When you work from home, the dress code is super casual. I have friends that work in PJs and my signature style is a pair of jeans and a comfy top that is warm or cool depending on the season.

I don’t wear makeup very often and some days I don’t even brush my hair. Sometimes I posh up a bit when I have to do a Skype call, but for the most part, nobody can see me in this little home office, and that’s absolutely the way that I like it.

But then when I finish work, I have a hobby with a dress code that’s about as far from work at home mum as it’s possible to get. I sing with a very busy London choir, which does anything from 30-40 engagements during the year. I don’t do all of those by any means, but I probably put my posh frock on and go out singing at least 20 times a year.

When it comes to the couple of weeks before Christmas I can be out several times a week, and even do two or three concerts in a day. And that is why I need a huge selection of smart dressy black gear.

So when the nice folks from Simply Be contacted me and asked me to try out some of their clothes, I knew exactly what kind of things to look for. I wanted a long black dress and a couple of tops to go with my smart black trousers.

Simply Be advertises itself as the home of curves, selling clothes in sizes 12-32, According to their own advertising…

Simply Be are all about inclusivity for everyone and every body. We don’t compromise when it comes to curves, and we specialize in fashion that fits. We’re not one size fits all, and we don’t think you should be either. Style has no size, and when it comes to plus size clothing, we’re the industry leaders. Forget the fear and embrace the real you. We are Simply Be. We are curves.

For myself, I don’t really consider myself as plus sized. I wear size 16 mainly, although in certain shops I would have to stretch that to an 18. I’m also very wide across the back, and sometimes find that tops which fit me around the chest, have armholes that are too tight.

But I figured that shopping with a plus size expert company I would probably be able to wear a 16 which would hopefully have arms sized to reflect the fact that I am a sedentary desk jockey who is not fond of physical exercise. A 16 is not a scaled up size 12 – many of us are a slightly different shape to our slimmer colleagues.

These are the styles I chose:

Joanna Hope Black Velour tunic
Cross front long sleeved top
Lace insert Maxi Dress

I did make a couple of silly mistakes with my choices though – and none of these is the fault of the Simply Be, who were very helpful at all times.

Firstly, I was offered these clothes to review just before Christmas, but I diddled around making my choices so that by the time I was ready, my first choice was out of stock, and when I chose again, there was no time left to ship them to me in time for Christmas. So sadly my beautiful photo opportunity at the Albert Hall for Christmas came and went.

Then, of course, there is that niggly little thing, that in the party season run up to Christmas, and particularly after the big day, I am a little bit bigger than I am during the rest of the year. Realistically then, I should have chosen the clothes in size 18, and they were a little bit snug when they arrived, although as it was a close run thing, I decided to keep all the items and use them as an incentive to get my January weight loss and fitness programme off to a good start.

And then finally, neither my fault nor the company’s, my son decided to be ill all over Christmas and throughout most of January, with a few visits to A&E, hospital appointments etc, which pushed the writing of this review to the back of my mind, and the end of another month.

So here I am in February, looking forward to some more concerts in March and April, and so I thought I’d show you how lovely these items really are.

1: Black velour tunic

This is my favourite of the three items. The fabric is silky, shiny and hangs really nicely. This will look lovely with trousers and also with my long black skirt.

The stretchy material is easy to get into and out of – this is very important as I quite often change into my concert gear in a room full of my chorister friends, so it needs to be quick and simple and this fits the bill perfectly. And finally it appears to be non-crease so I’ll be able to squish it into my choir bag for the journey up to London. I quite often buy velour clothes for choir for this very reason.

2: Black cross over top

This top is also lovely. It’s made of lighter material than the velour one, so it will be lovely when the weather gets a bit warmer – we still have to keep our arms covered to the elbow even in midsummer and I think that’s a really good idea given the average age of the choir…

It’s also a little bit simpler, which will be fabulous for some of our concerts which are less formal.

Looking at it already I can see that it will crease a bit more easily than the other one, and as it doesn’t stretch, it is a bit more fiddly to take on and off, but what I will probably do with this is wear it even for the rehearsal with a jumper over the top, rather than changing in the evening.

3: Lace insert maxi dress

This dress is really really pretty. the underlayer is a delicate lace which covers your whole body, with another layer of satiny fabric over the top of this. It drapes really nicely and covers up a lot of lumps and bumps

I love the slit effect which is still covered in lace, and I hope that I am going to really enjoy wearing this dress.

Sadly though, I really should have bought at least one size larger with this dress, and possibly two. It took me ages to shimmy gingerly into the lace bit – and I was terrified I was going to rip it.

The arms, also beautiful in lace, are very much too tight, which would make holding my folder and singing quite difficult. And as for getting it off after I took this photo – let’s just say its not something I would like to try to do in front of mixed company, as people would have a jolly good giggle and probably post me all over Facebook.

So I’m going to have to wait a bit longer to enjoy this dress – I need to get an inch or two off all over. It’s a very good incentive though as I do think it’s really pretty and I’m looking forward to wearing it on stage.

Overall I would say I’m pretty impressed with Simply Be. It’s not a company I had ever considered buying from before, but I will certainly look at more of their stuff. I’m not hung up on sizes, so if my size with them is an 18 then so be it. Or, if I hang up my little black dress and lust after it enough to do what I need to shrink into it, then I’ll be back for some more 16s very soon.

I’ll also post some piccies from my next few concerts as they happen, so you can see these beauties in the settings I imagine them in.

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