Reviews: Under And Over Dress, Eyelet Branch Halter Dress, Cap Sleeve Column Dress, Curved Colorblock Chemise, Gwendolyn Chemise, Pinstripe Blouson Chemise, Ostara Mesh Chemise, Mineral Mesh Chemise

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A beautiful photo, a tricky model pose.

Under And Over Dress ($148) by Bailey 44, TTS
style # 24737371; moss (031), black (001) or navy (041)

The Under And Over Dress ($148) has many things going for it right off the bat. It comes in three beautiful colors; the design is almost beautiful, and the length is prefect. Perfect! But this dress also has a bunch of weird problems. Primarily, the quality of the workmanship is just subpar. I love that Bailey 44 chooses to make many of their items in the USA, so I feel bad slamming it, but it has to be said. This dress is messy. Stitching all over the place and out of line; a raw hem and unfinished work where the cross hatch ties in underneath...these messes will make the dress uncomfortable to wear over time. Additionally, since switching from cotton jersey to rayon jersey the long-term durability of Bailey 44 dresses hasn't much impressed me. This moss color is beautiful now but will it fade? Probably. I noticed the product page recommends dry cleaning this dress, which just seems dumb. We have to dry clean jersey dresses now? I understand that it's to preserve the shape more than anything but yeesh.

Fitwise the medium fit comfortably, although as you can see the bodice became a sort of empire waist on me. I liked how this dress looked when I tried it on though looking at these photos I'm not as excited. If you have a smaller bust this dress will sit how it's meant to, with the horizontal part of the design sitting at the waist. On me not so much. I gave a large a go to see if it was any better, but the design still hit empire while the arms were very big. Anthro has had a string of hits with its many striped Bailey 44 dresses. But I would like to see the quality of this brand improve before I shell out 150 clams on a casual summer dress.

Eyelet Branch Halter Dress ($158) by Girls from Savoy, size up for hips
style # 24575250, navy (041)

The Eyelet Branch Halter Dress ($158) I tried on in-store was missing its halter strap, so apologies for the visible bra. It seems Girls from Savoy has two patterns for their sweetheart-neckline dresses: one with a straight skirt and one with a slightly more a-line skirt. This dress is the former. It has all the usual key ingredients: origami bust, pockets, stretchy panel in the back. The thicker eyelet material adds some heft -- this dress feels heavy on! The halter strap is removable via two buttons.

I tried on a 6. I think the side view best illustrates why I recommend sizing up if your hips are wider like mine. The skirt is cut straight and narrow through the hips and the result on me wasn't very flattering. An 8 worked better. I love the length of this dress (so glad Anthro is back to knee-length!) and with a cardigan over it for the office this could be a work to evening winner. I think it would be too heavy for the warmest days but the trade-off is you could also wear this dress in the winter with fun bright tights and a funky sweater. I'm sold. Wishlisted!!

Cap Sleeve Column Dress ($178) by Bailey 44, size up
style # 25010794; pink motif (069), blue motif (049)

Like some Groundhog Day scenario, it seems like every day we wake up to yet another Bailey 44 diagonal bias striped dress. Personally I'm not sick of them yet but I know some in the community would be happy to never see another variant on the Layered Column Dress (jog your memory here). Here we are again though with the Cap Sleeve Column Dress ($178), the latest family addition. After the success of the Pieced Column Dress ($178, reviewed here) I was eager to try on this short-sleeved version. I love the funkiness of the pink motif version!

Unfortunately, this dress fit me more like the Layered Column and less like the Pieced Column. I didn't even bother trying a medium; I went straight up to a large. Even in that bigger size I found my hips and thighs protruding in unflattering ways. There was also some funky puckering happening at the neckline that I can't explain. I wondered if it was the color variant so...

...I grabbed the blue motif version to try that. The thicker stripes were somewhat better at concealing my trouble spots but I had the same neckline puckering issue. And the cap sleeve isn't especially flattering on me, I need some more coverage up there. Materialwise it's the same rayon-spandex jersey as all Bailey 44, but the workmanship is much better than on the Under And Over Dress ($148) that opened this reviews set. This one will sadly be a pass for me but I do think it's cute. Back to the rack.

Curved Colorblock Chemise ($68) by Falls, TTS
style # 24805590; grey (004)

We now enter the portion of our reviews set I like to call chemises as dresses. Beginning with my beloved Distant Chirping Chemise a couple of years back (review here) I have been cheating on the expensive full-priced dresses with some more affordable options from the loungewear department. It's a thin line between what can be worn outside and would should not be...though tell that to college students. Though I won't be reliving my dorm-to-class days, sometimes the chemises Anthro stocks are significant enough to wear out and about.

The Curved Colorblock Chemise ($68) comes from a label I don't recognize called Falls. It's a thicker heather grey material with two translucent panels on the side and one in the back. In the front those sheer panels lead down into pockets -- hooray! If you choose to wear this out a cami underneath will help eliminate anything peeking through to the outside world. The hem in front is supposed to be slightly asymmetric but on the dress I tried it seemed oddly straight. If it is straight in production I think that's wonderful -- the product shot looks really odd to me with its disproportionate play on length.

