Friday, August 27, 2010

Reviewing Venus Williams’ “EleVen”

As a member of the Gilt Groupe, I will, from time to time, find myself tempted to buy a featured item. Of course purchases have to meet certain conditions before I consider them, such as that the final cost plus shipping must be significantly less than the same items at T J Maxx or Marshall’s. But thanks to Gilt, I have been introduced to some fabulous new designers and products that turned out to be worth the risk. So when I received notice some days ago that Gilt was about to feature clothing from Venus Williams’ EleVen line, I couldn’t wait to see what was going to be on offer.

Let me admit from the start that reviewing clothing is best done up close. There is no way, for example, that I could review a Jil Sander suit without being able to talk about the exquisiteness of the stitching. And to do that, I would need to see it up close. I would need to hold and touch it, feel the fabric between my fingers, examine the quality of the zippers and buttons, and the many other characteristics that separate the top tier items of clothing from your K-Mart bargain bin. So without having handled Venus’ choices for her latest EleVen season, there is no way I can comment on the quality of the craftsmanship. The most I give are my visual impressions.

But then again, this is all I have to go by whenever I purchase anything from Gilt. Thus far, relying on face validity has stood me well. Let’s see then what my eyes perceive in Venus’ EleVen line-up. Of course I am not assuming that the eight items ranging in price from $29. to $99. represent the full complement of Venus’ creativity. These are simply the items appearing at, with the following accompanying blurb:

“Aces! For the first time ever, Gilt is serving up exclusive looks from tennis superstar Venus Williams’ athletic brand EleVen, a line of tennis wear based on the famous outfits she wore in her most-watched matches. These chic tennis dresses, available only on Gilt, are rendered in both bright hues and solid whites, with cool twists on traditional necklines. Following the motto "Look like a ten, feel like an EleVen," Williams’ line, the name of which is inspired by her childhood address, earns a top-seeded spot in Gilt’s August 27 sales lineup.” All of the items are listed with accompanying photos of Venus appearing in these outfits at various tennis tournaments.

But the first thing that struck me was that none of the items were on sale. I go to Gilt for their marked down prices. I am your ultimate bargain shopper. I think that it is foolish to pay full price for anything. I know from having associates in retail professions that all items get marked up, sometimes at twice their value. Buying something on sale means only that the merchant agrees to accept a smaller (but still often still quite large) profit margin. Unfortunately, none of the items in the EleVen line featured sale prices. Well, that was the end of my decision to buy. Now I was only browsing.

The only $99. dress is a tie-dye version of the one Venus wore at the Madrid Open and at Roland Garros this year (see photo below). The dress is listed as being made of 100% polyester knit, which is not my definition of a cool material. It features a built-in bra, and black trim details on the bust, shoulder straps, and ruffled hem. The model’s bust size was listed as 32 inches and it does indeed seem to be a nice dress for small-breasted women like Venus. This dress is not for women with melons. Pass.

The Goddess dress, at $79., is a paired down version of the white ruffly number Venus wore at Wimbledon this year. Again the material is 100% polyester, and the twist-tie front is perfect for women who think that their boobs need no support while running up and down on a tennis court. Same for the $79. Double Cross Back dress which features dual crisscross panels going across the back. Cute pink dress but I can’t imagine playing tennis in it. Not with my sized boobs. But the flat-chested – and I don’t mean the small-boobed, but the literally flat-chested – would probably be thrilled to own it.

The $89. Tie Halter dress gathers at the neckline at both front and back and features a ruffle skirt. The version featuring Venus is a more interesting color than the pink number being sold on Gilt. Again, this dress doesn’t feature much boob support but is better in this regard than the previously mentioned.

The yellow $89. Slit Front dress is the black dress that Venus wore at the Italia Open this year. Of all the dresses, it seems to be the most tennis practical. The two front slits should allow for ease of movement. The front and back panels with built-in bra seem adequate to support any sized boobs. And the design is simple and cute. Unfortunately, it’s also made of 100% polyester. What’s with all the polyester?

The remaining three items are the infamous panties, in pink, white, and black. Except Venus calls them “Boy Shorts”. They look like the tight spandex pants we wore to aerobics classes back in the day. The only thing missing are the leg warmers. And we know from Venus’ own performance that these things ride up into the crotch the minute you hit your first forehand, never mind thinking of reaching for an overhead. I don’t get why they are called “Boy Shorts” when they easily feature every facet of a woman’s camel toe.

But I am all for supporting my tennis sisters. So if you want to purchase any of these items, send me an email and I will send you a Gilt membership invite. (You have to be a member in order to shop.) And who knows, maybe wearing Venus’ fashion may actually inspire you to play just like her.

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 15: Venus Williams of the USA concentrates on her serve in her semi-final match against Shahar Peer of Israel during the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open tennis tournament at the Caja Magica on May 15, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)


Kim at TennisFixation said...

I joined Gilt this morning just to look at these dresses and they're gone. I didn't realize they only list things for a limited time. I wonder how many they sold???

tennischick said...

Thanks for commenting.

I don't think anything sold. At least there were items still available in all sizes up til closing. And as you will see as a Gilt member, good deals sell out pretty quickly. I think that the fact that she wanted full prices probably worked against her. People come to Gilt to find fine items at marked down prices.

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