I duly took myself off to the Bluewater store and was treated like royalty by assistant Marcia and manager Mo. The Hobbs ladies really cater for their customers' every need and are willing to offer advice and styling suggestions as well as having a very thorough knowledge of their ranges. Superb!
I tried on a variety of dresses, all in jersey. Not the thin jersey I have become accustomed to seeing as I usually shop at the budget/middle end of the high street, but a gorgeously soft, thick, heavy jersey which was comfortable and durable. I found that I easily fitted into the size 10 jersey dresses, which fitted me perfectly on the waist, whilst coping adequately with my generous boobs and bottom. I was very impressed with how the armholes on all the dresses were cut - I had plenty of room for my arms, yet there was no bra showing at all (this is very rare: so often I find with sleeveless tops and dresses that one's bra peeps out so I have to wear a vest or cami for modesty) and at the back the area of flesh between one's bra strap and armhole was completely covered. Amazing! I have tried to show these aspects in some of the photos below.
I could not make up my mind there and then which dress to go for so I took myself home and placed an order online so that I could try the dresses on at home.
First of all, I tried the Helena dress (no longer available online - boo!) in Navy:
This was a lovely dress. I adored the rich navy colour and the gathered style at the waist was incredibly flattering. It tied at the back so I could pull the waist in a bit more. You can see from the last picture how well those armholes were cut.
I also tried the Helena in Amethystine (purple):
This cut is so flattering! The colour is again gorgeous and for a long time this was my favourite of all the Hobbs dresses. A tiny gripe would be that I have a preference for no excess fabric across my stomach and as this had the gathered feature it was not 100% right for me.
Next up was the Imogem dress. It's available in Pewter/Parchment and Black/White. I tried both and my favourite was the grey/cream combination of Pewter/Parchment:
These pics were taken instore in the Hobbs concession in House of Fraser, Bluewater. I was in rather a rush as it was almost closing time and I was scared of getting locked in the changing room! I loved the dress when I tried it on so had to give it another try at home.
Such a pretty dress! Although it's very monochrome it somehow manages to be bright and vibrant at the same time. It has ties at the back which again provide the wearer with the opportunity to define her waist a bit more. The boob area is very generous, especially considering this dress is a size 10 and I am wearing a 32K Ewa Michalak bra! That said, I think this would still work for you if you are less booby as the jersey stretches to accommodate most bust sizes.
One dress which I tried on instore and really adored was the Bradwell in Black/Natural. Unfortunately it was not available online when I placed my order so I only have the dodgy photo I took in the changing room:
I felt so glamorous in this dress! The pattern reminds me a little of animal print (which I love) but it is sophisticated and elegant. I think I would need to size up to a 12 in this one, however; as the boob room was less generous than the other maxis I tried and it was bordering on indecent!
Right, after all that monochrome, it was time for a bit of colour. How about the Katrina dress in Leaf/White:
I love this combination of colours. The crisp white sets off the leaf green so well and makes my lightly tanned skin and blonde hair (which you can't see here) really pop! It's another dress which gives me great definition but I was not a fan of having the ties on my stomach so this dress was a reluctant no for me. It's also available in Navy/Ivory here.
The Perevil in Navy/Multi was a dress I was not expecting to like but really did once I put it on:
Like Marcia in Hobbs said to me when I was in store, it's an interesting take on the GB colours of red, white and blue - most apt when I had been trying it on right before the Jubilee weekend! It is a lovely dress but not formal enough for my posh do; however it would definitely be a great option for more informal summer gatherings such as barbecues and garden parties.
Again there was the superb underarm coverage...but, as you can see from the picture above, there was so much excess fabric on this one that sometimes it did not lie as flatteringly as I would have liked. I know I'm a fussy whatsit but with curves as extreme as my 46-30-47 figure I really have to make sure I choose clothing which does me justice. If I was handy with a sewing machine I am sure it wouldn't have been any trouble to take out some of this extra material but sadly my needlework skills are severely limited!
The final maxi dress I tried was the Alma in Ivory/Multi. Again, it was not available for me to try at home so I only have the picture which Marcia so kindly took of me instore:
This turned out to be my favourite of all the maxi dresses, after much mulling over and to-ing and fro-ing! I love how the colour bands are placed strategically so the dark section is across my waist - my narrowest part - making it look even smaller. I also like the security of not having a wrapover section across my bust, meaning that my boobs remain in place and are modestly covered. I did feel, however, that this dress was not quite right for my posh do as it was slightly more casual than I was looking for. I hope to be able to get hold of one though as it will be perfect for warm summer days and evenings.
My one gripe with the majority of these maxi dresses is that they are too short. Only the Imogem, Bradwell and Alma dresses came up a bit longer and I think that was probably more luck than intention. I find I often have trouble with maxis not being long enough for me (as I found when I was supposed to be modelling at Plus North), which is odd as I am only 5'4. I can only assume my boobs and backside take up more room in the dresses and make them come up a bit shorter. They'd be fine if I wore flats but seeing as I was looking for a dress for a posh do where I would most likely be wearing heels this became quite a problem.
When I placed my online order I couldn't resist adding a few other items to my basket; namely the Cassandra dress in Multi:
And in Black/Ivory:
And in Leaf:
These dresses were all so gorgeous and again were made from same the superior quality jersey as the maxis. I love the top half of them but for me the gathering across the tummy from the waistband is not good for me. There were inches of excess fabric, which I am sure would be incredibly flattering on someone with a different shape to mine, but for me it added bulk where it is not needed. Such a shame - all these dresses were in the sale at rock bottom prices. But a bargain is only a bargain if it will get used and I had to reluctantly admit to myself that these were not right for me.
Despite this, I am so impressed with the range of jersey dresses available from Hobbs. I recommend you go and try some yourself as soon as you can, especially as they have a huge sale at the moment!