The Tragic Tale of the Topshop Skirt

Topshop duchess satin skirt

(The skirt and I in happier days, a.k.a. “a couple of weeks ago…)

My pink skirt? My beautiful, sold-out pink skirt, that I waited weeks for and then had to send to the dry cleaner, having managed to spatter it in mud in the comfort of my own home?

It is no more.

It came back from the dry cleaner totally ruined: large sections of the the fabric have risen up and “bubbled”, making it look like it has a bad case of acne. It’s a mess. It’s unwearable. I’m gutted.

And yes, I know it was just a skirt, that worse things happen at sea, and that OMG, some people don’t even HAVE a skirt for the dry cleaner to ruin, so please read the rest of this slightly-hysterical post with the knowledge that I DO understand these things, and am not for a second trying to claim that this is the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone, ever. It IS pretty much the worst thing that could happen TO A SKIRT, though, and in terms of Bad Things That Have Happened To My Clothes, it’s up there with that one time I managed to lose my favourite green dress (HOW? How did it happen? It still puzzles me to this day…), so please indulge me in this little rant about the fact that my skirt is ruined, and life will basically never be the same again. Look, I DID say it would be dramatic, OK?

The good news is that the dry cleaner DID manage to get the mud spatters out, no problem. Honestly, despite the plea for prayers in my last post (And what happened with THAT, by the way, huh? I’m guessing SOME of you didn’t bother praying for my skirt, did you? Well, on your conscience be it…) I didn’t really think they would have a problem removing the stains, because a) they’re dry cleaners, it’s kinda what they do, and b) by the time I’d let the mud dry for a day, I was able to carefully scrape the worst of it off with my fingernail. It did leave a faint mark, and I briefly debated just leaving it, as it was faint enough to only really be noticeable if you were looking for it, but my mum was taking a bedspread in to be cleaned anyway, and she offered to take the skirt in with it, so I thought I may as well take her up on her offer. After all, it was a beautiful skirt, in a gorgeous fabric, and I was planning to get a lot more wear out of it (I was actually planning to wear it to a party I have coming up in February, but… I guess not.), so I figured it deserved to be cleaned properly, and returned to its perfect, pristine self.

Instead, the dry cleaner took my beautiful skirt, removed the stains, and turned the thick, satin fabric into a horrible, bubbled mess.

Oh, and they also shrunk my mum’s bedspread. Awesome day’s work for the dry cleaner, then.

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My initial assumption was that the dry cleaner was to blame for this wanton destruction of my most prechus item. The care label on the skirt clearly says “DRY CLEAN ONLY”, and they are, after all, dry cleaners, so given that they’d taken a perfect, albeit slightly stained, skirt, and returned a horrible mess of a thing, you don’t need to be Scooby Doo to work out who’s behind the mysterious goings-on at the old mill, do you? It was obviously the dry cleaner. In the library, with the candlestick. Or… maybe not.

When presented with the evidence of their “crime”, you see, the dry cleaning staff threw up their hands in horror, protested their innocence, and called in a “specialist” to examine the skirt. In a court of law, I presume. (I like to imagine the skirt sitting in the witness box at this point, having questions fired at it by a hotshot lawyer from “the big city”. It’s possible that I’ve seen too many episodes of Drop Dead Diva, though.) The specialist didn’t take long to deliver his verdict, and much to my surprise…

IT WAS TOPSHOP. (Er, in the parlour. With the lead piping.]

Yes, it turns out that the skirt has been the innocent victim of a cruel manufacturing fault, which means that, despite what it says on the care label, it should never have been dry cleaned. (“The glue hasn’t been allowed to dry for long enough,” said the specialist. “It could’ve happened the first time you cleaned it, or it could have happened sometime down the line, but this skirt was a ticking time bomb, and just too beautiful for this world.”) (OK, he didn’t say that last bit. It IS true, though.) This isn’t the cleaner’s fault (Which means they won’t even refund the cost of the cleaning, so I get to PAY to have my favourite skirt ruined…), as they simply followed the instructions provided by Topshop. No, it’s Topshop’s fault: they basically sold me a £70 satin skirt with a defect which meant that no matter when or how I’d tried to clean it, it would have been ruined.

Awesome.

(No news on what happened to the the bedspread, by the way, but my mum tells me that she and my dad managed to stretch it out by taking an end each and pulling on it. So that’s good.)

