Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How To Successfully Shop Ali Express And Avoid Being Scammed

This is going to be another LOOOOONG post. So grab a drink! I will go over shipping, payments, sizing, and everything else here so that you can hopefully learn from my mistakes and have success from the start!

I often here people ask questions such as "what is the sizing on AliExpress like?", "What is the quality of the merchandise like?" or "How safe is shopping on the site?". And lets just get this straight. There is no answer to any of those questions. Replace the word AliExpress with Ebay and you can understand those questions don't have singular answers. You can find a great Ebay seller that has fantastic merchandise at a great price just as easily as you can be scammed and end up with a piece of crap. Well, AliExpress is the essentially the Chinese version of Ebay. So all the rules of ebay apply. Each store is pretty much its own unique entity that is simply using the Aliexpress platform to host their business. And to the answer of sizing, lets be honest, brands are all different even if shopping in a department store. My two favourite brands for skirts and dresses are Tory Burch (I wear an 8) and Alice and Olivia (the largest size which is a 12 sometimes fits perfectly and sometimes is too snug) So sizing is a gamble anywhere.

Now that the nitty gritty of WHAT the site is has been established, what about the actual merchandise? Lets start with the basics. Now, as we have already established, AliExpress is the Chinese version of Ebay. And as such, its core consumers are mostly Chinese. Which means the majority of the clothing is going to be geared towards that consumer. I say majority because not all of it is. So myself, a size 8/10 can translate into and XL or even an XXL for some items. Now that is not to say that I have not purchased M or L items that has fit me perfectly. As to quality, for the purpose of this post I will stick to my clothing experiences.

I have never received any article of clothing that was spectacular in quality. That doesn't mean bad, but certainly not high end. A skirt I get a thousand compliments on each time I wear it came with one hanger loop properly sewn on the inside of the waist and one sewn on the OUTSIDE. Literally OUTSIDE the skirt!! A pair of nail clippers allowed me to remove it and its not noticeable, but still... I have gotten crooked sewing and sometimes slightly off proportions. In the last two years since I have found my groove on the site though, 99% of the time I have had no issue that is not easily corrected though.  It took a LOT of trial and error though before I started to get consistently acceptable items that I could actually make work.  So below I will go in to all the ways to make sure the items you get are what you expect and will fit you.

I would say there are 2 major rules to getting something that actually fits and is what you expected in terms of quality and sizing and length etc.

FOLLOW THE SIZING GUIDELINES!!!!!!!! This one seems obvious but you would be surprised. Put your pride away and go with the sizing. You normally wear a size 4 and its telling you to buy an XL? Buy the XL. Seriously. Do not just buy a size because "it's your size". Now most of the time the sizing is in CM. Remember, everyone in the world outside the USA is on the metric system. So if you aren't familiar with CM and M, google is your friend. Google "40 inches in cm" or "100cm in inches" and google will happily spit out the translation. Once you find the size that fits you best, also check the next size up. If your perfect size says it should be a M but the large is only an inch or so bigger in each measurement, I go up a size. For the low cost I often find it better to purposely by a size too big now knowing I can have my tailor do easy adjustments if need be.

READ the feedback. Seriously. Don't just see it says average 4 out of 5 stars and buy. There might not be a single review written. So what if it says 6353 purchased. What if everyone purchased at the same time and only 2 people have gotten the item so far? I insist on seeing at least 3 legit reviews and at least one actual picture of the merchandise. Odds are the pictures people post will look night and day different than the actual website pictures. That doesn't mean the item will be bad.

Take this cute swing dress for example. Comments say its shorter than expected, but otherwise they like it. It has GREAT reviews. It is not until you see the picture posted below that you realize just what it is you are getting. Its cut straight down. No swing to it. And you can see a big difference in what the material looks like in reality compared to what I would have otherwise expected.

I ordered this dress that had only one picture. It was this Eli Saab dress pictured. It had 40 or 50 reviews all positive.

