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Made to Order Online: Eshakti Review

One of the banes of modern shopping existence is the difficulty of the hunt.   The standard mall stores are progressively less imaginative and less stylish, with progressively lower quality garments.   Online retailers are everywhere – but what’s a girl to do if she’s not a standard size?  Sending piles of clothing back is just a pain in the behind.

Enter Eshakti.  They  offer custom-fit clothing with a wide variety of options.  You start with one of their pre-designed dresses and then for a $10 fee, you can change the hemline, neckline, and sleeve.   Included in that $10 fee is custom fitting – so you can have your dress made to measure.

I am very hard to fit, and I’m not the only one out there with Fit Issues.   So the idea of having someone not-me make a dress for me was very tempting!   But I don’t trust easily, so I kept my bets minimal.  I knew if this dress wasn’t quite right I could repurpose it.

Here’s the dress as it appears on the Eshakti site:

I opted for the just-above-knee length, and a keyhole neckline.  I submitted my detailed measurements, and this is what I got:

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It is surprisingly difficult to take a picture of a navy dress indoors… but suffice to say that my 5’2″ self has a dress that fits nicely through the bust, the waist, with a perfect armlength and hem.  I knew going in that the fabric was poly/spandex, which is possibly my least favorite fabric.  But I wanted velvet for my husband.   It’s a nice weight – I will be quite warm in this dress, it’s definitely *winter only*.  (I live in SoCal, you could wear this in Spring/Fall elsewhere).

The only odd thing is what I noticed when I checked other gal’s reviews of Eshakti – the waist is high, even though I submitted a shoulder-to-waist measurement.  No worries – the back waist is also elasticated, and there’s not a ton of difference in my waist and lower-rib measurements.   Next time I order, I’ll add a couple of inches to that measurement.

I also decided to purchase a blouse from their “ready made” section.  Although I generally buy a size 14, the measurements put me in a size 16.   I was surprised to pull this blouse on and find that it fits beautifully.   Dark navy is a bit dark on me, but I’ll get plenty of wear out of this – eyelet cotton blouses are a basic in my wardrobe.

Fabric here is a nice cotton, good weight – and it unexpectedly came with a woven cotton tanktop in a lighter navy which also fit perfectly.   I’m sure it’s going to get worn under other garments!

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My only beef was the amount of time this took – which is a silly first world complaint.  This is made in India, and I got in in a couple of weeks.  Custom clothing.  I should complain?  Well.  So you know – you’re not getting this overnight.

In sum:   Worth the money, especially as I had an introductory sales price.  (I hear that they often offer sales).   Add shoulder-to-waist length for custom made articles.   Be mindful of what you’re getting and know your proportions, and this is a good place to get some interesting clothing.

This post is in no way sponsored by Eshakti – it’s sponsored by my belief that we need more sensible shopping options!

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How is your inaction hurting you?

We can’t get away from her.

The woman in the mirror.

She tells us the brutal truth about our priorities, past and present.  She tells us things about our history.  Our moods.   Our coping mechanisms.

And every time you catch her eye, she asks you, “why do you make me carry this mess?”

The pain of disconnect, the disharmony between the woman in the soul and the woman in the mirror, the screeching discord that will not let up… it doesn’t leave you.  It never leaves you.   Not until you DO something about it.  And even then… you have to finish what you start.

You bear the weight of that disharmony until you match the woman inside with the woman outside.

You bear that weight until you put the clothes on that work for you.   Until you fix your hair.   Until you finally get to the gym.

And the weight costs you productivity.   It costs you confidence.   It costs you time.  It costs you tears.

You know who you are.

Are you willing to reveal the truth?

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Everything for a Purpose

One of the blockades inside of the mind of every woman who is embarking on the journey of personal improvement is, “why bother”?

So – why do you bother dressing intentionally for work, when the dress code is business casual, and no one cares?

Why do you bother putting on makeup, when you work in a call center – no one even sees you?

Why do you bother accessorizing – it’s just “extra stuff”.

Why?

Because visual representations affect mental impressions.   “Oh, but I won’t be meeting anyone important today”.

Well.  Maybe so.  Maybe no.  But I did not say, “affect OTHER PEOPLE’S impressions”.   I said it affected mental impressions.  It affects how you think of yourself.  And after a lifetime of not taking care of these things, or hiding behind misrepresentations, it takes more than one day and one good outfit to get you sorted.

The point of makeup and hair and clothes is to reveal the you inside the flesh shell.

If you only get pretty occasionally – you tell the world (and the woman in the mirror) that being pretty is something you are only worthy of when you’re going somewhere special.  You tell the people you interact with that they’re not worth the bother.  You tell yourself that you’re not worth the bother.

