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.


(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:


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?]