8 Ways To Shop During Quarantine

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During these unusual times of stay at home orders and mandates for social distancing, we’re being asked and sometimes forced to stay away from not only people we love but also activities we love.  For many off us, shopping is therapeutic, that’s why they call it “shopping therapy.”  For others, shopping is a way we connect with our friends and family as a fun activity that we can do together.  The silver lining I see to the Covid19 crises is that it is forcing all of us to look for new ways to do the things we have always loved.  Maybe you are using Face Time or Marco Polo to stay connected to your friends and family.  Maybe you are using Zoom to have meeting with your team or, like me, doing bible studies over Zoom.  As each week passes and we become more and more aware of the things we miss from our normal lives, we are becoming more willing to think outside of the box and learn new ways of still doing the things we love.

If shopping is one of those things for you , this blog post will give you 8 ways to get creative and be a savy shopper during quarantine. Here goes:

  1.  Use Your Favorite Boutique’s Online Store:  Many boutiques already had an online presence prior to Covid19, and like us, are now ramping up their offerings by increasing their online inventory.  Some boutiques that weren’t online, are now getting there.  Shopping from a small business online is a little different than shopping with, say, LL Bean.  First of all, the very nature of a boutique is to offer exclusive items that customers can purchase without worrying about seeing 15 other people in town wearing the same item.  Using my boutique, as an example, the most we buy of a single style is 6 pieces.  Quite often it might be only 4.  As a result, there is a limited supply and once the item is gone, it won’t be re-ordered.   Thus, like shopping in store, if you see something you like, grab it! It may not be there next week.  Also, boutique owners know their products: how they fit, how they wash, what they match.  Just because you are using an online venue, doesn’t mean you can’t call that boutique up on the phone and ask questions.  Many times I have worked with customers over the phone who used our online store as a online catalog and then asked me what else I had in the store that would complete the look they were trying to achieve.  In the end, the sale was a combination of online offerings and other items that I suggested.
  2. Shop by phone: If you are savy and know the brands that you love, it is quite easy to shop by phone.  Usually, boutiques carry clothing lines that have a consistent fit.  So, that favorite jean that you love, for example, is just a phone call and shipping bag away!
  3. Use Drop Shipping: The financial burden on small businesses has led to strained cash flow and inventory shortages.  As a result, many of my vendors are offering to drop ship items directly to the consumer.  The way this works is you call up your favorite boutique to get a specific item.  If they are out of that item, the boutique can call their vendor, and if they have it in stock, the vendor can ship the item directly to you.  That way, the store owner doesn’t have to invest in inventory he or she might not sell.  It’s a win, win for everyone.  Just ask your boutique if they are offering drop ship.
  4. Shop Via Messenger: Most boutiques can be reached through Messenger, an app that allows for a private conversation very similar to texting.  Yesterday, I did a sale over Messenger with a customer.  She told me what she was wanting, and  I found items that I thought she would like.  I took pictures and sent them to her through Messenger.  She picked the items she liked, and then I called her to complete the purchase.  You can also you Messenger, oftentimes, to ask questions about products or fit for items you find on an online store as well.
  5. Shop Via Live Sales: If you don’t know what a Live Sale is, let me explain.  This is basically virtual shopping where you watch a live video on Facebook of someone showing you items available for purchase. If you see something you want to buy, you comment on the items as they are presented in the Live Sale, and the transaction is completed sometime after the video ends.  It is first come, first served, which ads an element of fun.  This type of shopping comes closest to being able to replicate shopping with your friends.  Live Sales are scheduled and so you can all get together in a group call and watch the live sale together and talk about the things you like and what you should buy.  You can also communicate with each other in the comments while the Live Sale is happening.  It is fun and creates a social shopping experience while still being safe.
  6. Shop Via A Video Chat: You might be familiar with Apple’s app Face Time which allows you to video chat in real time.  This app can also be used to shop at your favorite boutique.  Essentially, you do a video chat with the boutique owner and you can see items you might want to buy right during the chat.  That way, you can give direct feedback and ask questions like, “show me what the back of that top looks like” or “can you show me a close up of that detail on the sleeve?”
  7. Shop By Appointment: Even if your favorite boutique has limited hours or is closed for in-store shopping, many owners might consider letting you schedule an appointment to shop.  This can be done while still practicing social distancing and using safe practices like sanitizing.  Of course, you would never want to request this option if you have been exposed to sick person or are sick yourself.
  8. Personal Shopping: If you have been shopping with a specific boutique for a long time, the owner probably knows you and what you like.  In this case, it is relatively easy for a boutique to offer personal shopping services where you communicate what you are needing and you allow the owner to choose items for you.  These items can then be shipped or picked up.  Even if the boutique owner doesn’t know you, a simple phone consultation can usually produce all the info necessary for he or she to shop for you.

