My take on the online cheongsams

Some time ago, Ann from Joli Pretty  suggested that I provide reviews on the dresses from JP. I realized then that I had never provided any feedback in my blog on these cheongsams from the online retailers. So I thought I would put up a post after the Chinese New Year.

I have four dresses from Our Bitsy Prints. The first one came from the first collection, a white lace top with batik flare skirt. It was also the first time I had a cheongsam with flare skirt.
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The dress has a front flap on the right with functional fabric buttons, studs and a side zip. As it was OBP’s initial attempt at modern cheongsam, there were no side pockets sewn in. But I like the batik print and the 4cm collar.

On the website, the dress is described as light pink eyelet on blue batik. But for the life of me, I don’t see any pink on the top. It looks white to me. Maybe it’s like the case of that famous blue/black or white/gold dress on the Internet.

I had altered the dress a few times. The first time it was done, the top was a snug fit, but I thought I should loosen it slightly to make it comfortable. So now the top is not entirely fitting, and I wonder if I should alter it back. Anyway, because of the plain top, albeit of a lace fabric, I accessorize it with a vintage brooch on the collarbone.
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At other times, I wore a plum flower brooch from Tong Tong Friendship Store on the left chest instead.
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I have another OBP flare dress, Red Ruby Finch, from the 15th collection, and this comes with pockets.
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The original has a turquoise colored hem (same color as the piping).
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I had a discussion with the seamstress when I took it for alteration, and we decided to have the hem removed because it made the dress looked kiddy. The design looks better without it, and my colleagues had complimented it for the rich colors and print.

Another OBP cheongsam is this Abstract Art Berries A-line dress which is not apparent as a qipao. I regard it as a casual wear for Fridays or weekends. (Even the ruby finch dress can also be considered as casual.) One thing I wish this dress has is pockets.
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Finally, there is this interesting wrap skirt design for a cheongsam, Paisley Field.
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I really like the pretty and vibrant color combo for this dress, but I have a grouse with the zip length along the right side. It ends at the waist and makes putting on and removing the dress a little difficult because it gets tight on the hip. Also, I find that the zip doesn’t pull up easily. I have to tug it gently to pull it up. Another thing is the left collar which is a little out of shape. If you look at the picture on the website, it is also the same with the model’s dress. I wonder if it is a problem with the fabric. On a separate note, in one of the website pictures, the dress is wore with a thin belt which I think is redundant.
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Instead I matched the dress with a purple beetle brooch.
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This paisley dress comes with side pockets, but because I have to alter it, the seamstress could only do so on the left seam to avoid messing with the zipper. So I had to sacrifice the left pocket. One thing about the dress is that, because of the thick fabric, it is rather heavy thoigh I don’t feel the weight when I have it on. Still, this means that you shouldn’t walk too much in it because you will end up sweating like a pig.

Next, there is Joli Pretty from whom I have three dresses, and they all come with box pleats. This cheongsam, with a netted petticoat, was from the first collection. I like that the petticoat adds volume to the skirt, much like the 1950’s style. The whimpsical print has also received much compliments. By the way it doesn’t come with pockets. Since the top is black, I accessorize it with a pearl brooch.
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A more recent dress is this green colored pleated cheongsam without petticoat. Ann from JP initially thought I got it because green is the lucky color for this Chinese New Year. It was really for more practical reasons: its simplicity and the side pockets. I find that the collar does start to go out of shape.
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To brighten up the dress, which does look somewhat like a school uniform, I wore a bird brooch.
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Below is another dress with netted petticoat. But the material is different from that in the whimsical mustache dress, and I find the skirt doesn’t pouf as much. Compared to the website picture, the mustard color is richer (see below).
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When I took this yellow dress for alteration, I found out from the seamstress that the sleeves holes are not cut in proportion. See picture I took below. The right sleeve hole is a little too high, compared to the left. It’s not very obvious and it took a professional eye to spot it. Anyway the seamstress had to adjust the other sleeve hole higher to balance the look.
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One thing I find about the metal studs on both the JP dresses with front open flaps is that they don’t clasp tightly, and tend to come loose. I have to resort to changing them.

The Happy Cheongsam has more interesting designs but they are also priced higher than those from OBP and JP. This pastel blue tulip cheongsam, made from shantung silk, is also from the first collection. I like the design which comes with side pockets and the whimpsical faux buttons with cupcake inage, but don’t like the short collar (slightly more than 3cm).
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I wore another brooch from Tong Tong with this dress which is not obvious in the picture above.
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The collar height of the dresses in subsequent collections is raised to 4cm, like this A-line dress which is inspired by Mt Fuji. It’s a whimsical design, but I feel a thicker or stiffer fabric would have been better to give it structure.
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The dresses from these online retailers are rather comfortable and despite the imperfections mentioned above, the workmanship is generally rather decent. I might sound like nitpicking because inevitably there is a comparison with the store brands.

OBP is the most popular among the three and so the products sold out within minutes of launch. Unlike both JP and THC, there is no online shopping on its website. I guess that is not necessary since you literally have to be fastest fingers first to get a dress. Anyway THC is the only one who provides a preview of the collection before launch. All three of them have come a long way since they first started not too long ago. (OBP in 2013, and both JP and THC in 2014.)

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4 thoughts on “My take on the online cheongsams

  1. Hi Maria, I noticed that several of JP’s dresses have collars that do not meet at the front, such as the one you featured in your post. What are your thoughts on that?

    With warm regards

    >

    • Hi Florence,

      Thanks for writing in. The reason why the collars on JP dresses don’t meet at the base is because there are no hooks sewn on to connect both sides. Instead studs are used, and this is the same for OBP dresses as well. Some women may not like to have the hooks because they may feel the collar is wrapping around the neck, making them feel constricted. For a 4cm high collar, it is still alright to use the studs. But I think for higher collar, the hooks are needed to hold it in place and presents an elegant look.

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