Bonmarché David Emanuel Red Pleated Dress

Bonmarché is a UK high street store that has been around for over 50 years.  

Bonmarché Home Page

There’s a branch in my local town and I’ve often popped in there to have a look around, either when shopping with my mum or on my own.  It’s aimed at more mature ladies, stocking lots of ‘classic’ items with generous cuts so I’ve not bought many things from there in the past.  Having said that, on the odd occasion I have picked up general everyday items such as a pair of work trousers or a cardigan, so it’s always worth a look.

Bonmarché are specialists in plus size clothing, stocking items in sizes 12 to 24.  They have recently launched a new extended collection in sizes 26 to 32, so are making a real effort to embrace this corner of the clothing market.  I love this blue plus size printed maxi evening gown:

Image courtesy of Bonmarché

At only £32 it’s a real bargain and would be wearable all year round, with a cardi, shrug or jacket in cooler months and nothing but sandals and a smile in the summer!

A few weeks ago I was out shopping with my mum and we happened to nip into a Bonmarché as she needed to get a refund.  I had a nose around the store whilst she was at the till and spotted this David Emanuel red pleated dress (£35):

Image courtesy of Bonmarché

I loved the ruched section on the waist, which I have found works so well for me on other dresses I own, such as my Wallis jersey dresses.  I decided to take a size 14 (the smallest in store) to try on in the changing rooms.  Cue some slightly fuzzy and rather dark changing room snaps…

It actually was a pretty good fit overall!  I loved the colour and it seemed to suit me quite well.

The wrapover bust area is great for us boobalicious ladies but the boob room is clearly lacking, sadly.  Not only was it fairly meagre, but also reasonably tight, which can be seen in some of the pics above.  Additionally, if I bought this dress I would have to wear a vest or cami underneath for modesty as I don’t think so much cleavage and bra on display would be the ideal look!  However, as this is an evening or event dress, I think it would look rather nice with a black cami with lace edging for that added bit of glam.  I would also wear a shrug or bolero as it’s way too cold at this time of year to be heading out with bare arms.

I was seriously impressed with the cut of the armholes – no bra show at all!   This is a rare thing for high street stores so if the boob room had been right this dress would have been a very tempting prospect.

The waist fitted me pretty well – the 12 would have been perfect I think but it would undoubtedly have been super tight on my boobs and no good at all.  The ruched effect was every bit as good as I’d hoped, nipping me in but also helping to disguise any lumps and bumps.

When I first saw this dress, I must admit that I dismissed it because of the pleated skirt.  I was convinced that it wouldn’t look right on me and would highlight my flaws.  I was also concerned about it possibly looking too ‘old’ on me.

However, as you can see from the pics above, it actually works pretty well!  Being a polyester/elastane mix, the fabric is fairly light and flexible so the pleats open up on the wider area across my hips and bottom, but retain their form at the waist and on the lower half of the skirt.  The photos can’t show how movement affects the look of the skirt but I can assure you that it looked lovely and the pleats rippled and swished very elegantly.

I think in order for a smooth silhouette underneath this dress I would choose to wear shapewear (which I am not wearing here) as the silky jersey material can be a little unforgiving on one’s bulges.  I don’t think anything heavy duty would be required but just something to avoid a VPL, such as my Gok Wan Pull Me In Pants, would be a good idea.

All in all, I was pretty impressed with this dress.  I think it would be ideal for wearing over the festive period, but would also be suitable to wear to a summer wedding or party due to the fact it is sleeveless.

I have just discovered that the dress is also available in black (£35):

Image courtesy of Bonmarché

This is an interesting prospect!  Black is of course a classic colour and very versatile – I am not sure which I prefer out of this and the red.

I also love this short sleeved striped jersey dress (£25):

Image courtesy of Bonmarché

It looks perfect for work but could also be dressed up with accessories and a smart cardi or jacket for a more formal event.

My mum has had some great successes from Bonmarché, including this blue longline abstract feather print top (currently on sale at only £15):

Image courtesy of Bonmarché

She is very slim but also busty and this fits her perfectly in a size 12.  The colours are beautiful too.  Mum doesn’t like to wear belts but this top has ties at the back which pull in the waist subtly but enough to define her shape.

She also wears this blue floral empire line top (£16.50) well:

Image courtesy of Bonmarché

Again, the colours are lovely on her and she looks very smart when she wears this.  It also has ties at the waist to give a bit of definition. Spot on!

So, if you haven’t checked out Bonmarché before I would heartily recommend that you give them a go.  Of course not everything will be to everyone’s taste but I am sure you will find at least a few items that catch your eye.



  1. Sophisticated Pair
    20 November 2012 / 20:24

    I love the red dress on you! I think the color is lovely. I wish I could wear that length of dress, but since I tend to wear mostly flats now, I try to keep everything knee length or higher. 🙁

    • Curvy Wordy
      21 November 2012 / 20:13

      Thank you – it's certainly a lovely dress. I wear mostly flats too but am not a fan of my legs so anything below the knee is fine by me! x

  2. Anonymous
    21 November 2012 / 19:59

    You look absolutely stunning in this! I had no idea Bon Marche did such great dresses so thank you for bringing this to my attention. Its a shame the dress is not bigger across the bust for you. I hope Bon Marche have taken note!!!! 🙂

    • Curvy Wordy
      21 November 2012 / 20:15

      Thanks – I agree that it's a real pity about the boob room as that's what stopped me buying this dress. Fingers crossed this feedback will be considered in the future.

  3. Anonymous
    24 November 2012 / 16:43

    Ive just stumbled accross your fantastic blog and as a result bought the black dress today, itsa lovely fit, fab for xmas, thank you!

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