polka dot midi dress


polka dot midi dresspolka dot midi dress



A few days after this dress appeared on the ASOS website, I started getting messages from people suggesting that I might want to check it out. It’s not hard to see why that would happen, is it? I mean, a polka dot midi dress WITH LONG SLEEVES? (LONG! SLEEVES!) It might as well have had “Amber will totally buy this” written all over it, no?

And, of course, I DID totally buy it. In fact, the dress was already en route to me by the time the first message flooded in. Well, you find a polka dot dress with LONG SLEEVES, you don’t want to mess about, do you? Or else you find yourself in a mint green Zara dress kind of a situation, and lord knows, I think the first time that happened was more than enough for one lifetime. And also the second, third, and eleventy-first times.

Anyway, I ordered the dress, and the dress duly arrived. I excitedly pulled it on, turned to the mirror… and then recoiled in horror, because let me tell you folks, fresh out of the delivery bag, this dress did not look ANYTHING like it did on the ASOS website, or, indeed, like it does in these photos. Mostly because it was almost ankle length on me. Whoops.

See, when most high street brands describe something as “midi”, they’re not being strictly honest. For one thing, most people these days seem to define “midi” as “knee length”, when it should really mean “mid-calf length”, and for another, when brands describe their clothes in terms of length, you always need to mentally add the words “on the model” onto the end of the sentence to get a proper idea of what they’re talking about.

For the most part, this works out pretty well for me, because when a dress is knee length on the model, it’s generally going to hit just below the knee on me, which is a good, almost-midi length. (A true midi would make me look like Mayor Frumpy McFrumpertson, of Frumpton. Trust me, it wouldn’t be good.)


No, when ASOS call something a “midi”, they’re not messing around. It might not be mid-calf length exactly, but it’ll definitely be a length for which I believe the technical term is “pretty damn long“. And it’ll be PDL on the model. Who, as the website helpfully informs us, is 5″10. (I’m not being sarcastic, by the way: I love it when websites tell you what height the model is. It makes it less of a shock when you look nothing like her in the clothes…)

On me, meanwhile? Let’s just say I looked like a member of some kind of strange religious cult which practices extreme modesty, and also: polka dots. Seriously, when Terry saw me in it, he immediately started looking around for the polka dot sister wives. “Mayor McFrumperston” didn’t even begin to describe it.

Luckily, however, having bought quite a few midi dresses from ASOS recently (and also having realised quite some time ago that I am not 5″10), I had been prepared for this eventuality, and had placed my long-suffering mother on standby to perform the necessary alterations. (Yes, I should just learn to sew, I know…) That’s why the dress you see in the photos is one which has had a really quite shockingly large amount of fabric chopped off the bottom. It’s also a dress which is being worn backwards. Yes, backwards. See, I’m not just short in the leg department. I’m also apparently short in the “neck to chest” department (To make up for this, when they were handing out torsos, they gave me a freakishly long one. I should REALLY learn how to sew…), meaning  that any item of clothing that is even vaguely scoop or V-necked will look borderline obscene on me, the neckline serving simply as a frame for my bra, which will be on show at all times. Classy. And also:  frumpy! Seriously, folks, this dress had it ALL!

Actually, to be perfectly honest, the neckline on this isn’t too bad: in fact, I will probably wear it the way ASOS intended at some point, too. But for the most part, I have learned that low necklines are not my friends, and that I much prefer a high neck/low back combination than the other way around. Happily, with the label removed, this dress works both ways, which means it’s ALMOST like having two dresses, but for the price of one, no? No?

[Usual disclaimer: Yes, I had a coat in the car, which was parked just out of shot. I took it off for a few seconds to grab some quick photos, otherwise I’d have written this 800-word post about my polka dot dress, and you’d all have just been, “WHAT polka dot dress? All I see is a coat?! Could she not just have taken the coat off for ONE MINUTE so we could at least see the dress?!”]


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  • Tim


    You look stunning the black and white really shows off your hair and lips – and yes, high neck lines and low backs are more sexy than loads of cleavage on show.

    November 20, 2012
  • This is why I constantly wimp out of online purchases! Skirts have to be exactly the right length on me, lest I end up looking weirdly stunted. I guess I could ask my mum to shorten things but there are two problems with this: 1. she lives 300 kilometres away, and, 2. she’d spend the whole time telling me I could easily do it myself.

    I love the way you’ve worn the dress backwards – it really suits you that way. It realy is quite a versatile piece of clothing!

    November 20, 2012
    • Argh, I mean “really”. Proof-reading fail…

      November 20, 2012
  • I don’t see many long sleeved polka-dot dresses, but you found one and it looks great! Usually when my dresses get put on backwards- accidentally- they never look right, but when you do it – on purpose – it seems they were meant to be worn that way! I keep laughing at your disclaimer. You must get many comments asking how can you walk outside this time of year without a jacket on. 😉

    November 20, 2012
  • Brittany


    I really need to start trying the backwards dress tip. I too have a VERY short distance from my neck to chest, combined with a large chest (DDD). The result is most things that are perfectly modest on others look positively obscene on me. Thanks for the tip!

