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My five year old is very much the girly girl, of my four children she's the only one who has ever enjoyed dressing up - two year old David is out of the fancy dress equation as he refuses to be 'awww-ed' or, worse, laughed at. My older girls' would wear a cute princess costume, under duress, for roughly ten minutes before shedding it for jeans or another less pretty item. I love the fact that Hollie takes an active interest in not only wearing but also choosing her princess dresses, the latest one being a replica of Merida's dress from the Brave film. Priced at just £10.99 (Amazon) I treated her after destroying her beloved Belle dress in a mistakenly hot wash after it got tangled up with bedding one day.
Brave is, in my humble opinion, one of the best kids films EVER. It's set in the Scottish Highlands in medieval times, Merida is the highly spirited daughter of a clan king who must dress the part of princess - but really loves nothing better than getting dirty, being a total tomboy and using her beloved bow and arrows despite being a beautiful young woman. Merida is the newest Disney Princess and is already proving to be a favourite amongst Hollie's little gaggle of five year old friends; I wasn't surprised in the slightest to find her looking at this dress in awe on Amazon, and was actually pleased as it's so different in design to other princess dresses.
It's sleeker for a start, there are no frills or flounces anywhere on the dress. It's made of a synthetic faux satin fabric, very long compared to the lower calf length of most of Hollie's other princess dresses with long sleeves and a high neck. Blatantly medieval in design, I think it replicates Merida's style brilliantly even if it's not identical to the dress she wears in the film. It's a simple design, but works a treat in my opinion - the problem you have with dressing as Merida is always going to be the fact that you probably won't have the flowing flame red hair, this could be a problem with a more elaborate dress but the simplicity of the Rubbies design means the hair isn't such a big deal somehow.
I absolutely love the colour of the Merida dress; photos don't do the deep shimmering green/blue shade justice, it's much darker than I'd usually choose for a princess dress for Hollie but it's extremely striking and looks incredibly pretty when she's wearing it. A small amount of gold detail brightens the dress up, but happily the manufacturers haven't tried too hard to up the girly factor and the amount of 'brocade' as my precocious daughter calls it is in line perfectly to the amount of gold worn by Merida.
I wasn't happy to see the cheap looking transfer of Merida on the bodice of the dress, and am still not happy with it - although it's grown on me slightly. It's unnecessary and not even a very good depiction of this pretty Scottish princess; to be completely blunt Rubbies have *almost* ruined this gorgeous dress with a badly drawn cartoon, only the absolute prettiness of the overall design saves it from this naff embellishment faux pas. The transfer hasn't peeled as I feared it would, but it's fading pretty rapidly now and is starting to look a bit of a mess - it's an annoyingly large circular transfer (in relative terms to a skinny five year olds body!) so will be awkward to cover, I need to get my thinking cap on as I really don't want this dress to start looking old before it's time.
The length can be a problem, I must be honest. We've imposed a 'no walking down the stairs' rule as it's completely under Hollie's feet as she walks, the slippery satin an obvious additional hazard - I've watched her tangle herself up in the skirt as she's getting off the sofa (absolutely hysterical, much to Hollie's annoyance) so stairs are definitely out. When walking around the house in her Merida dress, as you do, there's no danger of her tripping over the hem but it's not the sort of dress I'd let her wear to a party because running around and ankle length dresses are never a particularly sensible combination! Hollie has actually owned this through a growth spurt, I bought it for her late last year and to be truthful it was erring on the side of 'too long' then but fast forward six months (plus a couple of inches) and she's grown into it a treat.
When the dress arrived I was a little put out to see how thin the parcel looked, and the first time she wore it I thought the dress was going to be cheap rubbish as the fabric looks so delicate. Wow. How wrong was I? Hollie has worn this Merida dress to death, she adores it so much that she'll put it on every day after school for weeks at a time. It's been washed literally dozens of times as the fabric marks bizarrely easily; I'd guess I've had to wash it after 95% of wearings, which adds up to a lot of washing machine action including warmer than recommended wash cycles if Hollie has dripped gravy or pizza grease down the front of the dress. It's not suitable for the tumble dryer and feeling the fabric I can tell it would be completely destroyed by such harsh heat - I dry Hollie's over a warm radiator, it has the kind of sheen which doesn't absorb water so is dry enough to put away within the half hour mark. It won't wrinkle in the washing machine but you do need to take care about arranging the skirt and arms when putting the dress into its drying position to avoid creasing - I'm totally rubbish at ironing and wouldn't trust myself not to scorch the thin fabric so have ensure I can keep the dress looking good without the usual housekeeping skills!
There are a couple of niggles, one relating to the dress itself and the other to the packaging. The dress issue first, it's a minor one but highly irritating - the sleeves taper to a point along the top of Hollie's hand, again very medieval but with the added annoyance of constant gold threads dangling off the points. We're forever cutting them off but they always come back, god knows where from as there doesn't actually seem to be enough gold on the sleeve to produce all these threads! The other niggle is that although described on Amazon in English, the packaging is written in French - it's not even called Brave but referred to by (presumably) the French title of Rebelle. This wasn't a problem for me but could be a bit embarrassing if you purchased it as a gift for a Brave loving little girl, Hollie noticed straightaway and was quite annoyed not to see the familiar Brave logo - but cheered up when she noticed the bag the dress arrive in had a press stud closure, and then she was happy for the French eye to detail... Fickle? Hollie?
The sizing is spot on as far as I can tell. Hollie is a slim and dainty little thing so although she's closer to six I ordered her the 5 - 6 size, which other than the length has fitted her perfectly and will continue to fit her way after her sixth birthday in my opinion. Despite the slender design of the dress there's plenty of growing room in the shoulders, chest and waist - I'm impressed and surprised really considering this is possibly the most fitted princess dress Hollie owns, I'd expected it to be far less forgiving in terms of size than it actually is.