Too late, too lovely



Dress: Timemachine Vintage

Shoes: Chie Mihara

It was 20 degrees yesterday after our 41 degree scorcher a few days ago (Hi! Welcome to Melbourne!) which means it was cold enough to don my new, late, wool dress and finally do a review.

This is the dress I ordered in August for a wedding I was attending in Japan in December. A long enough lead time, I would have expected, but alas – as you know – it didn’t arrive in time.

I was furious.

Of course, as soon as I arrived home I discovered the dress waiting for me. Typically, it had arrived the day after The Sophisticate and I had flown out.

And it was perfect.

Outside my wedding gown, this is probably the best-fitting dress I’ve ever worn. It fits my bust, my short waist and my narrow shoulders perfectly. The seams aren’t stretched, but I don’t have inches of spare fabric either. Usually with dresses I find that I have extra volume under the bust, at the shoulders, and around my waist where the skirt rides up over my hips. The back will billow, the sleeves will flap, and the back of the skirt will sit higher than the front. Often the waistband will end up on my ribcage.

I’m not quite sure how the dressmaker pulled it off, but this dress just… fits.

At Time Machine Vintage Kim prides herself on making her vintage-style fashion as authentic as possible. So she uses vintage notions like antique buttons, vintage trims, and recycled metal zippers.


None of the fabrics in her collection seemed quite right to me. I wanted a navy blue wool blend that would be warm and wouldn’t crush too badly. Kim sent me a selection of possible fabrics, and I chose a 100% wool tricotine.

A few weeks previously I’d found a beautiful embroidered silk collar that looked to be from around the 1930’s in a vintage shop, so I sent that to Kim to attached to the dress. It suited perfectly.


I sent through my measurements, posted the collar, and paid the invoice, and by the 4th of September everything was good to go.

So what went wrong?

Well, by the 25th of October I hadn’t heard anything, so I dropped Kim a line to see how progress was going. I knew she had a waiting list, but I figured it was coming up to two months and her shop policies stated that custom orders were usually done in six weeks.

Kim said she’d started the dress, but had had to put it aside to prepare for Hurricane Sandy. Fair enough; she’s based in Vermont and they were right in the path of a monster storm.

I waited until November 17th before I emailed again. We were two weeks out from leaving and I was starting to worry. I asked whether I needed to look for a back-up dress…. you know: just in case.

Kim told me, confidently, no. She’d spent six days without power (I had a NY local tell me that was baloney, though I can’t confirm or deny it myself) but the dress had been completed and it had already been posted, expedited, and should arrive at any moment. No tracking number, but never mind.

On the 29th I emailed again. It hadn’t arrived. I had one day left.

Kim was quick to blame customs – she’d managed to track it as far as ISC and it was currently earmarked as “in transit”. Maybe it would arrive the following day.

It didn’t.

I spent an enraged and fruitless afternoon desperately trying to find a dress that would be suitable for a formal wedding at a Shinto temple in the middle of a Japanese winter, before finally deciding I’d have to wear my Eliza Parker Monaco dress and hope I didn’t offend anyone too badly with the low-cut neckline. I HATE being inappropriately dressed.

In the end I was fine. I think I got away with the extra cleavage on account of being a gaijin, and though I was cold at the temple the reception venue was well-heated.

But the fact remains: I ordered a dress in AUGUST, and was very upfront with the seller about my deadline, and it DIDN’T ARRIVE IN TIME.

And, OK, the hurricane wasn’t something Kim could control, but you know what was? The truth.

When my parcel arrived it had a date stamp. It had been despatched on the 24th of November. More than a week later than the reply Kim sent stating that it had been posted. (It also had a tracking number, but of course if I’d been sent that, the jig would have been up.)

When I emailed her in mid-November I wasn’t asking “Where the hell is my dress?”, I was asking “should I start looking for a back up?”. That was the appropriate time for the seller to tell me she was terribly sorry, the dress HADN’T been completed, and there was a chance it wouldn’t arrive in time. I wouldn’t have been thrilled, but at least it would have given me a fortnight to find something else.

And that is why I can’t give Time Machine Vintage the resoundingly positive review that Kim – as a dressmaker – deserves.

The dress is amazing. I’m looking forward to wearing it once the cooler months arrive. Would I recommend Kim to others? If they just wanted a new dress: wholeheartedly. If they needed said new dress for a special occasion? Not on my life.


43 thoughts on “Too late, too lovely

  1. Utterly Utterly DIVINE. such a shame it didn’t make it for the intended event. But you look gorgeous in it. Bring on next winter! x

  2. What a shame! Thank you for your post, I read that thinking ‘Ooh, I get married in September and I’d love to have a vintage looking, perfect fit wedding dress’ before catching myself and realising I would not want to have that stress – I’d rather look elsewhere. Such a pity, as the dress really is beautiful.