    November 20, 2012
  • Fran


    By now I am very curious about all the unseen coats you write about. 😛 Lovely dress on you!

    November 20, 2012
  • Learning a simple hem stitch goes a long way. Of course, I know how to sew but I can’t remember the last I actually did it.

    I am jealous of your strategy because while I am short in the “neck to chest department” I am not rather well endowed. Any neckline high enough to cover my collar bones some how makes me look incredibly frumpy and even more well endowed. And while I’m talking about being jealous I have trouble with “midi dress with boots” thing, too. Makes my legs seem even shorter. I suspect this is an excuse to buy boots with higher heels. 🙂

    November 20, 2012
  • Great dress! I too have most of my online bought dresses altered (usually shortened), but I think it’s a small price to pay considering that I could never find something similar in my local stores in Bucharest.
    About wearing stuff back to front: I’ve seen you do it before and it’s a great idea, but we kinda have a superstition here that wearing your clothes like that (by mistake) is bad luck, so I haven’t dared try it yet 🙂

    November 20, 2012
  • Nicole


    3rd photo is my favorite! Oh and the dress is nice too!

    November 20, 2012
  • Yet another mom-altered dress! I’m doing that all the time as well – ah, those pesky dresses that never fit as they should in first place! But some time ago my mom told me: “You shall not buy bad fitting dresses any more. Ask me to make from scratch instead, it’s easier!”… yep, I agree with you, I should learn how to sew. Sewing machine and all!
    What a great dress, polka dots and long sleeves, I can clearly see a love at first sight! I am SO loving it on backwards. High necklines are classier than many cleavage on open air, I also wonder how those cleavage-show-off gals don’t freeze on their neck-to-boobs zone? I constantly need a scarf, at least!

    November 20, 2012
  • Arlene


    Just spent a terrifying amount of time wondering if I’m short between chest and neck or long. Frankly confused.
    Beautiful dress Amber, you could wear a sack cloth and ooze class x

    November 20, 2012
  • I have a very similar problem to what you’ve described – in sewing terms it’s a ‘high bust measurement’ – the distane between my shoulders and my bust is very short so I am ALWAYS having to take straps up, and if a dress is remotely low-cut it is positively indecent on me. So now you know!

    I’m also wearing a navy polka dot ASOS dress today – I bought that pencil dress on ebay and luckily the fit is great and I was really impressed with the quality (unlike previous ASOS buys) – what is the fabric like one the one you’re wearing? On the catalogue photos it looks really cheap but it doesn’t on you so I’m curious to know what you think 🙂

    November 20, 2012
      • That’s good to know! You have pretty high standards so if you’re happy with it then I may very well sale-stalk it… or, you know, just buy one. It’s very pretty indeed. As are you 🙂

        November 20, 2012
  • I seen this dress and thought of you too actually! In fact every time I see polka dots I think of you, although I think I’m heading your way with Breton tops too. I do love a good stripe.

    November 20, 2012
  • What a grand job your mum has done, it looks lovely. I don’t think anything bought from anywhere is ever the right proportions, I have a short body and long legs and arms, also a nightmare to dress. X

    November 21, 2012
  • I’ve had similar experiences with a few of my ASOS purchases as well but you beautifully rectified the situation with this dress!

    November 22, 2012
  • Awesome outfit! I love the dress:)


    November 22, 2012
  • Such beautiful pictures and that dress is amazing! You are so lucky to have a mum to make alterations as nothing ever seems to fit perfectly (except for those who are 5ft 10)

    November 22, 2012
  • I love your dress. Looks lovely on you.

    November 22, 2012
  • Clodyq


    So surprised it turned out so long,it truly does look bril in the pics tho.:)I guess you always take a chance when ordering online,it’s often totally worth it tho.

    November 22, 2012
  • Hi Amber,

    Just found your site today and I think your style is a dream. I myself am also a dress addict, however the stilettos are a no-go for myself. Running around from set to set, training kung fu, running 30-50K per week, and trying to keep up with a toddler…my feet would totally hate me if I did that in stilettos. But they do look so dreamy and I’m just going to continue wistfully staring at your feet daily.

    Hope that’s okay with you 😉


    November 24, 2012
  • Amber, I have to tell you you are guilty: after reading this post, I reached my closet and started trying on ALL of my dresses AND cardigans on backwards, to see which ones can do well worn on backwards as well. Found some, and a couple look even prettier! Advice for new use for old clothes is always welcome at my place.
    thank you!

    December 3, 2012