I expect you are already familiar with my wonderful friend, Georgina from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, and the dress she helped design for Lady V: the Estella.
Image courtesy of Lady V London
I fell in love with this dress immediately; not only was it modelled by Georgina herself, so of course it looked flipping amazing, but also it was a curve-friendly cut that allowed for larger busts and smaller waists.
When the lovely team at Lady V offered me an Estella to try, I was so excited! I ummed and ahhed about which one to go for and in the end I opted for a print and hue that I might not usually choose. I picked the Cream Birdcage Estella Dress (no longer available, but was £50.00, UK sizes 14-32).
Image courtesy of Lady V London
I went for this option as I don't have many white/cream dresses, and as this was back in the hot summer months the light print seemed to be just the ticket. I requested a size 18 and hoped that although my bust exceeded the measurements on the size chart the dress would still work for me.
These photos were taken back in the summer when I was staying at a hotel as I was working away from home. For reference, I am wearing my Ewa Michalak S Pieprzyk 32KK/70KK bra in these photos, with a pair of stiletto platform heels from Primark.
First of all, the print of this dress is SO pretty. I have plenty of dresses with bold prints, modern prints, loud and garish prints, but this dress is in a different dimension entirely. In a way I suppose it is rather an old-fashioned print, but it is so pretty and girly, and perfect for summer. If my darling Granny was still alive I know she would have adored this print, and it makes me think of her as she loved bird-watching in her garden.
Unfortunately, as you can see from these photos, the dress just didn't work for me. It was not big enough on the bust, and the shoulders and waist are far too big for me. I have to say this came as a huge disappointment and I admit I shed tears over this dress when I first tried it on. A few days later, though, I tried it again and this time added a belt to cinch my waist and a pin to secure the neckline so that my bra was no longer on show.
This was such a vast improvement! The closed neckline makes the dress decent, and the belt highlights my waist and gives a better shape to the dress. The shoulders are still too big for me but because the fit looks better overall I don't think this is particularly noticeable to anyone except for me as the wearer.
The fabric of the dress is very light and the 97% cotton/3% elastane mixture provides a little bit of stretch if required. The dress washes and wears well - in the photos you might notice the dress is rather crumpled but these pictures were taken with the dress straight out of the packaging so it's not surprising it's a little creased. I can confirm, though, that once the dress has been washed, it should require minimal or no ironing. I wash my dress in the washing machine (I wash everything except sheets and towels on a cold wash) and hang the damp dress on a coat hanger to dry. I've never needed to iron it but some people might find a light press gets those very fine creases out.
The flared skirt is absolutely lovely - it is very full and if wished this can be accentuated with a petticoat (I am not wearing one in any of these photos). I kind of wish this dress had pockets as I do love them and I know lots of other women do, too!
Lengthwise the dress is good as it covers my knees. Adding a belt makes the dress a little shorter as the material is pulled in but it's still a decent length. The dress fastens with a concealed zip at the side, which I found I didn't need to undo to put the dress on but it certainly came in handy when getting the dress off as it was a bit tricky getting it over my boobs.
The cap sleeves are fab and don't cut in at all. I did find them to be rather on the large size for my arms but I don't think they look out of place. The crossover bust is great but those with large breasts like me might need to add a modesty cami or vest underneath, or either sew or pin the neckline closed.
I had excitedly ordered the Estella in a number of other prints when it first came out, but because the fit of this one was not right I reluctantly sent them all back and resigned myself to the fact that the Estella was not for me.
A few weeks later, I was visiting Georgina and she was kind enough to let me try on one of her Estella dresses - the Red Wine Polka Dot Estella (£50.00, UK sizes 8-32).
Image courtesy of Lady V London
These dresses were custom fit and had been made to Georgina's own measurements, rather than being the standard UK sizing. I couldn't believe what a difference there was - it fitted pretty well! Georgina was generous enough to let me keep the dress as she had ended up with two of them. Thanks, doll!
For reference, I am wearing my Ewa Michalak S Tęczowe Kfiaty bra 32KK/70KK in these photos, along with some tights from Matalan and killer high heels from Primark.
Being picky, I found the dress to still be lacking room on the bust, and the waist was a bit too big for me, but this custom fit dress was so close to being perfect that I didn't mind giving it a bit of help to make it work. As with the Cream Birdcage Estella, I pinned the dress at the bust to preserve my modesty and added my beloved Igigi Obi Belt...
It works really well! I always receive compliments when I wear this dress so it's become one of my favourites. I adore the burgundy colour of the fabric and it's just so comfortable to wear.
I had planned to write this review as a 'standard fit vs custom fit' post but as neither dress was the perfect fit I decided this wasn't the best way to go and so stuck with a regular review post instead. Custom fit was something Lady V offered until very recently, when they had to withdraw the service due to high demand for their standard fit dresses. I hope it's something they bring back at some point as I am sure it will prove invaluable for women like me who find it almost impossible to get a great fit from regular sized garments.
The great news is that since the first Estellas were released, Lady V London have revisited their sizing and now the dresses fit quite differently. They have also stitched up the crossover bust so thankfully there is no chance of inadvertent bra show. Georgina tells me she is very happy with the fit of the standard sized 16; I tried one myself recently and found it way too tight in the bust so I returned it in the hope that I could try an 18 but sadly it was out of stock. Hopefully I'll be able to try one another time.
So, I am pleased to say that what started off as a dress that didn't work for me has now turned into one that does, and I am excited to see what prints the dress comes out in next.
You can read more reviews of the Estella here:
Estellas are available in UK sizes 8-32, and you can see the current range here.