As we begin a new year, i am happy to unveil a Dashing Eccentric first - product review! The beautiful, perfectly fitting Singing In The Rain dress swanned into my armoire courtesy of eShakti's made to measure service. When their rep contacted me about doing a review i was very excited about the prospect. As my first product review, it involved plenty of work, pushed my photography skills to the max, and even entailed a bit of soul-searching. At the end of the process, what is the bottom line? eShakti deserves a prominent place in the resource directory of any woman who wants perfect fit, a small and flexible wardrobe, utterly unique pieces, and who sees the wisdom of putting time and thought into creating her wardrobe. That sounds a lot like The Dashing Eccentric readers to me.
eShakti embodies the opposite of 'fast fashion'. eShakti is well known for the wide range of customization services they offer at low prices. You can start with a sleeveless, mid-knee length dress and alter it to include elbow length sleeves and below the knee hem for the grand total of an additional $7.50. According to Kendall Farr, in The Pocket Stylist, simply hemming a typical skirt averages $15.00 and up. Of course, this doesn't take into consideration the impossibility of lengthening hems or sleeves in ready to wear or vintage items, or the additional options eShakti makes available to its customers.
eShakti also offers made to measure clothing. This means the pattern for the garment is altered to your particular measurements before the fabric is cut. I reviewed this option with the Singing In The Rain dress, and let me tell you i was floored. New readers may not be aware that i have sewn clothing for myself and others on a regular basis for about 35 years. Part of what has kept me sewing all these years is the aggravating impossibility of finding decently fitting clothing off the rack. I hope that anything you see me wear on this blog fits well. Which is why all of it has either been altered or sewn from scratch by me - with the single exception of this eShakti dress. I followed the clear instructions on where and how to take my measurements), and clicked the 'send' button. About ten days later, i popped the dress over my head and boggled at my reflection. All of that great, flattering fit! And none of the usual work.
As Kendall Farr puts it,
"The universal truth about women with great personal style is that their clothes really fit; fit to create the longest, smoothest, optimum unbroken line. This is the key........You really don't need a lot to create a great wardrobe. But everything that hangs in your closet should fit, or it is money wasted."
I cannot think of anything more to say. Hemming and taking in the waist a bit can do a lot for a garment, but more extensive alterations are very difficult to pull off without destroying the line of the garment. Creating a garment made to fit you from the start will give the very best results, and eShakti offers you this opportunity at great convenience and phenomenal cost.
A company offering this level of customization for, say, a dozen classic pieces would be quite a find. But eShakti takes things even farther, in a direction especially intriguing to ladies with small wardrobes. The fewer items of clothing you have, the more you'll wear each individual piece. In this situation, ideally each piece will have maximum styling flexibility. You fantasize about a very special type of garment, one that can play the 'heroine' of an outfit one day, and harmoniously sing in the chorus the next. Pieces that can play a very convincing diva, then win an Oscar for their performance as 'the best friend' a few days later. I have no clue why this type of garment has no catchy name (maybe "Team Player Diva"?), because they are a godsend to small wardrobe connisseurs.
The eShakti design team excels in creating just these type of garments. Wear the Singing In The Rain dress with a few girly accessories: instant bombshell. Toss on a denim jacket and boots, and it's a completely convincing casual day dress. Throw on the floral embroidered tunic with denim and a beret and it's a flattering casual top. But with a silk skirt it packs plenty of drama to create a stunning evening look. As you shop the eShakti website, keep the concept of styling flexibility in mind. It's one thing to be able to create three casual looks with one piece, quite another when that piece plays a crucial role in casual and dressy ensembles. Click through to examine the subtle details which don't come through in the thumbnail pictures. It's often these details which you can bring out through styling to add drama and excitement to bring to life a special occasion outfit.
In short, eShakti's design vision rocks my world! On to customer service. The website is easy to navigate, presenting accurate and helpful information about the clothing and the various available customizations in an easy to understand format. The instructions for taking measurements are the best around, bar none. The one problem i ran into was very respectfully and generously resolved. Upon receipt i discovered that the hem of my dress was faulty.* I notified my rep within a day of receipt, and she quite reasonably requested 24 hours to find out what was up. I let her know that was fine - and didn't hear anything for almost a week. Needless to say, this made me very nervous. But at that point i received an e-mail from my rep, politely inquiring if i had had enough time to consider their offer re: the dress. It turns out her earlier e-mail was lost in the web, and when she re-sent it i was delighted to see their offer of a new item of my choice. This allowed me to choose the black floral embroidered tunic and review their off the rack wares as well as their custom product (and not worry about the hassle of a return).
If i had purchased the dress from eShakti i would have contacted them in a day or so of the 24 hour window to inquire. But since this was a review, i felt an obligation to be very cautious about pushing anything along - i wanted to keep my loyalties strictly with my readers. I include this incident in the spirit of full disclosure, and welcome any thoughts you have about how i handled this. The only other less-than-spectacular aspect of my interaction with eShakti involved the package containing the black floral embroidered tunic. I noticed a strong chemical odor when i opened it. I soaked the tunic (in baking soda and unscented detergent), ran it through the gentle cycle, and all traces of any scent were gone. I've worn this tunic several times since, even while working up a 'glow', and the tunic has remained entirely odor-free. Again, in the end it was a non-issue. But i have friends and family with very sensitive noses, and i know they would appreciate this information.
The upshot of these two quibbles? First, when you are ordering custom, made to measure clothing it may take more time and effort than, say, picking up a pair of sweats down at the mall's latest fast fashion emporium. Two, your mother was right -wash any new clothing before you wear it! Both of which ideas which should be obvious on their face, really. And finally, my concern for maintaining honesty and transparency with my readers borders on the obsessive. I know that different people have very different concerns, i prefer to give you as much information as i can.
In closing, i encourage each and every one of you to take a serious look at eShakti's offerings. You may not be looking for any of their offerings right this second, but having an overview of their products and services will come in handy in future - when you can't find a well-fitting pair of black dress pants for work, when there's not. one. single. dress. with sleeves in the entire mall, when you want to dip a toe into a current trend without coming across like a fashion victim. If you are committed to acquiring beautiful, quality garments with exquisite fit that flatter your body and pique your creativity; if you find that off the rack fashion never quite fits; if you have a small wardrobe and every piece needs to play more than one role convincingly; if you can wear standard sizes but are looking for special and unique pieces at great prices; if you want to look on-trend without being trendy - ladies with any, some, or all of these goals will find their time exceptionally well-spent at eShakti.
eShakti Facebook page
eShakti on Twitter
Singing In the Rain Dress
Black Floral Embroidered Tunic
Many thanks to eShakti for making this post possible by providing both featured items as compensation for this review.
Thank you to the "S" family for letting me commandeer their lovely tree for a location shot - Happy Holidays!
* i have yet to alter the hem, i simply posed to hide the flaw.