Recommendation Recall: Kodiak Boots and Madewell Denim

Dressed to Code in Moorea Seal Morley adjustable black wool hat with petite-friendly North Face Women's Stretch Thermoball jacket in matte black (TNF black), Madewell whisper cotton tee in black and white hardy stripe, Madewell 8" skinny jeans in quincy wash dark denim, and Kodiak Acadia waterproof insulated boots in caramel leather.
Two of the items in this photo have let me down in a big way.

I’ve been debating whether or not to write this post, but I believe that it’s important to admit when your opinions have changed. So here it is, the post on which items haven’t retained my initial enthusiasm. That isn’t to say that these items might not be a good fit for someone else or that we didn’t have some good times together. Nonetheless, in the spirit of informed purchasing, here are my recommendation recalls.

The Bad News

Ammended Recommendation: Kodiak Arcadia Boots

First post here.

I purchased these boots at REI after realizing I was completely unprepared for a slushy winter day in Seattle. These insulated boots seemed to be just the thing, and I was drawn to the gorgeous coppery color. Clearly I wasn’t alone; I’ve noticed many REI employees sporting them as well. Why am I recalling my recommendation? They scuff horribly.

As one particularly annoying salesman explained to me, all leather shoes scuff (insert eyeroll here), but these Kodiak Arcadia boots age exponentially faster than any leather shoes I’ve ever owned. Within a day, I’d tripped over my own feet, introducing a long, pale gash down the side. Within a month, the boots look as though they’d been industrially aged for a vintage look. It might have been fine if that was my thing; spoiler: it’s not. Even shining the boots only improved the look temporarily.

Therefore, I’m amending my recommendation. The boots have kept my feet comfortable, warm, and dry. They have not kept their exterior style. If you’re looking for a vintage exterior look, these might actually be a good choice.

Rear view of Madewell radio tee, Quncy wash 8" skinny jeans, and Hinge Drea blush leather sandals.
These jeans may be comfortable, but they won’t last much longer.

Recalled Recommendation: Madewell Denim

First post here.

This one is especially painful. My relationship with Madewell denim goes back to my very first recommendation on Dressed to Code and extends to three different pairs of jeans (overalls so far not excluded). The first pair to go were my 8″ skinny jeans in Lakeshore wash. At the time, I thought there was nothing quite putting on your pants for work and realizing they’d worn through in the rear — with no idea when that happened. I was wrong. A few weeks later, my black 10″ skinny jeans (purchased several months after the Lakeshore pair) split down the inner thigh. Even better, it was Monday morning as I was en route to a special trip for work. Awesome.

After the first pair, I figured it was a fluke. After the second pair died in a different, yet spectacularly embarrassing way, I checked my third pair. The fabric in the seat is discolored and thinned; time’s ticking before it also wears through. Now, I get that all items wear out. That said, the oldest pair was about six months old. I don’t know about you, but I expect my jeans, of all items, to last longer than that. As an example, my beloved demi-curve Levis wore out after five years.

Now, before any denim experts start in, I don’t over-wash my jeans or put them in the dryer. I addition to losing ground on my intentional wardrobe, I’m now desperately seeking at least one replacement pair, preferably 99% cotton or higher. I’ve ordered a few pairs and have my fingers crossed for a winner or two. Otherwise, I’ll be out of pants in about a month. Yikes.

To be fair, Madewell’s customer service has been excellent, offering to refund my full purchase price both times. However, I’d rather have jeans I don’t need to replace every few months. I believe the wear might be mitigated if Madewell decided to offer a fit cut more generously through the hips, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Black and grey/gray Eddie Bauer Women's Flightplan II Cardigan Sweater rear/back view.
Thankfully, this Eddie Bauer has been a pleasant surprise.

The Good News

To leave you on a more positive note, I’d like to also note items which have pleasantly surprised me, items which have exceeded my expectations.

Strong Recommendation: Eddie Bauer Flightplan Cardigan Sweater

I wear this sweater at least once a week. It’s chilly in my office, so this sweater keeps me warm but not too warm when layered over a cotton tee and jeans. Remember, my workplace is rather casual. The fabric has held up well and (knock on wood) hasn’t gotten fuzzy.

Which items have been your greatest disappointments or unexpected favorites? Have a denim recommendation of your own? Let me know in the comments below.

 

It’s better to be right eventually than wrong forever.

-Casey

LBD + Cape! (Rent the Runway)

Casey of Dressed to Code wears a smug expression and a one-shoulder, black dress with a cape billowing out behind her. Bold red lipstick and drop earrings add a touch of color and sparkle to this all-black look, which includes pumps, a small satin clutch, and an Apple watch.
My rented dress had a cape. You could say I was feeling pretty smug.

The Backstory

First things first, while this is not a sponsored post, I have included my referral code. That said, this experience was completely inspired by a sponsored collaboration between Julianna of Blush and Camo and Rent the Runway… influencers at work!

