Thursday, 14 January 2010

What you want - 3: Jumper Dresses

Before I begin what will be a list of clothes with prices, pictures and handy links for ease of purchase, I feel a bit bad about advocating spending on inessentials from time to time - and never more so than today, in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake.  Times are bloody tough, and I don't want to guilt-trip anyone... but if you had been thinking of donating to help the survivors, let me make it easy for you.  Here's a link to the Disasters Emergency Committee's website - if you want to give and haven't got round to it yet, then I don't mind at all if you do that first and then come back and read the blog later.

Okay, so: jumper dresses.  Or as Roxanne put it in an email to me:

Jumper dresses, please! For all shapes/sizes/occasions.

And it's the 'shapes/sizes' bit that worries me, if I'm honest: jumper dresses are unforgiving in all kinds of ways. Take the one above as an example (£28, Dorothy Perkins) It's a chunky knit, so will add bulk, short and tight and so will widen the thigh and cling to the tummy, has a high neck to make your boobs look matronly, short sleeves to accentuate the width of the upper torso and it even has pockets like saddlebags on your already beleaguered thighs.  And yes, this was the worst example I could find, but there were loads to choose from.  This dress would suit someone tall, with great legs and a boyish figure - which isn't many of us. 

So is it all doom and gloom?  Not entirely.  I can see the snuggly appeal, but I have to confess, I'm not convinced by jumper dresses - they're not for me. However, not everyone is quite so short of leg, wide of thigh or big of boob...  They're not for everyone but there is a jumper dress out there for most of you.

In a wearable green (and also cream) is this rather charming empire line frock from Peacocks.  It's £16, and available from size 6-20.  At that price we can't expect great quality, which is a shame because this is a great design. The deep scoop neck is buxomly flattering for all but the largest boobs, and notice how the cable knit pattern (in flattering verticals) is a smaller width over the boobs - giving a minimising look where the dress is tightest.  The looser skirt is flattering over less-that-toned tums, hips, bums and thighs, and would look fine over jeans or trousers if you feel more comfortable covered-up.  (You can, of course wear tighter dresses over trousers, but it's an unfamiliar silhouette and only really looks good with tight-profile trousers.)  In an ideal world I wouldn't have had the pockets, and the sleeve is still a little short, but I like this.

Similar in style, but slightly less forgiving (and anyway, only available up to a 16) is this rather stylish frock from French Connection.  It's a little bit retro teaparty, a little bit Parisienne - think cream opaque tights and dolly shoes.  It's delightful colour (versatile and suits just about everyone) and a huge bargain at £45.50 reduced from £90 - if I were a size 16 I'd snap it up.

The next dress will best suit less hourglassy types because of its gorgeous, sophisticated lines.  It's rather 1930s, I think, and the long sleeves and far longer-than-usual skirt length make it perfect for those going for an elegant look with sheer stockings.  I'm less inspired by the grey, but it comes in black and french navy (the site wouldn't let me lift the photos of those colour options) in sizes up to an XL - roughly a 16-18.  It's by Great Plains, who I know nothing about, and it's reduced from £50 to £36.  Monsoon have a similar style (right) in black, for £60 - sizes 14-18 online, though with Monsoon, other sizes may well be instore.

Lastly, one for the more buxom.  Monsoon have a few knitted dresses, of which the one I've mentioned and the one above - while not traditional jumper dresses, are by far the most flattering options.  This dress is my favourite, because of it's hugely flattering wrap neckline, sensible length and full sleeves. It's £55 but sadly only available in the pale grey and in size 'large' online (again, try your local stores - Monsoon's stock control doesn't seem to be centralised).

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