When I first browsed Henrietta Pertuz's petites collection, my eyes were instantly drawn to the gingham Lisa bustier and the seersucker Ford dress. These pieces come in sizes 0P-12P, and have the classic bustier shape I am seeking with some contemporary details. Henrietta kindly offered to send me the Ford dress, and without hesitation I asked for the smallest size - 0P.
To my surprise, the 0p was too small for me. Not just a little suck-in-yer-tummy small, but much too small. I guess this is promising news for ladies who are more petite than I am. The back closure of the dress is comprised of a zipper at the skirt, and hook-and-eye closure clips at the bust. I managed to get the zipper up but there was no hope for the clips - I hastily snapped some photos (see bottom of post) and returned the dress to Henrietta. This is what she sent back, in size 2P:
Top: Henrietta Pertuz Lisa bustier, sz 2P (sold here)
Pants: brand unknown, waist taken in by my tailor
Shoes: Banana Republic 5.5
The 2P fits me much better, but I still think it is too small for me. Hopefully Henrietta will let me exchange it for another size up. If I had to compare sizing, I would say a 2P in this bustier fits half to one size smaller than Banana Republic 00P fitted tops.
My own approximate measurements of the bustier pieces:
Size 0P: 28" around the widest part of the top; 23" around the smallest part of the waist
Size 2P: 29" around the widest part of the top; 24" around the smallest part of the waist. 15" length.
What I like: quality, details, and silhouette. The workmanship on these corset pieces blew me away. I used to sew myself so I really appreciate features such as a full lining, non-slip grip trim, tiny pleats along the waist, and perfectly placed boning in the cups and down both sides. These items are not cheap at $168 (top) and $185 (dress), but for really well-crafted, lined & structured pieces, I think the pricing is fair. For reference, the Nanette Lepore corsets I covet retail for $275.
I love how the fitted silhouette gives me an hourglass figure. The layered sweetheart neckline flatters my bust, and the cut makes my waist look small. This top was surprisingly wearable over skirts, jeans, and pants alike. I decided to show it with boot-cut slacks that I don't wear very often.
Suggestions for improvement: sizing consistency. I took a 0P here in the Molly dress but may need a 4P in the bustier pieces - a pretty big difference. I also suggested using stretch fabrics (although a full lining would then be less practical) or incorporate an elastic back panel (like this Theory dress) for more expandable fit. As for the Ford dress, I personally prefer shorter length with higher-waisted skirts. Henrietta responded that she is working with a new pattern maker on sizing and will be using stretch fabrics in her Fall 2010 collection. If anyone is interested in these lovely bustier pieces, I recommend taking accurate upper body measurements and emailing Henrietta for sizing advice.
Here are some photos that I took in the Ford dress to show the silhouette. This is such a sweet dress that reminds me of the old south. Keep in mind that these photos are not representative of how the 0P fits - the dress was too small for me so the back is actually halfway open. Click photos to enlarge.
Belt: H&M sz XS; Necklace: J.Crew; Wedges: BCBGirls 5.5
Truly awesome craftsmanship:
Even the side pockets are lined in floral print. The bustier is also lined in the same print, but in pink.