Friday, August 2, 2013

Shabby Chic or Just Plain Shabby?

**Post edited as Shabby Apple has deleted some originally posted pictures. Originally posted a year ago. As I look over SA's website now, I can see some encouraging changes.**

Have you ever heard of the online dress store called Shabby Apple? Advertised as being a modest dress store, Shabby Apple has cornered a market for women seeking "modest" dresses which cover the shoulder and hit at the knee.
I have known about Shabby Apple for about five years now and have seen some changes take place. When first established, Shabby Apple (SA) made a big deal about not having to add on to their dresses. No need to wear a cardigan in the middle of summer because our dresses have sleeves! No need to wear a camisole under the dress because our dresses will not have plunging necklines. Now, the dresses are advertised as "vintage, retro, and unique". Either way, I was excited about SA because all too often I have thought "that dress is cute but is too short" or had other reservations about the overall modesty of a dress. When I first viewed SA dresses five years ago, I was excited and could see myself wearing the dresses whether to work, church, or on a date. The only thing that stopped me from buying all my favorites was the close to $100.00 price tag.
I finally got a chance to own one of these dresses when a store in town which carried a few of their styles offered a 50% off deal. I was a little heavier than I am currently so a lot of the dresses had fit issues, but I attributed that to my body rather than the dress. Later, after earning an academic scholarship in college, my husband said I could buy two SA dresses and luckily there was a BOGO sale going on so I jumped on the website and searched for my prizes. Since I was a student now, I wanted more casual dresses that could be dressed up but could also be worn to class or out to run errands. When I finished another successful semester, I ordered two more dresses, and ran into a few problems. I explain all of this to say that I have been a customer of this company for a while and have had numerous experiences, and issues, with their dresses.

-Fit- I measure in at a whopping 5'2 34"-28"-35". Most size guides tell me I am between a 6 and an 8 but in most circumstances a 6 does the job. Like I said, I have been heavier, but have had these measurements for over a year. My first dress, called "West Coast Swing" by SA has remained my favorite SA dress. (Notice I say SA dress and not favorite dress overall) It has a waist tie so has been able to stick with me through my size changes. I prefer to match it with a belt rather than the tie with which it comes, but I still have it today after about four years.

No complaints about the fit for this dress. Next I ordered "Gondola" and a blue one I can't remember the name of and one they don't offer anymore.

As you can see, I have a different body-type than the model which enhances the seam over the bust. Every time I wore this dress it was as though the temperature was a little too cold. I eventually always wore a cardigan over it so the seam wouldn't be visible. Also, since I am a little more busty than the model, the green ends too high. I wish the green went all the way down to the beginning of the skirt so as to give me more of a torso.

This outlines really the main issue I have with SA's fit. I have ordered three other dresses and each fit strangely. SA guarantees on their main page "And we cater to all sizes whether you’re looking for something plus size or petite" and yet I cannot get one of their dresses to fit me right besides a wrap dress. I ordered a pencil dress and if it fit me in one place, it was too loose in another. There was no give to the fabric so if you have any semblance of a chest, no luck. This is how most SA dresses are made now. High neck, slight or full A-line skirt with some sort of quirk whether it be fabric or embellishment. There are few to none open necks, v-necks, or pencil dresses.

-Construction- I mentioned it when I introduced the "Gondola" dress, but SA's construction leaves much to be desired.  From fabric choice to detailing all the way to execution, SA dresses begin to look more like a home-ec project than a dress worth $100.00. You may think this to be picky, but let me re-emphasize, these are $100.00 (or more) dresses!
$66 Skirt advertised as leather but
looks more like vinyl and a
botched hem. 

$88.00 Dress is wrinklyand whose chest looks like that?
Also the hem line is not very good. 

Whether there be hem lines that are obvious and lumpy, wrinkly fabric on the models, or seams over the bust which make the chest noticeable in all the wrong ways, SA's construction does not seem to be worth the price tag. There's hand made and then home made and these dresses look home made.

- Style- The last [major] issue I have with SA is their styling. I like to try to find pictures of the models either standing straight up and down or pictures of the dress on the mannequin to get a feel for what the dress actually looks like without lighting and manipulation. Here are some examples when styling helps a ... less than perfect dress:

All in all, I can't say that everything SA makes is horrid, but I do think SA lacks polish and sophistication which can be found elsewhere for less. I have been able to consistently find perfectly modest clothes which fit my body better for less at other online stores such as Asos and Dorothy Perkins, not to mention retail stores such as NY and;CO and Kohls. I don't expect SA to change their aesthetic for one customer, but I do hope people critique their clothes with a more skeptical eye before they spend so much on a dress, wait for it to be shipped to them, only to try the dress on and find it not as advertised.
Image 1 of ASOS Midi Dress With Pleated SkirtImage 1 of ASOS Midi Dress With Pussybow In Dragon Jacquard
Image 4 of ASOS Midi Dress In Animal PrintImage 4 of Lipsy Ruched Dress in Applique Lace
All available at for less than SA prices.

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