If you get pretty, but you get fake – same thing.   You’re just hiding.

It’s hard to look like your inside self, because then the world can see you.   And maybe you’re not ready to be seen.  It is frightening.  But so what?  You will never accomplish what you’re meant to accomplish in life if you don’t allow yourself that first step – the first step of being visible.

Being visible to yourself.  Being visible to others.

No, getting pretty isn’t the most important thing.  But it is a first step that almost no one can skip, if they’re serious about inhabiting the change that they crave.

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Workout Clothes

Your workout clothing, like everything else you wear in life, should fit the person you are and the function you’re pursuing.    But since working out is seldom a professional pursuit, you can have a bit more fun, turn the personality up to 11.

I lift weights.

This is what I look like after a good workout:

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I don’t want to wear expensive clothes.  I’m not thin enough to wear tight clothes and feel comfortable – and anyway, I use my t-shirt as a towel fairly often.   I’ve found out through trial-and-error that my best outfit is a pair of tight pants and a t-shirt – or a tank, in the summertime (they don’t air-condition crossfit boxes).

So what am I going to wear?

I’m going to wear a t-shirt that I’d never get otherwise (I’m not a t-shirt person) and I’m going to have some fun.   I hit the Black Friday online sales, and scored:

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They’re fun.

They’re my colors.

They weren’t expensive (I’m not sure where the black marks come from, but all my shirts look like I do mechanic work after a few gym sessions).

They give me energy and a smile – excellent things to wear at any time, especially when you’re working out.

 

What do you wear to the gym?

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Sourcing: Jewelry

As someone who enjoys a bohemian/romantic personal style, I’m all about the jewelry.   How do I find those pieces that stop traffic and get compliments without breaking the bank?

I spend a fun afternoon going to the gem faire, am a regular at street fairs, and never miss checking out the booths at my county fair’s gem show.

All of these items were found at gem fairs, and most of my not-husband-purchased jewelry was too.

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Most of us enjoy a good shopping experience, and let’s face it – the mall is boring or overpriced or both.  These goodies are gorgeous, they’re real – and they were inexpensive.

In addition, I do a ton of Christmas and birthday shopping at these spots.  Yes, today was a day of Christmas shopping.   I hate waiting until the last moment!   Generally speaking, such fairs don’t only have jewelry/gems/beads – they also have some garments and lots of items of interest, like fossils and geodes and the like.

If you want to get one-of-a-kind items, you have to get off the beaten path.   Try a gem faire!  You won’t be disappointed.

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Upgrade your look: Wear a Blouse

Blouses

 

How do you upgrade your daily look?  Transfer your regular knit shirt to a blouse.

The photo below serves as a comparison…  Both tops are long-sleeved, in the same color family, have similar necklines – but one is knit, and one is woven.   One is basic cotton, and the other has a slight sheen.

 

There’s nothing wrong with the knit shirt on the left.  I wear it to the grocery store, to the home-improvement store, to do errands.  But there’s no upgrading it.   The shirt on the right can run errands and it can also go out with my husband on date night.   Because it’s a woven, because of the materials used, it can be paired with a skirt or pair of slacks and head to the office.   When you’re ready to upgrade your look, it becomes time to add some woven items to the mix, not stick totally with knits.

A blouse will translate easily between dressy casual and work-appropriate, so it’s a utility infielder in your closet.  Change the jeans to slacks or a skirt, depending on how formal your work environment and your personal style needs.   Perhaps add a blazer.    Done.

Going out to eat with your friends, heading to a birthday party, attending a casual church – “dressy casual” is where it’s at, and the easiest way to hit dressy casual is to wear a blouse.   You look appropriate when you’re running through the market or meeting your kids’ teacher, and a change in jewelry and shoes upgrades your look to most evening occasions.*

What’s the most useful of all tops?  A white** shirt***.  A white shirt is a tabula rasa – especially with jeans.  You can make this into anything you desire by changing up your accessories.

 

Goal:  Pulled together, fitting in, looking like what’s expected +1?   CHECK.  The only downside to a white blouse is that you’re going to wear the poor thing to shreds – and stains.  It’s never a bad thing to keep your eyes out for an extra white blouse.  You’ll use it.

Blouses are also great statement pieces.   If you find a blouse that suits your style, snag it.  You could become known for that one look… that vibe that says YOU, no matter what you pair it with.  Interesting sleeve treatments and long sleeves are on-trend – feel free to break loose of the everyday and show who you really are.

