Karen Millen Forever Dress: Review & Comparison of the Versions Available

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If there is one workwear piece that I have raved on about repeatedly, it’s the Karen Millen Forever Dress.  It is the quintessential power dress that checks every box when it comes to corporate dress.  

Sophisticated? Check. 

Conservative? Check. 

Beautifully tailored? Check. 

Confidence boosting? Check.  

I managed to get my hands on this dress in both black and grey check at the beginning of 2019.  I’m normally not one for getting an item of clothing in multiple colours, but this was an exception to the rule and one of Karen Millen’s signature workwear pieces.  It’s a beautifully tailored piece which features a notched stand collar and mid-length sleeves that perfectly complement the belted waist to create a flattering silhouette. 

Since purchasing the dresses at the beginning of 2019, Karen Millen sadly shut down their free-standing stores internationally and their online operations were subsequently acquired by BooHoo (somewhat of an odd pairing if you ask me). Despite the change of ownership, the signature Forever Dress continues to be produced in black.

While the design features appear to be the same as the original signature dress, in a confusing move by Karen Millen’s online store, there are several types of Forever Dresses available. Two of them are described as “Black Forever Dress” (confusing much?!) and one of them is described as “Forever Cinch Waist Pencil Dress”. So, I thought I’d get to the bottom of it once and for all and compare the different dresses on offer.

The original black ‘Forever Dress’

The fabric composition in the original black dress I own is: 71% triacetate, 29% polyester.  The lining is 100% polyester and the belt that comes with the dress is labelled as being made of genuine leather. Notably, the dress has little-to-no stretch and despite it being form-fitting, it’s incredibly forgiving when worn and manages to create a feminine silhouette (without needing to have washboard abs). The fabric is also notably wrinkle resistant and packs & travels well – one of the pros of triacetate.

For reference, I have the UK 8 in the dress and I’ve found the sizing to come up slightly smaller.

The three versions of the ‘Forever Dress’ currently available

Currently, there are three “Forever Dresses” on offer on the Karen Millen website and while the images of each dress appears to be very similar, if not identical, on a closer look, there are differences in the fabric composition.

A proper comparison calls for a table and I love me a table so that’s exactly what you’re gonna get!

Comparison between the different Karen Millen Forever Dresses

Item details and key differences
Product code: AKK96226
Product description: “Black Forever Dress”
Fabrication: 82% triacetate, 18% polyester
Notes: The fabric composition is a slight variation from the original KM version with a higher proportion of triacetate, but this version closest to the original.
Product code: AKK95603
Product description: “Black Forever Dress” (confusing much?!)
Fabrication: 63% polyester, 32% viscose, 5% elastane
Notes: Design details appear identical to the dress above however the fabric composition is significantly different from the original version with the addition of elastane.
Product code: AKK96103
Product description: “Forever Cinch Waist Pencil Dress”
Fabrication: 64% polyester, 31% viscose, 5% elastane
Notes: Design details differ slightly with a shorter sleeve and a fabric belt in lieu of the leather original.

In summary:

  • The first dress in the table is the version that appears closest to the original signature dress given the high proportion of triacetate in the fabric. If it’s anything like the original, it’ll have little to no stretch but the fabric will be soft, smooth and wrinkle resistant.
  • While the added elastane in the updated version of the dress that appears second in the table seems like a nice addition, I’m a tad skeptical as to the quality of the fabric and whether it would have the same wrinkle-resistant and smooth quality of the original triacetate dress. Without examining the dress physically, it’s hard to make this call. But I do see the benefit of having elastane in the dress as it is so form fitting. I’d imagine this dress would be more comfortable to wear in comparison to its predecessor. If stretch is your thing, this might be your pick!
  • The third dress bears the same name but the shortened sleeves and lack of leather belt do change the overall look and it is a much more relaxed version with the tweaks.

I thought it was worthwhile noting the differences in the event you’ve had your eye on this dress, particularly prior to the acquisition by BooHoo. While it’s a tad confusing with the numerous versions on offer, it’s always nice to have options depending on how you’d like the dress to feel and fit.

Thanks again for stopping by and I hope this helps!

P.S. A great dupe for my Celine Sangle Bag and my everyday makeup routine.

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5 Comments

  1. Abril
    September 23, 2020 / 10:25 pm

    Thank you very much for this! I was about to buy the Forever Dress and did not even noticed there are different versions!

    • September 23, 2020 / 11:07 pm

      My pleasure! I’m glad it helped x

  2. Tara
    September 24, 2020 / 12:37 am

    This is very helpful. I also didn’t know they were being sold to boohoo.

  3. Alevin
    October 21, 2020 / 11:45 am

    Hi! Great dress and thanks for this post! I didn’t know about this brand. Could you include the sizes you wear in some other brands, for comparison? Thank you!

    • October 21, 2020 / 2:09 pm

      Thanks so much. I’m a usual AU 8 and I’m 5’2″ if that helps? I find the sizing to be smaller so a Karen Millen size 8 would be more of an AU 6-8 🙂

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