Monday, April 8, 2013

I'll take that with sleeves, please!!


Braving the remaining snows in a 50's style gingham dress from eShakti...
Okay, I totally don't usually do this, but occasionally companies find me in my little corner of the internet and ask me to review something or a service.  Since this poky little blog with it's random and sporadic postings is pretty much a personal visual diary, I always say no. But when eShakti came a-calling I was pretty interested, since I've seen reviews before and I love the fact that they offer a range of personalized options.  As someone who usually ends up modifying her clothes anyway ("oh, if only the zipper was on the back it would fit so much better..." or "I'm totally cutting that collar off!") I couldn't say no.  Plus it also offered me an opportunity to make a statement about one of my big dress-buying pet peeves!

Sure, there are tons of cute pseudo-vintage dress options out there- Modcloth has built an empire on it!  But one of the shortcuts that drives me crazy is the preponderance of sleeveless dresses.   It's a small detail, but sleeves take a cute little dress from something that requires layering to a dress that looks that much more finished and possibly even vintage!  (yes, there are sleeveless vintage dresses, but sleeves just offer that je-ne-sais-quoi of style, no?)

eShakti has a lot of cute dress styles that seem to change-up regularly. They offer a wide range of sizing from 0-36, and offer the option of modifying several details from the sleeve style to neckline, embroidery, pockets and length (depending on the dress).  You can also submit your measurements for a fully customized article of clothing (I would wager the best bet in that case is to be aware what styles are likely to fit you best, since customization just isn't that simple!)

I knew immediately I had to go for this green gingham 50s style dress:

However, soon after receiving my link to the sample options, this gingham dress was listed as unavailable.  I decided to select another dress for my sample, and test the full eshakti service by purchasing the gingham dress anyway, using the $25 rebate they offer to first time customers.The selection changes regularly on the site, but they have since released it in new colourways here and here  (however the retail price for my cotton dress was 59.95 and these are currently listed at much higher- perhaps due to different materials?)

I gleefully selected elbow length sleeves, and stopped myself from ordering it slightly longer "so I would have option of hemming it to the correct length" (argh...incorrigible).   I'd heard that their dresses sometimes ran large, so even though I am holding onto some winter weight, I went for my usual size 2 (technically my measurements run closer to their size 4 at the moment.)

I received the dress within a week, enjoying watching the detailed reporting of every step of the delivery chain from Chennai, India to my apartment via DHL.  I have to warn Canadian customers that you will have to expect to pay duties and taxes on delivery- fortunately I was able to use that $20 rebate to buy the dress since on a $44 invoice I had to pay $27 in taxes, duties and a handling fee. This is sadly the norm for me to ship packages into Canada, but still frustrating.

note the matching of the print at the seams and sweet trim detail at the waist.
The dress is lovely and the fit is perfect (even the sleeves!)  The fabric is a nice heavier weight of cotton, and the quality of the construction is very good.  I wish they had offered the option of placing the zipper in the back rather than the side, but that's just my preference.  I may give in and add a button at the collar since it pulls a little. The only odd thing is that the dress appeared to be a straight green and white gingham online but the final product is actually closer to a pale pink and green.  Something to be aware of- since their selection changes so frequently it wouldn't make sense for them to offer reviews online. I think it's probably important just to really look at the materials listed and reflect on how it may differ from your expectations.  They have many cotton options, but also a lot of polyester- just like Modcloth, I think it's a site where you have to really think about the potential pitfalls before ordering, as the quality of the design and execution may vary.  

I am very happy with this dress, and have a feeling I'll be ordering again someday! They offer regular specials, including the current offer where if you buy one dress the second is 40%, or buy three and get one free (working out to 33% off all 3 dresses...). Keep abreast of these and other comments on their Facebook page or styling options on Pinterest. They also appear to have a generous return policy, even if you have selected custom-measurements...I like that!

So, for my sample dress, I selected this pretty polka-dot chambray halter dress:

So what are the potential pitfalls?  Well, I personally screwed up in ordering this lovely dress to my desired length. The default length was mid-calf, but I misinterpreted the length options and selected 'below the knee' instead of 'as shown' and so I was pretty disappointed to receive a dress that was duly 'below the knee' when I was really looking forward to mid-calf!  The bottom hem is a pretty scalloped edge- it's lovely at knee-length but it would have been such a great midi dress! Oddly, though the dress looks like a straight button-up, in fact the buttons only work from the waist up and there is a side zip to get into the dress.  I would have preferred just the simplicity of a button-up, but perhaps it's made that way since the default construction for most of their dresses seems to be side zip.  I again ordered the size 2 and it fits fine, though a touch loose in the bodice.

I think this will be a lovely summer dress, though I may always be irritated with myself that it isn't a leisurely midi-length.  sigh. Have you tried e-Shakti before?

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