Last month, I was invited to attend a very posh evening do with work so the hunt was on for an appropriate dress to wear.
I like to think I usually scrub up quite well but I must say that I got rather anxious at the thought of having to don a fancy frock and mingle with some of the movers and shakers in the business world. At first we were told that the event was black tie - which for me would most likely have meant a ball gown or cocktail dress - but a few weeks beforehand we were advised that in fact it was lounge suits. This meant that I should wear something smart but not overly formal, which was a great relief for me as I struggle to get a good fit in dresses which have no stretch, and ball gowns and cocktail dresses are usually made from rigid fabrics.
IGIGI is a range of clothing for plus sized women designed by Ukrainian-born Yuliya Raquel, who moved to the US in her teens. This self-taught seamstress grew up making clothing for friends, family and private clients before realising her ambition of starting her own designer label in February 2000.
The clothing, which is all made in the San Francisco area, is offered in US sizes 12-32 (approximately UK 16-36) and is designed to flatter the plus sized woman with quality fabrics, superior cuts and beautiful prints. In her own words, Yuliya says: 'IGIGI is here to transform the world's view of beauty. The way it's defined. The way it's seen. We're here to change the world!'
The brand was first brought to my attention by the gorgeous Mhairi at Lilybobomb's Lovely Lumps. She reviewed the elegant Nicole dress which, incidentally, is now on sale on the IGIGI site here. I was beyond excited when Ozlem at IGIGI offered to send me a dress for review - have you seen all the gorgeous pieces they have on offer? It took me a very long time to decide but in the end I had a few favourites and it boiled down to what was available in my size. I gave Ozlem a couple of choices of the dresses I liked best and eagerly awaited delivery.
Image courtesy of IGIGI
I was champing at the bit when my IGIGI parcel arrived and I was thrilled when I discovered inside was the Naime Maxi Dress.
Wowee. I felt a million dollars when I put this on - it's made from a gorgeous polyester/elastane mix fabric which means that it fits beautifully but still has a little stretch for comfort.
I ordered this in the smallest size available: US 12, which is about a UK 16. I think I would have done better overall with a US 10 (UK 14) as the waist would have been more fitted, although the trade-off is that the bust area would have been much too small. As it is, the US 12 fitted pretty well with the sash belt tied tightly around my waist and the dress felt very comfortable.
I did find the bust area a bit too small for my boobs. When I wore this dress recently I had to pin the wrapover section together in order to preserve my modesty and I was so afraid it would tear the fabric but it stayed put for over eight hours without causing damage. In time I will probably permanently stitch the bust area together but as I am not the world's best seamstress the mere thought of this makes me feel anxious! I could always wear a vest underneath to solve the problem and eradicate the need for sewing but I love the way it looks without one.
I was really pleased to find that the dress came complete with a sash belt, which finished off the look for me. Without it, my waist would not have been as defined as we can see in the photos above. The belt can be worn in a number of ways; in my photos I have simply placed the sash on my waist and tied it at the back. When I wore the dress for a recent night out, I wrapped it around twice and then tied it at the back, giving my waist a bit of support as well as definition. Tying it at the front or side are other looks which work well. I have also tried the dress with my own chunky belts and they look great! Introducing a coloured belt works really well, too.
The skirt is fully lined with a polyester underskirt, which preserves one's modesty, stops static clinging and helps hide a VPL and other lumps and bumps. For me, the skirt was rather too long to start with but I persuaded my mum to shorten it for me and now it is perfect. All she did was to fold the hem over a couple of times and carefully stitch it in place with invisible thread. She did the same with the underskirt but used regular black thread for that. Big thanks go to my talented mum!
This is a really great dress to wear for summer parties and events, and works with a pashmina or bolero/shrug for when the weather turns cooler.
I feel so elegant and stylish in this dress - it drapes beautifully and swishes and swoops as I walk. I have received a lot of compliments whilst wearing it and someone even said I looked glamorous! Inside I always feel like I'm about 18 so it's always a thrill when someone pays me such an amazing compliment.
Sadly my dress is now sold out on the IGIGI website - each item is sold in limited quantities in order to keep the collections exclusive - but there are heaps more lovely pieces available so do check them out. Here are some of my current favourites (who am I kidding - I love all IGIGI clothing!):
The Avanti Dress - beautiful colours and pattern.
The Amrita Gown - similar to my Naime dress but with a non-wrap bust area and a beaded belt instead of a sash.
The Catarina Maxi Dress - blue and purple; what more could a girl want?
These dresses are all part of IGIGI's latest collection: Voyage Exotique, which is inspired by far-flung locations including Japan, Africa, The Tropics and Ibiza. There is a short video here if you'd like to have a peek http://www.igigi.com/inmotion?linkid=topmenu.
IGIGI pride themselves in providing quality clothing for plus sized women. They even have a 'ShapeStylist' section which helps customers decide their body shape and offers them the chance to 'Shop My Shape'.
Surprise, surprise, I came up as an Hourglass; the Shop My Shape recommendations for an Hourglass are here. Fantastic - it saves me trawling through the whole site wondering if certain styles will or won't suit me. Of course, I still have the option of buying whatever I want but I do like these sorts of systems which online retailers seem to be embracing more and more as it shows that they are beginning to develop an awareness that plus sized women (or women of any size, for that matter) don't want to be stuck with wearing baggy, shapeless clothing. We want to embrace and show off our bodacious curves and companies like IGIGI are leading the way to help us achieve this.
I am really delighted to have been given the opportunity to try out an IGIGI dress for myself and can thoroughly recommend them to you. The fit, design, fabric and service is of a superior standard and I am sure your first IGIGI purchase won't be your last. I know I won't be able to resist the lure of these gorgeous pieces for long!