Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

January 25, 2012

Review Revue: Mode Merr, Vamp Dress (and also some seabirds)

Filed under: Review Revue — Miss Plumcake @ 5:35 pm

Yesterday the internet and telephone went out. Oh the humanity.

I’m not sure what happened, but having lived in Mexico for very nearly a month now I feel qualified to say it was most likely a pelican or something that landed on a roof somewhere in the state of Baja California and screwed us all to hell for the better part of the day. Pelicans, man.

Fun fact: For the past 15 years, I thought pelican in Spanish was alcatraz (thanks for nothin’ ornithologically-challenged high school Spanish teacher). Turns out, Pelican in Spanish is –wait for it– pelicano. I know, kind of a let down. Alcatraz is actually albatross. However, it’s also the name for Calla lilies here.

This would have been valuable information to have in my Spanish-to-English arsenal BEFORE Hot Latin Boy, the biggest bleeding heart in this particular postal code when it comes to animals in need, announced he was bringing home 30 alcatraces for my front garden and could he pretty please borrow my shiny new SUV to pick them up.

I’m not gonna lie, kids: I had visions of two and a half dozen over-sized seabirds making their happy home in my garden being all messy and foreshadowing my ironic briny death and whatnot. I was not best pleased.


Remember two weeks ago when we were talking about niche designers and how they’re worth a gander (again with the avian allusions?) even if their clothes in general are not your cup of what you tell your HR director is tea?

Here is a case, perfectly illustrated.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was very much a rockabilly girl in my early 20’s and many of my friends still identify with the saddle shoes and safety pin set. One of them, the massively talented Double Down Dixie from Red Light Burlesque, turned me on to Mode Merr.

Mode Merr is a neatly edited online boutique of pinup-flavored designs offered in straight and plus sizes by Angela Zampell, all handmade in the good old U.S. of A.

Admittedly, most of the designs are too literal in their pinup interpretation for my lifestyle (please hold on while I shake an angry fist at the sky) but let me draw your attention to The Original Vamp Dress:

Now okay, everything looks good on Bernie Dexter and it’s hard to see the exact construction and fabrication of the dress, but I thought for fifty smackeroos, I could take a chance and if it ended up just being a shapeless knit sweater dress sort of thing, I wouldn’t be out a ton of cash.

First of all, I found a coupon code moments after I’d ordered my dress, so I emailed Angela to ask her if she’d apply it, figuring it was a long shot, but a test of customer service. She did, no questions asked.

Then an item I’d ordered –I suspect plus sizes might be made-to-order– turned out to be unavailable she included a handwritten note explaining they couldn’t source any more of the material in that pattern. Handwritten, folks. Oh, and my entire package was tied up like a present in red lace trim, a cute nostalgic touch.

Now let’s talk about the dress:

It should be noted the only time I’ve ever seen Hot Latin Boy have a flare of Hot Latin Jealousy was when I was wearing this dress. We had tentative plans for a late dinner so, not wanting to waste a good outfit, I decided to take myself to the one restaurant in my village so that I might avail myself of a margarita and a little harmless ego massage.

Well, HLB showed up to Villa Plumcake an hour early, just as I was leaving the house in the Vamp Dress and was convinced I had some secret hot date with the Lovelorn Boxer, because I looked so beautiful in “your so sexy dress”, and there was a whole semi-comic telenovela scene that would’ve been deeply endearing had I not been wearing 5″ silk heels and standing on cobblestone.

The next week we went to watch the Marquez v. Pacquiao fight and, not being an animal despite my enjoyment of watching heavily-lubricated men hit each other for money, I dressed up. The Vamp dress came out of the closet again and I was the belle of the boxing ball and a chair miraculously opened up for me the minute I stepped my size 41 foot in the completely packed room. Not bad for dress that hits below the knee, has long sleeves and shows no cleavage.

As it’s a vintage-styled piece, I wore it with the era-appropriate undergarments. Yes, that means a corset. By no means is it necessary, and next time I think I’ll just go with a waist cincher –I believe the fabric is a smooth acetate with a bit of stretch to it and the boning of my corset was semi-visible even under a slip– but I wanted the full Boris and Natasha (well, just the Natasha) so I went all the way.


Mode Merr is great. The customer service is great. The Original Vamp Dress is great (FWIW I ordered it in XXXL and I’d call it a generous 18, true to size 20) and it’s the best fifty dollars I’ve ever spent on something that wasn’t Scotch. Go get you some. Mode Merr I mean, it’s nearly 5 p.m. in New York so I assume you already have the Scotch.


  1. love the dress!
    love the story more!

    Comment by Velia — January 25, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

  2. So pretty!
    When you say corset, do you mean real corset or shapewear corset? If you mean real corset, I must know where you got it.

    Comment by Bethany — January 25, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

  3. I’m with Bethany – would you mind please writing a post or two on appropriate underwear? While I have the bra thing under control (British 34GG) the “structural underwear” thing still gets me on a regular basis.

    Thank you very much.

    Comment by Margaret — January 25, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  4. Thirded for the help with undergarments. I’m not sure what your boob situation is, but mine are big and… err.. floppy. I’ve never met a strapless bra that does them any good.

    Comment by Victoria — January 25, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

  5. Love some of the pieces, and I add my vote for a corset post.

    Comment by Klee — January 25, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

  6. Also, you are a pear, yes, Plummy? How well will it work with those of us who have wide, flat asses!?

    Comment by Broad — January 26, 2012 @ 3:44 am

  7. Sounds like a great experience with the business. I agree with you, Plummy, about the literal interpretation of many of the designs. I *love* that their “Perfect Skirt,” (which does look pretty perfect) comes in about a dozen colors and patterns AND has two rise choices! And showing an illustration of the clothing piece ala a pattern cover is really really helpful in understanding fit.

    That vamp dress is enviable, but not something my shape could pull off. Enjoy your attention, Plum, you deserve it!

    Comment by Leah — January 26, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

  8. It makes me sad that I am too fat for this dress. Or rather, I am not sad about my level of fatness, but that this dress stops at size 20. Sigh.

    Comment by Mifty — January 26, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

  9. Done, and done! Can’t wait for it to get here!

    I like their clothing, but I have to say I find the website difficult to navigate.

    Comment by SarahDances — January 27, 2012 @ 9:13 am

  10. If even half of the attention happens to me, I’ll consider it heaven sent! I bought the dress immediately, it looks so sexy for me! And your story made it a “must have”! Wish me luck!

    I’ve now got an excuse to wear my lovely corset from Dark Garden – perfect for under the dress, yum!

    Comment by Kathleen O'Brien — January 27, 2012 @ 11:35 pm

  11. But what’s the coupon code?!?!

    Comment by Holls — January 29, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

  12. Thank you so much for this glowing review of the Vamp Dress. I am always delighted to hear about the adventures my customers have in their Mode Merr attire. I am happy to announce that The Original Vamp Dress is on permanent sale for $50.

    I can’t wait to see some action shots!

    Best wishes,

    Comment by Angela at Mode Merr — January 29, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

  13. I have the black one with red & white stripes and just bought the solid black one!!! So cute! Congrats!

    Comment by Angela Wheeler — January 29, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

  14. Yes, any chance of sharing the coupon code?? I wanted to add her Facebook page but it says she has too many friends.

    Comment by Elusis — January 31, 2012 @ 2:39 am

  15. Update: Received it in the mail yesterday, and couldn’t be more thrilled! Demure, but also very sexy. And I also got a hand written note of thanks, and fabric swatches of the ruby brocade and red houndstooth. A+!

    Comment by SarahDances — February 3, 2012 @ 11:25 am

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