Saturday, October 30, 2021

J. Scheer & Co wedding dress cleaning & preservation review

As mentioned in my "Pronovias Ariel in the wild" photo dump post, I sent my wedding dress out for cleaning/preservation. It was a pretty costly experience, so I thought it might be good to have a informational/review post out there.

My dress details 
Designer: Pronovias (purchased from Casablanca Bridal & Formals in Honolulu)
Dress name: Ariel, stock photos below from Pronovias website
Color: Ivory
Typical alterations made to: strap length, waist size and overall length of skirt (all layers) based on my personal measurements. A single hook bustle was added. All else is "stock" to the dress - no additional or removed layers or modifications to skirt or train. No panels added/removed (typically for modesty)

When my dress was ready to be picked up for my wedding, the staff let us know that the owner of Casablanca only trusted one company to clean the (Pronovias) gowns - J. Scheer & Co. We were provided a $100 "gift certificate" from Casablanca. 
My wedding event was on May 23, 2021. I wore the dress from about 08:00am to maybe 2:00pm at the latest (actually a bit less because I changed out of it in the middle for a bit), so about 6 hours total. Our ceremony and first look area did have grass, but it was nicely manicured with no mud or dirt. The lunch was indoors and while there was no AC (FML), not too much opportunity for the dress to be mussed up other than sweat tbh. I drank clear drinks and was fairly careful with the small amount of foods that I ate. This is all to say that there weren't any giant stains, rips/tears or unusual treatment of the dress after the wedding.
(c) Derek Wong Photography 

A couple days later, we initiated contact J. Scheer and primarily corresponded through email. My point of contact's name is Judith. We were instructed to store the dress wrapped in a clean sheet, out of direct light (not on a hanger). 
I informed them about the brand/model of my dress and sent some easily answered clarifications about the skirt and train. I was quoted for $795-895 + shipping (AFTER $100 discount from Casablanca) with the variation depending on a conservator's examination of  my specific gown once it is received by J. Scheer. This cost would include (copied and pasted straight from the email from J. Scheer POV):
- the cleaning of the dress using only organic solvents (we do not use any kind of harmful chemicals or bleaches).  Once we receive the gown, our conservators determine which organic solvents best suit the gown based on the fabric, condition, and any non-woven components used in construction.
- we include one hour of repair work needed (like broken bustle strings, missing buttons, etc).  If the gown requires more than the allotted one hour, we will contact you to confirm if you would like the extra work done.
- a 50-year warranty with the service (we do not vacuum seal the archival box so you can inspect the gown anytime you would like)
and the cost would not include cleaning/preservation of a veil which would be an additional $50-95 depending on its length (not a factor for me as my veil was $15 from Amazon and not worth keeping regardless). The quote provided was only valid for 30 days from issuance. 

I don't know if I'm super unfamiliar with the wedding gown cleaning/preservation market but the price seemed a bit exorbitant to me and I was caught a bit off guard - especially considering how variable it was and that it did not include any shipping. I balked at this for a while and we did ask what it would cost for cleaning but not preservation and apparently it would only reduce the price by $100, so if we went with this company, it makes sense to just do both. 

After hemming and hawing about it and doing the "extra photoshoot" with my MOH, I decided to just move forward with J. Scheer since Casablanca had strongly recommended it.
I was sent the following instructions for shipping the dress to J. Scheer:
If you can please place the gown in a plastic bag or garment bag then fold it to fit a small box.  Please be sure you do not use too big of a box so it does not shift during shipment.  On a small sheet of paper, please include your name, email, a contact phone number and the contents of the box (gown).  
Please use UPS or FED EX only as USPS does not deliver in our physical address. Please call or email me the tracking information so we can track it for you. We will send you an email as soon as we have received the package.

Please also note that the turnaround time is approximately 12-16 weeks. We will contact you once your order is complete and will verify the billing and shipping information at that time. We accept Visa, Master Card, AMEX or personal checks. 

