Posts Categorized: shopping

Already Prettypoll: Shopping Weaknesses

Over time, I’ve been able to train myself out of (most) clearance rack snap decisions. The refrain of “this is not the last good deal in the world” helps me leave behind amazing bargains, especially when I know that I don’t need them and wasn’t looking for them in the first place. My shopping kryptonite? When the perfect thing crosses my line of sight after months of searching. Example: A recently purchased flippy tencel/denim skirt. I love it to bits and it’s perfect – and not something I’d found on the thrift racks or anywhere that might offer me a real deal – but I paid a lot for it. Possibly more than I should’ve for a casual skirt. But it was THE PERFECT THING!

My other weakness is seeing things I’ve added to my wishlist starting to sell out in my size. Scarcity. Gets me every time. Almost anyway.

What are your shopping weaknesses? Are you a sucker for a certain much-loved item – v-neck cardigans, ballet flats, etc. – under any circumstances? Swayed by bargain prices? Do you stalk stuff online and get anxious when you see your favorites selling out, as I do? What can make you buy, even if you weren’t planning to?

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Reader Request: Writing Helpful Customer Reviews

writing helpful product reviews

Reader Andrea e-mailed me this question:

Just wondering if you’ve ever done a post on how to write helpful product reviews for clothing or makeup sites? I do a lot of shopping online, and finding a helpful review for an item I’m considering is so great — I’ve noticed more and more women include many of their measurements which really helps to give a good idea of how a piece will fit. Makeup is a bit more subjective, I realize, since color perception can vary (as does how one describes one’s own coloring). But I still see so many “reviews” that are along the lines of “Wow! This is a great sweater! I love it!” So. Not. Helpful.

Confession: I have found many customer reviews to be helpful and informative, but have never written one myself. I KNOW! For shame. My excuse is that I just plain forget to do it. And also that very few things I buy either dazzle me with their superior quality or anger me with their shoddy workmanship, so I seldom feel motivated to share my feedback on vendor sites. However, like Andrea, I am able to scan through the online reviews I see and dismiss the ones that I know won’t be helpful. So here are a few tips from a consumer of customer reviews:

Be specific

Seems obvious, I know, but it’s ever so important. Just saying something didn’t fit or wasn’t made well doesn’t give other customers any idea of WHY. Tell them it didn’t fit because the arms are cut narrow, or that it wasn’t made well as evidenced by pilling under the armpits and frayed seams. Explain what you loved or hated and give detailed reasons. While it’s true that a string of 50, “I love these pants!” reviews may sway a few potential buyers, it’s not the meaty information most of us are hoping for.

Tell a bit about yourself

Some feedback forms request personal information, which may seem invasive, but I’ve found it to be tremendously helpful. Anthropologie’s reviews include age range, height, body type, and style, all of which tell you if the person writing the review is similar in shape and preferences to you. If you’re not asked, tell anyway. A dress that fits poorly on a narrow, straight figure might look smashing on a curvy one. And if you say something looks too old or young to you, the reader needs some context – meaning, how old YOU are. And if you’re not asked, definitely mention if you’re petite, tall, very long- or short-waisted, or in possession of other traits that consistently affect fit.

If you are a regular, mention comparisons

Some of the “quality has really gone down in the past X years” comments can be a bit grating, especially if you’re new to a brand. On the other hand if a line typically runs true to size but a particular garment or shoe is really off, that can be good to know. Saying something like, “I usually take a size 20 from this brand, but in this dress I needed a 22 because it’s cut small across the shoulders” can be incredibly helpful to another customer.

Wait, wash, wear, review

For some reason, lots of Zappos reviewers feel compelled to review their shoes before they’ve been worn for more than 45 seconds. And since I’ve admitted to having virtually no memory capacity for writing reviews myself, I understand the instinct: Do it now, don’t forget. But especially with shoes – which often need breaking-in or can seem comfy initially but be torturous after a few hours’ wear – reviewing after  several uses will be most helpful. Honestly, this goes for clothes, too. How does it wash? So glad it fits, but does the fabric wrinkle after an hour of wear? The most helpful reviews are from folks who’ve worn, washed, and worn again.

