24 April 2012

My Favorite New Dress: Fresh Produce

Several weeks ago, I was hanging out after Bible Study talking to Risa about clothes.  Specifically, about how I need to update my spring/summer dresses but it just isn't in the budget right now.  The very next day, I got an e-mail from a lady about my Letter to a Friend post.  It was a lovely e-mail, and she asked me if I would be interested in writing a blog review for Fresh Produce clothing.  If you're keeping up:  I was wishing for new clothes, and the next day I got an e-mail offering me FREE clothes.  Seriously?!

You guys know me:  I live in Brenham and I don't get around much, store-wise...so I had to check out their website.

Let me backtrack a bit here--I've never reviewed an item on my blog by request...I've only talked about things I love because I love them.  I've resisted the urge to do reviews in the past, but when I went to their website I absolutely fell in love with the clothing.  But I'm me, so I had to do some research before I said yes to make sure I wasn't accidentally going to endorse a product/company that I couldn't believe in.  I liked what I found out about the company and the people involved, and I really liked that the majority of their products are made in the US.  So, I talked to my Boy and I prayed about it, and the next day I e-mailed back and said "sure, I'll do it."  (But it's me and I'm longwinded so I also pretty much told them everything about my conversation with Risa about wanting new clothes and our budget...)...I'm surprised the company even replied!  I'd gone online and checked out some of the other bloggers' reviews, and I noticed that many of them reviewed t-shirts.  Secretly, selfishly I was praying, please don't ask me to review a t-shirt--I really, really wanted to get my hands on one of those dresses.  I was *shocked* when they told me I could pick ANYTHING from their website to review--y'all, there are some amazing clothes, and some of them are fairly pricey.  I kept coming back to the same dress, though, so after a few days I committed to it and sent in my request.   

What won me over?  Well, I could have chosen 10 dresses, but the Windswept Vintage V-Neck was calling my name.  I ordered it in Truffle (a really nice brown, even though I'd promised myself to put a little color into my spring wardrobe!), size XL.  I'm, ahem, not slim at all, so I was a little worried about how the dress would fit, I'm not gonna lie.  I wear an XL everywhere else, except for my Easter dress which I got to buy in a L (that must have been mis-sized!)...so I was hoping I wouldn't have to embarrass myself by sending it back and asking for a larger size.  Oh, the things we big girls think about!  I'm pleased to say the sizing was dead-on, which is something that's consistent through all the reviews I've read on their website and others.  (Woo hoo!)

Here's the dress on their website, I fell in love with this picture!  (And I also had to tell the company that I love, love that all of the women on their website are beautiful but real--they all look like Moms I'd see in carline.  I like that they make real clothes for real women and put them on real women...I respect that!)  

Oh, and speaking of real women, they also carry plus-sizes...and they're the exact same styles.  The women I know who wear plus sizes (I used to be one of them!) often complain that the styles vary when you have to go upstairs to find your size, but that's not the case with Fresh Produce--they get it, ladies.  I can't resist--I have to show you a picture of the same dress (different print) on a lady who's shaped more like me...I don't think I'm supposed to do this, but I grabbed a screen shot.  Shh!

So, I got the e-mail on a Friday, and I think it took me a week or so to make up my mind...once I placed my order, though, I had the dress in my hands in less than a week.  It was easy, peasy!

One of the company's requests was that I try to include a picture of ME in the dress with my review.  I planned to have James snap a pic of me at home wearing the dress, but when I found out we were taking a quick trip to Galveston this weekend, I couldn't resist--so we tried to get a picture of me wearing the dress in what felt like its natural environment, the beach.  Look, there's my little family!

Here are a couple of shots of me in action, carrying Noble's shoes and chasing kiddos.  I picked these because you can really see the details of the dress.  We tried a couple of posed pictures, but y'all don't want to see that--you want to see the dress!

Let's talk about the dress:  it's an AWESOME thicker knit, and it's got a wonderful raw hem with just the right amount of ruffle and movement. It's fitted but not too clingy, and I thought it was very flattering.  The length is great, it hits right at the knee--I actually wore this to a meeting the other day and felt very cute!  The dress is cut modestly which is a big plus for me, I'll feel comfortable when it's hotter wearing the dress sans cardigan...the dress is cut so that you could actually wear a "real" (not strapless!) bra and not show your business.  For now, I'll be wearing it with my favorite orange cardi because 1) I love brown and orange together 2) my brown leather flip flops have these crazy little orange gems in the straps, so it kinda makes sense and 3) a natural/khaki color cardigan would look great with the dress, but NOT great on me--I need more color!

I know it's tacky to talk money, but you also know I'm not afraid to do it--this blog is about being real. I'm a cheapskate when it comes to clothes for me, and I told the Fresh Produce rep that I would mention that fact in my review (thinking they'd say "thanks, but no thanks!"). While I totally believe this dress is worth the original $64 price tag (it's SO well made, AND made here in the USA!), I've seen it drop in price twice in the weeks that I've been trolling the Fresh Produce website.  It's down to $43.99 this week--$20 off!  And, one of my favorite things to do each week is check out the Pick of the Week, an item Fresh Produce runs for a RiDiCuLoUs price.  The first time I visited the website, it was a $44 skirt for $11...this week it's a dress I actually considered, a $59 convertible dress (it's a dress, it's a skirt--again, great for travel and versatility!) that they have for $19.99.  Do the math, friends--that's awesome!  There are several other sale items on the website, so I'd say there is seriously something for all of our budgets.

So to wrap it up, I love the dress, and the whole review process has been such a blessing.  Thanks to Fresh Produce for the opportunity and for the great dress!  I hope you'll check out their website--to me, their clothing is perfect for our Texas weather (the company started in California, so a lot of their styles have that feel...but you know, we Texans like color and comfort, too!)  I think so many of their clothes and dresses would be perfect for traveling--you know I'm all about being able to hang out the wrinkles and go!  Their pieces are very versatile, but also great to mix and match so you could create different looks with just a few pieces.  And their scarves are TOO CUTE!  Many people check out Fresh Produce for cruise wear--I thought it was cool that in addition to being sold in Nordstrom (pet peeve:  people who say Nordstrom's), Fresh Produce has several stores across the US and even in the Virgin Islands.  For those of us who live in small towns, they have a flat $8 shipping rate (hallelujah!) and they also ship to something crazy like 200 countries.

Thanks, Fresh Produce--this has been lots of fun, and I will enjoy the heck out of my dress for years to come!

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