Today I have a new Taobao order to review, but first up, you may have noticed I have gone with a different shopping service than my usual go-to of Taobao Spree. When I placed my last Taobao order I unfortunately had one seller who was holding things up, so I split my order in to 2 packages. But in the time after my first parcel was shipped and I was waiting for my last items to arrive at their office, Taobao Spree decided that they were no longer accepting Paypal payments and now you have to "order" through this store to pay for your orders. So I went through this process and to be fair to Taobao Spree, I did get my items and I was able to pay my last shipping part okay. However, it does feel like an added hassle and so, I decided to give a different shopping service a try. So I went to another well known shopping service- Taobao Ring.
Ordering Process and Communication
One of the things I really hated about Taobao Spree was having to fill in that spreadsheet and even when I copied and pasted my details from my last order, it could get very time consuming. Taobao Ring on the other hand, have a "quick order" where you simply paste in the links and then the colour, size options, etc just come up. If you have any further comments it is really easy to add them on. Once I had created an account (which is very simple to do) I was able to fill in my quick order form with ease. I got emailed when payments were due and the process was explained on the site so I always knew what the next step was. What I really liked about Taobao Ring was that you could log in and see which of your items had arrived at their office. So it was easy to see if the stores were delivering their items on time. I can say that all the stores mentioned in this order delivered on time and one shop even sent their item weeks before they were due to arrive. However, one of the things I did dislike about Taobao Ring is that it felt a bit impersonal. With Taobao Spree you are assigned an agent and some of their agents (especially Ray!) were really easy to talk to and it felt like they genuinely cared about your order. With Taobao Ring you don't get told who is looking after your order. I suppose the only time you would really contact them personally would be if there was a problem with your order. As my order had no issues, I had no reason to contact them. So I can't really comment on how they handle problems.
Shipping and Packing
I went with the EMS shipping option. I liked how the Taobao Ring website had a shipping calculator so you could get a rough estimate. Taobao Ring do not automatically mark your package down, so I assume you have to ask if you want this done. When the package eventually made it through customs, I was a bit surprised at how small the box it came in was. Although the box was well taped up, it was obvious the box was too small for the contents, as it was bulging outwards. There were a couple of holes in the box. When I opened the box, there was a layer of bubble wrap placed on top but nothing else. The 2 hats I ordered were very badly squished.
First up today is this hat I ordered from Haruhi Clover which as you can see, got a bit bashed in the box. Thankfully I was able to simply pop this hat back in to shape.
As you can see, the hat is as good as new. I think that says a lot about this hat because it can quite clearly handle a bit of bashing about. I have previously ordered this hat in navy, so I knew exactly what to expect. The hat is an okay size, but perhaps not suitable if you plan to wear a very thick wig.
The ribbon used for the bow is a little bit shiny (although I should mention this photo was taken with a flash) but otherwise it is lovely. The edges of the ribbon were carefully and neatly sealed. The bow is well shaped and the pearls are a nice finishing touch.
The lace used is of a good quality and it is placed neatly on the underside of the rim. I did notice the ribbon seemed a little bit loose around the base of the hat compared to the hat I ordered previously, but it is nothing to drastic and this is barely noticeable unless you are looking for it.
Next up is this strawberry hat that I ordered from Infanta. Unfortunately, this hat also got a bit squished in the box and part of the rim has warped slightly. I have been trying my best to mold the hat back in to a shape I am satisfied with and although this has worked slightly, it still isn't quite right. I don't know if it was already like this when it reached Taobao Ring, but given that both hats got squished this time and in a previous order with Spree my Haruhi Clover hat was packaged very well, my guess would be it was probably Taobao Ring's packaging that is at fault.
One side of the hat is topped with fake berries and flowers. I personally don't feel like the materials used were of the best quality here. The fake roses look a bit shabby and some of the petals are even a bit threadbare. The fake berries do not look very realistic and I feel they need a bit more of a sheen to them as well. But my main issue is that it feels as though these details are a bit overloaded. I have noticed that one of the berries will frequently pop out and over the side of the hat and I think it is because there is not enough room.
The ribbon used on the hat is very cute though and I love the vibrant colour. The ribbon has been used very neatly along the base of the hat and also for the bows. The lace used is of a good quality too. I love the little lace hearts! There were a few small loose threads but nothing too substantial.
I am a little confused by the inside of the hat. There is one single alligator clip placed on one side but nothing on the other side. I think if you are going to use these clips inside, you need one of both sides because if the wind blows your hat off, one clip is not going to be enough. I am actually tempted to remove this clip altogether as I found it awkward to use and it just got in the way. I feel like I got what I paid for with my hat, but some of the details are definitely a bit too low quality for my personal tastes.
Next up is the first of many neck accessories I got in this order (I felt my wardrobe was sorely lacking neck details). I got this rose themed necklace from Ranka. I was really impressed with how well Ranka wrapped up the necklace. It arrived pinned down on this display board and was then thoroughly wrapped in bubble wrap. The necklace is mostly made up of beads and clear plastic thread. It is not the most sturdy of materials but it should be supportive enough that I will get a good amount of wear out of this necklace. The length of the necklace is good and the chain is long enough to adjust the length.
I was really impressed with the quality of the fake roses used. The petals are well formed and there is a slightly glossy finish. The beads are well positioned around the fake flowers. The overall composition of the necklace has been well thought out and it looks very balanced. I am impressed enough with the quality to say with confidence that I would order from Ranka again.