It was the only picture in the listing when I ordered it. The listing has now been changed to have the real images of this dress. Mine was ordered more than a year ago.  I laughed out loud when I saw the picture and the price. I looked at the reviews just to see the suckers who thought they were getting this gorgeous Eli Saab gown for $50. But I actually really liked the pictures of the dress and since it looked NOTHING like the original I felt ok buying the knockoff. Had I not seen the pictures though I would have been livid since they are night and day different and all the written reviews of it were great. So once more, the pictures tell you far more than anything else. They have since replaced the above picture with the one below. Underneath it I will post a picture of me wearing it. AND YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE OR CHECK OUT THIS DRESS ON ALIEXPRESS. I purchased it in an XL and it fits great. I had to get about 3 inches cut off just to be able to wear it with 3 inch heels.

Here is a dress that got fairly good reviews. Average was about 3.5. The first two are the stock photos and the third is a picture from one of the actual reviews. When you read the reviews it turns out many people complain it is sheer and very different than the listing suggests.

So again, LOOK AT PHOTOS. If you love an item but there are no photos at all what do you do? It depends. I then weigh the price along with how much I want to try it. And if I still want to try the item, I first go to the store selling the item and organize the items based on the amount of purchases. I then look at the photo reviews of their most purchased items to get a sense of how accurate their photos are and how their quality seems to be.


Now again I will compare them to Ebay. Just as Ebay forces you to use PayPal, Aliexpress forces and insists you use something called AliPay. Now dont worry, you automatically create the account when you pay. And while I hear some say that its not secure and that your cc info can be stolen, your cc info can be stolen anywhere. And in 50 plus purchases I have never had an issue. That being said, I have had my PayPal account hacked once before, so as far as I am concerned, online shopping is a risk in itself.


I kind of want to simply say you are SOL. But that really isn't accurate. You can file a dispute. There are some cases where you will automatically win .First is if you get an illegal knockoff. You have to upload pictures but you will automatically win. That being said, the odds of the stores actually listing its a brand item are slim to none now a days so its a rare situation these days. Sellers have gotten smarter and dont list it as a Kate Spade bag anymore, they tend to now say "KS" or famous brand and therefor they aren't actually claiming its Kate Spade. So lets move on.

If your item doesn't arrive in its guaranteed time. Its usually 45 or 60 days and trust me, it sometimes DOES take that long. But if they cant prove tracking says delivered you win.

Most every other scenario, I have to say, good luck, You can try and you can fight, and sometimes they will side with you for a partial, ridiculously small refund but its unto something to count on. So again, I go back to my golden rule of BE CAREFUL and look at photo reviews and size charts.

But the MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT MOST IMPORTANT (have I made myself clear here?) point I can make is do NOT cancel a dispute. I mean, by all means, if they refund you or your item arrives, cancel. But do NOT cancel until the item or money is in your greasy little hands. Once you cancel a claim, its over. NO going back. And sellers are infamous for promising to resend or refund if you cancel. Then you cancel, and they ignore you and do nothing. Once you cancel, its OVER. DO not let them promise anything after you cancel. They fix or refund, and THEN you cancel.


I really hope this post hasn't scared you out of trying it out. Here are just a few more of the pieces I purchased that are still available and have pictures and links. Let me know what you have ordered if you have ordered anything and what your experiences are!!!

Remember the skirt I said I got that had a hanger loop sewn on the OUTSIDE of the skirt? This is it. Below is my wearing it. The quality isn't great. The seems don't line up pattern wise at all. But I get a ton of compliments when I wear it and it works for an easy shabbos skirt when needed. Its $17 and I ordered it in the XL and it fits me just fine. For the price I cant complain. YOU CAN FIND IT HERE. 

This dress.... it came with a tear down the seam. It was right down the seam, an easy repair. My tailor told me it would cost $15 to fix and when I filed a dispute and asked for $15 back to cover the fix along with a picture of the tear the seller actually agreed immediately. Surprised me. Its an XL and the skirt part fits wonderfully. The top part is a knitted ribbed sweater (all one piece) and its far tighter on me than I prefer or that I feel comfortable with but it does fit. I use a big belt over it but it is without a belt but with pockets. I feel like if you are a size 8 or 10 the XL would be perfect. For $26 the quality is better than expected AND YOU CAN FIND IT HERE!! Pictures below:

This is the dress I was most surprised by. It is without a doubt the best quality item I have ever found on aliexpress and I am still kind of amazed. It is super snug on me (I got the XL but I probably need an XXL which they dont have) but it does fit and I can and have worn it. The material is lovely, the embroidery gorgeous and the length is good for me. The neckline is perfect and I love it. Same seller as the dress above with the metallic floral skirt. It is $39.99 and I cant recommend it enough. YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.

