“ Brand: Marks and Spencer / Type: Dress „
My hubby always teases me for being vertically challenged. At a meager 5'1 and edging more and more towards the cuddlier size of life I often struggle to find dresses that don't trail on the floor or completely swamp my frame.
Maxi dresses are usually a no no because I find them far too long and if the waist area is excessively gathered it draws more attention to my middle, making me look far bigger than I am. Many stores offer a selection of dresses in varying lengths however, sometimes even the shorter options are too long. One store that always caters for my height and size perfectly is good old Marks and Sparks.
The Per Una Kalidoscope Print Maxi Jersey dress is available online from marksandspencers.com (product code: T625130G) and in selected stores. I found mine wasn't available in my high street branch but was in a larger store at my nearest retail park. The dress is available in eight sizes (eight to twenty two), each in either a long or standard length. This dress retails at £49.50, which is a universal price, regardless of the size you opt for. One thing I do love about Marks and Sparks is they don't penalsie the customer by increasing the price when buying larger sizes like other stores often do.
~~~ The Dress ~~~
I opted for a standard length size sixteen which, although long on myself doesn't trail on the floor, grazing just above my toes (a couple of cm's from the floor). To offer an idea of the expected length, the model on the website (as seen in Dooyoo's picture) is 5'8.5 and wearing a size ten (presumably in a longer length). The dress has clearly been designed to be worn just above ankle height but despite mine being several inches longer it still looks very elegant and not at all silly.
The dress is predominantly a beautiful, deep shade of purple, my favourite colour and reason I was attracted to it in the first place. A circular pattern of small blocks of colour that include deep pinks, oranges, reds and gray add interest and depth without being over the top or weighty. I think the colours are beautiful, complimenting each other perfectly. The print and indeed colours are very bold but not garish. There are no fussy embellishments, bows or beading (other than a thin strap that ties around the back) that could weigh the dress down or detract from the pattern.
Made with 95% viscose and 5% elastine, with a 100% polyester lining, the dress is very light weight and perfect for wearing in hot weather as it's non clingy. The dress is an empire line with material gathered just above the waistline and directly below the bust with the fabric flaring out ever so slightly towards the hem. I find this particularly flattering as it enhances my natural hourglass shape whilst keeping my silhouette in proportion.
It's definitely an easy style to wear that I think will suit most body shapes. Tall and slender wearers will look svelte and elegant whilst rounder figures will look curvy and feminine, Certainly the natural curves of my waist and hips are clearly viable but the flowing fabric, coupled with the pattern draw attention away from my biggest bone of contention, my jelly belly but also my wide hips. It's an effective way of camouflaging wobbly bits as the fabric isn't so loose that it's smothers my frame by being baggy, making me appear bigger but floaty enough that it doesn't cling and accentuate them either.
Because the loose nature of the fabric is very forgiving, I think that someone who is pregnant, certainly in the early stages or perhaps later if they have a small bump could get away with wearing this dress quite comfortably. It would certainly be more economical than buying a maternity dress with limited wear as you could continue to wear this dress after the birth and before the baby weight has gone. I wish I could have found a dress like this when I was pregnant, particularly as my due day was in August!
The dress covers the back completely but has a deep, plunging V-neck at the front, showing just enough cleavage to be tasteful. I think this makes the dress suitable for a wide age group as the print and style can easily appeal to younger wearers whilst older ones won't feel over exposed. The material fits snugly around the bust line and although it accentuates the area it doesn't make me look top heavy in any way, just shapely.
There's no built in support around the bust but because the material under the arms is quite high and the shoulder straps deep, the dress adequately conceals undergarments. The material gathered under the bust line is also elasticated which allows for extra movement making the dress extremely comfortable to wear.
~~~ Accessorise ~~~
The overall style of this dress is distinctly summery. Purples, pinks, oranges and yellows are all colours synonymous with summer however, I think, the deeper shades could also lend themselves to the cooler months too. The dress could easily be complimented by a light or darker coloured waist length jacket and thanks to the lining no one would ever see a pair of tights underneath.
I guess the dress would predominantly be classed as casual wear. Taking full advantage of our recent hot weather, I've been wearing the dress with a flat pair of sandals as it's perfectly practical for day to day wear. The dress can easily be transformed into smart evening wear using select accessories. Last weekend I wore the dress to a friends birthday party with an accompanying pair of high heels and it looked very elegant. With my couple of inches extra height, not only was I taller but I also looked slimmer. I also wore a chunky purple bracelet, also from Marks and Sparks which added that extra finishing touch, transforming the dress into a pretty, summer gown. One thing that Marks and Sparks always seem to have is a range of jewelry that can be matched to most of their outfits for a reasonable price so if you are looking for accessories for this dress it's always worth checking in store for the extras first.
~~~ After Care ~~~
The dress should be machine washed at 40 degrees or lower. I wash clothes at 30 and this dress hair faired very well. The first wash did not cause colour run and subsequent washes have not seen the colours fade or bleed and to date (five weeks or thereabouts) the fabric to bobble ether.
It does however, come out of the washing machine quite damp despite a high spin cycle. Even hung on the line in the sunshine it takes an age to dry. On the upside, washed, it possess minimal creases. I hang mine on a hanger over a doorway where most of the creases drop out enough that I could probably get away with wearing it without ironing, although I have ironed it on a very cool setting. The material also holds the scent of fabric conditioner very well keeping the dress smelling fresh.
~~~ Final Thoughts ~~~
I loved this dress from the first moment I saw it in store and was so pleased when I tried it on and it actually fit me perfectly. Although the pattern is somewhat masculine, the colours and style are very feminine and overall the dress is incredibly flattering to my figure and my pale skin tone. For a few pence shy of £40.00, the dress is excellent value for money and very affordable. I certainly can't fault it any way as the stitching and indeed material are of a very high quality, exactly what I expect from Marks and Sparks.
It's not often you can find an outfit that will suit all heights, builds and ages yet this dress seems to be universal, a good all rounder. It's practical and comfortable as well as being smart and casual. It would be perfect for wearing to the beach as much as a summer wedding or other event but it's also smart enough for the office too, providing you have no dress code.
For anyone wanting to place an order online, the picture depicted at marksandspencers.com is very accurate. I can ensure that there are no differences in colour between the online picture and my actual dress. Incidentally, 51 reviews on the website have rated this an average of 5 stars and rightly so. I applaud Marks and Sparks for this dress, it's one of my best fashion buys in a long time and I can highly recommend it. My maxi dress scores maxi points (sorry!). Five stars from me.