Thursday, July 10, 2014

10 Rules for Shopping eShakti - Plus Extra Tips! from Gail Carriger

Updated in 2018

 10 Rules for Shopping eShakti

  1. Have someone who knows what they are doing take your measurements, and be honest. Then customize everything. It's $10 extra and worth every penny.
  2. Know exactly what you want before you place your custom order, from neckline to sleeves.
  3. If you have any concerns, note them in the comments box provided.
    • If you know you have some unusual body thing, and they don't give you the option for a measurement, make a note in the order comments field. 
    • For example, my upper arms are larger than my size would suggest so I try to remember to note that WHEN PLACING the order.
  4. Be very clear with your wants and have a back up plan on customization in case they can't meet your needs. "Limited stock" means they may be out of the fabric you want by the time they get to your order.  
  5. Take advantage of seasonal sales, they have them a lot, dresses can drop as low as $40.
  6. Many dresses are lined (not all) but be aware that the prices are so good for a reason, some fabric quality and attention to stitching detail is lacking.
  7. If you have a particular event in mind, order at least a month ahead of time to be on the safe side. Two if you can.
  8. Hippy? Pockets in full skirts add volume, most of their dresses have side pockets but it's free to take them out, your choice. One of the things I LOVE is the pockets.
  9. Problems with the bill? Telephone gets a faster response time than email. Concerns with the customization? Email works fine.
  10. Busty? Don't order any dress that doesn't have seams in the torso area, anything that relies on waist tucks for fit will not work. (More coming on this one.)
    • Add sleeves if you can. 
    • Consider necklines carefully.

See how awful this style looks on a large bust? The lack of the seems and sweetheart neckline combine to tragedy.

Note on returns: 
They have made this process much easier over the years, the package comes with a sticky Free Return label.

Tips for Curvy Gals & Retro Looks


  • Remember Bracelet & 3/4 are challenging if you plan to wear a tight jacket or sweater over it, as the sleeve can get caught and roll up easy. 
  • Elbow length is easily the most vintage looking, and my personal favorite. 
  • Puff can actually be flattering if you have bigger upper arms, because the puffing will give the illusion of the arm being more slender by contrast. 
  • Cap sleeves are dumb


So many awesome options, although not every dress has all of them.
  • Don't worry about width: most eShakti dresses have bra strap "keepers" (clips at the shoulder to go around a bra strap and keep it from showing). 
  • Do worry about fit, the higher neck ones can run tight, so be wary and provide a neck measurement in comments.
  • Think about what bra you might want to wear under it. Vintage and full support bras run higher up the neckline, so anything called deep or wide by eShakti might not cover your bra properly. (See my issues with sweetheart bellow in the blue patterned pencil dress.)
 My favorites on my figure?
  • Boat
  • Bucket
  • Shaped Scoop
  • Split Boat 
Ones I want to try?
  • Split Scoop
  • U Neck
  • Deep V 
  • V Neck
  • Square
Not recommended if busty 
  • Wide V (not enough support)
  • Wide Deep Scoop (same, plus likely to show bra)
  • Wide Deep Square (same)
  • Wide square (likely to show bra)
  • Jewel (too much fabric)
  • Sweetheart (unflattering, see dress below)


Do think about what shoes you intend to wear with the dress, depending on your height...
  • Knee length on a full skirt is the most versatile for flats or heels.
  • If you intend to wear crinolines under a full skirt for a real vintage look, order bellow the knee.
  • If you want the most vintage then below the knee on a pencil too, but you'll have to wear heels.
  • As a rule: the shorter the hem, the shorter the heel.
  • Mid calf is pretty much the least flattering, I'd say you have to wear heals with this length, but I avoid it like the plague, so what would I know?
  • Ankle length is for situations where conservative dressing mixed with hem in danger are at play, like a beach wedding.
  • Full length is your best option for a maxi dress.
Definitely make sure you have your height and other measurements inputted but if you have a short or long torso this can effect hemline.

Perhaps one of the commenters can speak to how to deal with this?

I'm basically average in this matter, so hemlines fall pretty much where they are on the sketches.

Here's what a custom order looks like: 

Gail Wearing eShakti...

May of these are from before my breast reduction surgery. Before surgery, eShakti was basically the only place I could buy dresses at all. After, however, it meant none of those dresses fit me anymore.

These three dresses I could not change the neckline, because it was set, but I did add short sleeves to them all. I also changed the hemline to below the knee.

My preference is for short sleeves for reasons of heat control, and because I prefer to layer. Short tends to work best with jackets and cardigans.

Here are two with half length sleeves and below the knee hems. Both I also changed the neckline, in the first to a rounded square (now called bucket, I think) and the other to a boat.

