Essie Soft Purples Comparison : Under Where?, Play Date, Dress Call, Lilacism, Sittin' Pretty, Bond With Whomever, Full Steam Ahead, & Groom Service

Thursday, February 9, 2017 6 comments
Top L-R: Full Steam Ahead, Groom Service, Lilacism
Middle L-R: Bond With Whomever, Dress Call, Style in Excess
Bottom L-R: Sittin' Pretty, Play Date, Using My Maiden Name

We're still in the dead of Winter here in the western part of Canada but I've been itching for there to be some semblance that Spring is on it's way. Switching from dark and brooding polishes to more bright yet soft shades is a quick and easy way to do that, so I thought I'd pull out all my soft purple shades and do a comparison for you. I borrowed a couple shades from friends to round out this comparison and I ended up with TEN polishes to compare for you! (Under Where is missing from the above collage)

Left to Right: Lilacism, Full Steam Ahead, Groom Service, Style in Excess, Dress Call, Under Where?, Bond With Whomever, Sittin' Pretty and Using My Maiden

I included some of the new gel couture purples so that should be interesting for you in case you wondered how they compare to polishes in the regular Essie line. 

Under Where?

Under Where? came out in the 2013 Resort Collection. I remember really deliberating whether to get it or not. There was another soft purple that came out in the 2013 Spring Collection that looked super similar, but ultimately I went with Under Where (and later got rid of it because I didn't really like it on my skin tone). It's the most pink toned purple out of the bunch and pretty unique to my collection. Under Where? has a  good formula. It's opaque in two coats and self-leveled really nicely.

Bond With Whomever

Bond With Whomever came out in the Spring 2013 Collection and was the soft purple I was talking about. Seeing pics online, I thought this and Under Where were almost dupes for each other but they really aren't! They are quite different. Under Where is much more pink than Bond With Whomever. Bond With Whomever does have some pink undertones but they are more subtle. It's also much more pale. I absolutely LOVE the way this one looks on me and I can see now I made the wrong purchase 4 years ago! Bond With Whomever has a thin formula. It's opaque in 3 coats and self-levels okay but not perfectly. It's not that big of a deal though because top coat smooths it out. 


Oh Lilacism. Stupid, color-changing Lilacism. This was one of my favourite Essie polishes ever but I think it's getting bumped off that list. It's a very fickle polish that changes from a pretty soft purple Lilac to this more blue-grey shade.  I thought it took years to make that change but it really doesn't. I bought a brand new purple bottle of Lilacism 6 months ago and it already looks like the pale bluish purple you see below. UGH! WHY?????! Don't get me wrong, this is still a pretty colour but it's also  a dupe for Virgin Snow and I don't have any other polishes in my collection that looks like a brand new purple bottle of Lilacism. Maybe Essie needs to make one! There's a new pale purple coming out in the Resort 2017 Collection, so maybe it will look like Lilacism and not change colour? Wishful thinking. Anyways! Back to the topic at hand. Lilacism has a thin formula. It needs 2-3 coats to be opaque but it self-levels nicely.

Full Steam Ahead

Full Steam Ahead came out in the Summer 2013 Collection. Boy! Essie sure liked these pale soft purples in 2013.  This pale soft purple is a bit blue-toned though, while the other ones releases the same year are more pink-toned. It's a bit thicker of a formula, so it was opaque in 2 coats. However, it doesn't completely self-level. There was a bit of ridging on two of my nails where the polish didn't level itself. I really dislike that, but I do think it's mild enough that a topcoat would fix it. It has very fine shimmer it in (like Naughty Nautical. They are from the same collection) but you don't really see it unless you are up close to your nail.

Groom Service

Groom Service came out in last year's 2016 Bridal Collection. Swatched next to Full Steam Ahead, these are almost the exact same colour, but Full Steam Ahead has fine shimmer. Since you can hardly see the shimmer anyways, I'd say go for Groom Service. It has a much nicer formula to work with. It doesn't have any of the thickness or ridging issues. It applies nicely and is opaque in 2 coats.

Dress Call

Dress Call is a Gel Couture polish that was released in the core collection in 2016. It has a really nice formula that is smooth and self-leveling and opaque in 2 coats. It's also super fast and easy to apply  because of the wide rounded brush. Dress Call has the same saturation and depth of colour as Full Steam Ahead and Groom Service, but it's more of a neutral toned purple while the other two are blue-toned. If you like these shades of purple but want it in a more long-wearing formula, Dress Call would be a great one to pick up.

