Towards the end of 2012, I was contacted by a member of the customer service team for the popular online etailer, eshakti.com, who was curious to know if I'd like to receive one of their garments (of my choice) to review. I'd heard about eshakti before and read a few (mixed) reviews of their products and services online, but never purchased from them before, so I was totally game to sample their wares.
Today's post however, is not specifically focused on the garment I received from them, that will appear in a future post (I'm putting together an outfit around the my eshakti review garment and am in the midst of sourcing the items I need to complete the ensemble, which - hint, hint - is not in keeping with the decades I usually wear, but rather channels an earlier one). Instead it's about one of the two dresses that I bought myself from eshakti after I'd picked out my review garment. At that time the site was having a 25% off sale, so even though I'd not been planning to spend that kind of money on myself during the holidays, I bought two dresses from them.
For those of you who aren't familiar with eshakti, they are an online women's clothing retailer based out of India (their site is in English though, fear not) that offers semi-customizable clothing at fairly affordable prices (they presently ship to Canada and the US). Their inventory changes frequently (neither of the two dresses I bought are currently listed, so I can't provide you with links to either), the site offers coupons to new users, has sales on a regular basis, offers a wide range of sizes, and perhaps most appealing of all, allows you to customize certain elements of the garment(s) you purchase from them at the time of order.
Depending on the garment you select, some alterations (such as removing pockets or forgoing embroidery) are available for free, whereas others (including custom sleeve and hem lengths) are available for just $7.50 (which is generally less than you'd typically pay to have the same alterations done by a professional seamstress or tailor). On both of the dresses I purchased, I opted for 3/4 length sleeves and a mid-calf length hem.
I selected the two dresses that I did because both had a somewhat 1940s feel to them, and because (for all the frocks in my closet), I don't have many black vintage or vintage appropriate day dresses, and these two appeared to fit that bill quite nicely. I selected the size whose measurements, on paper, came closest to my own, as I always do when I buy clothing online, and also selected my height from a drop down list that was provided as part of the item selection process.
Considering that the garments were coming from India (and were shipped during the busy December holiday season mail rush), they arrived relatively quickly (about two weeks, I think). At the time of purchase, I was charged $11.95 US for shipping, on top of the $97.90 that the two dresses cost (for a grand total of $109.85). I thought this was very reasonable for international shipping, and still do, however...
While I was fully expecting to pay a bit of import on my purchase, I was not expecting the approximately $50 customs and import fee that I was charged when my parcel arrived. While only about $20 of that was true import fees, the rest was taxes, tariffs, fuel charges and the like the the shipping company, DHL, charged to deliver my order. I was gobsmacked by this. I've ordered clothing from around the world over the years and never before have I been hit with such incredibly high import (et al) charges on such a small (price wise) purchase.
For this reason alone, much as it pains me to say this, I would likely never order from eshakti again, unless there was an alternative shipping method offered (which, at present, there doesn't seem to be). I believe that getting charged the equivalent of one of the dresses I bought in import costs is flat out insane and a very, very bad position to put their customers (especially those on tight budgets) in.
On the eshakti site, in regards to this matter, they state that, "Personal purchases over $200 in a single day are likely to attract US customs duty at the time of delivery. Such duty charges will be reimbursed to you in the form of a gift certificate ONLY." This is good to know for those in the US, however I live in Canada and my purchase only totalled $97.90 before shipping charges, so there's no way for me to recoup any of the $50 I had to spend on import and customs fees, much to my chagrin.
This point irks me because, had it not been for that, there's a decent chance I would have bought from eshakti again, even after I tell you what I'm about to say (which better explains the title of this post, too).
You see, despite ordering the dress that appears in the photos here today in what I believed was my correct size, based on the sizing chart they provided, it proved to be too small in a really odd way.
Lest you think the problem is me/my body, let me tell you, the second I slipped off this bad boy after wearing it for the first time that day, I hopped on the scale (I was a pound less than I'd been for the past few of months, so I hadn't gained any weight) and busted out the tape measurements (all my measurements were just as they'd been on the day I double checked before ordering from eshakti).
