Hot! A Stylish Surprise?

I’m a gambling woman. I come from a long line of gamblers. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that when ModCloth offered their “Stylish Surprise,” I jumped at the offer. Even though I don’t really buy non-vintage clothes anymore, I thought that for $15, what do I have to lose? I love Modcloth’s dresses and the odds were high that I could do *something* to the garment to make it work.

So I paid my $15, plus $5 S&H and waited to see my prize.

It came and, well, let’s just say I should have spent that $20 on fabric instead.

Let’s imagine the sort of dress that I would *never* wear. And let’s make it even tighter than it should be. And then, let’s bedazzle it with a massive sequin snake. Make it tighter and shorter still — and stretchy all lycra-y. And then send it to my mailbox!

Yes, I was the recipient of this dress.To be fair, it doesn’t look horrible in the photo. But it just not me! Not me at all. For a site that has such a retro-appreciation, I don’t know what the buyers were thinking when they stocked this number. I guess I know why it ended up being sold as a blind item. I won’t even take a picture wearing it since it does not leave anything to the imagination.

It’s all wrinkled at the bottom because I crumpled it up in disgust after trying it on.

So here’s the question. What would do to redeem this thing? My friend suggestion removing the snake and sewing it onto something I’d actually wear. That’s a lot of work for a sequin snake.

You know what this snake is saying?




Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. oh dear. Oh Wow. Kelly Kaposki and Lisa Turtle are wondering where their snake dresses went. Now they know- Mod Cloth stole them.

    I think pick apart the snack, and sew a skirt you’d like to wear to it, then use the beads for embellishment (or not) The skirt might work if you added a waistband…. but I’d probably toss that part.

  2. Oh no! That’s a bummer. I could definitely see the snake on a 50s circle skirt in a fun print, starting at the waist and slithering its way down (sorry, couldn’t resist). But as for the dress itself… it just looks like a long tight t-shirt to me. However if anyone can turn it into something, it’s you!

  3. I would definitely save the beads for something else … not necessarily as a snake, but at least you could salvage it that way. Not so sure what you could do with the dress, except save the sleeves for something? Make a tank top? Sheesh!

  4. Yikes! I can see why it was sold as a blind item, too.

  5. umm. cut the snake out in a rectangle as far as you can can and use it in a waistband somewhere?

    halloween challenge?

    evil little dress for pen?


  6. Send it to me, I’ll turn it into a cute 50’s style sweater and find a tablecloth to go with it for a skirt : ) I used to wear dresses like this in the early 90’s when I went clubbing in LA. Hard to believe that they are now considered “vintage” by flea market standards! If its any consolation I would have gambled too…

  7. Mod Cloth, no!! Bad Mod Cloth.

    I think you can make a stuffed snake toy out of the top half. ((Do you have cats? or will the sequins be harmful?)) And, maybe the bottom half can become a cowl or neck wrap?

  8. Haha!! This is so funny!! Thanks for sharing the story. That dress is not great. Yikes. I hate the snake! Wait – use it for a Harry Potter party and go Team Slytherin!!

  9. I think it looks cute! (Then again I have a snake tattoo, so I might be biased.) You should have a giveaway to see if any of us can adopt it ;)

  10. Wow, that is so not what I would expect from modcloth. I just googled ‘modcloth stylish surprise’ to see what people are getting and it does look like it was quite a gamble. Some people got cute things, others (like you) definitely did not! I don’t think the beads would be worth the time to extract tehm and there isn’t exactly a lot of fabric to re-purpose there! I’d probably just send it to the thrift store and hope someone whose style if fits finds it.

  11. Umm… Just wear does that snake’s mouth fall on the body, I wonder? Tacky, tacky, tacky. How unfortunate.

  12. Wow, I’m so sorry! This is amazingly horrible! :( Can’t you send this dreadful thing back?? :(

  13. To be honest, is it even worth your time to do anything with it? The whole idea of you unthreading those beads makes me want to weep a tiny bit. I mean, I know there’s a lot to be said for salvaging things, but for $2 you could get a pack of beads at any big box store and it would save you hours of work. And those beads don’t look that great (I’m a jewelry designer so I have learned the HARD WAY when it’s time to just say “no!” and walk away from a pile of beads!) Maybe make the snake into something playful (smiley face!) and make the dress into some sort of dress-up/shirt thing for your daughter? Or what about a bolero using the beaded half of the top? Oy!

  14. I hate the snake and I just don’t think the beads are going to be good enough to save them. Give them to a 9 year old. I sort of like the dress but if it doesn’t fit, it’s no good. What about making a skirt using the Alabama Chanin method, or a t-shirt doing same? If it fit you, I’d suggest lowering the collar and putting on (in similar or complementary knit) one of those 60’s collars, you know, the one Joan always wears on MM or the one on Colette’s Licorice dress.

  15. That is just plain awful. I think it should go back in a rumpled pile on the floor. Modcloth missed the boat on that one. Maybe even missed the ocean. Faceplant in the sand.

