A Day In The Life At Market

One of my favorite parts of my business is market.  If you love clothes like I do and have an eye for fashion, market is like being a kid in a candy store.  Booth after booth line isles in huge convention centers filled with every type of clothing you can imagine.

I thought my readers might like a closer look at what a day at market is like for me.

A market day starts early with a good breakfast around 8 am and then a taxi or shuttle ride to one of the many markets in Las Vegas.  We buyers call markets “shows” so there is the Off Price Apparel Show, the Women’s Wear In Nevada Show, the Magic Show as well as Stitch, Project, Platform and others.  Whew, I’m out of breath just reading all of those back to myself.  And it’s like that at market, we work at a frenzied pace trying to go to as many shows as possible in the span of five days.

Once we have arrived, we stop at registration to get our buyer’s badges and then wait for the doors to open at 9 am.  Security guards check everyone’s badge, scanning each one.  Once inside the convention hall, it’s a quick check of the schedule and off we go.  Because my mom and I are buying for three stores (two brick and mortar and one online), we often split up so we can maximize our time.

I head to my first vendor and begin looking through the samples.  Different buyers have different preferences for this part.  I like to look through all the samples before I sit down.  Some buyers have the manufacturer rep show them the line by hanging each item on a grid.  I feel this takes too long and since I am always pressed for time, I can speed things up by looking myself.  I know what I want, so usually I will pick the items I am interested in and begin there.  This is when it is really helpful to have a relationship with my manufacturer representative.  If he or she knows me and my store, then the buying process can happen much quicker because my rep can edit the line for me by only showing me what will work for me.

If my mom and I are buying a line together, we both pull items that we like and then go through them together.  Sometimes I will really like something that my mom doesn’t and vice versa.  If one of us feels strongly about an item, we evaluate it together.  The things we consider are sizing, fit, sleeve lengths, color, fabric, target age and ease of wear.  If the item has several negatives, we usually reject it.  So for example, I really like the print and the style of a top, but my mom notices that it seems to run small and has cheap feeling fabric with sleeves that not everyone will like.  Given the negatives, the top would probably get rejected.   This process helps us avoid making bad buys.

After all the appointments have been met, we always try to allow time to browse the show.  This is a time consuming process of simply walking the isles and looking at displays for something that catches our eye.  Usually, we are looking for something specific like jean friendly tops, for example.  This keeps us on track so we don’t end up buying something we already have.  When we see something interesting, we stop and checks line sheets or ask prices.  If the line seems like a good choice, we either sit down at the booth or make an appointment to come back.

At the end of the day, we add up units to make sure we are staying on target with our buying plan.  We use detailed sales reports to help us set buying targets or each vendor. We always allow some “open to buy” for the new vendors that we find.  If we over spend on one vendor because we really liked the line that season, we cut back on another.  It is a delicate balancing act that takes constant vigilance to avoid being over-inventoried.

After a relaxing dinner, we head back to the hotel to write orders before its time to fall asleep so we can get up bright and early the next day to repeat the whole process over again.  And that’s a day in the life at market.

How To Wear Suede and Fringe For Work

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Cooler weather is just around the corner and stores are stocking their new fall every day.  I love this time of year!  Being a cool weather lover, I can hardly wait to put on my cozy sweaters and leggings.  I’m looking forward donning to the cute boyfriend jeans and plaid shirts I have added to my wardrobe as well.  But what I truly love is suede.  It feels amazing against your skin and exudes, if worn right, classy.

Fringe and suede naturally pair well, but it can be easy to over do it.  Head to toe fringe or suede borders on hot mama.  You may want that look, and if so, go for it.  Your employer probably won’t love it, however.  To keep this trend classy, choose one piece of fringe and one piece of suede per outfit.  For example, you might pair a suede dress with a fringe vest.  Maybe you could wear a suede skirt with a nice blouse and add a fringe handbag as an accent.  Or, you may want to wear a nice slack and blouse with a shoe embellished with fringe.  The key principle: for work, keep it simple.