This skirt has since been given to a friend. It was an XXL, probably could and should have gotten an XL but truthfully its not my style or colour to start with. I had an event to go through where it said to wear a rose and I decided this skirt fit the bill.  Quality wise its fine. Not impressive at all, nothing to write home about or get excited about but for $16 it was worth what I paid. And the seller has tons of other listings for different patterns and designs. THIS VERSION CAN BE FOUND HERE. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Magic Pantyhose???

I don't often wear pantyhose. Bare legs seems way more modern and I just don't like the look. And they tear after one wear. Or, more accurately they tear as I am putting them on and then the second pair tear while wearing them. But every once in awhile a situation arises where bare legs just aren't appropriate. So when a friend of mine got these I was stunned. They supposedly DON'T tear. Like at all. Like as in she took a pocket knife to these and they still didn't tear. So I had to get a pair. Could this really be the LAST pair of hose I'll ever have to buy?? Oh, and they're under $3!!!

Well, I figured for $3 what was the harm in trying? I was 99% sure that even if they were the magic Chava said they we're, the Chinese originating garment marked one size fits all was going to be WAY too small. I have disproportionately large hips. I usually wear queen sized pantyhose. But again, $3.

Well, they arrived. Almost exactly 4 weeks to the date of ordering them. I was afraid to try to cut them with scissors. But I ran a box cutter over them and nothing. I took the pointy end of a pair of scissors and tried to poke it through them and nothing. And they fit my size 10/12 butt with room to spare. I can pull them up to my knock if I try hard enough. I would guess a size 14/16 is likely able to wear these quite comfortably.

Overall, a very happy surprising dose of success!!


Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Guide to Eshakti (Based On My Experiences)

I have been asked time and again how to order from Eshakti to get a Tznius dress. What necklines work, how the lengths work, etc. So I thought I would share my experiences with you all. I have ordered more than 20 dresses over the last 2 years from them and I have certainly gone through some trial and error in how to ensure I get what I want. I will got through all the fabric options, as well as length, necklines and sleeves.


What can be altered even beyond advertised options and what you get when you leave well enough alone. For necklines to fully cover the collarbone you really have two options. Either choose a button up dress with a full collar (though as I will show you later on, that in itself can be tricky) or choose the jewel neckline. I personally find that I am more than comfortable wearing either the jewel neckline or the much more rare round neckline (which seems not to be a customization option anywhere but ever so rarely is the standard given option on a dress). To be honest, I think the round neck is just the jewel neckline cut a tad higher. Its not quite as wide. But pretty much otherwise the same.

This red and denim dress is the "round neckline" and is not at all altered.

This terrible picture is of the Jewel neckline un-altered. I guess to be honest the rounded neckline above on the red one is a tad higher, but I truly think its just how the dresses are sitting on me that makes it look that much different. Both are pretty similar.

And to be 100% honest I will and do wear both of these as is. But in some communities (like when I go home for the holidays) I feel a tad uncomfortable with these. I decided to try something different in other dresses and order the standard Jewel neckline but to leave a comment in the order details/requests. It usually reads as follows: "please cut the Jewel neckline a half inch higher than standard. For religious reasons I need it to completely cover the collar bone. Thank You". And I have to say that I get great results that way. Here are 2 examples of the modified jewel neckline. Just a bit higher and certainly 100% collarbone covered!

As menitoned, the other option seems to be getting a collared dress. I have personally found the fit is not as good in general though. I always custom order the sizing of the dresses and they fit me perfectly in the chest but for some reason if the front is button up, they seem to pull. This has held true in both the cotton poplin dresses and the cotton dresses but did not seem to be an issue in the crepe dress.

This terrible picture is of a dress that is made of a light cotton with no stretch. This dress just was all over weird in the button placement and seemed to squish my boobs downwards in some evil magic that was just terrible. The dress was worn once before being thrown in the goodwill pile.

This dress is made out of the no stretch cotton poplin (the dress above was a light woven cotton, not cotton poplin) and is quite a bit thicker and sturdier than the material above. As you can see it pulls in the chest at the most unfortunate place. I do however love the dress and wear it with a cami underneath and the top 2 buttons undone. As a side note, this is the ONLY dress I have ever received from the brand that has a belt I will wear.