As for my boutique, Fashion Crossroads, I am offering all of these services to my customers.  My online store can be found at www.fashioncrossroadsinc.com.  I have been working very hard while my store is closed to in-store shopping to add new merchandise, and I have expanded our online inventory greatly.  Additionally, I am here Tuesday-Saturday 12-5 for shopping by appointment, personal shopping or phone shopping.  I am offering free shipping on orders over $100 or alley way pick up.  Also, I just recently launched a weekly Live Sale every Wednesday night at 8 p.m.  You can see my most recent Live Sale here: 4/1/20 Live Sale.  The next one is scheduled for next Wednesday night 4/8/20 at 8 p.m. To watch live, join our VIP Facebook Group called Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas.

Hopefully, this blog post has opened you eyes to ways you can shop that you might not have tried.  During this time, your favorite boutique needs your support!  I encourage you to reach out to them and find out what they are doing to make shopping accessible to you.  If you would like to watch a video with more ideas on this topic, check out my latest YouTube video Ways To Be A Savy Shopper During Quarantine.

pearsonphoto2018_031As a brick and mortar business of 45 years, we’ve only recently added an online store to our mix of offerings.  Today, I am writing this blog post amidst the Covid19 outbreak, and we are having to get creative to still reach you, our customer, in order to allow you to shop while still protecting yourself.  Many of you have shopped with our stores for years and prefer an in store experience because we have always offered knowledgeable staff and excellent customer service.  And, frankly, its just nicer to shop face to face, especially when you are shopping with a local store where the owner is almost always in.

You may be unfamiliar with all of the ways you can shop from us that don’t require you to leave you home.  I wanted to take a minute today to write this blog post for you who fall into that category.  Maybe you are a Boomer and uncomfortable with online shopping or perhaps you just didn’t know we have added an online store to our business.  So, let me tell you what we are doing to help you out.

Many Boomers are on Facebook and love it for the way it helps them keep in touch with their families.  Facebook is also a great platform for “virtual shopping.”  If you are unfamiliar with this term, it essentially means watching a live or pre-recorded video on your favorite business’s Facebook page where the owner or staff member shows you items that are available for purchase and includes the sizes and prices.  Virtual shopping can be almost as good as going into the store because it allows us to tell you about the product….how it fits, what the fabric feels like, what the washing instructions are, and show you, via video, any details like embellishments or embroidery.  You likely know how your favorite brands fit, and this allows you to buy an item without trying it on with more confidence.  Video does a good job of representing the color and texture of the fabric, so there are few surprises.

In response to the outbreak, Fashion Crossroads is offering regular virtual shopping videos on our Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas VIP Group Page (to join, just click this link.” The reason we chose our group page to host these videos is because as you watch the video while its happening, you are able to type in the comments any questions you may have.  For example, you may want to know what we have that matches an item.  While I am doing the video, I can see your comments and answer them right then.  You also can take that opportunity to let us know you would like to purchase the item so we can set it aside for you.  The transaction can be easily completed over the phone and then we can ship the item to you or you can use our alley way pick-up, and we will hand deliver it to your car.  We ship all orders over $100 for free.  We pre-schedule most of these videos so you can know when to tune in.  For example, we are doing a Wednesday Wardrobing video each Wednesday night at 6 p.m. that focuses on new arrivals.  Click this link to see our latest video on the new Sympli arrivals, as an example.

Another opportunity for shopping remotely is using our online store at www.fashioncrossroadsinc.com.  One thing that we do differently is that I do most of the modelling.  The reason for this is so you can see the items on a real person and have more confidence in how an item will fit.  I am not 6 foot tall and a size 2.  I am 5’3 and a size 6-8.  Hopefully, you can relate to me a little better than to a professional model.  We also shoot multiple product images and close-ups so you can get an accurate sense of what you are buying.

