I am a sucker for clothes. Show me tulle, sparkles, big flowy skirts, sweetheart necklines, sequins, ribbons, or any of a hundred other features, and chances are, I’m sold.
Now, I don’t know if this holds true for everyone. But I have a tough time finding clothes I love, for a price I can afford. As it is, I spend too much money on clothes, so whenever I can find a bargain, I’m thrilled. (You’re reading the work of a veteran thrift store shopper, by the way.) It doesn’t change the fact that I routinely end up with thirty-two cents in my bank account. But plus thirty-two cents is better than negative forty dollars. Anyway, I digress. Defending stupid spending habits never got anybody anywhere they wanted to be.
Part of my problem finding affordable clothes is that I invariably go for a look. Most of the time, I don’t give a thought to quality, as long as the dress/shirt/skirt/pants/unmentionables is adorable. This in itself is a recipe for disaster.
You’re probably arguing right now, “Hey, stupid, you can find adorable, cheap clothes lots of places.” This is true. But I can’t just go for cute. Lacy little frocks and dainty skirts don’t do it. I need brocade, embroidery, shininess, bows, sashes, pleats, asymmetry…the list goes on and on. I guess the word is “unique”, although “unique” is overused, and not exactly applicable here. Unconventional might be a better word, but it’s still not a perfect match.
For the amount of searching I did, I got cringingly pathetic results. When it came to dresses, I couldn’t find anything that met my criteria. If it was gorgeous, it was expensive. And if it was affordable (oddly enough) it looked like a prom dress. Or a cocktail dress. Not something you can wear to work.
Now, I like to dress up. All the time. Heels, skirts, tights, blouses, dresses–I do it all. So here’s another conundrum: how to find something I liked that fit my budget AND was work-appropriate?
My hours of searching were wasted. Truly. And they continue to be wasted. Forget my own effort. It was Facebook that pointed me to a rather interesting-looking site:
Most girls probably have a passing familiarity with the site at this point. Basically, it’s an online department store. It buys limited quanities of clothes and other supplies from designers and posts them at inflated prices.
But shoot. Scan through one page of Modcloth’s merchandise, and all of a sudden, money doesn’t seem so important.
We’re talking unique and vintage-inspired dresses, frocks, skirts, blouses, and shoes. Some of the stuff is horrendously ugly, I’m sorry to say, but most of it is very cute, and some of it is outright gorgeous. Add in flat-rate shipping, free–FREE!–returns, great customer service, and fast delivery, and you’ve got something great.
Annnnnnnd, a decent portion is work appropriate. (Be warned, though, Modcloth does have a reputation for carrying some short dresses. Like, SHORT.) So, I get my ruffles, my pleats, my sequins and sashes and ribbons and bows, and I get to wear them to work! Fantastic, right?
Okay, so, I sort of lied when I said a brief scan makes you forget about money. Actually, money is a big deal for me. And it took me months to finally splurge. I bought three items that are currently not available on the site: the River of Gold dress, some cardigan that had a cute name (I forgot it) and the perennial favorite, the Leipzig Hoodie.
The whole shebang cost about $130, and everything was adorable. The look was definitely me. The hoodie, in particular, was awesome. It became a staple.
But it fell apart really fast.
Now, the Leipzig Hoodie is a model from Pol Clothing. I’ve bought stuff from Pol before, and it’s routinely been good quality, so I was confused. But a couple of weeks and washes in, there were holes at the corners of the pockets; the fabric was noticeably thinner; and the zipper was broken. I was stunned and unhappy. I’m telling you, that hoodie is amazing. It looks great, makes you look great, and goes with anything.
But it died on me.
I still don’t know what happened. I actually suspect it was some dissatisfied customer’s return, and I’ll tell you why.
Like I said, Pol Clothing is decent. It was just weird to own something from them that thinned and wore through so fast.
Secondly, I managed to wrangle a second hoodie through an eBay seller. This was quite recent, last month, actually. And the difference between the one Modcloth sent me and the one Le Bomb Shop (look them up!) sent me was astounding.
The fabric was far thicker.
It was way warmer.
It was way, way, way darker. Even when Modcloth’s offering was brand-new, it wasn’t all that dark.
And a month in, it still looks brand new. And the zipper, by the way, is still working just fine.
How did the other items turn out?
The dress was frayed around the bottom. (From Tulle Clothing, if it matters.) It was very flattering, but my chest pretty much busted out of it. If I wasn’t crazy-modest, it wouldn’t matter, but I am. Luckily, I got it on super-hyper-sale, so I deconstructed it and am currently using it to make really weird-looking stuffed animals. So far, that experiment is a success.
The cardigan is holding up well, but it stretches waaaaaaay too easily. By the end of the day, I might as well be wearing a bag.
So I found that, too, on Amazon this time. Paid $5 less, and had free shipping to boot. For whatever reason, this one doesn’t stretch.
Now, this obviously isn’t all Modcloth’s fault. Still, after searching elsewhere–eBay, anyone?–I found many of the same designs featured on the site for considerably less than at Modcloth. We’re talking differences of $40 in some cases. The Leipzig Hoodie, for instance, was $13 cheaper at the end of the auction. I know that you go to eBay for good deals, but it’s more than pricing. It’s a difference in quality. I still have no idea how that works out. I mean, eBay and Modcloth are selling the same things, from the same designers. Maybe it is the return policy, but I can’t guarantee that. Maybe I got duds this time around (this happens to me with dismaying frequency. Or maybe I have the wrong mindset. That’s possible, too.)
Yet, in what is perhaps the ultimate testament to my idiocy, I recently had a $50 windfall, and even as I am writing this, I’m over at Modcloth, peeking around every ten minutes or so. No lie.
Oh well. Wish me luck. Or point me toward a better website.