintentional, you suffer.

This brand tends to run small so I sized up to an 8. Even that was a bit tight around my hips. A 10 would have worked around my midsection but would have needed tailoring to help bring in the top. I do not like the asymmetric hem falling in front. I'd have preferred it to one side as its current placement interrupts my every stride. The crepe de chine material is simply luscious and I love the pattern itself. Like any printed piece you'll want to find the layout that best suits you as each dress is slightly different. This dress was a total failure on me. Back to the rack.

Contemporarian Dress ($128) by Maple, size up
style #19711456, grey (004)

A little bit of school marm comes out in the classically shaped Contemporarian Dress ($128) by Maple. The wide waistband and messy, scribbled pattern looked pretty cool on the hanger. I wonder how they'd look on me.

I sized up to an 8 to try this dress on, but really I needed a 10. The bodice portion is pretty tight and was wrapping over my chest in uncomfortable ways. The skirt portion of this dress is perfect -- not too poufy, with pleats done just right to flatter nearly everyone. The wide waistband accentuates tiny waists perfectly. You'll have plenty of styling options for this dress, from throwing a cardi over it now to wearing a cinch belt with it later.

Issue is, I just don't like the top portion. The scoop is too high and the pintucks across the bustline are going to be hard for me to pull off. I want my pieces to be classics with a modern twist. I think Anthro meant for the print to be that twist here but it just doesn't work for me. I would have liked lower scoop, or a different print. As it is, this dress is just OK to me. And my closet has no room for just OK. Pass.

Cornellian Dress ($328) by Leifsdottir, TTS
style #19386879, black combo (008)
★★★★☆ for fit, ☆☆☆☆☆ for price

I still love Leifsdottir and was thrilled to see the "online exclusive" Cornellian Dress ($328) at the Chelsea Market Anthropologie. This recent release jumped straight to the top of my birthday haul wishlist. I love its nautical inspiration with a contemporary print, and the asymmetric neckline looked flattering. The defined waist seemed like the cincher and as long as it fit my decision was pretty much made.

Anthropologie calls this dress black but I swear it was navy. My true size 6 was nearly perfect. I didn't like that the dress I tried on had mainly white on one side of the bust and a vertical print on the other. I'd look for something closer to the product shot (more of the dark pattern in horizontal twists). The waist was lovely and the skirt shape was just right -- I would however love another inch of length.

So why didn't this lovely dress come home with me? I did a quick online search in the dressing room to make sure this hadn't hit sale anywhere else. It hadn't but I did find a price discrepancy: Anthropologie has priced this dress $40 above any other retailer! Both Bloomingdales and Leifsdottir have this dress listed for $288 on their websites. What. The. Hell??? My jaw dropped. I would feel really dumb to pay $40 above retail for this dress for reasons I can't explain. Not cool, Anthro. Not cool at all. For that reason this dress went right back to the rack.

Memory of Feathers Dress ($158) by Girls From Savoy, TTS
style #19987734, black motif (009)

As several eagle-eyed community members pointed out, the Memory of Feathers Dress ($158) is really just a new version of the Traced Twirls Dress. Same top pleats, same brand, same removable halter strap. The predecessor had two previous incarnations and I am sure this version will come out in at least one more pattern. I like that the bodice portion here is solid while the skirt is a print. In truth I'd like the reverse better for my shape but I liked this one enough to give it a try.

I felt very va-va-voom in this dress. The top fit perfectly in my usual size 6. The skirt however, has both vertical and diagonal print to it that I didn't like as much. It was slightly overwhelming. No doubt I'd need to play around this dress at home with a cool iron to get the skirt just right. That issue aside this dress is just lovely. Well made, with a back zip that's easy to pull solo. I still wish the halter strap were adjustable but the fit on this one seemed better than the previous dress's version. All in all, a lovely dress. I do expect this dress to sell well but since I'm not head over heels I'll wait this one out for sale. Wishlisted for now.

A shot of the dress's bodice from the inside. No boning, but removable
halter straps make this dress a versatile piece.

Assemblage Dress ($258) by Leifsdottir, size up
style #19502202, blue motif (049)

Leifsdottir's Assemblage Dress ($258) is another nautical-inspired piece that's too cool for school. The ruching effect along the front is sensational. I also love the knife-pleated sleeves and the front zip. I normally hate exposed zippers but this one lends a sweet feeling rather than the rough n'toughness of recent seasons. I would not wear this dress to work but I think it would make a lovely summer walking dress. I could tell even on the hanger that I would need to size up in this dress, so I grabbed an 8.

The 8 just barely zipped. Were I in better physical shape I think that would have been OK but I would want a 10 to hide my tummy pudge. I am disappointed that the sleeves in real life are not nearly as big or princesslike as the product shot shows, but otherwise this dress is just lovely. It's surprisingly flattering and feels like an easy dream on. The thin oxford stripe is a great choice that will make this dress stylish through the years. The craftsmanship looked good to me and I think every design choice here works. The price is consistent on this dress across stores too -- can't believe I even needed to check that.

My only thing is, at this point, does anyone pay full price for this brand? I know Anthropologie probably doesn't like hearing this. I love Leifsdottir. Every piece I own is distinctive, beautiful, and well-made. But I have yet to see any of the items sell out at full price. There's no urgency to me to buy this now. If I had a specific occasion to wear it to maybe. But otherwise I'm fine with waiting for this to hit sale, and really, 2nd cut, to bring the price down to a more reasonable level. Now granted I am not at the income level where I can just throw $300 at a dress without giving it a second thought. I understand that this line is made to appeal to a consumer one or two rungs above me on the income ladder. But I'm no slouch. I make good money. And this dress just doesn't feel worth it at full price to me. Wishlisted for sale.