Forever 21+ Femme Polka Dot Peplum Dress 1X

At the end of August, I went shopping at Westfield Stratford and London’s west end with two of my lovely friends: Hanna from The Wardrobe Challenge and Mouna from Brussels Fatshion.  We had a terrific day together and literally shopped till we dropped!

Whilst at Westfield we went to Forever 21.  This is the only branch in London with a plus size section so it’s always worth a look.

I had a good look through the collection and it will probably come as no surprise to you to hear that this Forever 21+ Femme Polka Dot Peplum Dress (£14.75) caught my eye:

Image courtesy of Forever 21

I tried the 1X on in the changing room and after some admiring words from Hanna I decided to make it mine! In fact, I loved this dress so much that I bought it in this red/black colourway and also the black/white option, which doesn’t seem to be available on the website just now.

(Apologies for the grainy appearance of some of these photos – I was using a camera timer app on my iPhone and the flash decided not to go off.  By the time I realised how dark some of the pics were it was too late so I have tried to make them lighter in order to use them on this post.)

This dress is SO comfortable to wear.  It’s 95% cotton and 5% spandex so it is great for wearing during the summer and has some stretch to help achieve a good fit.  The peplum adds a bit of girly flair and can help cover the tummy, which is great if that’s a problem area.  It also helps to add the illusion of curvy hips, or to accentuate those that are already very curvy!

There is plenty of boob room in this dress.  For reference, I am wearing my Ewa Michalak PL Milady bra 30L/65L in these photos.  Ok, the shoulder straps are not in the best position (they need to be a little wider/closer to the shoulder) and the armholes are too big as there is some bra show, but across the bust there is lots of space for my boobs. And there is a hint of cleavage, but not too much, so this would be an ideal dress for work as well as play.  I think it would be absolutely perfect for a first date!

The length is perfect. It’s cited on the Forever 21 site as being 40″ long (based on a 1X, as I am wearing in these photos) and as you can see it sits on the knee on me.  I am around 5’4 so it would be a bit shorter on someone taller.

I love how it can easily be dressed up or down.  I think it looks great with leggings for a more casual, every day look, and of course it works brilliantly with black tights and a pair of sky-high heels.

I am sure it won’t escape your notice that there are a few fit issues with this dress.  Yes, the shoulder straps are in the wrong place and sometimes show my bra straps.  Yes, the waist is too big for me.  Yes, I can see that at some angles the peplum adds bulk.  Yes, the material is rather thin and cheap and so goes ‘silvery’ when stretched out.

But I can’t help but absolutely adore this dress – there is something about it that is so alluring to me.

Naturally, I added a belt to cinch in my waist:

This is my current favourite belt, also from Forever 21.  It’s sold out so it is not showing on the website, but you can read about it here.

As usual, the belt pulls the dress in at the waist and gives my body improved definition.  I feel more comfortable and confident when wearing a belt with these dresses as they really are too baggy around the waist without.

Now on to some bad news.  A few weeks ago, I wore the red/black dress to London for the afternoon on blog business and to attend a bloggers’ event.  I wore the outfit as shown in the photos, so the red/black dress with my black Maidenform leggings and super comfortable Viva La Diva sandals from a couple of summers ago.

I went up on the train, then caught the tube to Oxford Street, where I had to go for a clothing fitting for something blog-related (secret squirrel!).  When I took the dress off at the fitting, I discovered this:

Don’t forget you can click any of my images for an enlarged version

I literally yelped.  Unfortunately, the cheap fabric used to make the dress had ‘fluffed’ with just a few hours’ wear and developed an unsightly layer of white-ish raised thread fibres.  The appearance of the dress was absolutely ruined and I felt embarrassed and ashamed to be seen in something so cheap-looking.

In some ways, I can almost forgive the marks on the waist as this is where I wore my belt so the friction would have caused the problem.  What I absolutely cannot forgive are the marks on the side and backside of the skirt (as seen in the middle image above), which can only have been caused by me sitting on a train seat!  That is completely unacceptable and I took the dress back to Forever 21 for a refund.  I hadn’t even worn the black/white dress for fear of the same thing happening so that was returned as well.

I am in mourning for these dresses.  For me, they had something special about them so it is galling that they do not stand up to even just a few hours’ wear.  This is the first jersey item I have bought from Forever 21 (I own a denim jacket from there but nothing else) so maybe this is par for the course for this fabric?  I would be surprised if it is as I expect better from an international brand like Forever 21.  

The Femme Polka Dot Peplum Dress is such a lovely garment with a cut and shape that would work well on many women.  However, it is such a disappointment that the quality is lacking on this occasion.



  1. Anonymous
    3 October 2013 / 23:02

    I have been eyeing this up on the Forever 21 website for a while now but after reading your review I won't be ordering it. The fact the fabric is crap is just not good enough. Shame on you, Forever 21!

  2. Anonymous
    3 October 2013 / 23:05

    Those really are lovely dresses! Just a wee bit curious, have you heard of ASOS? They've got some gorgeous peplum dresses in the busty range (which accomodates up to a size 16 – based on your high street size/bra size).

  3. Paula Christiansen
    3 October 2013 / 23:51

    Ugh, I was cooing over your photos but then read the problems you experienced with the fabric. That's terrible! I am glad you got a refund but I hope F21 see this and do something about the quality of their materials. Lets face it, us plus size women dont have a lot of choice for plus sized clothing on the high street so Forever 21+ is like a gold mine for us. Such a shame it let you down on this occasion x

  4. Lucy B
    5 October 2013 / 01:03

    I love these dresses on you, they look like they are made to measure apart from the strap issue. It is quite pathetic that Forever 21+ used such shoddy materials though and I think it is unacceptable. When I first saw your post I was ready to run and buy both dresses as you make them look so perfect and SOOOOOO much better than on the model but now I won't touch them with a bargepole because they would be a waste of money. Thanks for the info.

  5. AJ
    5 October 2013 / 01:33

    So not only is the fabric so cheap that it fluffs chronically after just a few hours of wear but also it goes thin and silvery when stretched. If Forever 21 had spent just a tiny bit more on the quality of the fabric both of these issue could have been avoided and your post would have no doubt been 100% positive. What a missed opportunity.

  6. Anonymous
    5 October 2013 / 19:06

    Noooooooo! I so wanted to buy one 🙁 it's hard to find cute plus size dresses

  7. janicewow
    5 October 2013 / 23:22

    f21 is all about cheap altho there's the occasional good piece. I'm always cautious but if I find something nice I buy 2-3 while I can

  8. Anonymous
    6 October 2013 / 05:53

    My parents once almost did business with F21 (decided not to for various reasons), so I've known for years that many of their clothes are made out of cheap, horrible quality fabrics. There are some quality pieces, but those are rather rare.Hopefully you'll find some other wonderful peplum dresses soon. They suited you so well!

  9. Anonymous
    13 October 2013 / 03:50

    I'm shocked they let you return! They have draconian return policies in the US.

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