Custom Clothing from eShakti: First Impressions

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been offered a review sample from the clothing retailer eShakti. Normally, everything I review here is something I’ve bought myself, so I want to be very upfront that they did send me a free dress to try. That said, I was curious enough to take advantage of their promotions and buy myself two others. They arrived this week, much earlier than I thought they might.

First of all, for those who are unaware, eShakti is a customized clothing site where you go, choose a design you mostly like, and then change it into something you totally like. You are limited to the color and fabric of the original design, but you can change length, sleeves, and necklines for most styles, and you have option to remove pockets or change the zipper. I was curious about some of their materials, and I liked that I could take a design I like and make the skirt longer, as below-the-knee skirts are a non-negotiable for professional wear for me. So I dove in.

First, my sample dress is a blue-and-white tweed-y novelty woven material dress with a simple a-line skirt, v-neck, short sleeves, and large, button-embellished pockets. As a woman who values utility, I love pockets in dresses. It helps that I generally wear full-skirted designs and therefore do not worry as much about adding bulk around my hips. Anyway, I put in custom measurements (way beyond the standard bust-waist-hips), and chose to lengthen the skirt a little. I was particularly impressed that they had a measurement for sleeve circumference, as I have large-ish arms (possibly from aerials) that are constricted by sleeves.

Then, I decided to try another experiment. I bought two more dresses using their 2-for-1 promotion because I wanted to try out two other materials they have, but for these dresses, I decided to try their standard sizes. I chose the one that most closely fit my measurements. Thankfully, eShakti always asks your height and adjusts designs to that for no additional charge, so I didn’t have to worry about the length being off for the standard sizes.

For my two purchased dresses, I got a suiting material dress with a boat neck and a cotton knit with a pleated neck. Again, I made sure both dresses fell below the knee, and adjusted sleeves to my liking, but didn’t not customize the size other than entering my height. One thing I forgot to check was the zipper on one of the dresses. As someone with a rather wide rib cage, I sometimes have trouble removing dresses that don’t zip up the back. eShakti often has an option to replace a side zipper with a back zipper. Sadly, I was negligent and did not take advantage of this.

Anyway, I made my purchase, and then sat back and waited. They indicated that it could take a few weeks for the dresses to arrive, so I assumed I had time. Then on Boxing Day, I got a notification that both of my orders had shipped. I received my first order (the sample) the following Monday, while I was home sick from work. The other came the next day, though I didn’t receive it until the following day because DHL requires a signature. While it’s a bit irritating, they had no problem leaving the package once I signed the slip they left.

So now, all three dresses in hand, it was the moment of truth. Well, all three dresses fit beautifully. I would say that my body fits their standard sizing chart well enough it may not be worth the hassle of measuring, but since size customization and design customization is all covered under the same fee, I may go all-custom again just to make sure my sleeves fit.

And fit they do! The sample dress had short sleeves, which are often the bane of my existence. But these fit perfectly without constricting. They don’t make my arms look bigger than they are by being too tight. While I haven’t had time for an official photo shoot, I did take a selfie in the mirror this morning:

Because the early morning lighting is poor, it’s hard to see the color, but it is a nice, rich navy blue interspersed with white neps. It’s fully lined so static is not an issue. I’m wearing the dress at work today and it has held up to my commute and walk in, though I got a bit sweaty under the arms, possibly from the poly lining. But it could also just be that I’m not used to wearing real sleeves.

As for the other two dresses, which I actually purchased? Well, they both fit beautifully. The cotton knit is perhaps a bit too casual fo a fabric for me to want to wear to work, but I wore it to rehearsal last night and felt both comfortable and pretty. And the suiting material feels very thick and high-quality. Even the side-zipper issue was not too terrible as there was enough wiggle room in the fit to allow me to get the dress off over my head without hearing any of the seams strain.

All in all, I had a good experience. I know other bloggers have had negative experiences. I will make one comment: despite the fact that both my packages (one review sample and one paid for) left eShakti on the same day, the review sample arrived a day earlier and seemed to take a more direct route. So perhaps they do try to make sure reviewers get their clothes more quickly than the average person. But given that it was only a day or two difference, that’s not a big deal. And not enough to prevent me from ordering again in the future, perhaps for the spring when I want something a little more brightly colored!

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The Necessary Elan for Wearing Men’s Clothing

First of all, I am writing this post from the perspective of a cisgendered woman, so I am referring to wearing clothing that either does not belong to me, or was purchased contrary to the manufacturer’s instructions. Off-label usage, if it were. Ignoring the most very basic rules of traditional fashion with wild abandon.

Mostly, I am talking about stealing Boyfriend’s clothing. He doesn’t mind a pair of socks here and there, or the odd t-shirt for sleeping. But this is about the peculiar style that comes about from wearing his clothing out and about.

The other weekend, for our closing show, I had not had time to do laundry and all my warm clothing was dirty. I had a t-shirt, some jeans, my boots, but no sweater. So I grabbed a sweater from the pile of oversized sweaters that even Boyfriend finds a bit too “relaxed” a fit for him. Needless to say, I was comfortable and warm, which was the main point. I was going to be running around, inside and out, gathering props and costumes after the show. I threw it on with a pair of jeans tucked into my riding boots, and didn’t give it a second thought.