Now, at first I didn’t believe the testimony of the dry cleaner’s expert witness. I felt they were just trying to cover their backs and wiggle out of having to compensate me for the loss of my skirt. By the time the jury returned, however, I’d already started the hunt for a replacement skirt, aided and abetted by my mum. Think of me as Scooby and her as Scrappy in this scenario. (Actually, no, scrap that: think of me as Daphne. Still think of my mum as Scrappy, though.) The Topshop website had sold out of the skirt long ago, and there weren’t any in my size on eBay. Luckily, however, the Topshop website has a function which allows you to search for specific items in store, and as it happens:

topshop

YAY! THE DAY IS SAVED! I can return my damaged skirt to Topshop, get a refund, and buy a new one from one of the stores which still claim to have stock in my size!  I can even re-buy the skirt at the sale price, so I’ll actually SAVE money by ruining my skirt! Except no, I won’t, because if you were desperate enough to call round all of the stores which claim to have stock of the skirt, you’d find that none of them will actually sell you one, as it’s apparently against their policy to ship items from stores. Oh.

Not to worry, though: during our search, we discovered that one of the Glasgow stores had stock in my size, so my mum called them, and a very helpful woman had a look, and then came back to the phone with the good news that YES, they had the skirt in my size… and the bad news that NO, they couldn’t sell me it, because – guess what? – it had been returned due to a fault with the fabric.

“This fault,” asked my mum. “The fabric wouldn’t happen to have bubbled after being dry cleaned, would it?”

“That’s amazing!” replied the sales woman. “How did you know?”

So, that’s that: apparently I’m not the only one who has loved and lost this skirt. The woman at the Glasgow branch said that she’s sure they’ll refund me if I take it back, so at least I won’t be out of pocket (assuming she was correct about that: it IS out-with the returns period, but the dry cleaning specialist is sending me a letter confirming his “findings”), but I WILL obviously be, er, out of skirt, which is the annoying bit. I mean, if the Clothing Gods had required me to sacrifice one item of clothing (I know no one wants to think of these things, but it’s important to be prepared…) to appease their need for fabric, that skirt would’ve been the LAST thing I’d have chosen, seriously. I’d have been frantically trying to shield it with one of those damn green dresses, shouting, “Here, take this one instead! I have 285 more of them, anyway! Just leave me the pink skirt!” Anyway, I’ve emailed three separate people at Topshop without getting a response, and was cut off after waiting for 10 minutes to get through to them on the phone, but I’ll keep trying, in the vain hope that they might take pity on me and help me find a replacement. Which I will then guard with my life, and be too scared to wear, because TICKING TIME BOMB, people.

Oh yeah: if anyone reading this happens to have bough this skirt, PLEASE DON’T DRY CLEAN IT! I don’t know whether I just got unlucky or whether they’ll all have the same issue, but I’d hate to see another skirt be sacrificed to those vindictive Clothing Gods…

[Dislcaimer: Worse things happen at sea, some people don't have no skirts, I should be grateful I had it for a short time, there are children starving in Africa, why am I complaining about a stupid skirt?]

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40 Comments

  • Naturally I have written a lengthy blog post about my faulty @Topshop skirt: http://t.co/0J8BSZTpEs

  • char says:

    Booo :( I’m sorry to hear that this happened!

  • Phoebe says:

    RIP Beautiful Skirt!
    …Did absolutely love this write up though. I’ve had at least three items from Topshop that have been really poor quality; incomplete seams, buttons just slipping off! It’s so annoying for the price you pay!

    http://www.northoflondonblog.com

    • Amber says:

      Oh no, that’s such a shame! I have to say, I’ve never had an issue with their quality, and as I said in my last post, this skirt seemed to be amazing quality – it didn’t even occur to me that it might not ever be able to be cleaned!

  • Claire says:

    Oh no the clothing gods hate you! I hope you manage to find a replacement and don’t worry about complaining about it this is your blog after all and anyone who’s been reading it for a while will know about your trials from the clothing gods and the curse of the black mark, and anyone who’s reading it for the first time being like “clothes, she’s talking about clothes?!?” should probably go and find a blog that doesn’t talk about all the beautiful shoooeeezzz!

    I love your blog anyway and it’s nice to know that other people are cursed (I am apparently a destroyer of technology- I managed to crash my macbook twice within the first week of having it, I’ve never met anyone else who has managed to crash an iPod and my last 3 phones have had a habit of screening my calls and withholding texts whenever they felt like it) xxx

    • Amber says:

      Aww, thanks for the reassurance! I always worry about posting stuff like this, because there always seems to be someone who wants to tell me I’m not allowed to be annoyed about a skirt when *insert much worse thing that’s happened to them*. I don’t want to come across as having no sense of perspective, but yeah, you’re right, it IS a blog about clothes, so hopefully it’s not too surprising that I would write about something related to clothes!

