Monday 7 July 2014

Clothes for curves: Made in Preston dress review

"Style must be adapted to the woman and not vice versa. The same can be said of clothes." Sophia Loren


   Clothes shopping can be a hugely enjoyable and exhilarating experience; I, for one, love nothing more than to stomp up and down Oxford Street, peruse the rails at my local shopping centre, rummage for treasures in vintage markets and bargain-hunt online. That said, for many women, 'retail therapy' is a far-fetched concept, especially after shopping for hours to come back with nothing other than blistered feet and a sartorial headache!

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   According to a survey, 41% of women find it hard to find clothes that are both 'fashionable and flatter their body shape'. Clothing must therefore deliver on multiple levels - it must suit the individual's body type, appeal to their personal tastes and fit with their lifestyle and budget.

   Shopping on the highstreet can be a particular frustration due to discrepancies in sizing between stores - I even picked up a size 8 and a size 16 in the same store once! Standardised clothing sizes can also only go so far in catering to the wide variety of different body shapes that exist and it comes as no surprise that women are tired of a 'one size fits all' approach..

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   Having a larger bust can also pose its difficulties when clothes shopping; shirts with gaping buttons, dresses that fit at the chest and not at the waist, tops that hang from the bust and swamp one's shape..the list goes on! With an estimated 'third of UK women say[ing] that they have to buy a bigger dress size just to accommodate their breasts', it seems apt that clothing manufacturers should respond to the demand.

   Although there are already some great specialist clothing retailers that cater to the larger bust, such as Pepperberry by Bravissimo, DD Atelier and Saint Bustier, the market has been crying out for younger, trend-led, curve-friendly fashion at affordable price points.    

   If you struggle to find fashionable clothes to fit your curves, Made in Preston may just answer your prayers! Throw out those shapeless smock dresses and gaping shirts and take a look at what MiP has to offer...

    Made In Preston is a clothing, lingerie and swimwear company, created by entrepreneurial young mum, Nikki Hesford, who spotted a gap in the market for a trendy, fuller-bust-friendly fashion brand that picks up where the highstreet leaves off. With a focus on 'creating well-fitting, beautifully made, affordable fashion', the whole Made in Preston range is ethically UK-designed and manufactured in their Preston-based factory.

   Made in Preston immediately struck a chord with me in that they offer a varied sizing range and their lingerie and swimwear collections begin at a (hard-to-find but much needed) 26 back and go up to a 38 back, DD-J cups. Even more excitingly, perhaps, is that Made in Preston have responded to the need for tailored clothing that accomodates for a larger bust. Their clothing range comes in UK sizes 6-16..but that is not where it stops! MiP take into account an additional bust measurement ('Fit', 'Foxy' or 'Fab'), in order to deliver a perfect fit all-over:

   When Nikki reached out to me and asked whether I would like to a review a piece from the collection, I did not have to think twice before accepting excitedly. After consulting the Made in Preston sizing guide, my measurements suggested that an '8 Fit' would work best for me. I double-checked my size with Nikki (as I currently wear between an 8-10 on the highstreet) and a few days later, my Made in Preston parcel arrived on my doorstep!

   The parcel was beautifully packaged in branded tissue paper, sealed with two heart stickers - a lovely touch that really makes the customer feel special! 

   The piece that I opted for was the Made in Preston green leather bodycon dress (£45), a sophisticated, forest green midi dress with faux-leather side panels and a bust-flattering sweetheart neckline..

    After unpackaging my dress, I was immediately impressed with the look and feel of the fabrics. The green bengaline material is stretchy, meaning that the dress is easy to pull on and very comfortable and lightweight to wear.

   I absolutely adore the design of this pencil dress - it is form-flattering and elegant, with just the right amount of modern edge, thanks to the faux-leather details. The 'trompe l'oeil' side panels are a particularly ingenious design feature as they really flatter curves; not only do they emphasise an hourglass shape, but they also give the illusion of an even smaller waist - what's not to like!?

   What I love most about this dress is that it feels as if it has been tailor-made to my measurements and the bust accomodates for (and flatters) my 28FF bust. The sweetheart neckline has always been one of my favourite necklines and the sweetheart cut on this dress is really flattering, delivering just the right amount of cleavage!

   Made in Preston seem to have carefully considered the construction of the bust section of this dress, using diagonal seams and stretch fabric to allow for extra chest room, with a double-lined interior for reinforcement.    

   Although the chest area fits me beautifully, my only gripe is that the stitching is slightly bumpy/ uneven (see picture below), but it luckily does not detract from the look and feel of the dress when worn. 

   Despite the shape calculator stating that a 'Fit' bust measurement is the 'same fit as you'd buy on the highstreet', I do often need to go up a size to accomodate for my bust, so I really appreciated the chest room in this MiP number.

   Other clever design features of this dress are the concealed zip at the back and the adjustable shoulder straps. The zip closure makes this dress very easy to slip on and off (say goodbye to uncomfortable wiggling and shimmying!), whilst the 'bra style' straps of this dress are ideal for delivering an even more tailored-to-you fit!

   As for the overall sizing of this dress, the '8 Fit' really was my perfect match and the dress hugs my body in all the right places, without feeling too restrictive. As a tall girl (5ft10), the midi length of this dress was an added bonus, as the dress finishes conveniently just above my knee! 

   I have now worn this dress out twice - once to a dinner date and once to an evening work event. The dress picked up compliments on both occasions and I can attest to the fact that this dress is comfortable to wear all night long (although the faux leather panels can get quite hot in this Summer heatwave). If you need more proof as to how awesome this dress is, it even survived a moderately competitive game of table tennis!

   This dress is an incredibly versatile piece that suits so many occasions and it is so easy to 'jazz up' with accessories. For my blog pictures, I have kept things simple by adding my black, faux-leather cuff heels from Sfera, a vintage St Michael's gold chain belt and a pair of gold and black metallic earrings that I bought a few years ago (from Miss Selfridge, I think). 

   The little flashes of gold add glamour to the overall look and I didn't even need to add my usual statement necklace, as the sweetheart neckline speaks for itself. The finishing touch was a bold, red lip - perfect for taking this look from day to evening!

   Overall, I am very impressed with my first taster of Made in Preston clothing and this bodycon midi dress was a total triumph for me. The dress really feels as if it has been constructed with curves in mind; from the seams at the chest and waist, to the bust-flattering sweetheart neckline, adjustable shoulder straps and optical illusion panelling. The dress comes in at £45 and is available in both green and 'winter berry' purple.

  It is fantastic to see a new curve-friendly, trend-led brand on the scene that marries fashionable design with a 'combined-size' fit. I cannot wait to see what Made in Preston has in store for fashion-loving, curvy girls next and I am definitely looking forward to trying more from MiP in the future!

   If you're looking to try Made in Preston for yourself, head to - you can get 20% off your first order with the code: "FIRST20" and don't forget that MiP have a Summer sale on at the moment - the ideal time to grab yourself a busty bargain!