Au Naturale Eye Essentials Kit

$1429 vs. $200

There are times when I can review products with ease. Sometimes it is a matter of black and white. For example, I am currently testing out a line of natural, aloe-based skin care products that may just be the best line ever of products I have used on my skin. After I test the products out a bit more, I know reviewing them will be easy for me because I genuinely am gung-ho for them. There are other times I can easily write a review because the item was so bad I knew right off the bat that I couldn't say anything positive.

One of the main things I wrestle with when I am reviewing products, though, is when I am sent something from a company and I feel conflicted. My job here is to provide you with thoughtful, honest, no holds barred feedback while remaining respectful. I need to balance candid with fair. Or at least I should. It would not be fair to you for me to rave over something I feel no real enthusiasm for. Yet, it isn't fair for a company to get a review that may perhaps be unfair.

So here we go...I was sent a heavy box of clothing yesterday. I received 4 sample pieces in my size. These are new items with the tags attached that I can wear and then return to the company. Normally I keep what I review, but due to the cost of the items, bloggers will be returning the clothing at the cost of the company. The price of the 4 items totals $1429 (plus tax, of course). If I were to order these myself, I would be spending $114.32 for sales tax alone.

If you read Chic & Green on a regular or semi-regular basis, you will know that I love high quality items, but that I am also an avid bargain hunter. Today, for example, I was tickled pink to find two great cardigans. One was from J. Crew and the other from Ann Taylor Loft. They were each marked $3.99 at the Salvation Army thrift store. It's Wednesday, so I saved an additional 50%. I bought myself two cardigans and got Ben a fleece jacket from The Children's Place all for under $7 today.

I will tell you about the pieces. First, let me say that I love pretty things. I like to wear good clothes and have a mix of lines such as White House Black Market, Lands' End, Ann Taylor Loft, and brands from Kohl's and the affordably fashionable Target. I never, ever pay full price for anything. I love thrift stores. I like to get handmade fashions on Etsy as well. I buy handmade accessories. I make my jewelry. To see that the skirt I had on earlier is $510 is just out of my element. If I won the lottery today, I would still be shopping in the same stores. I just cannot imagine paying hundreds of dollars for one sweater or skirt. Maybe that's just me, though...

I received high end fashions (the literature says for those with "discriminating budgets") from a company called Ellecante. Ellecante features natural fabrics such as wool, hemp, cotton, silk and linen and are European designs. What is a wonderful thing is that this company is GOTS certified. This is the Global Organic Textile Standard and means that they meet strict environmental guidelines and the fibers must be over 70% organic.

Honestly though folks, the bottom line is that even if I was unaware of how much these items cost, not a single one would be something I would buy. Here is why:
The sweater is a "Large". It says on their website that it accommodates a size 14-16. I hover between a 12 and 14 depending on how much baking I have been doing and the brand. The neck was very, very narrow. I think I have a normal size neck. There was hardly any give to this. The sweater didn't hang very well and was very tight in the bust. My merino sweaters from Lands' End and LL Bean are of higher quality, in my honest opinion.

The skirt could have been lovely and I thought I might like it. What I found, though, was that it is extremely heavy and adds bulk. It fit well (also a large), but is not flattering at all. If you were built with narrow hips--I am not--then this would look pretty on you. At $510--never. Plus, it was itchy and felt like it added 5 pounds in bulky weight to my body.

The other pieces could perhaps be nice if they suited your style. Honestly, these are not me at all. I was sent bordeaux in the wrap and wristet (fingerless gloves). The ruffled wrap actually doesn't look anything like it does in the picture. The ruffles aren't puffy at all like that and it looks like a little wool cape. I should not even say this, but Nick asked me last night if I bought a Little Red Riding Hood costume for myself for Halloween.

I wish I could write a glowing review of the pieces I am trying from Ellecante. I'm trying to be as positive as possible about them, but I also need to be honest with you. I don't like the pieces, plain and simple. 

Here is what I received:

Wrap (my sample is in bordeaux), $395
Sweater, $395
Skirt, $510
Wristlets, $129 (mine have calla lillies)

Would you like to have an everyday chic look inspired by the collection above? Here are my suggestions:

Wrap/scarf handmade by Tanvi at Excessary, $30
Sweater from Chicos, $69
Sweater skirt from J. Jill, $69
Arm warmers in merino wool from Etsy's Anny May, $32 

Now, personally, I would even take it down another level. Do you have a classic black sweater in your wardrobe already? At Stein Mart last week, I also saw sweater dresses and sweater skirts at a great price. How about a black sweater dress (I saw one I liked for $29) and an ornate scarf from Excessary? Affordable and oh so chic!

The bottom line--I just cannot justify spending $1429 on 4 items of clothing. It is crazy. My wedding gown didn't cost $1429! I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I personally think it is down right obscene to spend this amount of money on clothes.

*Disclosure: I did not purchase the items reviewed. This in no way has influenced my review.