I can remember being so disappointed as a child at Christmas and birthdays when I would open up a present and find clothing inside. Of course, now that I'm an adult and people are significantly less likely to willingly gift me Lego, I find getting clothes exciting. Not only does it make my closet so much fuller and thus me so much happier (consumerism at its finest), but usually these gifts are a higher quality, more expensive product than I'm usually willing to give myself. I tend to rely on others to spoil me, so I can make small, inexpensive impulse purchases myself. I consider it a sound financial strategy, but I do miss out on spoiling myself with a slightly bigger ticket item from time to time - something I can pick out for myself.
I received a perfect opportunity to spoil myself just before Christmas without the financial strain it would put on our continuing student-budget, when Shabby Apple sent me an email asking if I wanted to work with them on a couple little projects. Considering one of them was to receive a dress of my choice for review, I jumped at the chance.
It wasn't an easy choice selecting a dress. There were two requirements that I had for the dress - it had to be casual enough to wear to work (oh, sentence I didn't think I'd utter) and it had to fit, but I'll get into that part later. In the end, I chose New Caledonia - a great red dress.
The Shabby Apple website is mostly laid out well. Dresses are initially organized by "line", with names like "Roamin' Holiday." (My dress is from the South Pacific line). However, then there is also the option to browse the dresses by categories like: "white dress" or "shirt dress." Unfortunately, it also includes obscure categories like: "essential," which isn't quite explained anywhere.It would be nice if it was sorted by colour, clearer styles, or even by available size.
There are three strong reasons I like the Shabby Apple website. First of all, they integrate reviews onto each product page, and they don't appear to be censored. Secondly, they create little stories for each of the dresses. Sure, they contribute limited value in the shopping process; however, they are just cute. Finally, they provide many pictures of their dresses - usually about 3 on a model from a variety of angles and "actions," as well as a number of the dress on a dress maker's form. There are very few surprises when the dress arrives.
I placed my order in the late hours of December 18th, so we'll call it the 19th. The dress arrived on January 6th. Elapsed time was 17 days, 12 of which were standard business days. Shabby Apple states on their site international orders take 10-14 business days. Not only did the dress arrive on time, it did so during the extremely busy holiday season. I do like that they ship through USPS, and then by Canada Post, as that is my preferred shipping method.
The good news? I was not charge customs, so that is one area where Canadians can breathe a sigh of relief. The bad news? The cost of shipping runs at $29.95 for orders under $100, and climb from there. Yikes. The dress was shipped in a bag (rather than a box), but it was a good solid package. The bag was quite beaten, but was completely intact.
When I opened the bag, it was obvious I was touching a quality dress. The New Caledonia is made of thick cotton/poly jersey, and it is, indeed, thick. While my cotton dresses usually remain in my closet until the sun's spring rays grace the earth, I have no doubt I can wear this dress near all year round (though maybe not on the hotter summer days). The seams are solid as well. No complaints in the least, and if I am a return customer, you can guarantee the quality is what brought me back.
Shabby Apple likely has the most confusing size issues of any website from which I've ordered. Their size chart runs one size smaller than most other size charts, a claim that is reiterated at the top of every product page. However, just as soon as you learn that, you realize that each product description further complicates the process: there are often notes like: "Buxom ladies might want to order a size up" or "fits generously by Shabby apple standards." Add to that the comments in the reviews like: "very curve conscious, order up if you don't want every bulge to show". However, once you get used to the idea that you have to research each product, it ends up being some what of an attribute in the end. My chest size is smaller than the smallest Shabby Apple size (XXS). I browsed through all dresses, selected the ones I liked. I then eliminated any dresses not in my size. Finally, I read the full product description and the reviews to find out how the dress fit compared to the size charts. Once I found all the dresses not suitable for buxom ladies, I could decide on my favourite dress that would fit. I knew it wouldn't be perfect, but my dress fits in the chest almost perfectly. Almost.
If you've read my past reviews, you know that I am honest. Yes, the website is a little complicated, the sizes are a little disorienting, and the cost of shipping makes me want to hide my pocketbook, but the dresses are gorgeous, the quality is great, and the company has heart. Will I order from Shabby Apple again? I will - some day when I have the funds to spoil myself!
The Give Away
We have a dress for you! Ok, not all of you, but one of you! In order to be eligible to win the dress of your choice (any dress from the Shabby Apple website, except the Green Leaf collection), you have to do three things
1. Like Shabby Apple on Facebook (and while you're there, like me too! But don't worry, it's not required)
2. Do something nice for someone else
3. Leave ONE comment telling me you have both liked Shabby Apple on Facebook and tell me what you did for someone else. No lying now!
The contest will close Friday at 11:59 pm Central Standard Time, and the winner (drawn at random) will be announced at 7:30 am Sunday morning.
Don't like taking a gamble or too impatient to wait until Sunday to place an order? Use carascloset10off as a discount code at check out, and you'll receive 10% off your order. The code is valid for the next 30 days (Of course, there is also a new year's discount of 20% being offered right now too, so I won't blame you if you use that instead!!).