“You have way too many books,” my brother, uncle, and cousin all stated repeatedly during my recent move. My book collecting, or hoarding depending on who you ask, began early and never abated, even with the advent of e-readers. Despite the convenience and ease of a Kindle (which I do own), I stubbornly cling to my books, preferring the nostalgic weight of the binding in my hands as I breathe in the musty swirl of ink and paper. My passion for books began with my parents who encouraged me to both value reading and develop my own tastes. They trusted me to pick my own selections, placing precious few limitations on what I could or couldn’t read and allowing me to gravitate to the topics and authors I enjoyed most. I visited the library often, but I also perused my parents’ personal collections for new material too (well, the ones not hidden on higher shelves or in closets *cough* Gerald’s Game *cough*).
When I was around eight, my love of ghost and horror stories was in its infant stages, and I set my sights on a particular black and gray tome etched with silver letters called Tales of Suspense, a collection of short stories from Edgar Alan Poe. I scanned through the table of contents before settling on “The Oblong Box,” which I devoured despise constant interruptions to ask my mom what certain words meant.
With each new story and poem I read from the moody, dark, and phantasmagorical Mr. Poe, my rapture deepened, and I felt as though I discovered a secret world. I could sit in bed, pouring through the pages, reading and rereading. I found a favorite author—a writer, who called to my soul with his words, bringing forth emotions I could scarcely describe, and forcing me to question how I viewed the world. It was also not long after I discovered Poe that I started writing my own stories. I have many authors I enjoy, but only a few I love. Poe is my first and longest lasting.
By now, those of you who persisted this far are probably wondering what any of this has to do with a product review or with my blog in general. Several months ago, I interviewed Nicole from Wild Pigeon Clothing, and she was kind enough to send me a custom dress for review. While scanning her available fabric, I spied a print consisting of a white background with black ravens in flight, immediately reminding me of a poem all self-respecting Baltimoreans have read at least once called “The Raven.” It’s one of Poe’s catchier pieces, like the oft-quoted “Annabelle Lee,” and has formed the strongest visual association with the author. I knew instantly whatever I was going to review needed to have that marvelous fabric, and Nicole listened to my Poe ramblings (like all of you have now) and designed what I call “The Poe Dress.”
Nicole not only modifies her patterns to suit her clients’ measurements, but she also has an innate instinct for design and embellishment. I essentially gave her carte blanche to create the dress so long as the raven fabric was given center stage. She began by suggesting a solid black fabric skirt to offset the black and white design, allowing the print to draw the eye immediately. Originally, we discussed a sleeveless design, but instead Nicole favored a short flutter sleeve with a flounce hem which she matched at the base of the skirt. Even though I have favorite authors and bands and artists and so on, I tend to not be gimmicky with clothes.
What I love about Nicole’s design is how she captured the essence of my passion to create a beautiful dress with its own personality and history that is not eclipsed by anything which screams “Poe!” It may remind some people of the founder of the modern day detective story, but strictly speaking, it’s a Poe dress because that is how I perceive it. The thoughtful touches like the hemline and the flutter-sleeve completed the design in a way my original sleeveless idea would not. Her interpretation understood what I wanted while still giving me a beautiful piece in its own right.
As we discussed in the original interview, Nicole makes all of her clothing to order based on the measurements and preferences of her clients using only high quality knits. These are not the sheer, tissue thin pieces we see too often. In fact, my sizable side tattoo is completely concealed under the fabric—no small feat for a white knit! In our warmer temperate climate, the fabric transitions beautifully through the seasons, even in the dreadfully hot summer. The drape of the fabric is lovely, cascading downward with its own sense of movement. People who like to twirl in their dresses (*rasies hand*) will love the breezy spin of the fabric.
A classic fit-and-flare design, the upper body is tighter and highlights my waist while the lower circle skirt conceals lumps and bumps in my hip and stomach region. The sleeves do not constrict my arms or shoulders, and the general stretch to the fabric allows me to move easily. Because of last year’s weight gain, my current measurements are 44”-33”-44” which puts me in the X-Large size range. However, Nicole also had me take additional measurements to assess my torso length and body shape too. Her comprehensive approach ensured the pattern fit me perfectly!
Speaking of body shape, I have a booty. When you have a booty and buy skirts, especially a-line or circle skirts, you tend to have one length in the front and a much shorter one in the back. I am constantly watching how I bend in the store because most of my dresses and skirts are significantly shorter in the back than the front, and if you look at my side profile, my hemlines often angle upward from front to back. I mentioned my ongoing issue to Nicole, and she combated the phenomenon by adding extra inches to the back of the skirt through the use of a slightly asymmetrical hemline. The fit is perfect all the way around! Her careful consideration to detail as well as her patience when I described off-the-rack clothing woes produced an exceptional dress. Between her company Wild Pigeon and Bolero, I feel pretty spoiled.
Fabric quality, as mentioned above, is on par with Rachel Pally (I used to LOVE finding her knit dresses on Ebay), and the dress and stitching were made with a loving hand. I see another one of her dresses in my future soon! Of course, Nicole also makes swimsuits, tops, leggings, headbands, baby clothes, you name it. She’s amazing. If you are interested in having her make something for you, email her at: email@example.com or find her in this Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/wildpigeonclothing. I highly recommend taking advantage of her expertise because you will not find a nicer quality knit dress, and your purchase goes directly toward supporting a work-at-home mom and small business owner.
P.S. A big thank you directly to Nicole for making the dress and being so patient with me. I was supposed to have this review up months ago, but the chaos of my housing situation and weight gain meant I have had this beautiful dress sitting in my closet waiting for pictures.