DDatelier Review: Safari and Lisbon Sheath Dresses

I have a confession to make: I’ve never really been one for dresses. In fact, a full disclosure – at the moment, I own a grand total of 3 dresses: one stretchy JC Penney dress from the Junior’s section, a black dress from Target, and a recently-acquired green stretchy dress (that I actually really love with a waist belt) from Nordstrom Rack. Truth be told, dresses scare me a bit, and this – combined with the fact that it’s hard for me to find one that fits, let alone one I feel is my style and that I’m comfortable in – has made it so that I rarely even think about wearing them.

Because of my general disinterest in dresses, I’ve always felt a bit “behind” in terms of fashion, especially compared to the many other fashion and bra bloggers who love wearing them. To my credit, I’ve been making very gradual and tentative movements towards trying more things out. I was able to try on a bunch of things of Miss Shapen’s when we were at Curve last week, and it further solidified my resolve to once and for all again dive into the world of figuring out dresses! I took a leap a few days ago and ordered both a BiuBiu Honeypool Dress (aka “The Star Trek Dress”, which is on clearout sale at this very moment!) and an Urkye Kiecka Tubowa (also on sale!), so it’ll be interesting to review those at some point in the near future.

But on to the main subject of this post! Last month, when I was in the throes of trying to better understand the world of dresses, I contacted bust-friendly clothing company DDatelier about sizing questions that I and a few readers have had. I mentioned the possibility of doing a blog review, and they graciously offered to send me two pieces for review purposes.

There was some discussion about what size that I should choose. The DDatelier sizing system has body/waist sizes of 65-80 and uses letters D, F, H to basically indicate “curvy, really curvy, super curvy”. Evidently my measurements given (37/27/36, 28H) indicated about a size 75D on the size chart, but based on my blog pictures, they said that they would recommend a 75F. I asked if perhaps a 70F would be a better choice as I was concerned about the 75 being roomy in the waist, and they agreed that a 70F would be a good choice based on my height (5’4).

The first dress provided was the Brown Safari Dress.
List Price: Currently on sale for €36.00 ($48.15)
Material: 98% cotton, 2% elastane
Size: 70F

The Safari dress is a nice dark brown color, with snap-buttons down to about belly-button area. I had never tried a dress quite like this one before, but I found that the style really grew on me. I liked the fact that the dress looks very appropriate for the office, but that I also looked (in the words of a fellow blogger) “pretty badass” in it with my short pixie-punk haircut. Also, the husband thinks it’s sexy, so there’s that.

The size of 70F seemed almost right for me in this dress. I’m not used to form-fitting clothing that isn’t pretty stretchy, so the entire dress felt rather snug to me at first. After wearing it for a bit, though, I decided that it really was mostly just a little small in the bust area. You can see that I get a slight bit of gaping in the front buttons. However, I will add that if I was wearing a bra that was a little more “uplifting” – I tend to have trouble finding a bra that really “holds ’em up” due to my shape – the fact that my bustline would sit a bit higher might make the top portion a little less tight. It’s something I’ll try to experiment with, anyway. I think this dress would work best with a really good, uplifting, low plunge bra that creates some nice cleavage.

I felt the dress was fairly flattering overall, but it didn’t really highlight my figure as much as I might’ve hoped. The way the buttons sat down the front also seemed to create the illusion of a slight “pooch” on my lower stomach where I don’t actually have one.

The dress looks nice from the back (although the butt pocket is a bit random!), but I found the shoulders/upper arm area somewhat tight. The above picture shows the highest I can raise my arms. I don’t think this is necessarily a size problem, but rather just the way the dress is cut. It doesn’t make the dress unwearable by any means, but I wouldn’t be able, for example, to lift things and put them on a higher shelf very easily while wearing the Safari.

Although the dress has belt-loops, it doesn’t come with a belt. The site notes that the Safari would “look great with a waist-cinching belt”. So, although I didn’t have a belt thin enough to fit through the loops, I improvised with a black waist belt:

I think it works, but would be interested to see it how a thinner belt would look as well. Belts and dresses in general are a little tricky on me because of my “figure 8” shape (more on this in the future!) and my higher-set and not-as-well-defined hips. But all things considered, I found the dress very workable.

Overall, the Safari is an interesting, fairly practical (I totally spelled that as piratical at first, which I suppose also could work…) dress that I feel suits my personal style pretty well (which is saying a lot for a dress). It’s not “fussy”, and I like that. It would’ve been nice to try out a 70H to see if that helped the bust/shoulder tightness – or possibly a 75F, especially if the whole dress tends to shrink in the wash, but I’d be a bit concerned that it would be a little roomy overall and still not a great fit in the bust, which is sort of not the point of getting a bust-friendly dress! It’s not a perfect piece for me, but I would be comfortable wearing this to an office setting or just out and around as a slightly-dressed-up casual look.

The second dress DDatelier sent for me to try was the Lisbon Sheath in Cyan.
List Price: Currently on sale for €49.00 ($65.53)
Material: 62% cotton, 33% polyester, 5% spandex
Size: 70F

This dress is another that would be great for office wear, and the greyish blue color is lovely. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the dress over my shoulders/bust. I gave it to a friend of mine in the 30E/28F range who agreed to try it out, and she ended up loving it:

She found the dress flattering and comfortable. It’s a little roomy on her, but she prefers a dress that isn’t too clingy. Based on both of our experiences, I’d estimate that the dress would probably work well for up to about the 28G/30FF range (possibly a size or two bigger depending on individual shape, etc).

My friend’s overall shape works well with this dress, although I suspect that even in the right size, it wouldn’t work nearly as well on my body type because of my short torso/high hipline. Since my shape seems to be more uncommon, I feel this dress would be a solid choice for most.

Overall, I really appreciated getting a chance to finally try out DDatelier for myself. It’s great to see another company out there that provides a variety of options for busty ladies, and I especially appreciate that the size guide allows for waist sizes down to about 22-23″, as women in this range – particularly bustier women – often have a terribly difficult time finding anything that flatters and fits.

Although the sizing will of course vary based on everyone’s individual shape and preference as well as raw measurements, I think that I personally might feel more comfortable in a 70H in some dresses like the Safari (or a 75F – I just would be concerned it would make the dress too roomy overall), and might be able to do maybe a 75F on other dresses that are very form-fitting. I’m sure some dresses that are a bit more forgiving/open in the top area could also work well for me in a 70F. Bottom line, I think it comes down to preference; I like clothing to be fitted at the waist but not constricting elsewhere, and I think that balance will perhaps be reflected in various sizes depending on the dress. Although the site page notes that “DDatelier sizes are based on bra sizes UK 30-38 D-G”, I think it’s evident from my experience and other reviews I’ve read that the pieces can work beautifully for women even well outside this range.

Currently, other DDatelier pieces that are catching my eye include the Mimosa Dress and the Floral Print Tunic Shirt (I must be in a “light and flowy” mood). What do you think about DDatelier?