Then, after the show, a friend of mine commented how stylish I looked and how much she liked my outfit. “Oh, this old thing?” I got to ask, cooly, although I did not cop to wearing a stolen sweater. And it got me thinking.

I had just come off the final performance of a fantastic run, where I played the star, and generally got to have my way around the stage for two weekends. I was at the top of my game, and plump with confidence. I think that is what made my baggy sweater and jeans look like something worn with style and flair, rather than just another sad girl wearing an oversized sweater because she can’t be bothered to keep all her stylish clothes clean.

Perhaps that’s true of all clothing; that what is required to look stylish is to simply look like you belong in whatever clothing you happened to put on. But I think there may be something deeper. There’s something particularly stylish about a woman who can particularly choose something that may not have been designed to be flattering to her body, but she chooses to wear anyway for comfort, not as a statement. It’s almost the opposite of the “normcore” trend, where you try to look intentionally awkward. Instead, I wear clothing without consciousness, and that’s when I tend to look at my best.

Coming Into My Style

Recently, one of my favorite bloggers, Jessica at Chronically Vintage,┬áposted about her 2015 style inspirations. In her post, she wrote, “I firmly believe that one’s personal style should be a continually evolving entity of sorts.” I couldn’t agree more. Over my life, particularly in the last several years, I’ve gone through phases, but always come back to certain elements that are uniquely me.

I love my long skirts. I used to live in long skirts in the summer when I was in high school because I categorically refused to show my legs, either in shorts or shorter skirts or dresses. Part of this was a whopping dose of body insecurity, and part of it was just an unwillingness to either shave my legs regularly or try to carry off being unshaven. Oddly enough, a style born of laziness and insecurity earned me plenty of compliments, despite the fact that I was an awkward weirdling for most of my young adult life (30s are still young, right?). But I consider long skirts my version of sweatpants, which makes it pretty cool that others find them stylish.

Scarves have always been a large part of my personal style, and lately I’ve been adding shawls to that. Although the crochet habit is part of that, and I have one handmade shawl that I use regularly, I also love my purchased scarves and shawls. In fact, I might do a post soon detailing my favorite cozy shawls for winter. But scarves have been one of my signatures for as long as I can remember. It may have started somewhat when I traveled in Italy in college. Whatever the origin, I wear scarves as an accessory more often than I wear necklaces.

My boots are another one of my winter style signatures. In fact, I’ve had the same pair of black leather riding boots for over three years and yesterday realized they were actually falling apart. So it’s time to find a new signature piece. I’m thinking of trying a brown or cognac pair.

And that’s just the thing: I don’t always keep my signature pieces constant. I’ve gone from hippie gauze long skirts to solid-colored jersey skirts with a slimmer silhouette. My scarves have branched out from the standard Pashminas I found on street vendors in Europe. And now I’m going to get a new pair of boots.

I’ve gone through phases with my style. I tried going ultra-minimalist right after I separated from my ex. And it worked for a while, but I started to gravitate towards a more romantic, vintage feel. So now I’ve come to blend my modern minimalist phase into my classic, romantic signature style. But who knows? That can change.

Cozy Winter Style

As you can tell by the title of my blog, I love to wrap up in warm fabrics and drink hot tea. I really do like tweed, in all its scratchy woolen glory. And this time of year, my collection of tweeds and knits and scarves really gets to shine.

Monday, I was thrilled to receive my new winter coat, a brown herringbone tweed overcoat from a vintage seller on Etsy. It has nubs of blue and orange in it, and a subtle tartan pattern. Not only did the photographs on Etsy not do it justice at all, it fit perfectly, with just enough room that I might layer it over sweaters. It makes me glad the weather has started to taken on more of a chill.

Holiday Weekend Shopping

Underneath my coat, my cold-weather staples are long trousers and blue jeans, cabled sweaters, scarves, and my wonderful knee-length black riding boots. A pair of leather boots zipped up over a pair of slim-fitting straight-leg jeans, with a cabled sweater and a squishy scarf is the quintessential winter style to me. On the rare occasion I venture out into the cold air in a skirt, I wear a pair of thick tights or leggings, with socks over top, all tucked into my riding boots.

Cozy Workday Outfit

My favorite sweater is a fisherman-cabled sweater in a mottled oatmeal color that I wear most weekends, but it lacks the necessary elan for the office. To that end, I have a cream-colored cabled sweater in a butter-soft wool blend, a collection of cardigans, and two cowl-necked merino wool sweaters. Paired with a pair of jeans on the weekend, or a pair of vintage tweed trousers for work, my sweaters are vital for keeping warm while I walk from place to place. Whether I’m taking a stroll around the lake, or a hurried walk from my car, parked ages away from my building, I need to keep from suffering the bite of winter air.

I’ve put together some sets in Polyvore to show what I mean. Of course, I chose items mostly based on looks, so some are quite expensive, but it is the look of the thing I mean to convey. Hopefully, they will help inspire your cozy winter wardrobe!