This green crepe dress is also a button up but again, for some weird reason it doesn't seem to pull in the chest like the cotton ones do, even though the sizing is exactly the same.


So basically, the options for sleeves are 3/4 length (my normal go to), bracelet length and long sleeves. The green fish dress above is long sleeved. And to be honest, its a bit longer than I think it should be considering this dress was made to my measurements. Although, I did lie and say I was 5'5 instead of 5'3. So maybe that is why they are so much longer than I would like. But if that is the cause, then the 3/4 and bracelet length would be 2 inches longer on me than normal and that makes no sense.

This purple is the 3/4 length sleeve. And again, I used 5'5 as my measurements even though I am actually a quarter of an inch shy of 5'3.

Now this dress is the bracelet length and to be honest, it seems a tad bit shorter in length than the eiffel tower dress that also is bracelet length. I am not sure if it is the difference between a cotton (not poplin) and the jersey knit.


Now this is the part that is tricky. Finding the sweet spot is kind of hard. As stated, I am just under 5'3. Five feet, two and three quarter inches to be exact. And the first dress I ordered was the navy and green knit dress and I said I was 5'4 and I ordered ankle length. Now this picture is me barefoot and to be honest, I stretched this dress as much as I possibly could to make it THIS long. Its probably an inch shorter than this in reality. It sits a good 2 inches above the top of my foot. To be fair though, it is meant to be ankle length, not floor length and I guess they intend it to sit just at the top of the ankle.

For future dresses I have ordered ankle length dresses in both 5'6 and saying I am 5'7. The purple one is ankle length for someone 5'7 and it basically touches the floor in a ballet flat with ZERO heel. In general my ballet flats have a half an inch heel and thus its perfect. The navy floral was ordered as a 5'6 height and I feel it is perfect on me with a completely flat heel. But again, I like the dresses when maxi length to hit the top of my foot. Basically floor length but not actually touching the floor (but almost). 

My other go to length is always below the knee. Again, I tend to lie and say I am 5'4 when ordering this length though. I just want to make sure they are below the knee even when I sit down. I hate the idea of being self conscience as I move around. So pretty much every dress above that is not a maxi dress was ordered to be below the knee for me at a height of 5'4. I really do appreciate the extra inch of fabric and would not order them any other way. 

Now I have ordered one dress with an asymmetrical hem. It is supposedly a knee length hem that dips to mid-calf at its longest. I have worn it at least 20 times but I have NEVER been able to get a good picture of it. For this dress because I wanted it to fall mid-calf at its longest I was afraid to mess with the lengths and thus kept it as knee length but changed my height to 5'5 instead of the usual 5'4 I normally claim. It JUST BARELY covers my knee and falls just at the bottom of the knee cap. Considering I am 2.5 inches shorter than 5'5 I would say its safe to say that knee length does not at all cover the knees in any universe. I guess the knee length is meant to go above the knee. I guess that makes sense since the above the knee dresses I have seen people get are very high above the knee. Like miniskirt length. Don't get me started on how short the length CALLED the mini is!


Now as mentioned early on, the ONLY dress that came with a belt I wear is that navy and red shirt dress. This one, as well as the Eiffel tower one and the light blue cotton button up dress all came with dresses with HORRIBLE belts. Un-wearable. So instead, I use my own belt for both dresses I have kept. The blue one has been given away so its irrelevant.

The first two I thought it was just because they were so thin (therefor they don't stay where they should on the dress and move around) but even this plaid one I am wearing above came with a thicker belt. But it was cheap, lousy quality and just looked horrible. It also felt too tight. 

So when it comes to belts, I would say ignore what it shows it comes with and ensure you have one at home you like. 

Now in general, I get dresses that are listed as having full flare skirts. This is in my opinion the most flattering cut on me and the most comfortable. It has a LOT of fabric and I like the way they move. These two are the cotton poplin with STRETCH and I have to say the extra weight (not much but a bit) gives them even more movement and show off the cut the best photographically. But pretty much ever none maxi dress I own is in this cut. I have ordered two dresses that were sheath dresses and even with the custom sizing did not at all fit me right. So I really can't compare the other cuts. 

