Review: Naoko Split-Hem Sheath Dress

 

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I can’t afford Roberto Cavalli, but I found a nice alternative! Image via Met Museum.

I moved to New England in 2010. I’d visited this area since I was a child, but never before had I had control of what attractions I might visit, or how. So since I was finally a mere train ride away from Manhattan, one of my first visits was to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

While I’d wanted to visit since reading From the Mixed Up Files of Basil E. Frankenweiler at age ten, all my trips to NYC as a child were dictated by the adults in my life. Finally, as a legal (if not mental) adult myself, I could spend an entire day in the museum, read every blurb, and above all marvel at how little I knew about any of it.

While I certainly didn’t have time to walk the entire museum during this trip, I nevertheless developed a few obsessions with specific eras and media. I couldn’t possibly go into all of them now, because this is just a review of a dress I ordered off Zulily.

But if I ever find a reason to do so, beware. I will bore you SO much.

The obsession I want to discuss today is simple enough — fine china, or porcelain featuring intricate cobalt details.

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From the Kangxi Period. Image via Christie’s.

This is an art form that originated in the eponymous region of China, specifically during the Han and Shang dynasties.

I’d known that when I went into the Met. What I didn’t know was that in addition to exporting their art, Han artisans had also exported their artistic techniques.

I found that every culture with even a vague economic connection to China developed its own interpretation of the basic “cobalt blue on white porcelain” pattern. This included the Japanese and British porcelain I was already familiar with, along with the Middle East, Spain, and countless other regions.

And the art form survives. For my wedding I was gifted with this:

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This is the New World interpretation of “fine china” and it is AMAZING. Mexico already had an impressive history of craftsmanship and artistry, and Clase Azul pays homage to all of it. This decanter seemed to combine all of my interests in one gorgeous package. Art history. Colonial history. Alcohol.

By this point, I realized that I didn’t own any fine china. Moreover, the blue-on-white palette was sadly missing from my wardrobe. I had to fix that.

And so when Zulily featured the brand Naoko, I knew immediately what my first purchase would be: the White & Blue Geometric Floral Split-Hem Sheath Dress.

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Not pictured: Me. Photo courtesy of Zulily.

Unlike the other Polish clothing companies I typically order from, Urkye and Biubiu, Naoko doesn’t necessarily advertise itself as being bust-friendly. I just saw their size chart, thought “close enough,” swallowed my pride, and ordered the XXL.

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Classy. As. FF.

Now, this is the part where I would ordinarily give some background about the designer, but I have yet to discover Naoko’s actual website, if they have one. I found a slew of Japanese websites, a few retailers that sell their products, and a different Polish clothing company with the same name when I searched.

I hope that the exposure via Zulily helps Naoko to attract enough of an English-speaking audience to expand their web presence. But for now, I’ll content myself with waiting for their next sale.

Because I would absolutely buy a Naoko product again.

Granted, yes, I experienced a few fit issues. The sleeves are a bit too long. The waist is much too loose. The shoulders have too much fabric. But overall?

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Overall, I was more than pleased. I was elated. I look like a goddamn tequila decanter. I am wrapped head-to-toe in fine china.

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Now, I will absolutely take this dress to my seamstress at some point to take the waist in. But note that even unaltered, the looser waist doesn’t necessarily look bad, particularly not compared to mainstream silhouettes.

The sheath dress is tailored in such a manner that defines the bust and suggests a waist before turning into the universally-flattering pencil skirt. Note that the neckline is quite high, but it doesn’t make my breasts look saggy or overly-large, which is the usual risk a busty lady runs with a high neckline.

Even from the side, the loose waist kind of helps to make my breasts look less cartoonishly-large, so I may just keep the dress as-is until the spring. It’ll give me space to gain and lose all that holiday weight.

I realize the typical rule for short women is to let the dress hit just above the knee, I’m fine with the length. It’s elegant. It’s Classy as FF.

The fabric is 70% viscose and 30% polyester. This, sadly, means I’m kind of afraid to toss it in my washing machine. Certainly, the care instructions say I can machine-wash it if I want to, but my washing machine is absolutely vicious, so I’ll probably hand-wash it and dry-clean whenever I’m feeling spendy.

The more salient point about the fabric composition is this: it doesn’t show my bra straps, my navel, or any of my various lumps and bumps.

The fabric is fairly densely woven, but breathable. It’s thin, but insulating enough to wear on an autumn or spring day without a sweater. The white sections never come close to being sheer. The fabric drapes nicely and doesn’t wrinkle, even after I left it crumpled at the bottom of my delicates for a week.

In short, it’s amazing. It FEELS amazing. This is one of the most comfortable dresses I’ve ever put on.

Based on Zulily’s product list, Naoko offers this particular dress in a number of different patterns, so if you don’t have my weird porcelain obsession, you’ll probably find something else you like.

In terms of accessorizing, I tend not to accessorize all that much when I wear a bold pattern. They have a black-and-white checkered pattern that will definitely work for someone who likes bold prints/Nascar.

I did wear my wine-red Bandolino pumps because I was originally going to start this blog on Election Day and entitle this post Red, White, and Boobs. While I ended up sad-drinking and delaying the blog launch, I still consider this a valid shoe pick.

Because the print is darker than pictured on Zulily, the dress is essentially composed of two neutrals — white and navy. As a result, virtually any shoe color would work.

But I would probably go with a dark red shoe regardless. It just GOES. I’m very much in favor of incorporating a lot of colors into a Look, but in this case, classic was better.

Likewise, I think it would look best with a pump. A wedge sandal would be too summery and a bootie — I say this as someone who owns way too many booties — is just too informal.

This dress is Classy as FF. It demands minimal accessories and a traditional shoe.

In terms of jewelry, I’m only wearing my wedding and engagement rings in this photo. My hair covers my ears, so there was no need for earrings. I suppose I could have added a choker or a string of pearls, but those also felt unnecessary. This dress is its own adornment. Anything else would be unnecessary.

I left my hair down because it’s been cold, did a complementary eye-look-thing courtesy of Urban Decay’s only essential Naked Palette (I have no use for the others), and wore a darkish lip courtesy of Kiko Cosmetics to match my shoes. (This is way matchier than I would normally go with an outfit, but I feel like it works for this look.)

I do think darker makeup was kind of essential for this dress, as its pattern so exquisitely highlights the contrast between dark and light. Obviously I wasn’t about to go for blue eyeshadow with a blue-patterned dress. But using makeup to add a bit of depth and darkness to the lip and eyes did heighten the drama a bit.

Have you heard of Naoko? Have you tried any of their clothing? Better yet, are you a Polish-speaking busty lady who can tell us more about this company? Contact me or let me know in the comments!

 

 

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