When you look at these photos, it would appear that the dress fits me quite nicely. Even I, looking at them, almost get duped into thinking so, but I know that such is not the case. You see, this dress does not have a back zipper, nor does it do up the front with buttons (those fabric covered buttons are just decorative), instead there is a very small side zipper on the left hand side and that's it. The dress has to be put on over your head and then slid over your body, after which point the side zipper is done up.
Now, I don't have a particularly big bust at all. I usually do not fill out dresses and blouses (be they modern or vintage) all the way in the bust, and never think of myself as having as a voluptuous bosom, but this dress made me suddenly feel like I did, because it took an massive amount of work to get it over my bust. Even once I'd managed to (and believe me, if I was even 1/4th of an inch bigger in the chest, I don't think I could have gotten this dress on at all), it was very tight in the bust and abdomen area (if I'd not had a long line bra and girdle on, I really don't think I could have wore this dress at all). It doesn't look it here, but I promise you that it was.
I'd honestly guess that I'd need to be about seven, or more, pounds lighter for this dress to fit the way I expected it to, and has I have no plans to get drastically thinner anytime soon, this dress is pretty much a write off. I could squeeze into again if I had to, but when I have a closet full of clothes that fit way better, it doesn't make sense to wear something that's uncomfortable.
Another thing to note (and this is true of both dresses I bought from this company) is that the skirt does not hit at what I'd consider to be mid-hem. In both cases it's pretty much ankle length, which makes me wonder why they bothered to ask about my height (5’2”) at all. What would have happened if I was two or three inches shorter? I like longer hems as a general rule and don't mind this point too much, but it is a strike against them, as I was expecting mid-calf length, not ankle grazing.
While, to their credit, eshakti does offer returns, you have to pay for them and they recommend you send garments back via courier. It honestly would have cost me as much or more, to use a courier from Canada to India as the price of my whole purchase, so there's no way that's going to happen. Instead I'm left with a very pretty 1940s-esque black dress that looks like it fits, but actually doesn't. I measured the dress, and indeed, it comes up two inches in the bust and waist smaller than the size it was supposed to be according to eshakti's sizing chart.
I debated ordering this dress in a larger size just in case it was smaller than it was supposed to be (I've encountered this once or twice before from other brands over the years), but gave them the benefit of the doubt and ordered what I believed was my correct size. You better believe that's the last time I'll be doing that for any brand. It's always easier to deal with a dress that's a little too big (belt it!) than too small.
If we put the fit issue and the highway robbery that was the import and custom fees aside, I like this dress a lot. It's femininely sweet, lined (hard to find in a dress in that kind of price range), nicely constructed, made of pleasant feeling fabric, and the multi-coloured Swiss dots are cute as all get out. I know that if this dress fit a bit better, I'd wear it often (for those who are curious, the other dress, while also tighter than expected and should be, based on the measurements I took, fits a bit better than this one).
As is, unless I happen to loss weight for some unplanned reason, I may one day end up selling this dress (which I only wore for a couple of hours early in the day on Christmas - there was no way I was going to attempt to do Christmas dinner is something that was already too tight!).
It's strange when you have a mixed bag experience with a company and their products, but I suppose it beats an experience that was nothing but a nightmare every step of the way. The review garment that I received has less issues (and thankfully, because of how the package was marked due to it being a review item, I didn't have to pay any courier, import and/or customs fees on that one) and I look forward to sharing more about it in a post of its own a little later on this year.
For the time being though, may I present a few snaps taken in our dining room on Christmas Day of me in one of the black dresses I recently purchased from eshakti.
Adorable sterling silver & Swarovski crystal kitty necklace: gift from Tony ♥
Vintage white lace trimmed slip: eBay or etsy
Black dress with multi-coloured Swiss dots: eshakti.com
Iridescent pink plastic beaded stretch bracelets: Forever 21
Nude black seamed stockings: eBay
Black faux suede round toe pumps: Wal-Mart
Lip colour: Clinique Raspberry Glace
Nail colour: Joe Fresh Mint
Photography by Antonio Cangiano
Looks like it fits, I know, but hand on my heart, in the bust and torso, it truly doesn't (at all!). Such a shame, as I sincerely wanted to love this dress, but as they say, que sera, sera.
I'm just glad the other eshatki dress and the review item I received fit a bit better, and that I didn't end up spending more money than this whole experience cost me, given that this particular dress is pretty much a write-off. Oh well, you win some, you loss some, and this time I struck out.