This patchwork dress however was described not as a full flare skirt but instead simply as a flared, Missing that word full in there made a big difference in the fit I did not notice when ordering. I ultimately also gave this dress away because I just didn't feel comfortable in it. That being said, when I went back and looked at the stock photo it certainly does have a different cut and does look much slimmer in the hips.

I also ended up donating this dress as the cut which was simply listed as empire waist  was cut to slim in the hips for my comfort.

This bottom maxi is once more that full flare which I just feel more comfortable with.

So I guess all the materials have their own idiosyncrasies. 

My favourite, hands down, is the cotton knit. Its a thick material almost like a cross between a t shirt and a sweatshirt. Its t shirt material, but like the thickest t shirt you can imagine (that is still totally soft and comfortable). My purple and my green/navy chevron maxi dresses are made of it as well as my asymmetrical hemmed one and the top of my Eiffel tower dress and the top of this tulle dress I have yet to wear. 

I have not worn this dress yet above (even though I have had it about 5 months) but I can say the tulle is a lovely material. Its lined in what they call a moss crepe which feels like crinoline and then has a crepe lining underneath. Its thick without looking cheap and it has body. Most certainly does not feel cheap at all. 

The light cotton dresses that are not poplin (my black and white plaid, my leaf maxi dress as well as 2 others not pictured here are also lovely and my favourite option in the summer. The knits are too heavy for hot days, and these are such beautiful thin cotton that wash nicely, wear well and dont wrinkle so long as they are hung up right after washing. 

The cotton polin without stretch is terrible. Ok, not really terrible. Just terrible if like me you think ironing is a four letter word that is inappropriate to even mention. They WRINKLE. And while most of the cotton poplin dresses seem to be lined, this one is not:

And that is fairly problematic since the white is very see through. I have to wear a slip under it. You can also see some of the wrinkles in it in the picture above. And that is after it was ironed but just hanging in my closet did that to it. 

Then, there is cotton poplin with stretch. The navy and red floral one, the red with floral embroidery, as well as the purple one are this material and its great. Its thicker than the standard poplin, its got just enough stretch in it to prevent the wrinkling and its weight lets it sit and move nicely. 

Then there is the crepe dresses. The white floral one, the green fish one and the bottom of the Eiffel Tower one are all made out of this. So is this blue seashell one below. The lovely thing about them is they seem to ALWAYS be lined. And they are super light and comfy for the summer months. No negatives to speak of with these.

Now, I have one more dress that is polydupion. I don't even know that that IS. But I saw it, and had a simcha coming up and ordered it as a bridesmaid dress. I wish I had a better experience with it. Part of the problem is that the fit was TERRIBLE. It was a weird random experience where the sizing was very very off. I have never had that with an eshakti dress before and unfortunately I needed to suck it up and wear it because I didn't even consider the option it might not fit and left no wiggle room in my time line leading up to the wedding. This was the dress:

I ordered it saying I was 5'5 and chose the length "full length with 3 inch heels on" since I wanted to wear it with 4 inch heels. In this picture I am wearing it with 3 inch heels and its an inch too short. BAH!

But even worse, it was too big:

Now the material itself. The polydupion. Described as woven dupion, high sheen, lightly textured slubs, no stretch, midweight and lined in light polytaffeta. The lining is nice. Its not super puffy but gives it just enough body to be quite nice. The actual material though is not great. It looks pretty cheap up close. Not terrible, and I did get lots of compliments on it. But it wrinkles super easily. I steamed it because the material scared me to try to iron. Was afraid it might melt or the sheen get destroyed. It also looks like it might get pulls very easy. I think that is the meaning of the "light textured slubs". Like it has a funny texture. But to me it just looks like it would get pulls super easy. I can't say that for sure it would, I had no problems that way. It just looked like it might. And the fabric looked imperfect. I just felt the quality didn't have the feel or the weight I have come to expect from that brand. But for the price, I would say it was a fantastic option for a formal gown to wear once to a wedding. And the following three dresses have all really caught my eye and so I might give the material one more try. These three are all listed as woven dupioni instead of woven dupion and so I am not sure what that added "i" means. And all still say sheen and textured slubs so if I do try one of these 3 I will keep you all updated! 


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