Sittin' Pretty

Sittin' Pretty came out in the 2014 Neons Collection but it's not a neon at all. It's actually super close to Dress Call! They aren't dupes but they are very similar, although Dress Call has the superior formula. Sittin' Pretty is very thin and sheer. It takes 3 coats to be opaque and still some spots needed touching up. I think Fill the Gap would eliminate that so that you could get it completely opaque in 3.

Play Date

Play Date is a classic in the core Essie line. It came out in 2012 as a release to commemorate Essie merging with L'Oreal and being sold in drugstores as well as salons. It's a shade you can find anywhere. It's a great polish. It applies nice and is opaque in 2 coats. It also self-levels well. It's similar to Sittin' Pretty but a bit darker and has a much better, more opaque, formula.

Style In Excess

Style in Excess is also a Gel Couture release from 2016. I originally didn't include it in this comparison because I thought it had too much grey in it and would be a dupe for Bangle Jangle or something else from this Grey-Purple Comparison. But it sits on my polish shelf right next to Dress Call and the rest of the soft purples so I grabbed it last minute and added it to the mix. While is does have some grey in the formula, it isn't as grey-toned as I thought (I'll have to do a proper comparison to see how it looks next to Bangle Jangle). It's quite similar to Full Steam Ahead and Groom Service but a touch more grey and a bit darker. It applies nicely but the formula is a bit sheer. It takes three coats to be opaque but it's very smooth and self-leveling and doesn't need base coat. This was my first time trying this polish and I'm diggin' it!

Using My Maiden Name

Using My Maiden Name came out in the 2013 Wedding Collection (Seriously?! So many of these shades in 2013! The year of purple apparently) This polish is quite a bit different than any of the others. It's a deeper shade and very very-blue toned with a really pretty fuchsia shimmer flash. It's really apparent in direct sunlight but looks more like a faint pearly finish in regular indoor light. It's mostly opaque in 2 coats but you can still see a bit of visible nail line if your nails are longer, so I went with 3.

Here we can see all these purples next to one another. Groom Service and Full Steam Ahead are the closest and most dupey. You can see how Style in Excess isn't as grey-toned as I thought, and it seems to be just a darker version of Groom Service and Full Steam Ahead. Dress Call and Sittin' Pretty are the other two that are similar. The rest stand alone as their own unique shade.

How do I pick a favourite? Hmm....that's so hard. Well I WOULD have said Lilacism because it's been on my mental list of all-time favourite Essie's for years but this colour changing business really bugs me. Pale shades are my jam, so Bond With Whomever speaks to me the most. I just wore it yesterday and I'm crushing so hard (I'm still kicking myself that I never picked this one up in 2013!) but I also love the uniqueness of Using My Maiden Name. I also think you can never go wrong with a Gel Couture so I'm looking forward to actually wearing Dress Call and Style In Excess this Spring (I haven't worn them yet, only swatched for this comparison). What's your favourite Essie soft purple?!

If you are curious to see any other comparisons like this go HERE. I've compared pinks, greys, blues, greens, etc. If there's any other comparisons you want to see, let me know in the comments!


  • Unknown said...

    Yay! So glad you tried Style in Excess! I also thought it would be a dupe for Bangle Jangle, but in certain lights, the purpleness of it really came out and was really striking. Loved wearing it last year and looking forward to wearing it again!

  • Emma said...

    Oh I've got Bond With Whomever, Dress Call, Sittin' Pretty (one of my all time favourites! I've always quite liked the almost jelly-like formula), Virgin Snow and To Buy Or Not To Buy. However, I've always wanted to get my hands on Bangle Jangle but it doesn't seem to be carried in the permanent line here (plus I also wanted it to have a touch more purple) so Style in Excess looks like the perfect one for me! Thank you so much for the amazing comparison post Kindra!

  • Kindra said...

    Emma - Yes, Bangle Jangle is a hard one to get ahold of. You have to track it down since only very random websites carry it. I remember a lot of people LOVED it when I posted my grey-purple comparison but were so disappointed when they couldn't get their hands on it. As soon as I saw Style in Excess I was so excited for everyone that wanted Bangle Jangle! Also, the new lilac that's coming out in the Resort 2017 Collection is a greyed out purple. I've only seen one swatch of it so far, but it may be close to Bangle Jangle as well.

  • KP said...

    At least I'm not alone in the quest to find a dupe for the original Lilacism. Currently checking out OPI Polly Want a Lacquer.

Post a Comment


©Copyright 2011 Essie Envy | TNB