      And I am your technology twin… My last phone would just totally cut out every time I put it to my ear, and Terry is frequently amazed by the error messages I manage to get out of my laptop

  • Suzanne says:

    That sucks. How stupid of TopShop. At least you should be able to get your money back. I always worry about any kind of satin finish and how it’ll do when it comes to cleaning it.

    bisous
    Suzanne

  • Daisy says:

    Oh noooooosss! Poor skirt! And didn’t you buy it in baby blue as well, or am I mistaken? I’d be so scared to wear the other one now. I can’t believe your dry cleaner’s still made you pay though.

  • Fi says:

    Oh no! Why does this always happen to you? (I’m sure you’re asking that very question too.)
    I assume the stores with stock won’t ship to another store that could then sell it to you? Or could one of your London friends go and get it and post it to you? (Though Royal Fail would only lose it, knowing your luck…)
    xx

    • Amber says:

      They weren’t prepared to do anything at all to help me get one, sadly… I get that they have their policies, and that if they did it for me they’d have to do it for everyone, but they DID sell me a fault item, and I’ve had other brands (who HAVEN’T sent me something faulty!) pull things from stores without any issue, so it’s a bit disappointing that they weren’t willing to help: I even offered to get a courier to pick it up at one point, but nope!

  • Anonymous says:

    Sorry to hear about your beautiful skirt :( It was a very lovely skirt. So sad that you only got one wear out of it :(

  • Sandy says:

    Oh noes! That skirt was bee-yooo-tiful! Have you tried berating them on their FB page or Twitter? I’m sure I’ve heard people having better luck on those avenues than the traditional ones.

    Their not sending stock to other stores sounds like Schuh……I’ve been infuriated by this type of policy too. Are you going to try and get another?

    • Amber says:

      I’ve @ mentioned them on Twitter quite a few times (not berating them, though!), but they just completely ignore me. I don’t really understand why brands bother using social media if they’re not going to respond to people on it, but then again, I guess I’m fairly low on Topshop’s priority list!

      All of that said, the staff in the stores have been lovely, and have gone out of their way to try to help – they just can’t break company policy, though!

      I actually just went back to the website and it was showing one skirt in stock… It was a size smaller than mine, but my mum thinks she can alter it to fit, so I’ve ordered that, and will see if it will work: fingers crossed!

  • Carys says:

    See, this is why I’m always a bit loathe to take anything to the dry cleaners – I’m genuinely worried they will bring out my coat/dress/duvet and it will be doll sized, forever marked and ruined. What an absolutely crappy situation to happen to such a beautiful skirt :-(

    Also, Topshop won’t ship to other branches? They were feeding you a lie there, I guarantee it. Most shops won’t admit they do it, and they certainly won’t offer it, but they most definitely do it. Often called an inter-branch transfer – you just need to find a kind Topshop peep that will do it! Fingers crossed you do find one :-(

    • Amber says:

      I know what you mean: even although it turned out not to be the dry cleaner’s fault, I’m now really reluctant to give them anything else! It’s really annoying, too, because I thought I was being ultra-cautious by having it dry cleaned rather than trying to get rid of the marks myself: I really wish I had now, because I’d much rather have had a faint stain than a totally ruined skirt!

      And yeah, I was surprised by that too, because other brands have done it for me without question: I’m assuming they must have some method of transferring stock between stores, but they said they couldn’t do it. One branch refused to even check to see if they had it, which was really helpful!

  • Kelly says:

    Have you looked into the position under the Sale of Goods Act? If it’s faulty, I think you have a statutory right to be able to get a replacement within 6 months of purchase. Which says:

    “In the first six months from when you buy something, the onus is on the seller to prove it was of satisfactory quality when you received it.

    If the seller simply says the problem must be due to something you’ve done, it’s for them to prove that.

    If something is not of satisfactory quality, you have a statutory right under the Sale of Goods Act, to a refund, have it replaced or repaired for free.

    You can ask the retailer to do either, but it can normally choose to do whichever would be cheapest.”

    Given you know they have stock you could tell them you are entitled to a replacement under trading standards, might help garner a response? I’ve successfully used Sale of Goods Act to get a refund for faulty clothing, in my experience when you start quoting the law it speeds stuff up.