A medium fit close to the body but comfortably. The skirt is light and flowy and unlined at this price point. It's long enough that I'm not bothered by the lack of lining. The waistline hit me at my real waist which is amazing and wonderful. It's begging for a belt. Really the only thing I'm not in love with is the light grey color; I wish this dress came in a navy (with green panels maybe!) or maybe a warm purple. There could always be more versions with Anthro. For now this chemise is wishlisted for reconsideration come sale time.

Gwendolyn Chemise ($88) by Fleurwood, TTS
style # 24627168; green (030)

The beautiful, intricate Gwendolyn Chemise ($88) pushes the boundary of chemise to day wear. I can see the arguments on both sides: yes it's OK to wear this out because it's not too revealing, it has brunch dress written all over it and it has a bohemian boudoir flair; no because it's the kind of dress you wear at the vanity, it's lace-trimmed everywhere like a nightgown and it's thin. I land in the camp that given the right situation it's OK to wear this out. Garden party. Brunch. Coffee with friends at the beach. Etc. 

This chemise is made from viscose, which is not soft to the touch but not especially rough either. It wrinkles and tears very easily though so treat this with care. The neckline portion is lined with a frosted panel but all the other lace trim is open. I love the gathering detail at the waistline. I tried on a medium, my usual size. It was a little big in the arm to waist transition but I would not size down because the skirt portion and shoulders fit me perfectly. My outfit twin goldenmeans recently highlighted this in her May wishlist post and it's easy to see why. This chemise now sits on my wishlist too. 

Pinstripe Blouson Chemise ($58) by Puella, TTS
style # 24750077; neutral motif (015)

Nailed it! The Pinstripe Blouson Chemise ($58) is a fantastic chemise-as-daywear dress. It's light and airy but has some shape to it and cascades to the perfect knee length on my 5'8" frame. The top portion has stripes in chevron fashion beginning with the thick navy neckline. Then the skirt switches to stripes on the bias with a nautical tip on the left side. So cute!

I found a medium to fit me well, though in-store the dress was pretty static-y and clingy. You will need a slip under this dress -- it's pretty sheer. I found that the navy version of the Stand-In Slip ($68, sold out online but still floating around stores, style # 21235460) fits underneath this perfectly. You can see OOTD evidence over on my tumblr. The only quirk I've found is that even though I'm very itch-tolerant this chemise made me itch by the end of the day in areas where the slip didn't cover. After a few washings the itch factor has subsided somewhat but it's still there. Also, this chemise will pill the first couple of times you wear it. For those reasons I can't give 5 stars. Still this is a lovely piece that already has a home in my closet. 

Ostara Mesh Chemise ($88) by Sweet Pea, size up
style # 24851560; multi (095) or black motif (009)
The Ostara Mesh Chemise ($88) model shot topping this post is one of my favorite Anthropologie model shots ever, stylistically. But as a functional product shot it's dreadful. How can a dress that looks so pretty on the model be so disappointing in real life? Easy. First, instead of the suggestion of a straight hemline like in the model shot instead make it a hi-lo hem. Then add shoulders thrown forward to conceal the puffy ruffle at the top. Blargh. Why do you do this to us Anthro?

I was in between sizes in this chemise. A medium kept riding up from my waist so I sized up to a large for these fitting room shots. It's clearly the better overall fit but it was poufy around my midsection. The dress is slippery nylon so a belt goes from being a suggestion to a necessity. The elastic at the top is pretty loose. I didn't feel as though it would slide down now but over time I'd have less confidence.

Not impressed. Love the model shot, not the dress. Pass.

Mineral Mesh Chemise (now $50) by Fleurette, size up
style # 24626988; light grey (006)
I had such wonderful ideas for the Mineral Mesh Chemise (now $50). This dress has two degrees of mesh, both of which are sheer. One is more closely-layered lines and the other is a loose, sheer strip that lines the straps, waist and skirt. I planned to layer my navy Stand-In Slip below it for an idea summer outfit. I sweat a lot in the summer from all the walking and the sunning and the grossness of NYC air and having such light mesh on sounds like natural air conditioning of sorts.

Unfortunately it was not meant to be. The chemise is very straight and boxy. I had to size up to a large to accommodate my hips and thighs and bum, and when I did that I looked like a box myself. A boxy box. The top is pretty loose and the middle barely clears my curves. At $88 this was an immediate pass. If it makes it to second cut I'll be tempted, but even on sale I'm not ready to plunge $50 into this yet. (I reserve the right to change my mind though.)

Plenty more reviews on the way, including more dresses, some skirts and about a zillion tops! If you have a review request let me know in the comments. Do you own any of the pieces in this reviews set? If so I'd love to hear how you're styling them!! For now, à tout à l'heure from me and my faithful fitting room assistant Cinnamon the coolest Shiba Inu ever.