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Bernie Dexter Kelly Dress Review

As probably most of you know, I'm a fan of Bernie Dexter dresses.  Bernie released a dress called the Kelly dress which has a front zip with a collar and is short sleeved.  This review is a little late to the party because the dress style has been out for some time now AND I started collecting Kelly dresses since LAST summer.  But time has been perpetually getting away from me, so better late than never, right?
First Impressions Before Ordering:  Honestly, I was on the fence!  When it comes to vintage inspired dresses, I often opt out of sleeves because I try not to be too on the nose as I aim for retro chic over old fashioned.  Love it or hate it, that's my personal style that I flock to.  A lot of girls in this community don't have the same line in the sand either, so they were more jazzed upon a ton of Kelly dresses hitting the Bernie Dexter site at once.  I needed a minute to process how I felt about the Kelly dress.

I caved because I finally got too curious as everyone was freaking out about how much they LOVED the Kelly.  Plus Zulily was having a sale.  I fell in love with the Kelly Water Print dress (above) because the blue had such a great subtle print that seemed like it would be great in all seasons, and I've been more attracted to subtle prints lately.  (Weird, I know.) 

My verdict?  The fit is pretty amazing.  Pinup dresses historically tend to cinch you at the waist and the bust because they're supposed to be form fitting, but this style is a touch more relaxed.  For some reason I thought the front zipper would be weird, but I love it so much that I've lost the words for why I ever was against it to begin with!  I also find the sleeves to be very fun and not necessarily old fashioned or limited to a certain decade (though absolutely retro indeed), so hooray for versatility!

Am I Kelly convert?  I pose this question because several die hard Bernie Dexter dress fans raved about the Kelly and want ALL of her prints to come in a Kelly from here on out.  While I do love the Kelly...I wouldn't take it that far.  In addition to being a more relaxed fit, I think this dress style flatters all body types.  I generally believe that most pinup/retro styles also flatter all body sites, but after being in several FB groups dedicated to this style of dressing I've learned that isn't always the case.  For instance, several of Bernie's other styles have a small bust shelf despite if you size up (like the Paris style).  Therefore many well endowed ladies feel gratuitous or even physically uncomfortable in those styles and don't prefer dresses that do that.  Because I'm on the smaller end of that spectrum, the Kelly is a welcomed new style but not a needed new style.

Many Bernie pieces lately come in two options: the Kelly and the aforementioned Paris.  When there's a choice, I still go for the Paris (click HERE for an example of me doing just that).  Some of my reasons are for the fit preferences I've listed above, but I also just generally prefer dresses without sleeves as it gets REALLY hot here in the summer and I lose my patience for sleeves.  Bernie has recently released a new style called the Mari, which is basically a Kelly without sleeves.  If I like the fit of the Mari upon receiving my first one, I'll likely favor that over the Kelly and possibly swap/sell these Kellys if the prints become available in a Mari.  Dresses with collars (but without sleeves) are kind of my jam lately, so upon these prints being re-released it may be a good option for me to get more wear out of these beauties.  I don't know though, maybe not.  I do really like the Kelly too, so we'll see.  In a perfect world I wish Bernie released the prints in all the styles that they come in at once, a la Emily and Fin, but for whatever reason she doesn't do things that way.

The Bottom Line: I do love the Kelly dress!  It's a style I will likely continue to buy.  But some of that will depend on other options the prints come in.  But I also don't have the sizing issues that many women seem to have with Bernie dresses, so that's a huge factor as to why I am open to and even prefer other styles.  Consider all of the above as it pertains to you when making your first Kelly purchase!
Hope I helped someone decide on whether a Kelly is right for them or not!  And I hope everyone has a good weekend!  If you missed yesterday's post, I had a few announcements regarding a NEW blog coming out and a NEW Facebook page that I hope you will show me some love and LIKE (please!).  Read HERE to find out more.
~Lauren-Blair Donovan



  1. These dresses look amazing! I love your style such a pop of colour and patterns :)

  2. I have yet to order from Bernie Dexter. But that HAS to change. All of these dresses are fantastic. Each print is so fun too! I like the sounds of the Kelly dress. (And I am all about sleeves! Haha.) Hope you're having a great weekend too! Heading to your new Fbook page now - congrats!!


  3. I think it's such a wonderful idea to have a zip in the front, in place of buttons! I think the Kelly dress is definitely one of my favorite Bernie styles for sure! All are such gorgeous dresses on you! xo

  4. I love this cut on you! So many great dresses. I love the green gingham one, and the painter's pallet and the beige one are just too great on you! I've yet to try a Kelly but if the right one comes along for the right price I will def have to! And the Mari dresses! I never really cared too much for the black oranges print dresses before but that print in the Mari!!!! <3 <3 <3 Hopefully one day I will try it! Thank you for the input on this cut. It's very encouraging! :)


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