    Link where I got the above, in case it helps, is here http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/problem/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product

    • Amber says:

      The issue is that they claim not to have the stock to be able to offer me a replacement, unfortunately (I know the site says some stores have it, but it also says that feature is “only a guide to stock levels”, so I can’t prove they have it), so I think they’ll be able to fulfil their legal obligation just by refunding me… I did manage to get through to their customer services eventually, and they’ve said that if I take it in to my local store they’ll look at it and decide whether or not to give me a refund. The dry cleaning specialist is sending me a letter confirming that they believe the skirt was faulty, but Topshop also said they may need to do their own investigation, so I’m just hoping I don’t end up with a situation where they both blame each other and I’m left with no money and no skirt!

      • Kelly says:

        Don’t neglect to mention that the woman in the Glasgow store was aware of the issue, if they’ve accepted a return once it’s difficult to see how they could justify refusing yours! Wouldn’t be good customer service. Anyway best of luck!

  • Myra says:

    That is sad as it was beautiful, but you never know they might have a sample somewhere, particularly when you tell them your tragic story :)

  • Lynsey pollock says:

    RIP beautiful skirt, taken too soon; not able to fulfil it’s skirting destiny. :(
    On the upside you should get your money back, Trading Standards say that an item of clothing should be fit for purpose for 6 months. X

  • Holly Temple says:

    This post made me super sad for you, I’ve admired and envied all that own this skirt for so long now!! But your writing style is fab, I love it!
    I work in a Topshop where I live (hopefully one that is more friendly than the ones you tried to speak to) and I can confirm that they actually can’t arrange transfers from store to store for individual customers (which is a pain because I’d love it if they could!) – inter-branch transfers are usually only for large amounts of stock and can only be organised by Head Office .
    Either way, I’m deeply sorry for your loss of quite possibly the prettiest skirt in the universe :(
    Holly x

    • Amber says:

      Ah, it’s good to know they weren’t just fobbing me off at least! The Topshop staff were (mostly) really nice and sympathetic: I just wish their policies would have allowed them to help me!

  • Naja says:

    So sad to read about the skirt, it was sooo pretty!
    Not too long ago, I ruined my favourite top by ironing a huge (and I mean HUGE) hole in it, as I forgetfully didn’t check the heating level.
    I have kept it to see if I can make somekind of crop top out of it, but I suck at sowing and I have a flappy tummy :D. I just can’t bear to part with it just yet. So I really feel your pain in losing the skirt! Hope it all works out!

  • Miranda says:

    OH NO! I seriously just commented on the first post about the skirt before seeing this one, and I have to say that I am devastated on your behalf! Damn that Topshop! That is the worst. Luckily you will be able to get a refund, at least. Perhaps you could find an even better look alike skirt at another store??

  • Moni says:

    Hi Amber – thanks for the warning, I have the same skirt but in cobalt blue. I ordered it online along with a few other items, those were dispatched, but my blue skirt (which was in stock when I ordered it, was not dispatched). After 3-4 days of waiting for the much anticipated skirt, got an email that said, sorry out of stock. Damn!! I went online and it was in stock, not wanting to risk the same thing again. I called Customer Services as I did not want to traipse to a London store & they ordered the skirt for me & gave me free next day delivery! It arrived & I absolutely love it!!! Will look after it & will not dry clean it!!

    • Amber says:

      Ah, I’m so glad to have been able to help save one! As I said, I’m not sure if they’ll all have the same issue, or if just got unlucky, but I do know at least one other pink one suffered the same fate, so I definitely wouldn’t want to risk it!

      (I have an eBay alert set up for the blue one: it’s just so lovely!)

  • jacqui says:

    I would still boycott that drycleaner if I were you. I don’t know how it is where you live, but in New York, drycleaners are notorious for ruining your garments and then trying to blame it on you, no matter what the circumstance. To give you back a skirt that had obviously been ruined and not even acknowledge that something had happened to it seems shifty to me. It’s still bad business.
    I don’t know if you’ve ever watched Seinfeld, but there is an episode where Jerry is battling with a drycleaner. He says that he does not even want the money back; he just wants a drycleaner once in his life to accept blame for something. It is pretty funny.

  • Natasha says:

    That was such a pretty skirt! And it looked so perfect on you. The clothing gods can be rather cruel. I went around snooping and found this skirt which looks quite similar. Unfortunately it’s not satin. http://www.asos.com/ASOS/ASOS-Full-Midi-Skirt-In-Scuba-With-Pockets/Prod/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=3700680&SearchQuery=Red%20skirt&sh=0&pge=0&pgesize=-1&sort=-1&clr=Peach

  • Amber I’m too upset for you to say any more than… I’m so sorry for your loss (I truly am!!! I feel your pain)! Please, please, please, may the fashion fairies find you another. Here’s hoping…!

