A cheongsam review (updated on 6 Oct)

My first post in this blog is about cheongsam (‘I love cheongsam’ dated 9 Mar, 2011). Though the reason I picked it as the first topic was purely because I was trying to start a blog. My husband told me to write about what I love, and suggested the cheongsam. Since then, I’ve featured various designs in a number of posts and added in my two cents’ worth.

To be honest, I never consider myself a cheongsam expert. I mean, I’ve not done fashion study or design and studied about the dress. Nor have I learned sewing and understand how it’s made. But since young, I’ve been drawn to it, and love it for its elegance. (Though it can look vulgar if the designer means it to be, like when too much skin is shown.) Since I started writing about the cheongsam, my advice has been sought on alteration, how to pair it, where to get cheaper cheongsams etc, which I oblige to the best I can. I also won’t say I am an arbiter of the cheongsam designs though I have strong opinions. So it was a surprise, albeit a pleasant one, when I received a request recently to review the designs for a blogshop offering modern cheongsam dresses.

Melanie wrote to me that she and her friend, Grace, both new moms too, have recently started a blog shop called ‘
Our Bitsy Prints
. They also love the cheongsam but find those available in boutiques rather expensive . They then set up an online retail store to sell their own modern cheongsam designs. They hope to promote the dress as an affordable everyday wear that would appeal to younger ladies. According to Melanie, their dresses are colorful, fun and easy to wear (because of the flare cut bottom). Their designs marry both the traditional, with snap front buttons and a concealed side zip, and the modern, two fabric decorative buttons instead of knotted ones.

Melanie asked if I could check out the website, as she and Grace would like me to review the dresses in my blog. I told her I would not mince my words when I do that; I call a spade a spade. She and Grace are open to my feedback and don’t mind even if I thrash the site, because they can improve on it since they are so new to this. Melanie also told me I was free to lift off any images from the blog shop for my post (which i did).

Actually when I first received the email, I did check out the site. It’s nothing fancy, just showcasing the dresses available. The dresses from Our Bitsy Prints remind me of one of the flare cut designs from The Girl’s Kaksh, though OBP’s cheongsams are slightly cheaper but that is also because the design is simpler. OBP site is also a little amateurish compared to TGK’s. In fact I feel that in the OBP’s site there are not enough pictures on the dress details. I pointed out to Melanie that there was no picture of the decorative fabric buttons and it should be included for each dress. I think both Melanie and Grace should check out TGK to get some ideas on how to showcase their dresses better.

In order to confidently buy a dress or any piece of clothing online, we want as much info as possible on how it looks like. So we want to see the back view, the collar, where the side zip is located, the buttons etc. Some of you may have checked out this mega online store ÁSOS’ where you can even use the mouse to move over the picture of the clothing item to have a closer view. Granted the company has tons of money to spend on web design, but this is the online experience that customers are getting accustomed to. I also told Melanie that they have to provide information on the fabric/material used for the dress. The FAQ mentioned that the material is high quality and is either cotton or lace or cotton-blend. But I specifically want the info for each dress; again, see ASOS website for guide.

As for the design, it’s basically a dress with cheongsam top and flare-cut bottom; either the top or the bottom in print and the other in block color, except for the cheongsa-ree, which uses the Indian saree print for the whole dress. I thought this combination is rather interesting and makes for a pretty dress.

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Some of the prints are quite nice, like the ‘Light pink eyelet on blue’. I thought the batik print is rather elegant, like the Javanese royal batik.

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The ‘Triple triangles on bright pink’ dress is quite a standout.

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I thought the ‘White crochet on denim’ dress has a school girlish charm to it. But this is strictly for those in their 20’s.

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However there are a couple of dresses which borders on the “auntie floral” print that older women gravitate to, like the ‘Pink petals on purple’ print below. I don’t like the color combo for the kimono print below that either.

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A couple of prints also remind me of the wallpaper or fancy notepad.

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During my email exchange with Melanie, I told her there was a dress with the print ‘Moroccan Tiles on Chevron Grey’ which I thought look strange. When I visited the blog shop a few days ago, I notice that it had been taken down.

Anyway, depending on the designs, the OBP cheongsams can be a pretty everyday wear, and they are definitely more affordable than what are available out there. Compare to TGK’s cheongsams where the print combo on the dress can look a little too busy or dated, OBP’s dresses are more modern looking, which would appeal to the younger crowd. Besides, the flare-cut bottom is easy on the figure. Even if you have too much at the buffet table, you won’t have to worry about the bulge.

(Updated on 10 Sep)
My mistake, the dress which print that I don’t like, ‘Moroccan Tiles on Chevron Grey’, wasn’t taken down. According to Melanie, it was sold out and shifted to the ‘Sold Out’ post. Oh well, guess there are ladies who disagree with my taste.

Anyway I want to add that during my email exchange with Melanie, I suggested to her to sell the cheongsams at makeshift markets like the one organized by PaTH (Pop and Talent Hub), where Audrey from TGK sells her dresses. This way, ladies who want to have a feel of the cheongsams and try them are able to do so, and garner more sales. Melanie explains that though she and Grace would love to do that, but with very young kids in tow, it’s not going to be easy to operate at the market. This, I can understand.

(Updated on 6 Oct)
I like to inform my readers that the ladies from Our Bitsy Prints are offering 10% off at their blog shop for you. All you have to do is to indicate that you’re a reader of my blog. If you’re interested, do check out the online store at www. Ourbitsyprints.com.

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