Please note that prior to cleaning your gown, we may remove any bra supports or corsets which have been added to the gown as part of the alterations process. They may contain non-fabric materials which should not be cleaned with the gown, and which also may degrade at a faster rate than your dress fabric and could discolor the gown over time. These will be wrapped and returned with the completed dress.

Please also note that exposed foam and plastic bust cups, as well as garment bags will not be returned with the completed order, as they contain contaminants that can not be removed. These items are not suitable for cleaning and will disintegrate over time. Should you wish to have any of these items returned to you please inform us in writing via email before we begin our work and we will package them and ship them to you. You will be responsible for shipping and handling charges associated with fulfilling this request. If you cancel your order you will be responsible for all packing and shipping charges associated with transit to and from J. Scheer and Co.
Obviously the mailing address was included as well but I'll leave it out for the purposes of this review, except to say that the shipping is to NY. 

Preparing to pack up the dress -
From the Ka'au Crater hike, there was quite a bit more edges and bits of mud/dirt stains near the hem of multiple inner layers of the skirt (which was understandable and part of what I wasn't afraid of happening during that excursion) which I was looking forward to being take care of.
I used the clear plastic bag that I picked up the dress in and managed to fit it into an old Amazon box which measured around 17" x 14" x 5" and weighed about 5lbs, 1oz. I calculated shipping costs with both UPS and FedEx using their online services based on that information, mailing from HI to NY and the lowest cost was around $70 for ground shipping from UPS and would take 10-14 days. (Other shipping options were $100-200.) If you live on the mainland, I'm sure that you have a few better options for cheaper. I printed out a label online and dropped it off at UPS office that same day. 

I provided J. Scheer with the tracking number and just had to wait!
I was contacted on June 29 that J. Scheer had received the dress and was told that I would informed when the evaluation of the dress had been completed. 

On July 26, J. Scheer informed me that the evaluation was complete and the services would cost $795. The expected completion date would be 12-16 weeks from that day (targeting mid-October at the earliest). 

On October 12, I received an email notification that my dress was ready and to call J. Scheer to complete the transaction. I was off island at the time, so it took me two days to call during their business hours. On October 14, I talked to the consultant to was assigned to my order, received the final cost of the cleaning and preservation service + shipping via UPS ground to Hawaii and paid over phone via credit card. I'm not sure why when I, a random individual shipped to NY from HI via UPS ground, the cost was around $70-80, but when an established business shipped with UPS ground, the shipping was 2x more, but I guess I can't argue too much about that.
I had requested an invoice and received the following (my name was also on it but I censored that portion):
Tbh, for paying $795, I was hoping that there would be a little more detail about what was involved with the "cleaning and preservation" (that supposedly resulted in some "hardly noticeable" shadows?), but I guess that's all they really release.

On October 18, I received the shipment information from J. Scheer and UPS with the estimated arrival date being 1 week from shipment. 

On October 25 (1 week from shipment), the dress was delivered to my front door. FRAGILE and LAY FLAT were written on the shipping box. Inside, at pretty much an exact fit, is a white box with a lid. Inside, the dress was wrapped with a blue ribbon and a pair of cloth gloves.
There's more packing paper to help the bodice and straps of the dress hold their shape and then the skirt of the dress is tucked underneath. There wasn't any instructions with it in the box and when I emailed to ask about it, I was prompted pointed to an attachment that I had missed when I was provided the shipping information.
Here are some excerpts about care for the dress after cleaning and preservation:
Store the conservation box flat, with the lid side facing up. When you move the box, carry it so that it is as level as possible. We have packed your dress so that it will not shift under normal circumstances, but flat storage will ensure this remains true.
Protect your dress from extremes of temperature and humidity, as these factors will encourage rapid deterioration. All fibers degrade under high temperatures, and many may discolor permanently.
High humidity encourages mold and mildew, even on clean fabrics. Therefore, it is not wise to store your dress in an attic or a cellar. Choose a storage place within your living quarters, but choose a place without much traffic. Inspect the box occasionally (once every 18 months is fine).
With J. Scheer's preservation process, you are able to remove the dress from the box and look at it (instead of it just being stuck in there) and there are also very specific instructions for how to do that as well. At this point, I think I'm a little reluctant to move it around too much, but I don't anticipate having any issues when I do. 

