Merlot Half Moon Maternity Dress By Cravematernity.co.uk Review
Utter the words 'maternity clothes' and you'll probably picture big baggy dresses, in terrible floral prints, that were cut from the same pattern as a two-man tent - in fact, attach a couple of guy ropes to each end and said maternity dress could double-up as the aforementioned tent!
If you don't picture tent dresses at the mere thought of maternity wear then perhaps you see overstretched leggings coupled with an over sized t-shirt? OR maybe a pair of standard issue baggy maternity jeans with the obligatory stretched jersey belly panel, that can only be worn with a long line shirt or t-shirt.
I was pregnant with my first two children in the mid 90s, the days when all maternity wear was frumpy and, quite frankly, hideous. I tried to find something stylish and elegant to wear to a Christening during my second pregnancy and ended up having to beg my mum to make me something; my overstretched leggings and baggy t-shirt really weren't going to cut it for that event.
I couldn't search across the vastness of the Internet, have some clothes sent to me to try and send back if they weren't any good either - the Internet, as we know it today, didn't exist then!
Fast forward 17 years and how things have changed; today's pregnant mums have a huge selection of maternity wear to choose from online, ranging from everyday casual items, outfits suitable for work, to something a little more special.
The colour is a very deep aubergine (a colour most skin tones can carry off) and is made from 95% Viscose and 5% Elastane. If, like me, you visualise a crepe type material whenever you read 'Viscose' then breathe easy and think again because the Merlot Half Moon dress material is nothing like that - think soft jersey material that drapes around your body perfectly and stretches in all the right places instead.
About 'draping properly and stretching in all the right places' - the Merlot Half Moon maternity dress has not only been made from the correct material to achieve this, it's also been cut to ensure it, so you look fabulous when it's on.
It features a half moon panel (hence the name of the dress!) which allows the dress to ruche over, and stretch with, your bump as it grows, without losing shape, rather than simply stretching at the seams and looking like a normal jersey dress going above and beyond the call of duty.
It also has an elegant and demure high neckline - so very suitable for the work place or event that calls for a some cleavage coverage - and three-quarter length sleeves; it's 94 inches in length and is also machine washable.
With a retail price of £80, this Merlot Half Moon maternity dress from cravematernity.co.uk is, admittedly, at the higher end of the maternity wear market, so being able to wash it at home is a bonus.
All too often expensive items, maternity or not, come with a 'dry clean only' catch and I resent having to pay a fortune in dry cleaning bills, let alone the inconvenience of having to drop it off at the cleaners, leave it with them for a couple of days - or pay even more for their two-hour express service and find something to do for a couple of hours - before picking it up again!
Being machine washable is all very well and good though, as long as your £80 Merlot Half Moon maternity dress doesn't shrink, lose its shape and/or fade; we held our collective PlayPennies breaths whilst awaiting the results of the first machine wash at 30C.
The colour didn't run (always a concern when washing dark colours for the first time) and it dried quickly on the line; only a quick flick over with the iron was required and the dress was as good as new - no loss of shape and no sign of shrinkage whatsoever.
This is GOOD news because, fall in love with this maternity dress as much as we did, you'll be wearing and washing it often.
The Merlot Half Moon maternity dress is one of those dresses you wish you could find in a non-maternity version too - it's sophisticated with an understated, timeless elegance that will always make you look and feel fabulous when you wear it.
It's not the cheapest maternity dress in the world but due to the quality of its fabric, its cut and how well it's made, it will see you through your pregnancy and early post-partum weeks with ease.
Experience, during my third pregnancy in 2006, taught me it's better value, over time, to buy a couple of better quality items that survive being worn again and again and again and still look great, than to go cheap and suffer the indignity of broken seams and the frustration of 'washed it once, it wasn't wearable again'.
Cravematernity.co.uk cover every item of maternity clothing you could possibly wish to own, from: dresses for all occasions (including weddings), casual trousers to leggings, smart trouser suits and jeans.
If you intend to stay fit during your pregnancy, they have a range of maternity fitness outfits too; sleepwear, lingerie, swimwear, shirts, t-shirts, tunic tops and camisoles also hang on their virtual clothes rails.
Delivery within the UK is free is you spend over £65 (which is really not going to be difficult) and, for today only, if you use the code SAVE10 before you complete your purchase, you'll save yourself £10 too - ordering is done either by email or telephone, everything is explained fully over at Crave.
If you spend less than £65, standard delivery will cost an additional £4.95 or you can choose next day delivery for £5.95 (orders must be placed before 2pm).
Our overall score for Cravematernity.co.uk and their Merlot Half Moon dress is 10 out of 10.