Next up is a lot of items from Ciciworks, or as they now like to be known- SweetDreamer. First up is these ribbon brooches. Sadly, these brooches were also a victim of some bad packing, so the ribbon is going to need to be flattened out somehow (any suggestions on the best way to do this will be most welcome. I am thinking I will sandwich the ribbons inside some heavy books). Apart from that slight issue, I am impressed with these clips. The colours of the ribbons are so vibrant. The ivory one is perhaps a little more yellow than I was expecting though.
The ribbon used is gorgeous with a pretty rose design to it. All of the materials are of a good quality. My only slight gripe is that little effort was made to tidy up and seal the ends of the ribbon, so that is something I will have to take care of before I wear them.
The back features a pin and clip, so it can be attached 2 ways. I am really glad about this (I thought it was just going to be a pin on the back) because it means I can now use this accessory in more ways. The back of the bow on the red clip does look a bit messy, but the bows are otherwise well shaped.
I was pleased to see that the charms in the centre arrived in perfect condition. As you can see, the crown is not missing any diamantes and the jewels on the other 2 clips are perfectly framed in a neat gold frame. The pearl chains are a good length and aside from one side of the ivory clip (on the right hand side of the picture) the chains have been attached to the bow neatly. These clips are very beautiful and I am so glad I ordered them. But it is a bit annoying that I am going to have to seal the ends of the ribbon myself and there are a few small flaws in places.
These chokers are also from Sweet Dreamer. I got them mainly because they were cheap if I am being honest. The chain is long enough to alter the size of the choker, but I did have some problems (see below).
The lace used for the chokers is lovely with a really pretty rose design. The ribbon threads through it perfectly and I like that the ribbon is only slightly shiny. The charm in the middle of the choker is pretty, although I feel the velvet bow could have been shaped better.
The chokers looked great laid flat, but I wasn't so impressed when I tried them on. I found that no matter how tightly I did the choker, it was still loose on my neck (and I wouldn't say I had the smallest of necks either). I managed to get a photograph before it started to fall south. Another issue is that despite the charm being pretty, it is too heavy. The charm tilts downwards and the weight encourages the choker to fall down. I also had a bit of an issue with trying to get the pearl chains to sit right and they kept bunching up. I am debating removing one of the pearl chains because as it is, it looks too clustered. Hopefully that will help with the weight problem too. Overall this was quite a bad buy and I am glad I didn't spend too much on them.
The last item from this store is this white veil I got. I was impressed by the shape and it falls nicely when worn. I personally would have preferred a softer main material choice.
The lace used has a pretty design and it is of a good quality. You can see there is a lot of lace where it has been gathered at the corners but I don't think it looks too bad. The lace could have been done neater but it looks reasonably okay.
The veil is secured by 2 small grips. I do feel that I would need some extra bobby pins, just to make sure it sits better on my head. But actually, the grips worked better than I was expecting. When I went to take the veil off, the grips refused to let go of my hair!
I apologise for not doing a full worn photo, but I have been feeling unwell after my flu jab and I didn't want to show my puffy, drowsy face. I opted for the shorter length which is about chest length. I am glad I picked the length I did. The veil fell nicely around my head and I like the shape. I found the veil was easy to put on and I had to do minimal adjusting. I think with this veil I got what I was expecting. Sweet Dreamer's quality can be a bit hit and miss, but I would still recommend them for padding out accessories.
Next up is these ballerina style ribbon socks, which I got from here. The store name-drops a couple of different brands, so there is the possibility these may be replicas but I don't follow the brands in question, so I have no idea. The socks arrived in a mesh bag and came with a free tube of sock glue. Very handy! The socks were a good size for my wide 24.5cm feet. They could probably go a little bit bigger, but not much more.
The details on the back are so cute. I love the soft, fluffy appearance. The ribbon used for the bow is a bit cheap looking but I was otherwise very satisfied with the materials.
I love the ballerina charm! It is so pretty. It does get a bit lost underneath all the other details though.
Although the socks did come with sock glue, I decided to see how long they would stay up without sock glue (answer- just over 5 minutes). I found the ribbons were long enough to cross over my legs twice. I probably could have tied them up a bit neater than I did here!
This is what the back details look like when worn with shoes. I would worry that with very flat shoes there would be the possibility of the tulle getting caught underneath or dragging on the floor. But the bows do hold their shape fairly well. I am not 100% sold on these socks but I think they are an interesting idea and I will be keen to see how well they last.
And finally, here is a head chain that I got from here. I was curious about the head chain trend, but I had a lot of concerns about them, so I wanted to try a cheaper alternative to the ones Baby the Stars Shine Bright have done. Straight away, I found some random little bits inside the bag. I can't find anywhere where these bits could have fallen off, so I am hoping they are just extra bits that got in to the bag!
I was initially very intimidated when I got the head chain out of the packet. It was quite tangled and I spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out how to put it on my head. There are just so many strands of pearls that it is easy to get confused. Eventually I was able to get it on the right way, but it was a little bit big for my head. I had to adjust it to get it to sit on my head in what I felt was the best position, which caused my hair to get a bit messy. It does look a bit prettier in person than it does in my photo. The pearls look good. One of my worst fears came true though- when I tried to get the chain off it got really tangled in my hair! So my verdict is that I wont be extending my head chain collection any time soon. I do feel that this Taobao version looks as good as the Baby ones though and it is definitely worth the price. I guess I just need to learn to how wear it a bit better!
So overall, I had a bit of mixed luck with this order and I am feeling torn about which shopping service to use for my next order. I am really not convinced that Taobao Ring's service is as good as Taobao Spree. I am going to give Taobao Ring another chance before I go back to Taobao Spree though. There are some things which I feel Taobao Ring do better and I love the quick order option. As for the items I received, I feel some could have been better but some of them are definitely worth the price I paid. I was especially impressed with Haruhi Clover and Ranka. The socks are going to be fun to try out as well!