Overall, including shipping, I spent over $1000 to get my wedding dress preserved and cleaned with J. Scheer and this was with a $100 "voucher". It does seem like the shipping price can be greatly reduced if you live on the mainland and don't have to pay so much for UPS or FEDEX, but the bulk of the cost was still the main services. 
Would I do it again? Probably not. But I also don't plan to have another wedding dress. For the price I paid, I did expect a bit different means of communication and transparency about the costs (the sparing details on the invoice did surprise me). takes a really long time and I had to follow up about even just the evaluation. My dress does seem like it's in good shape for now but it's essentially spent just as much time with me after wearing it as it has with J. Scheer wtf. That being said, I really don't know much about gown cleaning and preservation so I don't know the different levels and what makes one service more expensive than another. If your dress is not in terrible shape and you really don't plan on taking it out to continue to look at it, I would probably consider trying a local place with good reviews. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

EATME summer sale haul - 3 OPs, 3 tops, shoes & accessories

I have been making small orders from EATME over the last few months but have been stupidly backlogged on posts and am only now getting around to showcasing them! Some of these items I have been keeping an eye on from their initial release and I'm so excited to finally get my hands on them.

Piping double button 
This didn't immediately grab my eye with the stock photos, but the staff snaps really make me a believer! I was torn between the ivory version and this black one but ended up with black because the ivory sold out in my size - and I'm not mad about it. The black will actually be a little easier to wear long term I think and the white piping is really crisp. 
The buttons and front panel are fake, so there's a zipper in the back along with some snaps. I also wasn't immediately sure about the ribbon tie and whether that would be too high on my waist, but I think it actually works pretty well. I absolutely love the pleated portion of the skirt and the asymmetry of the hem, and I can't stop twirling in it. I think this dress would be good for a number of occasions and I can't wait to wear it out. 

Flare jumperskirt in mix
This was a sale purchase for the sake of finding something because there was a sale, but I also wanted to try more of these midi-length hems and this seemed like a good place to start. The check pattern isn't too overwhelming and great for pairing with black items without it being overall too dark. The belt is entirely separate from the jumperskirt (no belt loops even) and it can definitely be worn on its own if you want. 
Despite being paired with the knit long sleeve in most of the styled photos, this jumperskirt is actually quite lightweight, which I wasn't expecting but will be good for seasonal transition. The little ruffle detail on the straps are super cute and matches nicely with the featured knit top's shoulder ruffles as well. 

Neck harness design OP in grey
I really loved this simple design with the small added details of the choker and small side cut outs. I also really liked that there was an option to wear it off shoulder. This blue grey color was my first choice and I was lucky that it was still in stock during the sale period. I waited not so patiently to buy it for a while!
This dress is overall a lot looser than I anticipated and even a bit longer. I had to stop and check if I had accidentally purchased the M size. Even the sleeves, which I had worried that the elastic would be too tight, also  ended up quite loose which isn't too terrible. All that being said, I think it's better for it to be too loose than too tight and I still anticipate getting quite a bit of use of it. I especially like this light color paired with black.

Bow tie knit top in black
I am expecting to need some long sleeve items for colder weather coming up soon, so this top seemed like a good place to start and I really liked it paired with the check jumperskirt in the stock photos. I knew I couldn't really go wrong with a solid black top with a neck ribbon tie. 
This is super easy to wear and really cute on its own! I didn't really realize that it had bell sleeves when I ordered it but that just helps balance out the small ruffles on the shoulder and is a nice additional detail for a touch of girliness. The material is smooth and not too thick and I think this will be great for my intended use. 