 

 

Woven blouses always look more pulled together, more finished, more adult, than a comparable knit top.   It’s worth your while to start adding them to your wardrobe, because they allow you to get maximum interest from a minimum of clothing.   And isn’t that what we all want?

 

If you’d like help figuring out what blouse style would fit best in your life?  Drop me a line and we can work together.  amyrosehearth@gmail.com

 

 

 

*Location, location, location – SoCal, where I live, is very casual – great denim + cool blouse + accessories on point = dressy casual.  Your mileage may vary – you might want to pair that cool blouse with an elegant pair of slacks if you’re in a more formal area.

**White always refers to your best shade of white.

*** I am using the words “blouse” and “shirt” somewhat interchangeably throughout this post.  Technically, a blouse is a garment only worn by women, and a shirt is more androgynous in style.   If your husband could wear it, it’s a shirt (eg buttondown).  If not, then it’s a blouse.  A blouse is slightly more formal.  For this post, the difference is irrelevant.

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Industry Trend: Used Clothes

There’s a new trend in town… wearing used clothes.   Wait, you say – that’s not new!  Thrift stores and consignment shops have been around forever!  True.  But the trend is going high-end and becoming more widely used with shoppers who aren’t trying to get dressed on a dime.   Don’t expect to find $5 blazers in any of these spots… but you might find something wonderful at a deep discount.  (Think of it as going to the sale rack, not the Salvation Army).

  • Rented Special Occasion clothing (eg Rent-the-Runway)
  • Shared clothing exchange (eg Gwynnie Bee)
  • High-End Consignment shops (eg Luxury Garage Sale)

 

Why is this getting popular?  

  1. There is a huge divide in price between high-end and mid-range ready-to-wear clothing.   High-end resale fills that niche.
  2. There is a huge divide in quality between high-end and mid-range RTW.  Wearing used clothing allows the consumer to access the higher end materials without breaking the bank.  As much.  It’s still pricey!
  3. Social norms have changed – once it was only the extremely rich who expected not to repeat a look.  Now social media has spread that policy around, and more people are uncomfortable with keeping a look too long.  Renting a dress is smart if you’re only going to wear it once.
  4. Makes having a larger wardrobe more affordable – if you’re not in love with a garment, you don’t have to keep it.
  5. Because of social media, people hear about certain brands or looks and want to have them for themselves, but can’t afford the new-car price of some of those items.  Luxury consignment fills the niche.

 

Is this trend for you?

  • Are you a standard or small size?  Most luxury consignment is in the smaller size ranges.  (Shared clothing runs a full size range – Gwynnie Bee has lots of choices in the plus-size category).
  • Are you someone who needs (or wants) a wide array of clothing choices, either because of your industry or social demands?   If you’re expected to hit a gala event once a month – this might be a good choice.
  • Are you madly in love with a certain designer or certain look, and can’t pay retail?

 

Doesn’t really sound like you…

  • You always have your clothing tailored to fit properly.   You have a hard time finding clothing that fits well.
  • You like a minimalist/capsule wardrobe.
  • You love to wear signature pieces and prefer to keep your clothing as long as possible.

 

The fashion industry has changed a great deal in the last ten years, and it behooves all of us who have to wear clothing to keep abreast of the possibilities.   The shared/used clothing marketplace is expanding rapidly, and if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, it’s worth giving it a try.

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An At-Home Wardrobe

So, you say – it’s great that you’re telling me about how to dress for the office, but I don’t work in an office!  How do I look pulled-together as someone who works in (or from) her home?

Pulled Together

First things first – even if you aren’t going into an office, you still need to look pulled-together.   Your clothing choices affect your productivity and your view of yourself.  Start swanning around in ragged shorts and stained t-shirts, and you’ll find yourself losing interest in your work – as well as some self-respect.

Pulled-together doesn’t mean that you’re dressed up, or that you’re wearing expensive clothing.   Being pulled-together means that if the doorbell rings, you’re not going to be ashamed to open it to the kid across the street who wants to sell you a candy bar (and whose mom is standing five feet behind her).   Being pulled-together means that it takes you five minutes to get ready to walk out the door, not thirty.   Being pulled-together means that when you clean the hall mirror, you don’t avoid looking yourself in the face.

So, let’s start with your face.   You don’t need a full-face of makeup, especially if you’re not a makeup person.  But you do need to take care of your grooming rituals.   A bit of tinted chapstick, eyebrows that have been shaped, and some moisturizer might be enough.    Your hair should be properly brushed, and put in order.    Five minutes to make a nice ponytail instead of thirty seconds to slap on an elastic won’t make much difference to your schedule, but it does make a difference to how you feel for the rest of the day.

