Shop at a Friend's House
Some of today's fastest growing fashion retailers aren't retailers at all. They're your friends and neighbors who've become home-based reps for clothiers who sell only through private trunk shows. This fall Bill Blass is joining companies such as Doncaster, the Worth Collection, Nina McLemore, and the Carlisle Collection in direct-market fashion. In fact, the Blass New York fall 2006 bridge collection ("bridge" refers to clothes that are a notch or so below designer wear in price but higher than mass market) won't be sold in a single store. Think Avon or Tupperware parties, but for clothes. Reps for larger designers tend to sell out of their homes, but designers with smaller collections, such as Jennifer George, will bring their trunk show right to your house (if you promise to have 30 friends stop by over two days).
Direct-marketed collections tend to be more classic than trendy, with pieces that mix and match season to season, and their prices can be up to 25 percent lower than department store bridge collections. To contact, go to: billblassnewyork.com, doncaster.com, worthny.com, nina mclemore.com, carlislecollection.com, and jennifergeorgenyc.com.
Sweater-quality cashmere is made from the under-hair of goats raised in China and Mongolia. The highest-quality hair can be woven into an extremely soft fabric that can be thick or thin, depending on the number of strands that are plied, or twisted together. But it will always have a beautiful drape and no shine, and will rarely pill. The raw product costs $100 per kilogram (10 times the price of wool), so it's virtually impossible to make a top-quality cashmere sweater that retails for less than $150. Low-quality cashmere is rougher to the touch, will not hold its shape as well, and may look uneven in its knit. If you see cashmere on sale for too good to be true prices, check for bumpiness in the yarn, sheen on the garment, and poor drape. The number of ply can be confusing: Some exquisite scarves are made from single-ply cashmere; the most versatile weight is double-ply. Three- or four-ply items are not necessarily high quality but are heavy and warm.
— Karl Spilhaus, president, Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute
Will That Sweater Pill?
There's no foolproof method to predict pilling, but check the label: The higher the acrylic content, the more likely a garment is to produce those tiny fuzz balls. Invest in a depiller.
— Lloyd Boston
Online Buyers Beware
How to Shop If You're Losing Weight
Looking great is a huge motivator to sweat through spin classes now in order to look fabulous later. So instead of buying something you'll "shrink" into, invest in a few things that fit now. Go for structured items in medium-weight to heavyweight fabrics; especially flattering are button-front shirts and flat-front trousers. Anything with a little Lycra or spandex in it will hold its shape if you lose (or gain) a few pounds. And once you've lost the weight, don't invest in a whole new wardrobe until you've kept it off for at least six months.
— Stacy London, co-host of TLC's What Not to Wear
Why You're a Size 6 and a 10
Because every brand bases its sizing on its fit model—a woman who the company thinks physically represents its average customer or who has a body that appeals to the designer's vision. Designers with an older clientele sometimes use a fit model with a curvier shape. Also, many mass brands do vanity sizing—they offer very generous cuts, on the premise that if you take a smaller size in their clothes, you'll be inclined to buy more of them.
— Kendall Farr
We've all heard of the friend of a friend who bought something, tucked the tags inside, wore it, and returned it. She thinks she's smart, but we think that scheme is a bad way to save a dime.
The store probably can't resell the item, so the rest of us end up paying more for our clothes to cover the company's loss. But more than that—it's just wrong.
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