I am very comfortable with my shape and size, but it's no secret that it's incredibly difficult to dress a super petite frame with an hourglass shape. There are plenty of petite offerings from stores like Banana Republic, Ann Taylor and Anthropologie that fit my height and accommodate the need for shorter inseams and tapered sleeves, but getting all that and something that hugs my curves in a structured garment is a huge challenge.
Even before my breast augmentation, I had difficulty with structured garments fitting me in the chest due to somewhat broad shoulders for my frame. Even though I had a small chest, dress shirts would gape and dresses would squish my upper body. You can imagine that this only got worse with a larger chest. After surgery, I gave away most of my beloved dresses to my girlfriends.
Enter eShakti, a wonderland of customizable dresses in a wide array of bright colors in a huge size range. I stumbled upon this retailer when asking around about dresses that would fit a petite and busty frame and I was enamored by many of the vintage-inspired designs. eShakti carries off-the-rack dresses in sizes XS-6X, which are meant for ladies 5'4-5'7 with a waist 10" smaller than the hips and a bust a few inches smaller than the hips. I knew right away that this would not suit me, due to my 5'0 tall frame and different body proportions. The second option is to enter a wide array of measurements and have a garment custom sewn just for you in addition to allowing changes in hem length, neckline and sleeve type. I excitedly asked my boyfriend to measure me and jumped on the new customer $25 credit & free customization promotion.
I ordered 4 dresses for just over $200 including shipping, and they arrived at my door about two weeks later. I was really happy with the speed of shipping given that the eShakti factory resides in New Delhi, India. Inside the box was the Savannah dress, the floral bloom illusion bodice dress, the banded waist cotton knit dress, and the blossom dress. The Savannah and floral bloom dresses were unfortunately much too large for me all around but the other two fit decently. The ponte cotton banded waist knit dress fit well with some extra room in the waist, and the blossom dress was quite large in the waist and bust but I liked it enough to keep it for a warm summer day where I don't want something clinging to me.
The banded waist cotton knit dress - looks pretty good, right?
Here you can see the extra room in the waist. It doesn't bother me too much, though, since it's not visible when the dress hands on my body.
The blossom dress fit much looser, but still cute:
Given the decent fit of the ponte cotton dress, I figured that maybe I had entered my measurements wrong? I packaged up the other two dresses from the order for return, since they were a lost cause and eShakti offers a generous return policy where they provide a 20% bonus credit to the original return amount & a refund of shipping charges in excess of $6.50 if the customer chooses the store credit option. The caveat is that for subsequent returns using store credit, you may only use store credit.
The second time, I ordered the Violet dress, the cutout cotton knit dress, and the scalloped neck faux-wrap dress. Again, these all came back enormous in the bust and waist! Disappointed and a bit perturbed, I again packaged them up for return, not wanting to waste the money that I had tied up in eShakti store credits. (Sorry, no pictures of these on me - it didnt cross my mind at the time!) At this point, I thought maybe I was measuring wrong, so for attempt #3, I asked my best friend to come over and measure me in case my boyfriend and I had overlooked something the first time around.
Most of the measurements were identical to the first round, so for my third order, I decided to put my waist and bust at 1" smaller than they are. For my final attempt, I chose the cotton knit curved waist dress, the keyhole front ponte sheath dress, and the cotton knit high/low hem top for a change.
The results are below (try not to laugh):
As you can see, everything was even larger after I had reduced my waist and and bust size! The sleeves were huge and loose, the busts were ill-fitting, and the bodices were large enough to conceal a small animal. Disappointed and frustrated, I marched back to the post office and returned the items to eShakti, once again choosing the store credit option since I had no choice at this point.
After some consideration, I decided that the fit of the blossom dress was much too lose for my taste and decided to give it to my close friend. While I wear a size 00P/XXSP with a 23" waist and 36" bust, she is about 3 inches taller than me and wears a S/2-4 with a 26.5" waist, an identical bust measurement and broader shoulders. Imagine my surprise when a dress literally made for me fit her perfectly! This makes my brain hurt.
She was kind enough to let me snap some photos of her for the blog:
Now, I am over $300 in the hole with eShakti and all I have to show for it is a single dress that fits me, a dress that I gave away to a friend (well, this one is my fault for not sending it back right away, but at least she's happy!), a $130 in store credit that I will never use and tons of sunk costs in customization fees and shipping. So please let this be a warning to you ladies who think reasonably priced customized pieces sound too good to be true - they are! Erica from A Sophisticated Pear had a similar experience - be sure to read her post, too.
So my search of the perfect dress continues...