Your clothing should be fit-for-purpose, neat and in good repair*.   Yes, I know you’re going to get dirty as you chase after the kids and clean the house and convince the cat to take its pill.   Clothing fit-for-the-purpose of at-home work is washable, and comfortable.  If you can’t bend over and crawl behind the toilet and that’s what needs to happen today, then your outfit isn’t working for you.

But how many of us honestly spend the entire day at home, even when that’s our job title?  Errands, whether running to the grocery store or taking the kids to school, happen nearly every day.   If you’re going to be going out, you need to be presentable.    An outfit in which you can quickly switch a cat-fur covered tank top for a blouse and head out the door (see: be ready in five minutes) is going to make you feel far more in control of your persona than something you have to change completely.

So, what items do I suggest for a stay-at-home wardrobe?  (Mom or otherwise)

SAHM checklist

  • Long, wide skirts.   Gypsy skirts (tiered skirts) in particular give you freedom of movement and are fun.  They’re more traditionally modest than jeans or shorts, and they’re great for herding small children.
  • Jeans.   A well-fitting pair of jeans is a basic – it goes with everything.  You can dress up a pair of jeans in the time it takes to change your shirt and put on a flashier pair of earrings.
  • Long shorts – something in which you can bend over without the least worry.
  • T-shirts with a feminine neckline
  • Wide-strap tank-tops (because you’re wearing it over a bra, and bra-straps are tacky).
  • Button-down shirts (to be worn over the t-shirts and tank tops for a slightly dressed-up look, and on their own with interesting accessories as a medium-dress look).

You want as much mix-and-match as you can manage.  The easiest way to do this is choose whether you like pattern on top or on the bottom, and select a color palette to work with.

You’ll note that everything on this list can be tossed in the wash.  And it will be.  You probably don’t want to invest very much in t-shirts or tank tops in the messier stages of your life, but fortunately one can find basics of both in the most affordable price ranges.  Buy a selection, and be ruthless about disposal.  (All-cotton items make good rags, if you feel wasteful).

Flexible pieces can be dressed up easily… here’s a denim skirt (jeans +1) and white blouse with a simple necklace.   It looks clean and elegant.   Good blouses will change basic pieces like jeans from “at home” to “ready to run to the bank” in only a few minutes.  Picture this with a neat ponytail and some hoop earrings – which would have been just as appropriate with a t-shirt and apron, frying bacon for breakfast.

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It is entirely possible to look and feel polished and put together, even when you’re “only” going to be at home.   For, say, ten years…. or twenty… and do you really want to spend all that time in a pair of yoga pants?

 

If you’d like help making up a personalized wardrobe or finding your style, drop me a line at amyrosehearth@gmail.com and we’ll start working on your solutions today!

 

 

 

*But when can I wear my grubbies??   If you’re painting, refinishing, or otherwise engaging in clothing-destroying activity and you don’t do this activity at least once a week, feel free to wear your grubbies.  That’s why you have them.  If you do whatever activity frequently, it’s time to invest in specialty clothing or protective gear.   E.g. apron or overalls.  

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How to: Closet Reboot

What are you to do, when your lifestyle changes and you need a new wardrobe?

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Determine Your Colors, Choose a Palette

 

I’ve already done that – I know my season, and I know, further, the colors that are my very best.   Jade green, turquoise, ivory, navy, pine green, warm red, coral, and buff.  Most of those colors will play well with what I have in stock – because I always shop from this list.

 

Determine Your Needs

 

I’ll be working from an office in the near future, and my wardrobe requirements have radically changed, while the number of discrete outfits I need has increased dramatically.    Corporate dressing means that I have to leave my beloved ankle-length skirts at home – there are a couple of blouses that can carry from my normal life to the office, but otherwise there’s little cross-over.

 

Evaluate What You Own

 

I spent some time this week pulling out everything I have that’s corporate and matching it up on my dolly.

Here are the outfits that I can make from those combinations.  Minus the red & green, which in these particular shades is a tad too Christmasy.   This is 15 possible outfits.

Skirts:  One navy blue silk skirt, one dark green wool skirt, one rainbow silk skirt, one cotton floral skirt, and one polyester navy floral skirt.  (5)

Blouses:  One white linen shirt, one red polyester blouse, one aqua rayon blouse, one navy lace blouse, one navy floral blouse, one red & white cotton blouse, one red-embroidered cotton blouse (7).

Jackets:  Nada

Dresses:  One jade green dress, cotton twill (aka not totally corporate).