  16. Yikes,,,what a horrid dress….what was the buyer thinking? must have gotten hypnotized by the snake on the dress.

  17. Wow! That is just awful. Aw.FUL. I am so glad that you shared; I am always tempted to go for that type of offer, in the hope that it will yield something awesome. But that’s the optimist in me, the accountant in me knows, thanks to the many business and marketing classes that I had to take, that is an effort on ModCloths part to defray their losses. Research has told them that, even if you hate it, you will shrug it off to a lesson learned, and it will not affect your loyalty to the site. Unfortunately, this is the kind of thing that is going to continue to happen as small businesses compete to find a place alongside larger ones. Buyer, beware.

  18. Yikes! Don’t waist a hanger on it. Pass it along or maybe bring it to the Swap Meet?

  19. if its not too much work cut the head off the snake. then cut the dress off into a shirt. if necessary add some embellishment to the sleeves, hem, neckline.

  20. There’s a Halloween costume inside that dress just DYING to get out! Seriously… like an Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra Halloween Costume or an Eartha Kitt as Catwoman costume. Doesn’t appear to be much good for anything else….

  21. hahahhah… I’m sorry, I can’t help it. I just can’t believe how bad that dress is. What are the odds that you could get something that even a sewing machine and dye can do nothing with! That’s just plain criminal. Shame modcloth.. shame.
    I’ve been thinking and thinking on this one.. and no ideas seem worthy of spending the time. The best I can think of is – Hack the bottom off it and make a black skirt for Pen – use the sleeves to make a stretchy waistband. Then maybe.. (just maybe mind you) Hack the bodice off at the natural waist (ie. lose the snake head) and add a gathered jersey skirt to the bottom.

  22. I think the worst parts are the skirt section and the snake head… without the head, the beading looks much more glamorous! As a quick fix, just chop the bottom off and make a top. Or adda gathered skirt like here: photoshopped!!)\
    Maybe you could reshape the neckline to follow the beading, for something more fancy? Make it one-shouldered, too! Like this:
    but more glamorous…

  23. Gosh that is awful! But I would make it into a sweetheart neckline 50s style beaded top, not sure if it would work but that’s what I would attempt!

  24. Poor Mena (but funny story – thanks for sharing)! I wouldn’t try to salvage the beads either – it’s really not worth the time. I probably wouldn’t try to make anything out of this because I don’t like the color either. Ebay? Charity? Penelope’s dressing up box (in case she ever wants to disguise as snake woman…)? I am sure a teenager or someone in the early twenties would be quite happy about it. I have seen worse dresses than this but it really doesn’t seem to be your style.

  25. You know, I just looked at your pretty green batik dress and almost laughed out loud – it looks as if there is a snake curled up in the midriff part. (A prettier one than this here.) Could it be that Modcloth saw that before sending the snake dress to you?

  26. hmm….even tho its final sale, I’d try to return it. I’m stuck on the fabric you could have bought instead. I think you have a case to be made in that you send them a lot of traffic with your blog–

  27. How about putting a giant applique apple in the snake mouth and using it as an Eve outfit?

  28. Hmmm. I kind of love it, actually. I guess there no accounting for taste! :-)

  29. I’m sorry you ended up with a zero, but I have to say this totally cracked me up! Where on earth did this dress come from?? I don’t shop from modcloth but this seems way out of left field for them. And considering all the traffic you must draw to their site!

  30. Toss it in the charity box or give it to someone you don’t particularly like.

  31. Regifting gets my vote too… and yes, it seems weird for Modcloth and their style, but perhaps that why their weird picks get turned into a surprise! xoxo

  32. Give to someone or sell it on eBay… And make peace with your loss

  33. I am in the vast minority here, but I love the snake. I agree with an earlier poster, this is an early ’90’s club dress and back in the day, I’d have worn this killer, nasty dress with biker boots, black leggings and my leather bomber jacket. The beads aren’t that fab, but to salvage, I’d mount the whole mess of a snake onto black stabilizer, carefully zig zag (perhaps using a stretch fabric needle) all around him, cut out the snake around it’s edges leaving a little seam allowance for the applique process. Then, make a dark grey 50’s circle skirt like the black one you made the week before last, and machine applique that snake smack dab all around the skirt, (much more hip than a poodle) and wear it with a lighter grey twin set and pearls and black pumps. But that’s just me. Man, I *envy* your snake! :-)

  34. If it’s stretchy material, could you cut it down to a top and wear it as fancy PJs?

  35. If it’s not your style, it would be difficult to make something ou of this that you would actually wear… I think it would be too much work and not worth spending the time. Try to find someone who loves it and give it to her/him! Or sell it XD

    I actually like it, it’s not fab but could be part of a killer outfit.

  36. XD Make a draft-stopper/ door snake…

  37. I think you shouild put it on a large stick in the ground to make a nice scarecrow for your garden. Nothing will come near it.

  38. Cut the front off and put a halter strap on the front piece with ties around the back…snake apron. Greet your guests at the door in your new hostess apron. :)