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A Day At The Races: Studio 8's Floral Estra Dress

You may have noticed. I rather love getting dressed up. I'm a big fan of putting on my best. So I was super excited when Studio 8 asked me to come with them to Ascot, as part of a series of posts I was doing for them on occasion wear - check out my previous summer event looks here and here. I've done the Ascot thing before - I am always a fan of getting fancy and then getting a bit drunk. In fact three years ago, my brother met his wonderful fiancĂ© at Ascot. And she's one of my favourite people, so it'll always have a special place in my heart. However, my Ascot vibe has always been the bring your own picnic and your own booze vibe (I like to spend the majority of my casheesh on the dress and the accessories). But this time I was going to be in the Queen Anne enclosure, and not toting a bag of booze. Look at me, I'm all fancy! The Queen Anne enclosure is plenty swish enough for me. Dress code rules apply, which I rather enjoy. It makes the whole event feel rather old worldly. Like the men and women are all on parade in their finest. The guidelines for women were as follows:

    A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.
    Strapless or sheer strap dresses and tops are not permitted.
    Trousers must be full length and worn with a top that adheres to the guidelines above.
    Midriffs must be covered.
    Shorts are not permitted.
Deciding on what you’ll wear and how you’ll accessorise is half the fun. When the lovely team at Studio 8 invited me to spend the day with them, they also let me trawl their Spring Summer occasion wear for the perfect dress. I went and spent an afternoon in Oxford Street doing some trying on. I think that’s one of the things I love about Studio 8 – that they have a high street presence. I love the choice that online shopping has brought to my plus size wardrobe, but sometimes I really miss being able to go into a shop and try everything on, feel the fabrics, see the colours. So it was a treat to go into their large concession at House of Fraser and try on some of the pieces I had been looking at online.

Actually, I had consistently scrolled past the Estra dress. The colours didn’t pop for me on the website, the model didn’t have the right curves to really play the dress up, and I had no idea what the fabric would be like. When I saw it in real life, I immediately looked twice. The floral pattern was way bolder, the shades of the flowers prettier and the cotton silky and delicate to the touch. The dress features a partial tulle underskirt to give it shape. I was convinced to try it on, and I was entranced. I usually steer clear of delicate shades, as I am but nature a fan of bold brights. But I felt princessy. As soon as I start swirling and posing in the mirror I know I am onto a winner. And I didn’t want to take this beauty off.


Estra has a familiar, vintage silhouette, with a fresh modern take on floral print with chrysanthemums in blues, mauves, lilacs and golds. The dress is fully lined, with the outer layer a light, soft cotton, that hangs in soft folds. There is a band that sits under the bust, and ties to the back creating definition.  The cross over, empire line bodice is super on busty figures while the full skirt floats over my tummy (I am wearing this dress without shapewear - a rarity for me). The skirt sits just over the knee on my 5'8 frame, making it the perfect length for me.

Despite being a fan of dressing up, I can find formal wear a bit of pain to wear sometimes. Dresses can be binding (especially if they require shapewear), fabrics itchy or sweaty, and generally I found I am pretty keen to get out of them as soon as I can. Ideally, I want something I can comfortably move and walk in (as it's a bit of a walk to and from the station). Something I can sit in because I am a sitter! And something I am not going to be fiddling with the whole day because it's won't sit just right. The Estra dress was perfect for Ascot. It was cool, didn't wrinkle, was easy to sit and walk in, and other than the many compliments I kept getting (brag brag!) more of the time I totally forgot I was wearing it. And this really is the joy of high quality fabrics, and well cut pieces. You can look fabulous with very little drama. Yes please!

I paired my beautiful dress with some neutral accessories from Phase Eight, and felt like such a grown up. My beautiful Joy Fascinator in Cameo has all the presence of a hat, while being super easy to wear, and the Amara Leather Clutch Bag in nude is chic and sophisticated, and I know I am going to get loads of use out of it.

Rhiannon wears: Botanical Scuba Top and Skirt - Phase Eight
Kelly wears: Brush Stroke Top and Skirt in Aubergine and Oyster - Phase Eight
 Hayley wears: Estra Dress - Studio 8

As for the day itself - well, we were properly spoiled! As you may know Studio 8 are sister brand to Phase Eight. I was there representing Studio 8, while fellow blogger Rhiannon Duffin of LifenStyle was there representing Phase Eight. Rhiannon is a an absolute darling, and her aesthetic is beautifully luxurious. She absolutely slayed in her botanicals top and skirt combo (and I have already put in a word saying we'd like to see more like this in plus size!). We were accompanied by two members of the Studio 8 / Phase Eight team - Kelly and Eva - who were both also donning some strong Phase Eight looks, and made sure we were plied with lots of bubbles! I am sorry to say that despite a bird doing a (thankfully very small) poo on my hat (I was told about 14 times that this was good luck) I did not win on any of the horses. It seems my strategy of picking my favourite name wasn't so fool proof. Oh dear.


We rounded off a rather fabulous day with an amazing afternoon tea, replete with the nicest tea I have ever tasted, the best cucumber sandwiches I have ever had, scones, cakes and more champagne. I felt truly and utterly spoiled. And truly and utterly luxury. Bitch! (Don't worry, I am still myself)

Eeeek, and I got to meet Gok Wan! So was pretty glad I was looking my best!

Studio 8 really are my go to when looking for fabulous, flattering, feminine occasion wear, and it's been so great working with them over Spring and Summer. If you're looking for some super statement pieces to get you through the summer event season, check out my review of the Neptune Green Silk Maxi (currently my favourite thing in my wardrobe) and my Monochrome Separates look. Better yet pop over to the site and check out their collection, currently on sale!

What have you got coming up? Ever been to Ascot? What do you think of my look? Let me know...


  1. Replies
    1. Awww, thanks honey! I felt rather swish I must say. A super fun day :)

  2. Oh wow! You look fabulous :) My favorite picture is one with the Gok Wan! Plus, I love that beautiful lace coat you have on. It totally complements your whole outfit. Completes it :)

    1. Thanks my lovely. The lace coat is gorgeous, and from Elvi x


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