Shoes:  Navy blue heels (comfortablish), nude stilettos (not comfortable)

 

 

Determine Your Needs

 

So, what kind of shopping list am I looking at?   Well, yours truly has been shopping from the heart, and that means I have a lot of patterns.  What I need is some solids that will match as many as possible of my current items.  And shoes.  I dearly need some dark-brown heels in which I can walk more than three steps.

 

 

Prioritize in Order of Utility

 

  • Blouse, linen (1) (Ivory)
  • Light-neutral skirt (1) (Ivory)
  • Shoes, dark brown
  • Solid colored blouses (2) (Turquoise, jade green)
  • Blazer (1) (Ivory)
  • Light-neutral skirt (1) (Camel)
  • Shoes, nude
  • Solid-colored dress (1) (Ivory)
  • Blazer (1) (Jade Green)
  • Blouse (1) (Soft coral)
  • Solid-colored dress (1) (Jade Green or Turquoise)
  • And after that, I can play with patterns and florals once again.

 

Why in this order?

  • I need one impeccable outfit.  The ivory linen blouse (Italian linen, long sleeved) + my navy blue silk skirt = that one impeccable outfit.
  • More of my wardrobe orphans are blouses than skirts, and I have more blouses, period.  One neutral skirt that goes with most of my blouses will increase my total number of outfits far more than another blouse.
  • But I have some zingers in the skirt category.  Love is love… and these items were acquired over the course of years.  If I get a few more solid blouses, those skirts get to come out to play more often, and with more variety.
  • It’s August in Southern California.  Blazers may be de rigueur – but it’s too hotto wear them, and it will be too hot for at least another six-eight weeks.  I would rather make up my splendid jade green … but looking at what I have, ivory will be far more flexible.  More flexible yet if I choose the same fabric as my light-neutral skirt (that would give me a suit).  Navy is the traditional color for blazers.  Bright navy is an excellent color on me.  BUT – navy is a tricky color.  You have to match the dye lot and fabric if you want to wear it with another navy, and I have three navy skirts, all slightly different shades.  If I pick navy, it will only go with one of those skirts, which defeats the purpose.
  • I love a good dress, but they’re worn less often in offices than they used to be, and are stand-alone statements without a jacket.  Without-a-jacket is generally how you are seen when actively at work, so that pushes them down the list too.
  • Accessories are not a problem for me – I have a ton of jewelry that will add interest to a wardrobe made up of solids.  I also have several beautiful scarves.
  • Shoes are a problem for me – I have a bad foot and most office-appropriate shoes don’t fit or are excruciatingly painful.   Finding good shoes is difficult (and expensive), I’m not going to vary my wardrobe by what’s on my feet.

 

Now all I have left to do is shop…

 

Seem complicated?  Need some help in your own wardrobe transition?  Feel like you have a million clothes and they’re not serving you properly?    Drop me a line at amyrosehearth@gmail.com and I’ll get to work on your wardrobe conundrums post haste. 

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When style and body don’t match

There are any number of “style types”, and those types come with a default expected body.   One of the first great style books, Color Me Beautiful, actually wrote prescriptions for women’s style based on their bodies.   This works very well, if the woman in question has an innate preference for one of these types – but if not, then you have the problem of a woman who looks amazing in a certain type of clothing who won’t be seen dead in it.

Contrariwise, if you try to wear a style type *exactly the way you see it portrayed* and it doesn’t work for your body, you come off as a try-too-hard stereotype.

True style marries body and soul, mind and fashion.

That’s why you’ll find four elements of style used in my book rather than the usual breakouts of “bohemian” vs. “classic” vs. “ingenue”.   I use those words in my consultations because they’ve become standard fashion vocabulary, but they’re just a stopping point, not a destination – not a “why”.

Fire = Energy/Sexuality/Power

Water = Femininity/Flow/Softness

Earth = Solidity/Athleticism/Nature

Air = Whimsy/Change/Experimentation

It is my firm belief that we all incorporate all four elements somewhere in our personal expression.    Three are public, one is private.

So, having gotten your pinboard together, you’re looking at that look you would just DIE to wear, the one that you know would make you look like a half-grown boy (and you’re not the androgynous type).   Analyze it!  What elements are screaming at you?  What can be discarded or changed?  Pin up a few more outfits that you like almost as much.  What do they have in common?  What can you take from that?

Find the heart in the style, that which speaks most strongly to you.

That style can be incorporated into garments that fit your body shape and proportion.   Accessories are incredibly helpful here – they transform the spirit of an outfit.  You might not be dressing on easy mode, but you’re going to make it your own.

(This Part 1 of a series)