You’ve probably been where I was. I had an event coming up. I had a dress I could have worn, but I didn’t feel great about the option. With the event just a few days away, I was scrolling down my Instagram feed and saw Julianna in a Rent the Runway number. I’d heard of RTR before and even looked before, but I hadn’t previously needed a cocktail dress. (Additionally, I’ve also gone up a few sizes since I first looked into the concept, so I’ve actually entered their size ranges.)

It still wasn’t more than vague window shopping until I saw the dress: “Black Drama Cape Shift Dress” by Jill Jill Stuart

Yes, it has a cape. That said, it’s still a LBD conservative enough for my occasion. I know some people think black is boring, but I tend to feel more comfortable and confident in black clothing. Plus, CAPE.

Given my challenges with finding things that fit, I expected to be completely disappointed. However, as I scrolled through the comments, I saw two repeated themes: runs small, and runs short. If you’re a petite on the smaller end of the sizing scale, you know that these two “complaints” can be fantastic news for you. After looking for feedback from women around my size, I decided that there was a reasonable enough chance that the dress could fit to actually rent it.

Casey of Dressed to Code tucks hair behind her right ear, exposing Givenchy drop earrings which add a little more classic drama to an already caped LBD from Rent the Runway. This all-black look rounds out with classic pumps from Banana Republic, a small satin clutch, and an Apple watch.
The classic combination of a little black dress and a bold red lip works for almost any occasion.

The Process

I was pleasantly surprised by the contingency planning built into the Rent the Runway system. As unsure as I was that the dress I’d chosen would fit, I became increasingly confident that RTR would do their best to ensure that I had something to wear for the occasion.

Dress + Dates

The obvious first step is picking a dress and the dates of your rental. Note that the cost of a rental varies not only by the dress but by when and how long you want it. Rentals are offered in 4 or 8 day increments. I selected a 4 day rental from Thursday to Sunday for a Friday event.

Size + Backup Size

Rent the Runway allows you to receive two sizes for the cost of a single rental, and I selected sizes 2 and 4.

Backup Dress(es)

You then have the opportunity choose any number of more expensive styles for an “upgrade” in case something happens to your first choice. I selected this Black Palermo Dress by nha khanh, which lacked the drama (read: cape) of my first choice, but would have been suitable for the occasion. This Gizela Dress by Trina Turk would have been another opportunity for a caped LBD.

Checkout

Checking out was relatively uneventful, but my coupon code required a slightly higher dollar amount. Therefore, I added a pair of simple studs to my cart that got me to that higher dollar amount and dropped the overall price. (A waste on their part if you ask me, but this is one of those occasions where a little math saves you money!) Get my referral code for $30 off your first rental here.

Arrival

Rent the Runway guarantees that your dress will arrive by 8pm on the day you’d selected. My package notification system (not a RTR feature) alerted me that my package had arrived around 1pm. I was simultaneously excited and worried about wrinkles, so I asked my S.O. (who gets home earlier than I do) to pick it up and hang them up. I didn’t need to worry. The dresses arrived in individual plastic bags, fresh from the dry-cleaners and completely wrinkle-free. The pair shipped in a high-quality, zipped carrying case. A similarly nice box, tucked into a special pocket, held the earrings.

Moment of Truth

I’ll spare you my nerves and skip to the important part: it fit! I ended up going with the size 2, which was a tad tighter across the hips than I probably would have preferred. However, the size 4 would have revealed my bra at the arm holes. That’s another perk of this dress: I could wear a strapless bra with one shoulder strap on (which is significantly better than fully strapless). The tailoring was incredible, and the fabric was a beautiful weight. While the cape did pull slightly, the snug fit across the bust meant it wasn’t a problem. As I had hoped, the “short” length hit at a flattering height just above the knee.

Casey of Dressed to Code smiles in Givenchy drop earrings with a dramatic Jill Jill Stuart Black Drama Caped Shift Dress from Rent the Runway. This all-black look rounds out with classic black leather pumps from Banana Republic, a small satin clutch with silver hardware, and an Apple watch with black leather and silver band.
The fit wasn’t 100% perfect, but the black color and luxurious fabric were fairly forgiving.

The Cape

In case it wasn’t glaringly obvious, the cape makes this dress. It managed to be a playful element without getting in the way. Simultaneously, the black color kept the dress grounded and sophisticated. I wore my black Canta pumps from Banana Republic but could have also gone with a strappy black dress sandal. While some renters chose a statement necklace, I preferred long, dangling crystal earrings from Givenchy (old). I wore my silver apple watch with the black leather band (no surprise there), and carried a small black-and silver satin clutch (old). (My apologies for the lack of details shots — it was cold!)

Casey of Dressed to Code pairs Givenchy drop earrings with a dramatic Jill Jill Stuart Black Drama Caped Shift Dress from Rent the Runway. This all-black look rounds out with classic black leather pumps from Banana Republic, a small satin clutch with silver hardware, and an Apple watch with black leather and silver band.
This dress may have only been around for the weekend, but these accessories will be with me for many years.

Ready to Rent the Runway for yourself? Get my promo code here.

Would you rent clothing for special occasions? What about on a regular basis? Or would you rather save toward a purchase of your own? Let me know why in the comments below!

 

Dress like the best version of yourself.

– Casey