As I’ve mentioned in my two most recent blog posts, I’m currently redefining — and redesigning — my wardrobe. I’ve never had a Clueless-sized closet with rows and rows of clothes. But I realized back in August that my closet was too big: many of my clothes didn’t fit my body, my tastes, or my lifestyle anymore, which meant they had to go. I started getting rid of the excess and figuring out what I truly loved. Once I cut back the items I didn’t need (so long, fully-sequined gold dress), I had the room to build my closet up with a few items I adored, which met my ethical standards and my style.
After removing the items from my wardrobe that didn’t fit or were in disrepair, I had about twenty items left, including shoes and my winter coat. That covered the basics — I had a few pairs of pants, a dress or two, and several tops. I wanted to round out my wardrobe with a few versatile items which would make the most of what I already had.
I’ve been really curious about those “wear it five ways” items that I see on Pinterest and YouTube. I wanted to try one for myself, specifically because of the versatility. If there really was a dress I could wear in a bunch of different ways, it would mean I could get twice the use out of my existing wardrobe. But most of the companies that make dresses like that don’t cater to plus sizes, or don’t meet the ethical production standards that matter to me. Enter Encircled, and specifically, their eight-ways-to-wear-it Chrysalis Cardi.
Why I Wanted to Try Encircled
Encircled is a small Canadian company with a focus on ethical production. All their items are sewn with love in Toronto. I’ve been passionate about ethical fashion for several years now, but I was really excited about Encircled in particular because of their size-inclusiveness. Because of the added costs of running an ethical company, it’s difficult for many small sustainable companies to also provide plus-sized ethical clothing. But Encircled has items in straight- and plus sizes, and features models in a range of sizes on their site. For a small company to focus on ethical clothes with gorgeous, minimalistic design and cater to shoppers of every size? I had to try them, and tell you what I thought.
Encircled isn’t sponsoring this post, but they did send me one of their items in exchange for a fair and honest review. I say “item” and not “dress” because it’s not technically a dress — the Chrysalis Cardi is a dress, a scarf, and cardigan all in one. It can be worn eight different ways, which was exactly why I wanted to try it.
First Impressions of the Chrysalis Cardi
I ordered the Chrystalis Cardi in a soft merlot red, which is one of my favorite colors. When it arrived, it was beautifully packaged and I could see the care and attention with which it had been sewn. Plus it was super soft and extremely comfortable. But when I pulled it out of the box, it took me a few minutes to figure out how it worked.
The cardi is actually a two-piece item. The main part is a large tube that could conceivably wrap around your body a few times, which has snaps at both the bottom and the top. The second piece is a long belt-like sash, which you can use to add definition and tie the item at the waist. You can see how it works here.
Testing the Chrysalis Cardi
In the five days that I’ve been visiting my family, I’ve worn the Chrysalis Cardi three times — twice as a dress and once as a layered scarf. I’ve also tested it out as a top and a cardigan. Here are my honest thoughts!
As a dress, I love the Chrysalis Cardi. My favorite way to wear it so far has been draped as a grecian dress as shown in these photos — it’s classic, elegant, and flattering. It’s also very, very comfortable. Yesterday, I put it on immediately after rolling out of bed, because I wanted to wear something that looked nice but still felt like pajamas. It honestly did the trick.
As a scarf, I also quite liked the cardi. I wore it looped around twice (and left the sash part at home), and it was nice and warm without being bulky. But, as a cardigan, I had a hard time making it work. I followed the instructional video and found that, while it looked cute, it pulled a bit at the shoulders, giving me a limited range of motion. I wonder if this was because I’m plus-sized; the instructional video featured a straight-sized person, and perhaps the different dimensions meant that it would suit me differently. While I’m not likely to wear it as a cardigan again, I’m excited to keep experimenting with the different ways I can wear this item.
Altogether, I really love how it suits me as a dress, and I think this is a great option to expand my wardrobe as I continue to travel and start a new job. I think this is a great option for travelers and minimalists alike to get the most bang from their buck, wardrobe-wise. One way I think it would be especially useful is for travelers going to countries where they may need to cover up at certain places for religious reasons (for example, visiting the Vatican or a temple or mosque), because it would be easy to bring this in as a scarf and then quickly convert it into a cape or top to cover your shoulders.