Product Review: The Story of Princess Ella

Hello Everyone,

Flash back to 2002. I was 16, a senior in high school, and on a desperate hunt for a dress to wear to my prom that was not neon, a potato sack, or too revealing. Everything I tried in my increasingly self-defeating quest would not zip over my boobs in the size which fit my waist, and after two hours of tedium and disappointment, I nearly cried when I stumbled upon a hidden size 12 dress, out of place and wedged between two spaghetti strap dresses (uh, no).  My prom salvation was a sleeveless, A-line dress in an ethereal silver color, and the best part? A corset-style back which laced up as tight as I needed it around the waist without mashing my breast tissue into an unflattering blob. Sold!

Me and my aforementioned prom dress posing with my grandmother.
Me and my aforementioned prom dress posing with my grandmother.

Since then, I’ve often wondered why we don’t see more flexible sizing and fit elements incorporated into designs for clothing, whether that means a lace-up back, a tie element, or something else I’m not creative enough to conceive at the moment. Imagine how much easier clothes shopping would be if you had the ability to tighten or loosen certain areas of a garment without resorting to alterations. Patricia of Bolero Beachwear, who has been flush with new ideas the last few months, tackled this problem and created the Princess Ella Dress, a knee-length A-Line dress with a wide sweetheart neckline and corset back with interchangeable ribbons.

Princess Ella Dress from Bolero
Princess Ella Dress from Bolero

I joked with Patricia about my black dress obsession and how I need to inject some color, and like a true enabler (or as I learned last week, a “sonsacador” en espanol), Patricia sent a gorgeous black Princess Ella dress with a box full of colored ribbons along with a printed version for the review. As with all Bolero products, the dresses are made in the USA under ethical working conditions and feature a lightweight polyblend fabric which never wrinkles, dries quickly, and is ideal for travel. The elasticity of the fabric also allows some flexibility in sizing and fit, making them a favorite among fuller-busted people.

Ella_1
Close up of the lacing. The black is lightly laced, and the print is fully laced.

Ella_6 Ella_5

Because of that pesky weight gain I keep mentioning but not losing, I am wearing the size medium here, and in other clothes, I am wearing around a size 10/12. The medium fits beautifully and accommodates my UK size 30HH/32H chest easily. Even without the unique lace-up back, I love the shape and design of the Princess Ella. Three quarter sleeves are exceptionally flattering and versatile, thus enabling the dress to transition throughout the year, and the open sweetheart neckline reminds me of several Disney princes gowns. Center ruching contours to the bust and combined with the fabric gives people wearing D+ cups a comfortable fit.

Once upon a time, there lived an over-worked princess, named Ella . . .
No princess dress is complete without an origin story, so:  “Once upon a time, there lived an over-worked, youthful, and naive princess named Ella . . .
She was passionate about many things, including a proper bra fit.
She enjoyed many things, including reading, writing, and walking her three white dragons . . .
She loved to help people find the right size and style bra for them and decided to open a store.
And she was passionate about the gorgeous trinkets and baubles found in the magical Lingerie World  . . .

Tailored at the waist, Princess Ella falls gently down the body in a soft A-line shape and lands slightly above the knee for a length and silhouette appropriate for work or for dancing. Unlike the Erica and Carmen dresses which use a circle skirt bottom, Ella drops straighter in the front although not as tightly as the Kim Skater Dress or the classic DD+ sleeveless. The use of a slightly roomier skirt is a nice compromise for anyone wanting a flare without the extra fabric or pleats of the Erica and Carmen.

In particular, she really loved the mystical art of bra fitting and apprenticed herself to the all-knowing Google to learn more.
She especially loved the mystical art of bra fitting and apprenticed herself to the all-knowing Google to learn more.
Over time, she began practicing this art on all of her friends and family much to their delight.
Over time, she began practicing this art on all of her friends and family much to their delight.

However, the practical yet whimsical addition of the ribbon-laced back sets Princess Ella apart. The sewn-in loops can be laced with anything from thinner cords to beautiful ribbons, allowing you to customize the overall look from day to day. For the reviews, I used the ribbons Patricia sent in the dress, but I love the idea of experimenting on the solid black with a variety of textures, weights, and colors. As intended, the ability to lace the back tighter or looser improves the overall fit and can open the design to multiple body shapes.

But Princess Ella was sad because she wanted to help more experience the wonder of the bra fitting arts.
But Princess Ella was sad because she wanted to help more people experience the wonder of the bra fitting arts.
And so she set out a picnic and thought of what she could do . . .
And so she set out a picnic and thought of what she could do to help others . . .
. . . not realizing she inadvertently destroyed a kingdom of the Red Ant who took retaliation on her legs and feet while the photos of this story were taken.
. . . not realizing she inadvertently destroyed a kingdom of the angry and vengeful Red Ant who took retaliation on her legs and feet while the photos of this story were taken.

My only caveat at the moment is the solid black color and three quarter sleeves (two things I love so much) are just too damn hot to wear right now. We had a high of 98 today with a “please enjoy this water while you breathe” level of humidity, and the thought of wearing anything other than sleeveless and airy was just too much for me!