Mention any differences from the photos

Tricky, right? Especially when it comes to colors, which can look drastically different from monitor to monitor. But, for instance, say a patterned dress has a long sash that just looks like ruching in the photo. If your dress arrived in the mail and you were surprised as heck by this detail, mention that in the review. In all likelihood, someone else will make the same visual error.

And that’s all I’ve got! Who out there is consistent about writing online reviews? Do you find that the reviews for certain brands are more helpful than others? What else would you add to this list of tips?

Screen cap from Boden

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Reader Request: Button-fronts for Ample Busts

Hi all. Once again, Disqus closed comments automatically for no reason. Looking into this. Here’s the same post, comments should be open.

* * * * *

carissa rose shirts

Recently, I’ve had several readers ask about button-front options for women with bigger busts. Button-fronts make blood boil around here, I know, and although I love them for myself I am a small-busted woman with relatively average proportions so they don’t cause me many fit issues. I know from working with clients and hearing from you readers that everything from sloping shoulders to broad upper arms can make off-the-rack button-front shirts fit poorly. Bust size is a key factor, of course, since button-fronts will pull at the placket if the bust is larger than the allotted bust-room. As is the case for most garments that don’t fit off the rack, you can certainly buy a shirt that fits your bust and have it tailored everywhere else … but in the case of a woman with a large bust and smaller waist/arms/shoulders this can mean a virtual rebuild. Mall stores don’t expect us to be big in one spot. If we’re big, they expect us to be big all over. And some of us are, of course, but for those who aren’t it means that garments that fit the prominent feature are often comically oversized elsewhere. The amount of tailoring needed may surpass the cost of the shirt.

Luckily, there are a few button-front shirt options for women with large busts. I’ll share the resources that I’m aware of, and ask you to chime in with more!

Carissa Rose

Definitely my first recommendation for busty women looking for button-fronts, since the company was founded to create shirts that fit curvy women. Carissa Rose shirts aren’t cheap, but my clients love them for their quality construction and design. They’ve got a size chart that will walk you through the measurement process. Shirts are designed to fit women with larger busts and somewhat smaller waists, though all combinations of busts and waists are not available: As bust increases, so does waist though not to the extremes you’ll find in mall stores.

InStyle Essentials

Yep, brought to you by InStyle magazine. I’ve got one of these shirts in my closet and it’s a nice option. I am not the target market since I can buy my button-fronts off the rack, but I can say with certainty that these shirts are on par with a LOFT or Gap shirt. You’ll order by bra size, which can be tricky if you haven’t been professionally fitted in a while, but helpful if you are certain of your measurements. Four styles of shirts, all through 40H.

BiuBiu

Although this Polish company focuses mainly on knits, they do offer several styles of button-front shirts. Like the InStyle offerings, shirts are sized by bust/bra size. The sizing chart features UK sizing, so be sure to double-check before ordering and take your measurements in centimeters! This company also caters to women with smallish waists, and won’t fit anyone larger than a 97 cm/38 in waist.

Tom James

A friend and client uses Tom James, a custom clothing company, exclusively for her button-fronts. She’s an investment banker and relies on this style of shirt for her work wardrobe, but is also quite tall, busty with a very small waist, and has kyphosis and very long arms. There are loads of custom clothiers out there, of course, but my client loves this one. The company will connect you with a rep who will take your measurements and help you order.

My busty clients also love Ureshii for custom knits, but the company is yet to delve into wovens. Great stuff and fully custom, but no button-fronts.

None of these options will be cheap, as I’m sure you’ll notice. But if you love this style of shirt or need the option for dress code reasons, one of these vendors could be a great solution and good investment for you. And, of course, I’m dying to know if any of you have other options to share! Are you a big-busted person who wears button-front shirts? Where do you buy or order yours? By all means, share links!

Images courtesy Carissa Rose.

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