Decolette sweater top in black
This was another buy-because-of-sale item but one of the ones I'm most unexpectedly pleased with. This pullover sweater was paired with a longer skirt in the stock photos but the color combination between the two that I wanted was no longer in stock. I ended up with this piece in black because I anticipated it would be the most versatile and so far, I'm not wrong. 
I've worn this sweater out when we just quickly needed to run errands at night and it was perfect for that, especially paired with high waisted shorts. The only thing that could make this a little better is if it was cropped a little bit more - then I wouldn't always need to tuck it in? But on the occasions where I do want it tucked in, the length is perfect, haha. So overall, I am super happy with it. 

2-way side lace up top in white
This top looked like it would be lightweight and nice during the summer season but I felt a little unsure about how bulky the side lace up would be. This is another piece that I was happy to see could easily be worn on or off shoulder and tucked in or out. 
I think with a high waisted bottom, I definitely prefer it tucked in with just the bow of the side lace up sticking out. This top is indeed very lightweight and can definitely be worn with other genres of clothing pretty easily I think, especially because the cross strap for the neck is removable!

Double strap pumps in pink
These pumps have been in the outlet for a while now but since I had the opportunity not to have to pay for Tenso shipping recently, I decided to just go for it and get them. I'm not entirely sure why they haven't been popular (especially at the 70+% off price) but they seem just like your average pink velour pumps but they also have a fur inner sole!
The fit is actually slightly big (I bought my typical size L for US size 7), but because of the straps, my foot still stays in pretty well. I anticipate wearing these most often with black socks and other EATME items. 

Cross harness belt in black
I've been waiting for the right time to order this harness belt, and a 20x point campaign seemed like the best I could do in conjunction with a discount coupon. These belt accessories usually never individually go on sale, so that seemed like the best opportunity and I have been eying it since I first started buying EATME. 
The fit is actually not as tight as I was expecting in both the shoulder straps and the waist part. Both are adjustable but I'm wearing it on the smallest setting with the pre-made holes. I will still have to experiment a little more about how I want to wear it since I had tried to keep myself from buying anything that really needed this harness to complete the look but no longer have to worry about that going forward. 

EATME ring pierce in silver
This was an immediate wish list item. These are simple but I love the branding on them and like the size as well. How can you go wrong with a small circle hoop?
I've certainly already worn this pair of earrings multiple times since getting them. They're so easy to just slide on and matches with all EATME and darker outfits flawlessly. I am just a bit nervous about the post separating from the hoop, but overall, anticipate these will have a lot of wear. 

Rose cross masks in mix
I hadn't planned on getting masks, but just needed something for about 1000yen to hit the minimum for another discount (or novelty?) and it seems like wearing these will not be ending any time soon. Or, even so, it won't be weird to wear them in the future regardless. 
These masks are just slightly big on the sides, but otherwise fit nicely and without putting too much pressure on my ears. I do think they might be best paired with a disposable mask underneath but the material is nice and smooth and should be laundered easily as well. I probably won't buy a multitude of these, but am happy to just have this set for now. 

Runway Channel Aurora novelty glass cup
I managed to figure out two orders meeting the minimum spend for the novelty glass and was able to get a pair of glasses (1 from each order). I thought it would be fun to at least have 2 for doing toasts. It's a nice, delicate looking cup with a gold rim and I think this is a really nice novelty item! I haven't gotten one in a while, so anything really is good, haha.

My blogging has definitely been slowing down lately because of some recent life updates, but I hope to get back in my typical rhythm when things hopefully settle down (crossing my fingers) in early 2022! Until then, I hope these piecemeal posts keep the blog occupied for a bit. 
If anyone is still reading, please consider leaving me a comment with suggestions or what types of posts you miss!