Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gail Carriegr Talks eShakti ~ Shopping, Ordering, & Measuring

Fashionable Reader, this is not a sponsored post. I don't so sponsors. It's like doing book reviews. I feel odd about reviewing something I got for free, so I don't accept ARCs or free eBooks. Same with clothing. I want to go through the process of purchasing as if I were any other customer. I think it gives a more honest assessment. 

So my dear friend Sarah, who I have blogged about before (she's a professional costume lady for a major theater company and fantastic seamstress), forayed into the wide world of eShakti recently. While her review was mixed, it was basically positive. When I asked if she would order again she said yes. She did say the necklines tended to run low. However, she is a different shape than me, so I decided the only way to find out how good they are, is to give them a try myself.

EShakti is a site (yes, the name is dumb) where one can order dresses (and other stuff, but I'm into the dresses) and then have them customized for $8 on top of the price. In some cases you can also change the skirt length, neckline style, and/or add sleeves. I was particularly attracted to this last option. I prefer sleeves on my dresses and I adore the idea of choosing the length I would like.

Some Initial Thoughts While Perusing the Website

The website is a bit difficult to navigate, it doesn't allow for a watch list, wish list, or a save for later (at least not so I could find). The sorting mechanisms for color were limited. I suggest setting aside a good amount of time and simply flipping through all the options. I did select the option for 1950s style, to save time. Unless, of course, you want something very specific that they do sort for.

  • Most of the dresses are pull over head side zip adjustment. This is my least favorite design of dress. I like to be able to step into a garment without messing my hair and makeup, so a back zipper is my preference. 
  • There are more day dresses than evening.
  • The colors are limited and tend to be in the softer tones (rather than jewel tone). It's possible that this shifts seasonally.
  • Most have adjustable hem lines. Few have adjustable necklines. Very few allow for added sleeves.

Making My Selection

Knowing I had two book launches up coming, and having assessed the needs of my wardrobe, I was looking to buy some very specific gowns.

I wanted something in colors to go with my covers. I did not want anything in black or blue. I need more cocktail and evening wear. I prefer sleeves. There are certain things I avoid, even when customizable, like buttons over the Rack.

Here are the ones I settled into looking at more closely for Waistcoats & Weaponry:

Fully customizable neck & sleeve & hem

Would look so cute over a corset

Has some stretch and may fit best

I decided on the first option because it zipped up the back and was so entirely customizable, also it looked to be the best color match to the cover. Plus I felt the embroidery made it a little more evening appropriate. I did love the second one as well, but fitting it to my corset requires a different set of measurements. Of course the third was the most practical. But when have I every been practical?

This book was harder to match. Shunning the wine, because I already have lots of red in my wardrobe, left me with the purple options. The closest color eShakti had at lot of for this season was their Orchid.

Orchid and interesting neckline, can add short sleeves instead of caps

Fully customizable and nice color, but will the fabric travel?

So refined, adore the pattern, but fewer accessory options. Neckline and sleeves fully customizable. Most expensive option.

There a lot more fully customizable options in the Orchid range but I didn't think that color matched as well to the cover, although I do think it would look better on me than any other option. In the end, I was so utterly attracted to the last dress that I went with it despite reservations.

I want to add more cream into my wardrobe so I looked closely at this (the buttons are fake):

I'd add sleeves

Then I ran across this dress and all bets were off. I just fell in love:

Entering Measurements

I always suggest putting on the bra that you think you are most likely to wear with the dress. I chose my nude colored Fantasie Serene Full Cup Underwire in 30 H (I might have used the black Panache Tango II Balconette in 28JJ, but my plan is to buy that bra in a 28J in nude to replace this one, and I don't know when I will be doing that.) For now, this is my best foundation bra. Both bras have visible seam lines but I'm figuring under these dresses the lines are unlikely to show. At least I hope so.

I did have to have the AB assist me with my measurements. I needed a good tape measure. It took about 10 minutes to take them all with his help. Some of them were not intuitive so it's was necessary for me to look at the pictures provided.

Look at me exposing all my sins to you.

The Purchasing Process

Signing up for a new account netted me a $25 off coupon, but only for the next 7 days. I missed the window on another special offer so I don't know if they can be combined. There seems to be some other coupon available if you scope the web as well.

Creating an account was relatively easy, if not exactly intuitive. That part took about 10 minutes and I actually had to find each section (address, profile, etc.) it didn't take me from one part to the next automatically.

For each dress the site put in my measurements for custom sizing automatically when I selected that tab.

I ordered this dress:

* With short sleeves. I wanted some sleeve but I did think about how it might look with jackets so decided against anything longer.
* At the designed length, just below the knees. If I were thinking in terms of day wear and flats I would have gone for above the knee, but I want to wear this for evening.
* With the smaller V neckline. I think the wider V more flattering but I was mindful of Sarah's advice about the necklines running low.

* With elbow length sleeves (that's my favorite length and I think would look good with this style).
* At the designed length, just below the knees.
* With the wide scooped neckline. I was mindful of Sarah's advice about the necklines running low, but with the longer sleeves I wanted to show some skin. And I wanted to be able to wear my multi-strand stacked pear necklace with it. I did seriously consider both the boat neckline, which I think would look great without sleeves, and the wide square. (I can't help it though, square makes me think of the 80s.)
* I dithered a lot about this neckline decision, and because it was the most expensive dress I appended a note to my order with my concerns. Then decided to take the plunge, as it were.

* No customizing option except length. I ordered it shorter than pictured, at the knee, so I could wear with flats, and I did input my size measurements and get that aspect customized.

The most annoying part?

Once you have put the item into your cart you can't go back and change your options or customization choices, you have to delete the dress and start over again. 

The $25 gift coupon for signing up was easy to enter.

Finally, I entered my credit card and checked out.

Now I wait.

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

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