I am just now getting into the ‘pin up’ inspired style scene. I’ve always been a fan of it and while Liam and I were travelling I said to him that I would like to start exclusively dressing in that style (I’ve changed my mind now, but more on that later!). The only reason I hadn’t done so before was that it’s just such an expensive game to get into, dominated by what seem to be only a few major players that have the monopoly on the market. One of the few places I’ve managed to track down that’s based in the UK is Collectif Clothing.
Earlier this year I started to buy a lot more Hell Bunny clothing as this is one of the few brands that’s accessible to me in person, in the form of my local Blue Banana. I loved the different prints and shapes of the dresses and I took a lot of them travelling with me, as well as buying some new items over in America. Since we came back I started to look into this style more and more, following lots of people on Instagram to get an idea of the places that sold these items.
I had a look on Collectif Clothing’s sale area recently and managed to find a beautiful dress reduced to £32.50. This is still more than I like to pay as I’m a real bargain hunter but I brought it because it was so pretty and a hell of a lot cheaper than a lot of vintage style dresses you see online. It was actually 50% off, so the original price was £65 and it’s since been reduced to just £17 if you’re a size 6 and want a true bargain at 75% off.
The print was what first drew me in, I have been known to buy an otherwise hideous dress
just because of the pattern on it. I’m constantly searching for new, interesting designs which make me stand out from the crowd – I love anything cute or just out there really!
This is one of the reasons I was drawn to Hell Bunny. Although in the past I had dismissed Blue Banana a couple of years ago I went in and found 2 HB dresses for £15 each – one black in a sortof tiki bird pattern and the other bright blue with daisies and sunflowers all over. Both were short – I’ve always favoured shorter dresses so this Collectif dress was going to be a change for me.
The shape of the dress was the second feature which stood out for me. Being more of an hour-glass shape I’m always attracted to dresses which fit tightly on top and flare at the bottom. The Dolores Doll dresses have elasticated sleeves which can fit on or off the shoulder – on the shoulder is always preferable to me. It has two pearlescent buttons on the bust and the material is also ruched around this area. It’s tight on top, and flares on the bottom, meaning the hips are more or less free.
Upon ordering the dress I found that Collectif charge a set fee of £5.50 for orders under £150. It was a bit of a shock to be honest as I think in this day and age we’re used to either free or very cheap postage on higher value items (based on the fact this dress was originally £65 I would say for one item of clothing, essentially a piece of material, it is an extremely high value item). I suppose since it’s a flat fee it’s great if you’re ordering a number of things but considering I was ordering only one item this shot the price up to nearly £40 which almost put me off. I have to say though, they do use DPD which I’ve found is probably the most reliable parcel service. I ordered my dress on Sunday evening and I actually received it just after lunchtime Tuesday, so you can’t their turnaround time. DPD also provide delivery updates in real time so I could track my driver Nigel all morning!
The day the dress arrived I was eager to try it on as soon as possible, and as I had been at work all day I had had the item shipped to my sister’s house, so in the evening I walked to pick it up. When I got home I was finally able to see the dress in the flesh, I stilled loved the pattern and the quality of the material was substantial. My initial thoughts were that it looked quite big but I often think that about things and they end up being too small! I also realised it didn’t come with a belt – the picture of the dress online showed the model wearing a thin yellow belt and the text didn’t say it wasn’t included so I assumed it was. I am very lucky I owned a belt very similar to this because I would have been a very disappointed pin up if I hadn’t had access to a belt to go with it and I’d wanted to wear it to a particular event or something. I headed upstairs to try it on.
It was a struggle to do the zip up on my own so there were lots of Houdini-esque contortionist movements until I managed to yank the zip up stretching my arm behind my back. I have to say I was initially disappointed with the dress. The dress was large, and being made with incredibly stretchy material only made it larger. It did fit me but it wasn’t very tight on top, which I would have preferred. The listing online at Collectif Clothing declared this item as true to size but I’ve since noticed on a couple of the other Dolores Dress prints they have indicated that customers can often take a size down in this style. I brought a UK 14 but in future I would order a 12.
The bodice of the dress also seemed to be quite long. Not really an issue to be honest but it can be annoying at times, for example, if I wear a belt with a dress, I like the belt to be at the smallest part of my waist and for the stitching of the dress to separate the bodice from the skirt in this same location. With this dress being long I have to wear the belt a little lower than I would perhaps like, though it does still look nice. If I pull the dress up to where it’s comfortable I need to pull up the dress for it to ‘sync’ up and it ends up in the excess material being bunched under my bust. Call me OCD but I cannot stand the sight of stitching BELOW a belt – sync it up!
This length of the bodice also spurred on my next issue. Having done up the zip I was pulling the skirt down to where it should sit, to see how far down exactly the stitching between the two sections sat on my middle. I use the word ‘pulling’, but I stress, I was not doing this hard or haphazardly, I was simply flattening out the dress the way you do, for example, when you’ve pulled it over your head, to get it into position. Unfortunately as I flatted it out I heard a tear and lo and behold several of the stitches on the skirt came undone. I have added a picture below. Of course, it’s a very minor issue and can easily be restitched, however, I did think to myself I would not be happy to pay £65 for a dress only for the stitching to undo itself the moment I got it on. Luckily I didn’t pay £65 but still! To price an item like that I suppose you just expect the utmost, top of the range quality, material and stitching. To stress, my dress could easily have been 1 of a million dresses like this they’ve sold and the only where the stitching came undone, so it really is bad luck I suppose.
I made the mistake of putting the dress on without my petticoat to begin with. It hung very flat and just didn’t look right, as well as being crazy long as there was nothing to poof it out. I was exhausted though after my long walk so I called it a day at this point and decided to try it on with all the bells and whistles another evening!
A couple of days later I had the chance to put on the dress again whilst I was packing to spend the weekend with Liam. I knew I wanted to take it with me so I could have him take some pictures of me in it so first I decided I ought to try it on with the added extras. I put on my white petticoat (I’ve also a yellow one which would go nicely), my Nan’s pearls, adequate underwear and my yellow belt and it felt like a different dress! Looked it too.
A weekend later I put it on, did my hair and make-up and headed out to take some pictures. I walked across town, I was a little nervous and self-conscious because this was my first time going out with my hair done in victory rolls and my dress on but I got used to it. I don’t really like drawing attention to myself despite the fact I love ‘kooky’ clothing as Liam put it!
I think this dress, accessorised, is perfect for a formal occasion. I’m not sure I would ever be able to wear this style of clothing full time as it felt a little overboard, but I guess that’s something you get used to over time. Another factor in my deciding not to dress like this full time is that it’s just not all that comfortable or practical. As I mentioned previously the bodice of the dress is very long and it tends to bunch up which doesn’t exactly make for comfort when walking down the street, whatever size you wear I would suggest buying a size down in this style.
Overall, I’m happy with the look of the dress, but a little disappointed with the fit. As I mentioned, I wouldn’t feel comfortable in this to wear it regularly which means although I purchased it in a sale it won’t be particularly great value for money for me. I will wear it for special occasions and I would happily wear it out to dinner.
View the full range at: collectif.co.uk (Personally, I’ve just purchased two more items in their excellent sale!!)