Sometime last year, I noticed the emergence of local blog shops selling modern cheongsams, (read: cheongsams that are kind to the modern lady), usually pairing the traditional cut of a cheongsam top with a flared skirt. Together with modern fabric prints, it means that these dresses are both comfortable to wear, usually forgiving to post-partum mummy-tummies, and have a distinct look such that no one will be mistaking you for the waitress in a restaurant.
Some of my friends started purchasing pieces, so I dipped my toes into the cheongsam pool and soon ended up being somewhat fully immersed and swimming in it!
They are not exactly cheap (prices range from $100-170), but almost all pieces would be snapped up in hours!
After a few hits (and a couple of misses, which meant that I had to alter them further at a seamstress’ shop) I decided to adopt this ‘style’, and build up a small collection. One of the reasons was that I had become increasingly tired of seeing other women wearing the same dresses I had purchased, since many of us are busy working mums who shop near our office.
The cheongsams are pricier than the dresses I used to buy, but as they say 一分钱一粉货，and it was obvious that the quality of the material was better than my previous outfits that were churned out en masse from factories. Plus, I figured I shouldn’t mind paying a bit more to support local designers, and local blog shop owners. After all, that’s one of the privileges of earning a salary I suppose!
Enter Joli Pretty (Joli is French for “pretty”, as in “très jolie, ma cherie” or very pretty, my dear) – whose online shop went ‘live’ in June 2014. With gorgeous and whimsical fabric sourced from Japan, the US and other countries, the pieces they produce are hand-tailored by skillful seamstresses. Here’s a glimpse of the vast array of designs that I particularly like.
So chic right? They do have a wider variety than what I’ve shown, ranging from super sweet to professional-enough-as-workwear, to quirky and sometimes edgy.
The different cuts also suit various body shapes, so you can browse through for what would look best on you. Detailed measurements are also provided in their size guide.
Here are some of the pieces I own! I paired the moustache dress with a 好公民 brooch from another local blog shop (called ‘When I Was Four’), and wore the yellow dress to a wedding, with my kids who are in cheongsam collared dresses from local designer MissyMessy.
I have been trying to vary my wardrobe with cheongsams of different colours and cuts, so that they don’t look identical, but rather variations upon a theme, like an orchestral piece.
What I particularly like about these CS are that they are locally designed, and produced in limited pieces. I have yet to see another person on the street wearing the dresses that I have, so my old problem is solved. Many of my friends are fans, so I do see photos of them in modern cheongsams on FB and Instagram, but always in distinctively different pieces.
I also really appreciate the quality and comfort of these dresses – every piece is fully lined, sometimes with a layer of organza beneath the skirt to provide some ‘poof’. I love the functional side pockets on many of their pieces too – I can chuck my handphone and staff pass inside when out and about.
The only thing that takes a bit of getting used to is the cheongsam collar; you might feel warmer than usual if you’re wearing it outdoors in our humid weather. I tend to wear my cheongsams when I know I’ll be mostly in air-conditioned areas, so it doesn’t bother me much.
Since I enjoy learning more about the heads and hearts behind the brands, here’s a mini blog interview with Ann, who is always so patient and affectionate in her replies to customers, making each purchase such a pleasant experience.
1. What inspired you to start Joli Pretty? Are you the sole owner or do you have a business partner?
We started the business around 2 years ago, after I tried to look for a modern cheongsam (CS) to wear in our tropical land, for me & my gal for Chinese New Year. I found that it was not easy to find a nice one with affordable prices, so I DIY-ed my gal’s CS. In the process of sewing hers, I fell in love with the modern cheongsam made of pretty fabric that I initially thought could only be used for children’s clothing.
Our shop is a partnership; I’m in charge of PR/Marketing/Logistics and my partner is in charge of production which is behind the scenes so customers normally only know me :).
2. What is the most fulfilling aspect about running Joli Pretty, and what is the most challenging aspect?
The most fulfilling aspect is we have a chance to chat with many lovely ladies who give us a lot of useful feedback so we can improve. The compliments also keep us going on, and we have become friends with many, and moved beyond just a seller-buyer relationship. The challenging part is the design stage, since we want to constantly refresh our collection and also to keep up with maintaining quality workmanship.
3. How many modern cheongsams do you own and which is your current favourite?
I have quite a few, such that I don’t think I can easily count them anymore (lol), especially since I’m breast-feeding now, so I love wearing front-opening CS (we now no longer do open fronts for ready stock pieces, but we still do so for custom made orders).
Joli Pretty just celebrated its first year anniversary yesterday, so in honour of that, they are having a SALE of up to 65% off on selected ready stock (not pre-orders or custom mades) on Friday 3 July 2015 at 3pm (set your alarms like the rest of us CS fans)!
Joli Pretty is generously offering a $80 voucher to 1 winner (Singapore Resident) for the purchase of SALE item(s) only. Just fulfil all the following conditions to qualify for entry:
- “Like” Joli Pretty’s Facebook Page and LilBlueBottle’s Facebook Page;
- Subscribe by entering your email address at the bottom right of their website; and
- “Like” this Facebook post, and leave a comment on it with your email address, and tag three friends.
The contest closes on Fri 3 July 2015 at 0959 hours, and the winner will be announced on this blog page (and contacted by email) by 12 noon on Friday 3 July 2015, so you’ll have time to grab those SALE cheongsams, fastest finger first!
(Update: The winner is Dorothea Xu, congrats!)
Note: I received a discount on two cheongsams featured here, for the purpose of this review.