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How To Wear Lace

IMG_2235I like to work out like the rest of you, and I don’t mind wearing my yoga wear on my days off, but as a boutique owner that focuses on career wear, the 24/7 workout trend never much appealed to me.  What I can embrace, however, is this season’s infatuation with lace. I laughed out loud when I read Cindy Weber Cleary’s comment regarding this trend in January’s edition of In Style Magazine: “In the age of athleisure and the 24/7 workout clothes, it should come as no surprise that many designers are now proposing you go about your business in what appears to be PJs and lingerie” (99).  Her teasingly sarcastic poke at designers fits for there are some rather risque lingerie looks out there this season.  For the rest of us, however, we can embrace this trend with grace and class.

The lace jacket pictured at the top is by Adore and is a great example of how really beautiful and feminine lace can be when it is not over done.  I toned this all over lace jacket down by adding a solid cement grey tank underneath and some neutral but bold jewelry from Treska. Because the jewelry has some weight, it contrasts the airiness of the lace and gives it some added dimension.  As with any trend, keep it classy by not overdoing it.  If you have a lace skirt, don’t have a lace top and vice versa.  This jacket would pair beautifully with a slick grey slack and solid heels for a work look or night out.

IMG_2236You will also see lace as an accent this season on shoes, on sleeves, and on purses.  While it doesn’t show up as well in the picture, the sleeves of this jacket (also from Adore) are lace.  It gives the jacket some extra oomph, transforming it from just another classic jean style.  Pairing it with a grey lace skirt would contrast elements of all over lace with a more casual jacket.  This creates dimension and interest in your outfit.

I will definitely be adding some lace to my summer wardrobe this year.  How about you?

 

Ankle: The New Hip Length

When I mention an ankle length pant to a tall woman, she usually responds with a pained look and a determined shake of the head indicated she’d rather die.  At only 5:2, I can only imagine what it would be like to fear short pants.  I’m on the other end

Ankle length pant from Lisette L. Pantalon.

Ankle length pant from Lisette L. Pantalon.

of the spectrum and at that wonderful height where petite is too short and average is too long.  That’s why I LOVE ankle pants. I can usually get an ankle pant to be just the right full length for me.  But, if I want to wear the hippest new length for the season, its off to the seamstress I go to get my pant hemmed to the perfect ankle pant length.  So you lucky tall ladies, this blog is here to encourage you to put aside your horrific memories of too short pants when you were a kid, and embrace a new trend this season.

So let’s talk about the right length.  The picture on the left shows the optimum length for an ankle pant.  You want that hemline to fall an inch above your ankle bone.  Any higher,and your pant becomes a cropped pant.  Any lower, and the look is all wrong. This style looks great with heels, as pictured or with shoe boots.  See my blog from last week for more information about these.  Notice that this style usually coincides with a slim legged 60’s inspired cigarette pant.  Wider legged ankle pants look better with tall boots, and are trickier to pull off.

Full length hemline

Full length hemline

Conversely, the picture on the right shows the optimal hemline for a full length pant.  Hopefully this will help you visualize the difference between the two hemlines. Notice that the full length pant falls about midway down the back of the shoe or at the bony part of your heel. This is the perfect length for a slim legged pant because the fabric won’t pool or “break” too much on the top of the foot, creating extra and unnecessary bulk.

I find that ankle pants work better on me if I wear some type of a heel, wedge or dressier shoe boot.  I think its important to keep your shoe sleek and not boxy. Too chunky of a shoe creates a “cankle” (when your calf goes right into your ankle) and ruins the style.  Taller ladies can get away with more shoe options like ballerina flats, for example.  They already have the leg length to make the look work perfectly for them.

Fall is the perfect time to wear this style as the temperature is dropping but there isn’t snow on the ground forcing us into boots and socks.  This style can be a great work look, as it is dressy and chic.

Don’t know where to buy an ankle pant?  Check out our Lisette L. ankle pant on our online store at Fashion Crossroads Inc. This is a great jet black, all stretch, pant that will fit slim through the legs just like the styles shown in this blog as well as tuck your tummy.  The fabric is dressy so it can take you from work to evening to travel.