    I hope the folks at Time Machine Vintage realise how important good customer service is – it needs to be outstanding when it’s a purely online relationship as it’s so much harder to build up trust.

  3. What a shame you had such a bad experience, Lilli but good on you for being honest about it. I’ve had a couple of not so great Etsy experiences but only for small items, never a custom made piece of clothing.

    It is an exquisite dress though & I’m sure you will get lots of wear from it. It looks divine on you. Absolute perfection 🙂

  4. The dress is beautiful! It’s always so sad to see talented people like Kim letting themselves down with their poor business skills.

  5. Stunning dress- and the lace collar sets it of beautifully.
    Many things can be forgiven, and you gave an opportunity for an honest reply to minimise your inconvenience. Such a shame that a beautiful dress was turned into a little nightmare.

  6. Oooh my. I just ordered a dress from this etsy seller. To wear to a wedding. In two months. Hmmmmmm
    The dress IS absolutely beautiful though and I love the collar you found.

  7. Tut, tut Time Vintage Machine, honesty is always the best policy!
    What a beautiful dress and what a shame it didn’t arrive in time. Hopefully you won’t be reminded of the hassle whenever you wear it!

  8. You look so lovely in this dress that it’s a shame you couldn’t wear it to the wedding. It would be interesting to find out if Kim responds to your post.

  9. I can completely understand your frustrations. Managing your expectations is the best way to keep a business going. Why do people not understand that being honest is ALWAYS the best policy! I had a similar problem with an etsy seller when I had a bracelet custom made for my mum’s 60th. It was over a month late in arriving and I had a run around last minute to find a holding gift. There was a similar excuse and it wasn’t actually posted until two weeks AFTER my mum’s birthday – despite me ordering nearly 3 months before.
    What the biggest shame is is the fact that this could have a massive impact on other etsy sellers. I know I was dubious about using the site again – but I have and my faith has been restored.

    The dress IS lovely and would have been perfect for a Japanese wedding (having been to a couple myself) .I hope you get lots of wear out of it.

  10. What a huge pity.

    I think this is the first time you have written such a rant? Such a good post – very clear and you are very warranted for such comments.

    It is such a shame that this was the result, as the dress is just divine on you. I hope the experience doesn’t impact the enjoyment you have out of wearing the dress.

  11. I had a pretty bad experience when I ordered from jibri – similar sort of deal. jibri/jasmine elder had had such good review on all the fatshion blogs but it took over 3 months to arrive, she didn’t reply to emails and so on. And then she tried to ‘fix’ the issue when I used the unsent item complaint on etsy, by sending me an extra piece of clothing but it was literally unwearable… was the wrong size and made of a material that was sheer but prickly polyester.
    it was my first and last experience with etsy dress makers! i keep thinking I should buck up and try again but its so expensive if it turns into a disaster.

    1. I had a similar experience with Jibri – ordered a skirt the beginning of July. In September, when it still hadn’t shown up and wasn’t marked as shipped in Etsy, I finally followed up. I was told it had been returned to her as undelivered, although I had never received a delivery attempt notice. I provided an alternate shipping address, and was told it had shipped. In November, still no sign, and none of my Etsy messages were answered. I finally messaged her through Facebook, and was told everything had shipped. A few days later I received, for the first time, a shipping notification and tracking number… finally got the skirt in December. It’s lovely… but 6 months?

      1. Ughhh now I’m even more annoyed that it is happening to more people… She also marked it as sent for me when it clearly wasn’t and when I followed up she told me she had had bad health in the family, which is sad and I could have related if only she hadn’t have lied in the communications we’d had.

  12. That’s a pointlessly bad experience, because, as you say, if she had told the truth you could have made other arrangements and would have felt her service was much more satisfactory. But at least you got a great-fitting dress out of it and it looks fab on you! Love the collar!

  13. lie has short legs we say in PL 😉 anyway, dress is fabulous, but I wouldn’t buy anything from the person who lies about so many things… disgusting.
    but you just look absolutely stunning!

  14. You look stunning in this dress. I’m tempted to order (not for a particular occasion) just so as to see the dressmaking she would do to fit me in the bodice. I’d love a bodice to fit me properly but haven’t figured out the skills to do it myself (and never expect it from ready-to-wear at this point).

    I’m an upstate New Yorker (just across a lake from Vermont) and it is quite possible that there was a 6-day power outage in areas of Vermont due to Hurricane Sandy, but that’s no excuse whatsoever for lying to you about shipping dates and other information!

  15. Hmmm… what horrible customer service! I would have expected a pro-active email/communication to let you know that it wouldn’t be ready on time, not you following up and inquiring. That’s my idea of customer service. Too bad not everyone feels that way.

    As a pear shaped lady, fit is almost impossible to achieve. Its next to impossible to find a dress that fits both parts of me and that is flattering. Maybe one day I will have something custom made for me. I just don’t know where to start. Its hard to purchase a dress and spend good money on it when you have never found one that really works for you, isn’t it? Catch 22. But you look beautiul as always.