After drinking her herbal tea, Princess Ella decided there was only one thing she could do . . .
While drinking a celebratory brew after defeating the Ant Kingdom, Princess Ella decided there was only one thing she could do:  Open a Lingerie Shop.  If only Princess Ella knew what she had gotten herself into then, she’d have stuck with defeating ants . . . The End.”

If you’re new to Bolero, I recommend reading through my past reviews as each dress is a little different. Princess Ella makes for a lovely entry into the shapes, and I think the corset component could complement a more pin-up inspired fabric like stripes or polka dots well.

Erica

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Product Review: The Story of Princess Ella
Erica
Erica is a lover all things lingerie and is passionate about helping people find the bra which fits and flatters. Side passions include reading, writing, hiking, dairy-free food, walking her Jack Russell terrorists, and dying her hair everything from black to red.

7 thoughts on “Product Review: The Story of Princess Ella

  • June 23, 2016 at 12:49 pm
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    The long maxi by Bolero is very flattering and forgiving during my arbitrary weight gain. I’m looking forward to taking it on vacation due to its easy care nature- my next trip is a honeymoon in New Mexico in August. Pics will happen, oh yes. Will send to you and Patricia.

    Reply
    • Erica
      June 24, 2016 at 12:54 pm
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      Yes! I am wearing my maxi today, and it really does glide over curves a bit. I think her dresses can be very accommodating of any weight gain or shape changes. She’s even got great pictures of ladies wearing them for maternity. Please please please send pics! <3 And have a blast on your honeymoon too!

      Reply
  • June 23, 2016 at 9:09 pm
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    I see from the sweet pic of you and your grandma that you’ve always had *all* the style! That prom dress was a real find — and I’m equally smitten with Patricia’s corset back offerings. (Though like you, I’ll have to wait for fall to wear them … I’m a lot farther north than you are, but even New England gets that “hot washcloth over the face” kind of humidity in the summer…)

    Reply
    • Erica
      June 24, 2016 at 12:58 pm
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      Hi Sarah! Thank you! <3 Although, I was a tomboy for the better part of my life, so style only came in later in life. I credit my mom getting me into What Not to Wear as the source of my fashion bug. Plus, she and my grandma always took me shopping. 🙂 The corset back is great on Princess Ella too though. We've had a strange couple seasons here. I kind of thought I could wear it a little bit, but even for us, it's HOT right now. Oh well, it'll cool off eventually, lol.

      Reply
  • June 24, 2016 at 1:05 pm
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    You always amazed me with your creativity Erica! You are a truly artist writing and telling stories and I’m so happy that our Princess Ella not only fits and flatters your beautiful curves, but also inspired you to write such a sweet and beautiful story to describe a dress.
    I’m so happy to find solutions to issues with fit and the inspiration comes from almost any situation: a photo, someone on the street, even a conversation with someone with great ideas to improve life, like you.
    I created this dress after seeing many images of women complaining -even in blogs- and the need for alteration for dresses that look nice on the front but the back is not flattering at all! And who has time -and sometimes money- to find a good alteration place? just because someone owns a sewing machine, doesn’t mean they can do a good alteration. How many times we buy something that looks nice in the hanger -or the mannequin- knowing is not flattering on us, let’s say in the back, with the idea of fixing it later…? I’m guilty of that. We manufacture clothes and fixing something takes precious time we need for production and so many times, the problem is beyond repair. So what happen next? Donation!
    And weight issues? I think mostly of us go up and down many times in our lives just for any circumstance and not only we are afraid of the scale, but also to try clothes taking space in our closet, waste our time, energy and just feel disappointment when looking ourselves in the mirror.

    And that’s when Bolero comes to the rescue 🙂 We test our patterns, fit, make corrections and by using stretch materials, our dresses are perfect for those between sizes.
    It’s interesting to inform our costumers that our fabrics: 90% poly-10% spandex- is NOT bathing suit fabric. The composition of our fabric is the same we found in some of Ralph Lauren dresses. Such a wonderful material, soft on your body, wrinkle resistant, goes to washer and dryer, dries quick and is perfect for travels!
    Didn’t mean to write such a long comment but I’m so passionate about what I do….I guess you already know it!
    Thanks to you for taking the time, energy and LOVE to inform and describe our styles, I really, really appreciate it because a beautiful photo in our website is not telling the whole story, and you are!

    Reply
    • Erica
      June 25, 2016 at 2:00 pm
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      Hi Patricia! I am so happy this very long awaited review panned out well. 🙂 I wanted to do it justice, and I think this really showcases how beautiful and versatile the dress can be. You are constantly coming up with great ideas, and I love how you listen to people and find out what would make them happier or what make the dresses fit better. Then you sit down and ocme up with something fabulous! I have told you before I think many of your dresses are on par quality-wise with DVF’s jersey wraps. The fabric has a noticeable texture difference, and you can feel and see the quality. I don’t have a single Bolero dress that looks worn. That’s important for me because I don’t spent a lot of money on clothes, so what I do buy should be able to last. You do such a wonderful job, and I’m just glad we could do the product justice! Maybe the Ant Kingdom was actually trying to steal my beautiful dress?

      Reply
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