Latest Dispatches

Review: Vivien of Holloway Grace Duchess Satin Dress

With the party season upon us, it’s not surprising that considerations for the perfect outfits often find themselves springing back into our minds. Indeed, this was a strong factor for me on my way to the Vivien of Holloway store a few weeks ago – I was on the look out for something timeless that would flatter my shape and make me feel confident for any upcoming event. The Grace Duchess Satin Dress fit the bill perfectly.

What made it so special? Let me elucidate:

The dress consists of a beautiful V neck wrap top that comes up high enough to ensure that the delicate collar bone area as oppose to the bust is drawn attention to. The same V neck applies to the back of the dress, which was so typically popular in the 1950’s to accentuate the femininity of a lady’s back and neck. I absolutely love this cut, not only because I automatically feel taken back to the class of a bygone era, but I also know that after a few glasses of wine (which, let’s be honest, is likely to be had during the festivities) I could dance the night away without fear of anything making an accidental surprise appearance.

The wrap top, which comes to just below the bust line, assures that the dress flatters ladies with all bust sizes, while the waist panel enhances curves by contrasting to the full circle skirt and accommodating to any hip size. This was important to me, as my waist hip ratio is quite big (waist 23.5”/hip 38”), so I often find it difficult to find clothes to fit everywhere.

At this point, I have to take a moment to swoon over the circle skirt. The amount of material to this skirt is incredible.

As soon as I stepped into the dress I started twirling around the shop floor to fully appreciate the intended effect. The shine of the polyester satin material looked beautiful under the lights, and the petticoat I added underneath enhanced the classic silhouette. The length of the skirt (28.5”) was a perfect length for me (I am 5′ 7”) to show off my legs and reveal the cheeky burst of colour from the petticoat. I chose to wear the red Grace Duchess with a white petticoat, and later added a second petticoat in black for extra fabulous volume – as you can see a below.

Now, there are four things about this dress that I would be aware of when considering purchase.

Firstly, The zip is fitted down the middle of the back, so it just looks like a natural part of the cut. This positioning means it’s easy to step into and looks perfect, but you may need an extra pair of hands to do it up (or a coat hanger!) since the zip does not come up very high.

Secondly, because it is such a beautiful dress, I would not machine wash it. My nan is a big fan of knowing whether items are machine washable, so I thought I’d add this little tip in here…it’s worth taking to the dry cleaners.

Thirdly, at first glance, the sizing was a little confusing for me. Usually when I go into a store, I’d pick up a size 6 for my waist and an 8 for my top, but the ladies immediately let me know that I’d be a size 10 in Vivien of Holloway.

The sizes range from a 10 (bust 32”/waist 24”) to a size 24 (bust 46”/waist 38”) so it is NOT the same as regular high street sizing. Don’t let this put you off though. So long as you cross check your measurements to the sizing chart on the website, you’ll be fine.

For myself, being in store was extremely helpful because on the advice of the lovely ladies, I found the wrap top gave room for me to wear a size 10 (bust 32”/waist 24”) despite the material of the dress having no stretch and my measurements being bust 34”/waist 23.5”. So if you still have doubts or worries, I would recommend calling the ladies there (who I have found to be consistently warm and helpful) as a final nerve settler.

Finally, at £110, I realise that it may seem a little pricey for a single dress. However, considering the quality of it, the fact that is won’t go ‘out of fashion’ because it is so classic and the way it made me feel, I was won over. This dress has already sold out once on-line and while it is currently back in stock in all sizes and in a variation of colours (eight other options are available!), I expect that it will fly off the shelves again.

So if you are still deliberating over that perfect holiday dress, perhaps take a look at this on the Vivien of Holloway website and check out the Vivien of Holloway social media pages (@vivienofholloway on Instagram and Facebook) to see other lovely ladies in their Grace Duchess dresses. Or better yet, make a day trip of it and go to the store in London before heading for afternoon tea!

I wish you all a very happy holiday and I hope that you have found my review of the Grace Duchess Satin dress helpful.

Reviewed by Sam Elson for Vivien of Holloway






Sam Elson is an artist, mental health blogger & model @thepinupacademy. She’s a big fan of the fashions of the 1920s-1950s.

You can find her on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/blossomandbuttercups/