    1. This is what I came here to ask. Seems all Emilys think alike! As far as I can see the seller you mentioned has perfect ratings on etsy.

  16. That’s a shame, beautiful dress though!
    I have situations like that happen to me on etsy too. The seller said they shipped it and then when I finally get it, the postmark is not when they said it was shipped. If they had just communicated properly with me, it wouldn’t have been a problem. I don’t know why they feel the need to lie about it.

  17. It’s tragic because really that’s such a gorgeous dress and it suits you so wonderfully. I hope the business improves because clearly she’s a talented dressmaker.

  18. My husband recently ordered two not inexpensive mobiles for our babe. Seller asked if we wanted to ship finished one right away or wait and ship both at once to save costs. And then we waited and waited and waited. We received one response to an email claiming medical emergency. We understood. Second inquiry we were told that item was shipping the next day. When we received it two weeks later, we could see that it obviously wasn’t shipped when seller promised. Why do people think that shipping dates won’t be noticed?! In contrast to this, I purchased a bookmark from a seller who promised shipping right away. It took her a week because she was out of town. With no questions or prompting from me, she emailed to apologize, refunded the purchase price, and mailed me the item. So unnecessary but such above and beyond customer service. I have no need for another item from the second seller but I’m certainly going to be a repeat buyer just because I’m so impressed.

  19. This looks LOVELY, such a pity about wait times.. I’m STILL waiting for my dress from my Esty seller… A month later with a few dismissive “it’s on it’s way messages” I have been forced to put my foot down, saying I need a refund or tracking number by tomorrow lest I shall take it up with paypal. Ugh I hate it, she seems nice but alas this is getting riduculous. (It’s Southern Vintage if you are curious)

  20. I never commented, but this really deserve!
    I love how it fits, and it’s absolutely cute! It’s a shame for the delivery anyway, that’s a bad way to treat a customer, the truth it’s always better.
    You’re so lovely 🙂

  21. Oh, I’m so sorry it worked out like that (how terribly frustrating) but my goodness, that IS the best-fitting dress ever. You look incredible. I’m sure I’m not the only lady with a similar shape now reading the Etsy seller’s website, trying to decide if the risk of hassle is worth it.

    Really, a lovely, lovely dress. The fit in the shoulders is perfection. And I love the collar, the sleeves, everything. Are you ever going to take this off? I would probably wear it 24/7!

  22. Very fair review. I had a similar experience with an Etsy shop owner, and only got a response when I lodged a complaint (my very nice email queries were ignored). I also got the “its lost in transit” but of course the first thing I did was check the mail date stamp (don’t know how anyone could believe you wouldn’t think of that LOL).

  23. I had a similar experience with an etsy seller – but she tried to tell me that the date stamp on the parcel is the date the post office processed the parcel and not the date she sent it!! How ignorant do some US etsy sellers think we Australians are?

    1. Why are you making this about nationality, if a seller would do this to an Australian what makes you think she wouldn’t to another American? Unless the etsy seller is offering pickup it means it has to be mailed no matter where the customer resides.

  24. What a pity it didn’t arrive in time. It is absolutely beautiful on you.

    I would struggle to find a dress in my wardrobe that would be appropriate (aka no cleavage). I just don’t seem to buy them!

    K xx

  25. The dress is amazing! What a shame about the customer service. I had a similar issue with a blue bird hair clip I purchased on etsy for my wedding. I ordered it 5 months before the wedding and after numerous emails, the item apparently being re-sent it arrived 2 days before the wedding.

  26. That dress is beautifully tailored, it gives you the most glorious hourglass shape – your waist looks amazing. Just lovely.

    Having said that…..I am very glad you named and shamed with all the facts laid out. You could not have done any more. At least you do have this beautiful dress……

    Thanks for sharing your Etsy experience with us.

  27. That dress really couldn’t have looked better on you, but as an experiece that’s just not in any way good enough. I know I would have completely hated the situation you were put in where you had 1 day to find a dress for a wedding.

  28. What a beautiful dress, it fits you incredibly well. Like other commenters have said it is such a shame about the seller but I am so tempted to get a dress made in a wool fabric, It seems like it is near impossible to get a vintage style in a winter appropriate fabric in my size. You have definitely opened my eyes to get a custom dress made but to leave plenty of time. Anyways You look so lovely and I glad this dress finally made it to you. 🙂

  29. What a gorgeous dress, and a balanced, clear review of your experience with the seller. I’m sorry it was so stressful for you and that you weren’t able to wear it to the event you were hoping for, but it certainly looks marvellous now!

  30. I live in Vermont and that *is* utter baloney. Sandy just did not hit us hard at all. It was a rainy day and that’s it. Trust me on this–we’ve been flooded twice by the last two hurricanes. I am furious on your behalf.

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