Shoji vs. Papell

If you follow me on instagram or twitter you already know that I’ll have the opportunity to take a week-long couture sewing class with Susan Khalje next month.  We’ve been instructed to have a muslin made of our project so Susan can fit us and we can work on the final garment in class.

I knew that I wanted to make a dress to wear to my company Christmas party this year, and when I found this gorgeous Tadashi Shoji dress at Nordstrom, I was immediately inspired to make my own:


Today, I was getting photos to put in my sewing planner when I happened across this little beauty by Adrianna Papell:


Notice any similarities? 

I mean, really!  The Papell dress has a slightly lower neckline, a slimmer belt and matching rather than contrast lining…other than that, they’re identical.  How does that happen?  Are these brands linked and I just don’t know about it?  When does imitation become a problem in the fashion industry?  I couldn’t find anything online about the similarities of these two dresses, but surely someone has noticed.

This has presented me with quite the conundrum.  The Tadashi Shoji dress is over $300, which is why I was planning to make my own version of it.  But the Papell dress is almost half that price.  I seriously doubt I could purchase the fabric I want for much less than the cost of the Adrianna Papell dress. 

So, do I continue with my plan to make a T&C version of this dress even though I could probably buy it for less?  And if I do buy the Adrianna Papell dress for the Christmas party, then what do I make during my week of couture classes with Susan?

I did just buy V8902 and am excited to make it, so I suppose that could be a good project.  And I can always use more work dresses. 


Still, the thought of planning out the Shoji dress with those sheer strips was intriguing, and I’d love to have Susan’s help with techniques that I’ve never used before, like working with lace.  But I feel a little foolish about making an imitation of a dress that I could purchase for less.

I need your input sewcialists!  Please help me decide what to make next month!


19 thoughts on “Shoji vs. Papell

  1. Wow! They are so similar. Like exactly.
    I have made dresses that I could have bought for cheaper. I know that my fit will always be better than store bought. And I love that I get to chose the fabric. It’s also great to learn techniques that will be used for other projects.
    I say make your dream dress! You won’t regret it!

    1. Thank you for your input! You’re absolutely right about learning the techniques and getting the fit absolutely perfect. That would definitely be a perk to making it myself.

  2. If an off-the-rack dress is exactly the right fit, color, and style you want – buy it. If not, make it in the fabric and colors you like, even if it costs more. Most custom clothing does not cost less. (I’ve ranted a little about this on my blog.)

    About no one noticing the similarities: I bet a few people have but since the style isn’t copyrighted, there’s probably nothing that can be done. And lots of people don’t see the same dress or outfit unless it’s the same color & fabric, which is why people have a hard time seeing something different that the cover art on sewing pattern envelopes.

    1. You know, I never really thought about it like that before, but you’re absolutely right. If I were paying somone ELSE to make this dress, I would absolutey expect it to be more expensive than off the rack. I’ll go try the dress on in person and see how it fits. Hopefully that will help me decide. Thanks Brooke 🙂

  3. First of all – you will LOVE your class with Susan (I just finished her Classic French Jacket Class and there are not superlatives enough to describe what a fabulous teacher she is.) So – I have to say that A. Papell dresses are very, very nice. Some of my favorite RTW over the years have been that brand – nicely made, beautiful fabrics, excellent styling. But they are “off the rack.” I suspect that under Susan’s tutelage, you will be very happy if you make this “dream” dress. It looks to me like the perfect project for your class. And just think, after all you learn from Susan, you will feel extra confident to make a stunning V8902!

    1. Oohh the Classic French Jacket Class sounds wonderful! I’m a little behind on my blog reading but just saw that you have some posts up about this class so I’m excited to read more about it. I got to take a weekend class with Susan last year and I was blown away by how much I learned in two days, so I’m thrilled to have an entire week with her. You’re right, this would be the perfect project for her class. It would be challenging so I’ll definitely want the extra help. I think I’ll find the Papell dress in-store and try it on. Maybe it will fit me horribly and solve all my problems 🙂

  4. The dresses are very pretty, in spite of one blatantly copying the other. I would say it depends on your color preference. Personally, I think I’d make my own, because then I could have more color options (like say, red). But, if you want a black dress anyway, I’d probably just buy it if it fits relatively well.

  5. Make it. The techniques you learn will be priceless acquisitions and if you buy the cheaper one just because it’s cheaper you’ll be rewarding plagiarism and laziness. XD

  6. I think this was a couture fashion trend this year (can’t remember which label right now) that has made its way through the mid range labels now too. I think you should make it. It will turn out great 🙂

  7. It depends how much you want the dress. Personally, I think you would gain more from the class by making a more complicated dress. As previously mentioned, you also get to customize exactly how you want it, which is always a bonus!

    1. So true, thank you for your input! I’ve decided to go ahead and make my own after all of the advice and encouragement from you guys. Thanks for giving me the boost I needed 🙂

  8. kacie! its teresa from susan khalje’s class. i did a search for bird printed silk and one of your posts came up on google images! i was super surprised to recognize you! hope work on your dress is progressing well.

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