The fit on this dress was amazing and I loved the material, but I'm not wild about a sweetheart neckline (my mind is unlikely to be changed on this matter for the super busty). I had to add the trim myself to the neckline of this dress, because the it was too low and always showed my bra.

This is the only dress that survived the transition to smaller boobs. It's really stretchy and the neckline of the under piece kind of arches upwards now, which is fine, fuller coverage. I changed the sleeves from cap to short.

Here are some I've ordered post surgery:

In some of my newer eShaktis

Do let me know if you try eShakti and if you liked it. This is not a sponsored post, I'm entirely honest in my reporting on this matter and was really was happy with the results. But I known not everyone feels the same way. If you leave a comment with your experience, than readers get a fuller perspective.

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


  1. I've been following your posts on this and I think I'll give them a try. I too will be needing dresses for events since my book comes out next spring. I am continually frustrated by outfits that I like, except the hemline is too long (gives me chicken legs) or the neck is too plunging (I have scars that I'm not particularly self-conscious about, but don't necessarily want them on display). This may be a good solution for me!

    I'll let you know how it goes! Thanks for sharing.

    1. It may indeed. I think the boat neck totally faltering and their hem line was spot on, for me. You can't get it for every dress, though. I'm considering above the knee because it looks much better with flats but I'm kinda addicted to at the knee so I keep ordering that.

    2. I'm going to go ahead and guess "flattering" over "faltering" for the neckline? Haha. All I pretty much have to wear with skirts is one pair of Mephisto flats, or black or brown steampunkish boots. O, the woes of picky plantar fasciitis footsies! I'll have to go through my closet and see where most of my hemlines fall.

      I tend to go shorter, but if I remember correctly from my stage days, it can be far too easy to, erm, overshare your knickers in that case.

  2. I just ordered my first dress yesterday after your positive experience. I am excited!

    1. I hope your experience is as good as mine.

    2. I don't think you'll be sorry...I found Eshakti about 4 months ago and have had no issues...even with one return (not their fault, just didn't compliment my figure). Just ready to order 4 more dresses for a cruise...I love that I can't pick and choose what I would like on each dress individually. I hope you have the same experience I have. Best Regards

  3. 2nd attempt; my first comment vanished!

    I have bought a dress from eShakti, before they stopped shipping to Canada due to crazy custom fees. (Well, internationally due to crazy custom fees. And they were indeed impressively high, so I was very thankful that I didn't pay full price for the dress!)

    While over all, I am very happy with my dress, I did have concerns-- I was greatly looking forward to how your dresses turned out, Gail, to see how they worked for you.

    You see, I'm fairly busty. I'm very familiar with my measurements, as I make my own costumes, and my dress fits perfectly... But. It has a side zipper and a very tight band below the bust, which has absolutely no stretch to it. As a result, getting the dress on and off is something of a struggle. The band simply isn't big enough to fit easily over my chest, and the neckline on the particular dress I have isn't big enough to step into.

    I wasn't a fan of side zippers in general, and I don't think I'd get a side-zipped dress from eShakti again. Or, if I did, only one with some stretch to it and without the empire waist. Something to be aware of, for those who plan to buy!

  4. I've never used them myself but I've heard some pretty decent things about them from other women, they have a very generous size range and the customisation is reasonably priced and not restricted to certain styles or sizes (from what I've heard).

    I'm not currently in a position to order from them but it's nice to read how your experience with them went as I find the best way to get to know a company is how they deal with customers when things don't go smoothly.

  5. Gail, check your Other Inbox messages on FB.

    I apologize but Facebook couldn't let my message go directly sent to you fast

  6. I came here to check out the eShakti info, as suggested by someone on Facebook. Then I saw the quote from the Parasol Protectorate series, and was like, I love those books, this blogger is awesome!. Then I looked back up and saw this blog actually belongs to Gail Carriger!! O_O !!!!! :D Good times.

    1. That is awesome! What a round about way to find me!

  7. I love eshakti-- it's taken me an order or two to figure out what fabrics and styles work best, but their customer service is fabulous so I've never had issues with exchanges.

  8. I LOVE LOVE LOVE eShakti and always will. But as a longtime shopper I've noticed a couple of things: 1) They run small. Anyone who has just ordered a standard sized garment has probably noticed this. Sadly, the amount of small they run isn't the same with every garment, leaving me very surprised to discover I can't button one dress over my chest when the other of the same apparent size and style fits perfectly. 2) Maybe this is just me, but whenever I order something with a short skirt, I have to claim to be about two inches shorter than I am. I once ordered a crinoline that was meant to hit just above the knee. It grazes my shins. And 3) Beware if you're long waisted! I'm very, very short waisted, so it's great for me. My poor long waisted mother has never had any luck.

    It's worth it to learn the quirks, though! Where would I be without all my ridiculously printed dresses?


If you are using LJ to comment, it may not work.