Dress: Cottage Industry

Shoes: Chie Mihara

Bangle: Dinosaur Designs

Necklace: DIY


I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been a great month; but I’m faking it til I make it, I guess. I turn the big four-oh in May, and the thought is terrifying me. Not because I’m getting older – age is a privilege after all – but just because there are so many things I thought I would have achieved by this point in my life. I’m making a concerted effort to focus on the present instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, and when I think about it, I have a lot of blessings to count: I have a lovely boyfriend/fiance (whose birthday it was yesterday, happy birthday my love); my family is well; I have a job and workmates that I enjoy to the point of being embarrassing about it; I’ve got my foot on the property ladder, and I love my new home; My friends are extraordinary, and every single day I think about how lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my tribe.

Anyway. I actually put this dress up on Instagram a cool two months ago, and the photos I took have been been sitting in my draft folder since then. I love this dress so much that I just treated myself to a second one (in a black and white gingham) and it reminded me that I hadn’t posted a blog about it yet.

This is the harvest smock dress from Cottage Industry in Fitzroy. The legendary harvest smock dress from Cottage Industry? Yeah, let’s call it legendary. I’ve been seeing these dresses around Melbourne for years now. Sonya (formerly of Australian Fatshion) has one, and my friend Ella has the top version, and I’ve seen countless effortlessly cool women of all ages and sizes wearing them around town.

After being told for the fifteenth time “Thanks, it’s from Cottage Industry” when I’ve complimented someone on their frock I finally decided maybe it was time to go check them out in person.

“In person” is actually the only way you can check out these dresses. Dressmaker and shop-owner Pene Durston doesn’t have an online shop – she tried it once, but gave up after customers kept sending the dresses back saying they were too big. Because they’re a lot, you guys. There is a lot of beautiful, tactile, linen in these frocks. Three of me could probably comfortably fit in this dress.

This much fabric, and no waistband… I should look like the size of a barn, but somehow I don’t. Pene’s managed to cut some clever seaming into the yards of fabric – the curved waistband, the batwing sleeves, the upturned sleeve cuffs – somehow it all comes together to make a drapey, voluminous dress that flatters every figure I’ve ever seen wearing it. It’s basically witchcraft.

It is a lot though. I went back to the shop four times before I found one that I liked the look of on me. Fortunately the staff at Cottage Industry are a delight, and perfectly happy to let you try on every dress in the place before you make your decision. They’ll offer advice, tell you if something isn’t quite working, and they have The Book, where they take requests if what’s on the racks isn’t quite perfect. Pene is always experimenting with different prints and fabrics – the best place to keep an eye on the range is actually via her instagram – but if you see one you like, act quickly as she often sells out within the day.

The Harvest Smock is available one-size-fits-all in a top, a short, and a long style. I bought the long (because the short showed my knees, and you all know how I feel about my knees) but lopped a couple of inches off the hem so that it hit me mid-calf. It’s easily the most comfortable dress I own, and it’s been getting a work-out over summer, especially those really hot days when I can’t stand the feel of anything on my skin but being actually naked isn’t an option.

You can layer the dress too, and I’m looking forward to wearing my new black-and-white version in winter with tights and ankle boots, and a long cardigan and a scarf. (I have this whole farmers-market-Northside-lady image of myself buying pumpkins and putting them in a string bag before going home and making soup, can you tell?)



Settle Petal

Dress: eShakti

Shoes: Bared

It’s been a while since I bought myself a proper Going Out Dress, so when I spotted this beauty – the floral print dupioni belted dress – on eShakti’s instagram feed I placed my order pretty much immediately.

It’s my third order from eShakti since they started shipping to Australia, and I couldn’t have been happier with it. The fabric is a poly dupioni that fakes silk pretty well – it even has that lovely whooshy sound that you get with a high quality fabric. It’s an absolutely stunning photographic floral print, very bold and rich in colour, and while I kind of wish I’d had a little more floral motif on the bodice, the skirt is an absolute dream come true.

The dress is fully lined, with all the usual eShakti extras that you know and love: bra-strap keepers, extra deep pockets, and a self-covered belt.

I added little cap sleeves because eShakti was doing a promo for free customisation, and I quite like the kind of fifties effect. It makes me feel like I should be teaming it with an impeccable red manicure and hosting the kind of fancy dinner party that starts with vol-au-vents.

The fabric has absolutely no stretch, and it’s just a little snug, especially around the bust (as you can see). I think that next time I order I’ll give myself a couple of centimeters grace around the Rack of Doom.


On a far less formal note, I was delighted to receive an invitation from Adele at Zest Lifewear to give their range of activewear a whirl.

I’ve had a bit of a complicated relationship with my body over the past year, and I’m still not feeling entirely 100% comfortable in my skin at the moment.

I’ve been wanting to start a regular class, something gentle to ease myself back into regular physical activity that isn’t just walking, and Adele’s generous offer was just the kick in the bum that I needed.

I ordered the Let’s Get Meshy top in black, and the Girl Werk It leggings to match, and they arrived in a handy carry bag and cap.

The leggings are great – they’re made of a gorgeously luxe fabric, thick enough that there’s no show through, and it smoothes any lumps or bumps you might feel a bit uncomfortable about. There’s a handy little pocket at the back that’s perfect for slipping a locker key or swipe card if you’re at the gym. The mesh legs stretch juuuuust enough to encompass my calves.

They’re very comfortable around the waist , and don’t cut in at all. The size chart was spot on.

The mesh top is sexy, and airy, and edgy. It has an inbuilt bra, which my f-cups usually scoff at, but actually it holds the ladies up perfectly well! I wouldn’t want to jog in it (I wouldn’t want to jog at all, TBH) but for yoga, weights, pilates or floor-work it’s perfectly fine. Obviously you could wear a bra under it.Zest Lifewear is one of a number of new activewear brands that are catering to, or created especially for plus size women, and it’s one of only a handful that are based in Australia (though they do offer international shipping). They also use a variety of plus-size models, for which I can’t praise them enough. There’s a few brands out there that talk the talk about supporting a broad range of sizes and shapes, but use tiny models, photoshop, thin fabrics, or inflate the prices for the larger sizes. Zest actually supports their customers with carefully designed products, great materials, diverse marketing, and body positive messages throughout their blog.

If you want to give them a whirl yourself, Adele’s offering Frocks and Frou Frou readers 15% off their order with the code LILLI15. Plus for a limited time, all orders come with a tote bag, cap, and temporary tattoo.

And, in case you were wondering, I recently discovered a yoga studio just a few minutes from my front door and just signed up for my first class. I’m proud of myself.