I think we all have certain elements of clothing we just can’t resist. For me, that element is a beautiful print. In particular, a scenic print. And it honestly doesn’t matter how many scenic print dresses Bernie Dexter produces – I will want them all! I try (with a certain degree of effort) to minimize my scenic print craze to one-print per style, and I’m proud to say that while my resistance often fails on many counts, this is my first of her Paris style dresses.
This stunning Serenity Path Paris cotton swing dress landed on my Lust List a few months back. Though I hate to admit it, I had always subconsciously held myself back from this particular cut, sure I was too top-heavy for it. As a personal rule, if I ever start uttering, “I’m too–” for a particular garment, I usually stop myself short and mentally whack myself on the wrist.
But I still had a bit of trepidation on how the bust would suit me (though I had always admired it on others). As I like my dresses to serve double duty for work and weekend, I wasn’t sure how low cut she would be on my bustier frame, and always passed it by in favor of other styles. But when some lovely ladies at work got me a gift card, I decided the reward was greater than the risk, and merrily added her to the Scenic Print Family (while crossing my fingers she would fit).
For many girls, the Paris is a favorite of Bernie’s arsenal of dresses – and now I can see why. The cut is super flattering and the skirt is so full that I could layer my crinolines to my hearts content (2 and counting here!). Like a good scientist, I did my research prior to purchase and heard many a retro-loving gal advise to size up – I’m really glad I listened. I went with a large in this dress, despite my measurements (35-36″ bust, 27-28″ waist) falling squarely in the medium category. And I’m pleased to say the large turned out to be a perfect fit.
Particularly as I’m proportionally larger in the bust, I will do just about anything to avoid wearing a dress that leaves me concerned all day I might spill out of it – and I was relieved to find I felt really comfortable with the coverage in the bodice. In the large, I felt there was ample cup room without the worry of my cup runneth-ing over, and zero “side boob” (yeah, you large-busted gals know what I mean). I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the elasticized shelf bust actually sat where it was supposed to – I don’t know how many dresses I’ve tried on in the past where the “bust cups” (and I use the term loosely here) cut about midway through the bust line.
The dress has a bit of stretch – I can tell that over time, I may want to take the waist in a smidge, but only because I like a really snug fit. And the print was next to Godliness – it’s vibrant and really saturated, and I feel like a bright summer day just wearing it. The only downside is that the dress is unlined, but due to the thickness of the fabric, it’s not at all sheer. Needless to say, I’m smitten!
Although I thought I’d purged myself of most fashion fears and sing the battle cry of body positivity, I can still get a bit stuck into lingering subconscious “rules” we all set for ourselves. Seeing something beautiful and almost disqualifying myself with an automatic, “I’m too busty for that.” Sometimes you just have to take a risk and go a bit far afield from what you might normally exclude yourself from. And maybe it means sizing up or a quick trip to the tailor – but those are just numbers on a tag or one of the myriad ways you can take control of your clothes (rather than letting them control you).
Next time you go shopping or are browsing a favorite website and your heart stops at the sight of the perfect dress, if you catch yourself saying “I’m too broad-shouldered” or “I’m too pale” or “I’m too —” (fill in the blank with self-criticism of choice), try to check yourself. If you are “too” anything, it’s “too beautiful,” “too fabulous” and “too brave to let negatively win.” We are constantly struggling to stay within the confines of what we feel our bodies permit. Though we all have insecurities and like to downplay certain features while highlighting others, it’s important to push boundaries and expand the parts of our figure we think we’re capable of celebrating (hint: it’s all of it). The only person setting those boundaries, after all, is you.
Now, let’s go and bust down some self-imposed restrictions, shall we?
Dress: Bernie Dexter via Unique Vintage
Headband: Gift (similar)
Belt: Alannah Hill (similar here)
Vanity Case (as a Handbag): Bettina Darling (similar here & here)
Shoes: Seychelles (similar here & here)