After a Fashion

That's the stuff i really want to hear from a fashion consultant.

THE HIGH COST OF HIGH FASHION One of the most beautiful suits I ever owned was a Donna Karan Couture number in midnight-blue crepe. I didn't pay that much for it -- $324.75 including tax, to be exact. It originally retailed at more than four times as much, so it was a bargain. Or was it? I've probably worn that suit 35 or 40 times, and always felt immaculately dressed. Then, recently, I noticed that there were places in the pants that were threadbare, and barely holding together. That was the end of that suit. I was sad, but there had been problems with ol' Donna's suit from the beginning -- from the unsettling ripping sound of the waistband when I bent over, to the badly sewn facings that kept poking out, I felt fortunate that I hadn't paid $1,500 for the suit. A little fashion arithmetic tells us that 35 to 40 wearings at $1,500 is anywhere from $37.50 to $42 per wearing. Mercy! I, on the other hand, should consider myself fortunate that I only wound up spending somewhere between $8 and $9 per wearing. Hmmm. For those prices, it seems like you could almost rent something new to wear every day -- and no one would ever see you in the same thing 35 or 40 times.

I COVER THE STOREFRONT I bought the suit at Men's Wearhouse (I hate that name; it's so Home Depot-ish, and conjures up such weird visuals), but my distressing experience with the Donna Karan suit is no reflection on them. What is a reflection on them is the appalling practice of assigning you a fashion consultant who assists you with your wardrobe needs. This all sounds very nice, and I'm sure many people benefit from this experience, but I found it demoralizing to be assigned a "fashion consultant" who was less than half my age. Heather (or Jennifer or whatever), probably a student, was a real go-getter, barraging me with questions about what I wanted to see: "Two-button? Three-button? Double-breasted? What color? How much do you want to spend?" She had relentless enthusiasm for her job -- and she was eager to prove she was a pro, from the tape measure around her neck to her rapid-fire delivery. Gee, I hadn't really thought about all that. I just kind of wanted to browse through and see what they had, but Heather wasn't going to be a party to that -- she was going to show me what I wanted to see, and began yanking things off the rack. "How about this?" she'd say holding up something she liked, or "What about that?" Finally, I said, "You know what, Heather or Jennifer or whatever your name is? I'd rather do this by myself. I know where the sizes are and I know where the dressing room is, and I'll let you know when I need you." She flounced off, and stood lurking in the racks, probably counting how many garments I was taking in the dressing room. I tried on several things, settling on the blue Donna Karan. Heather or Jennifer reappeared, and, ever the pro, started dictating what alterations needed to be made. "That's okay, dear," I told her, "I'll alter it myself." "Are you sure you don't want professional alterations?" she asked me. "Uh, no. I'm sure I can muddle through," I smirked. She led me to the cashier ("financial consultant?") and announced to anyone listening, "He's doing his own alterations," and I realized that the alterations were probably a major source of income for this operation, and that what I had done was tantamount to going into a restaurant and only ordering a glass of water.

Now, of course, I've realized the folly of my ways. If I had only let Heather or Jennifer do her job, she might have been able to tell me that the Donna Karan suit would make funny noises when I bent over, and that the facings would flop out, and that it would cost me $8 or $9 per wearing before it disintegrates. That's the stuff I really want to hear from a fashion consultant.

THERAPEUTIC GARDENING This past Thursday, Aug. 3, opened the Garden of Eden Extravaganza at Therapy, on the chic SoCo strip, and the measure of its success can be gauged by the musical sound of the cash register ca-chinking all night long. Hostess/entrepreneur Jyl Kutsche showed new collections in silk and suede and the multitalented Traci Goudie exhibited her stunning new photographs. Artist Cindy Crowe displayed several of her talents, showing handbags and ceramics, and Laura Maclay debuted her new collection of handbags. Quirky and very fun, Miss Maclay's bags are destined to become collectibles. Drop by soon.

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