Growing up, I was obsessed with Sindy dolls, like proper 'all I ever wanted' obsessed. Royal couturiers 'The Emanuels' (David and Elizabeth, famous for designing that wedding dress for Princess Diana) produced a collection of Sindy outfits. Beautiful full length, frilled, taffeta gowns with velvet capes and coats all shrunk down to miniature size for my favourite doll (don't worry this is leading somewhere). Even as a small child, I knew those outfits were epic. I even had a VHS (probably still do somewhere) of a Sindy documentary (featuring David and Elizabeth talking about their dolly creations) that I watched over and over, until it got a bit 'jumpy' in bits. Nowadays David is probably known outside of the fashion world for I'm A Celebrity (I didn't watch it) and he also has a clothing line at Bonmarche.
I want you to cast aside any preconceptions you may have about Bonmarche and I know most of us do. Yes, it's aimed or at least appeals to older ladies, but like I always say you should never discount any shop entirely as you just don't know what could be hiding in there. The David Emanuel collection actually has a lot to offer and good points are the vast size range and reasonable prices. You'll pay around £16 for a top, £22 for knitwear, dresses start at £30 and the most expensive items are coats from £45-60. Not bad! Sizing ranges from a 10-24, which I think is excellent and much needed on the high street. You'll find some exclusive 'online only' items in this range but the line is also available in select stores (I've seen it in my nearest).
I'm not kidding when I say I was spoilt for choice when I started looking at the collection. A lot of the dresses were exactly the type of thing you'd normally see me in. The one I chose to review is the teal lace and sequin dress* £40 in a size 20, which was just 'new in' for party season. I think if you're between sizes you could go for the smaller, as they (or at least this dress) is cut quite generously. I've been closer to a 20 lately than an 18 and I didn't feel the need to breathe in (seriously I canNOT suck my tummy in these days), so I was really comfortable in this. The dress also has quite a lot of stretch to it, which I wasn't expecting and just pulls-on without any zips or fastenings. There's a seam under the bust, which surprisingly did sit in the right place even with my ample bosom! The short sleeves are entirely sheer providing adequate coverage if you dislike showing your arms off, but the rest of the dress is fully lined.
The length is absolutely spot-on for me, with the lining just hitting my knee and the outer lace hanging a couple of centimetres below that. I can get really fussy about hemlines, but this one feels perfect. There's sporadic sequins throughout the dress, something I could do without (not that I hate it) and the lace feels really nice and weighty.
The only thing I dislike and hadn't noticed from the online images is the little tucks on one side of the waist. Side gathers feature quite heavily in this collection, but I just don't feel this dress needs it. I keep feeling like the lace has got caught on something and puckered up and try to straighten it! It's a minor gripe and perhaps a design feature that others will like, but I just wanted to make you aware. A winner for me is the gorgeous colour. You can find the same dress in red (web exclusive), but I thought the teal was more 'me' and it's a stunning shade (in real life a little less blue and deeper looking than I'm seeing in these images). I think the styling of garments on the website is definitely reaching to an older audience, but please don't let that put you off. Take the time to look at the products and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. To coincide with this post and reiterate my point, I'm going to be styling Bonmarche items all week on The Shoe Girl Styles It (next post up in around half an hour), so look out for that. What do you think, could you get past the 'Granny' prejudices and try something like this? For £5 off when you spend £25 or £10 off wys £50, enter code AW11.
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