    Catherine x

  • Anonymous says:

    If the dry cleaner followed instructions, it sounds like Topshop should be giving you your money back…

  • Rose says:

    I just bought the skirt online off ebay. How do you think I should clean it? Or does someone else that also has the skirt have any experience cleaning it?

  • Oh you must be gutted… I hate it when this happens! Especially when it’s an item you really love.

  • Tracey says:

    Apart from laughing hysterically at having to sacrfice a skirt to appease the Clothing Gods, I am very sad for you. I would be devastated too.

  • Ghalia says:

    Hello Amber! First off, I wanted to reassure you that there really is no need to put a “disclaimer” every time you want to have a little rant about something. This is YOUR blog, & those who come back again & again (e.g. me!) to read your posts do so because they enjoy reading about the stuff you write about; you write so fabulously, & I love your sense of humour. People who feel the need to “remind” you that there are “more important” things in the world going on than whatever misfortune that has occurred to your clothing need to just be ignored. It’s so easy for them to say crap like that from behind their computer screen to a complete stranger who is writing about something completely personal on THEIR PERSONAL BLOG. Also, I could swear that those people feel the need to mention all the starving, poor people in the world every time someone wants to complain about something minor that has happened in their lives probably don’t spend that much time thinking about how they can help the less fortunate themselves, let alone actually doing something to help those in need. What I am trying to say is nobody can judge you or your views on the world based on what you say on your blogs. None of us know what causes are important to you, or how much you donate to charity, etc. etc., &, quite frankly, it’s none of our damn business. You have nothing to prove. You haven’t forced anyone to read your blog, we all do it of our own accord; &, at the end of the day, this is a blog set up for a certain purpose, it’s going to have very specific content, it’s none about ways to end world hunger or how to help civilians in countries ripped apart by war, & so people shouldn’t come here saying, “You know, while you’re going on about how difficult it is for you to find a pair of shoes, a child in Syria just lost both its parents!” Because, seriously…. wtf? Where did that come from?! Also, if they are so concerned about all the less fortunate in the world, how dare they spend x amount of money buying the computer from which they are sending you these messages? Don’t they know that that amount of money could feed a child in Cambodia for a whole year? Also, how dare they spend x amount of time online every day just browsing the internet? Don’t they know that time could be better spent looking for homeless people on the streets & helping them?!
    The irony of their comments is that, while they are trying to act like the better person, reminding people that lost items of clothing aren’t at all important relative to the real tragedies people suffer in the world, they are basically spending their time responding to something that they acknowledge is trivial, thereby participating in something equally as trivial, instead of coming up with the solution to end world hunger, or whatever.

    Wow, ok, that went on for a lot longer than I had anticipated. I was just trying to say write about what you want. Your readers love you for it. Those who have an issue with what you’re writing can **** off.

    As regards your skirt, my condolences. I am not the first to agree with you that it is absolutely gorgeous. I hope you manage to get a replacement, although I do have sympathy for you, knowing all the hassle you will have to go through to get it! I come from a part of the world where it is very common for women to have all sorts of clothes tailor made, & so there are plenty of fabric stores everywhere that sell all manner of wonders. So, in all seriousness, if you would like me to have a look & see if I can find fabric similar in quality & colour to the one this skirt was made of, & have it sent to you, I could absolutely do that, no problem!

  • jess says:

    Hello, I was sent to your site by Catherine of Not Dressed as Lamb. She thought we had some similarities. I have red hair, you have red hair, I have a blog, you have a blog. So sorry to hear about the skirt’s mishaps. Wow, quite the ordeal. I do think you look fabulous in the picture with the skirt. I know my husband would say, it’s just a skirt, or just clothes, but do men understand! Especially when you find that perfect piece.
    I would say more, but wanted to say hello. I have seen your site before, as I was researching blogs, but just posted mine today, so since Catherine sent me over I thought I would comment a bit.. a. your skin is beautiful ( we do have similair skin tone) I am Irish, so green eyes and fair skin, ( and read about foundation finding), thought I would let you know my site, if you didn’t mind, as I am a newbie, and I could learn much from you .. I am http://www.elegantlydressedandstylish.com. Will be checkin in , take care

  • Susan C says:

    Love this post! We didn’t pray hard enough for your skirt? LOL funniest thing I’ve read in forever.

  • aoife says:

    Hi I was looking on the internet for pics of this skirt as I am selling mine on ebay as the zipper broke and I am too lazy to get it mended. Heres a link if you are still desperate for a replacement!
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=321379442180

  • Selina says:

    I hand wash everything that says dry clean. Works a treat

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