Berry Christmas

Dress: eShakti

Belt: DIY

Shoes: TUK

You guys, you guys… this is not a drill. eShakti – the holy grail of plus-size fashion – is finally, finally, shipping to Australia!

If you haven’t heard of eShakti before now, prepare to have you world rocked: this brilliant company – the name comes from the Sanskrit word for power – has been a mainstay for plus size bloggers in the US for years now. They offer classic, on trend fashion that is highly customisable, and tailored to meet each customer’s needs… and all for less than the price of most off-the-rack items in Australia.

Their philosophy is clothing that looks good on people – not mannequins – and if your particular kind of person has big boobs, or a tiny waist, or is anxious about their upper arms, or refuses to wear anything shorter than their knees, well, then eShakti can make it happen.

Every item on the website can be ordered as pictured, or – if you’re so inclined – you can make alterations: custom measurements for people whose measurements might not reflect the size chart, the option to change the neckline, to add pockets (or remove them), to adjust the hem, and even to add sleeves. The cost of all these alterations? A negligible $9.95 fee.

The clothes are made in India, but eShakti has a strict – and transparent – ethical production policy. Their workers are paid at least 70% over the minimum wage, and are promised a clean, safe and healthy work environment with appropriate sanitation facilities. I was delighted to discover that my order came with a handwritten note telling me who my order had been sewn by (and an invitation to send them a personal message).

I placed my order for six dresses (three for me, three for a friend) on 25 November, they shipped on the 12 December, and I was wearing my beautiful new dresses by 16 December. That’s a faster turnaround than most off-the-rack clothing shops. I was also able to track the process of my order – from pattern creation, to cutting and stitching, to quality control… all the way to my front door.

And what arrived at my front door was not – as I had expected – a vacuum-packed bag of wrinkled clothes, but a carefully packed box with individually folded items wrapped in tissue paper.

Of course, none of this means anything unless the clothes are good, right? Well – I’m thrilled to let you know that they’re great.

I bought three dresses – two in a knit fabric, one in a woven – and I had two of them customised and bought one as-is.

All three dresses fit perfectly, and were beautifully sewn and finished. The fabric isn’t brilliant quality, but it’s not worse than what you’d usually find at that price range, and all three dresses had a number of wonderful features that you would normally only find in premium brands, including strap-keepers (little fabric strips that you loop around your bra straps to ensure the neckline doesn’t slip on your shoulders and expose your bra). Also pockets… pockets are standard.

I’d be hard-pressed to pick my favourite of the three dresses, but its difficult to go past the gorgeous berry-red colour of this cowl neck sheath dress. I ordered it to fit my measurements exactly, and added little cap sleeves, and the result is an absolutely divine frock that follows the curves of my body without hugging my tummy or pulling across my hips. Not bad for $48.

I added the belt myself – a little DIY’d number made of elastic velvet ribbon and a rhinestone buckle.

eShakti regularly has site-wide sales and special discount offers, plus new customers get a $25 voucher and free customisation…. but full disclosure – it’s addictive! I’m already planning my next order!

Midi missing

Frocks and Frou Frou Dress: Scarlett & Jo (via Yours Clothing)

Shoes: Edward Meller

Has it really been a month since I last posted? And after such a big post, too? Thank you all so much for your lovely comments, I’m happier than I can express. Apologies for the long gap between writing – I’ve been struck down with one of the nastier colds I’ve had, exacerbated by a very busy month at work. I’m definitely on the road to recovery though, and looking forward to getting back into the swing of life.

Can you believe how close we are to Christmas? I can’t. I think it’s probably partly due to the weather – we’ve just had the coldest Spring in 13 years, so it’s hard to imagine that Christmas is just a few weeks away. It does mean I’m getting a little bit more wear out of my trans-seasonal pieces though, including this pretty midi dress from Scarlett & Jo.

I bought it in a size down from the Lollidot dress that I bought earlier in the year, and it sees to fit my slopey shoulders a little better. It’s a mock wrap dress with a surplice crossover bodice and elasticized waist. The waist ties with an attached sash that’s probably a little unnecessary, and prevents me from wearing the dress with a belt, but it would be great for cinching the waist in if you’ve bought a size too large.

It’s made of a super soft jersey that wears well during the day, and the gorgeous navy floral print holds its colour well over repeated washes. The dress has little attached shoulder pads, the same as the Lollidot dress, which helps to give it a very 40’s silhouette.

You can see here that I made a tiny little stitch at the crossover point – with my full bust wrap dresses can be a bit fraught, and a little pin or stitch just helps me feel a bit more confident that I’m not flashing too much cleavage up and down the street! Because the dress is pull on – not a true wrap – a few stitches with needle and thread are enough to keep it closed permanently.

This is a great dress for those inbetweeny months where it’s neither hot nor cold, and it looks just as elegant with tights and a cardigan. It would be a great one to take on holiday as a back-up going out frock, as it rolls up very small, doesn’t crush, and is wonderfully comfortable.

If you decide to order, don’t forget to sign up to receive 15% off your first order, and make sure you check out the clearance section; one of the best parts about shopping from Australia is that you get to buy all the summer stuff at sale prices and wear it straight away – hopefully by the time it arrives it might even be hot!