How Do I Wear a Kimono?

Kimonos are a fun new trend this spring, but you may be wondering how to wear one.  Most young contemporary vendors

This gypsy print kimono from Elan is available on http://Fashion-Crossroads-Inc.shoptiques.com

This gypsy print kimono from Elan is available on http://Fashion-Crossroads-Inc.shoptiques.com

picture them with short shorts and a tank, like the one shown here.  This is a very trendy and cute look, but this style really only works for those of us who can wear short shorts, leaving out way too many women over the age of 25.  Don’t be discouraged!  In this blog, I’ll suggest some alternatives!

Kimonos are basically a loose jacket with sleeves and no collar.  If this model were to hold out her arms, you would see that the kimono forms a box shape, creating a flowing and draped style.  They can be long or short, but most are the length pictured here.  Many prints and styles are available from southwest and gypsy to vintage lace.

Because of the boxy cut, one style option is to balance the volume of a kimono with a slim fitting bottom like a slim legged bottom like a cropped jean or jegging.  I can also see it with a distressed boyfriend jean that wasn’t too wide in the leg.  The style is somewhat Bohemian, so gladiator sandals or fringe sandals work well.

It is also possible to go the opposite direction and create all over flow.  You can do

This fringe kimono can be purchased at www.Fashion-Crossroads-Inc.shoptiques.com

This fringe kimono can be purchased at http://Fashion-Crossroads-Inc.shoptiques.com

this by paring your kimono with a palazzo pant and tank.  Take for example this fringe kimono pictured on the right.  Because of its natural colored fringe, I think it would be very cute to pair it with Elan’s natural palazzo pants pictured below.  To make this look work, you will need to have a palazzo pant that isn’t so full in the leg it makes you look like a box. The one from Elan has a flowy look that is not too dramatic.  If your tummy is slim, I would suggest wearing a slimmer tank underneath to provide some balance.  If, however, you have a little extra around the middle, you can keep the look loose.  Be careful to give your legs some height if you are short by adding a wedge sandal.  If you are tall, a cute Bohemian sandal would finish off the look perfectly.

This natural palazzo can be purchased at http://Fashion-Crossroads-Inc.shoptiques.com

This natural palazzo can be purchased at http://Fashion-Crossroads-Inc.shoptiques.com

Onward and Upward Toward New Adventures Online

Corky's Elite Ocean sandal

Corky’s Elite Ocean sandal

Market week is finished, and we came home to begin our next big project – an online store.  Saturday and Sunday were both dedicated to hand selecting our 25 inventory items that will constitute our online presence when we open up sometime in the next two weeks.

The important thing about going online is trying to preserve the character that makes you successful as a brick and mortar.  For us, the combination of our inventory mix, our mission to serve the working woman, and our ability to draw from all the lines we have to make truly unique outfits has been our recipe for success.  Thus, we really tried to focus on our best lines for today’s busy women – the one’s that can take us from work to evening to weekend.

As we were creating our online inventory, some lines were obvious: Sympli, Tribal, Foxcroft, Clara Sun Woo, and Aventura.  But we are also known for carrying lines that aren’t typical like Corky’s (the shoe to the right and below). We love Corky’s shoes because they are unique and not something usually found outside of a boutique.  After all, isn’t that why we shop boutiques?  We want a selection of great brands to choose from but also things we cannot find at our local mall.  Just look at these beautiful shoes!

Corky's Elite Bay

Corky’s Elite Bay

Today I took our rather large box of clothes and shipped them to New York to be professionally photographed.  I sent style notes along with the ways we envisioned the outfits appearing on the models.  As I was writing the descriptions, I tried to add that brick and mortar touch of making suggestions how the customer can combine items from several brands to create unique looks and to extend their wardrobe.  I hope that our personality as a store comes through.  This is an adventure and a learning process.  I’m sure we will make some mis-steps, but you don’t stay in the women’s retail clothing industry for forty years without having figured out a thing or two.  I’m sure we will figure this out as well.