We have tried to make your online shopping experience as easy as possible.  When you get onto our website, you will see a menu at the top listing several categories like “tops” and “bottoms.”  If you click on these menu items, you will be shown all the tops and bottoms we have available on our online store.  If you scroll down a little on the homepage, you will see our “featured collections.”  These are organized by brand or style to help narrow down the choices for you.  Once you click on an item, you will see all of the photos we have taken of that item as well as a detailed description of it that includes information about the item and how it fits and feels.  We also include styling information to help you choose matches so you can create an outfit.  We then tell you what our customers love about the brand and any specifics you need to know.  Last we include the fabric content and washing instructions.  You will also see the sizes available.

If you aren’t familiar with online shopping, let me take a minute to explain the checkout process you can expect…don’t worry, it is easy.  From the item screen, just click on the button “Add it to your Cart,” you will be taken to a shopping cart page that will tell you the total before shipping and also offer you our payment program through Sezzle that allows you to pay in 4 installments that are interest free and still get your items shipped right away.  It will calculate your payment amount for you, so you know exactly what to expect.  To make your purchase, click the button labeled “Check Out,” and you will be taken to a page where you enter your contact information and have the opportunity to apply any discount codes like our current STUCKINSIDE promotion that gets you 20% off a purchase of $100 or more.  To get your discount, just type the word STUCKINSIDE in all caps into the box labeled “Gift Card or Discount Code.”  Next just click the button that says “Continue to Shipping.”  Our website will calculate the shipping and taxes for you.  Orders over $100 ship free.  Next click the “Continue to Payment” button and you will be taken to a screen where you can enter your credit card information or choose our payment plan through Sezzle.  Last, just click the button labeled “Pay Now.”  That’s it.  We will receive a notification here at the store that an order has been placed, and if it is within our regular business hours, we will start packing it right away.  Often times, we ship out the same day.  And, as an extra precaution, every outgoing package will be sanitized before it leaves the store.

It is still us helping you.  I am modeling the clothes and am the one writing the product descriptions.  It is Elizabeth or I that pull your order and pack them.  Every step of the process goes through our hands.  We will even write you a personal thank you note so you know who packed your order and that we appreciate your business.  If at any point in the process you have questions, don’t hesitate to call us at 307-237-9221 and we can answer your product questions or help you with the ordering process.  When you order online from us, you have 30 days to return the item either by mail or bring it into the store.  This gives you plenty of time to receive the item and make sure it is exactly what you want.  If you have a Rewards Card with us, just let me know that in the notes with your order, and I will be sure to apply your points for your order onto your Rewards account.

So you see, it’s still shopping with Fashion Crossroads…just in a slightly different way! I encourage you to give one or both of these shopping methods a try.  This crises shall pass, and when it does weddings, graduations, trips and much more pleasant things will all be waiting for you.  There is no need to have to wait until them to get prepared!

What Trends To Buy Now And Wear Next Fall

When you are making your spring purchases, it may be helpful to know what will be trendy for this coming fall so you can buy with an eye to what will transition into the next season.  After all, that is just smart shopping.  Fortunately, many of the strongest trends for spring will also be important for fall.  If you think carefully about your color choices, you will be able to make spring purchases that will carry over.

Top Fall Trends To Buy Now:

  1. Printed tops: From beachy to polka dots and stripes, printed tops are a great way to add a pop of color to your neutral bottoms.  Since there are several carry over colors from spring to fall like mustard, navy, pink, and wine, if you choose your top styles carefully, you should be able to wear them this fall too.  This adorable leaf printed tank could easily be paired under a grey blazer and worn with black slacks for fall, as an example.  IMG_5685
  2. Printed bottoms: look for animal, camo, and herringbone to be key prints for fall bottoms.  As you are shopping spring and summer, you will see many of these same prints, but in lighter colors.  Keep in mind how you might be able to transition your purchases now into fall later.  Grey animal prints, for example, are season-less and can be paired today with a grey tank and next fall with a grey sweater.
  3. Colored denim: I saw everything from mustard, olive green, wine, and even pink for fall, so this is a trend you will definitely be able to carry into next season.  Obviously, some of the more summery colors like mint won’t work, but if you buy a mustard or pink jean now, you will most definitely be able to wear it next season.
  4. Colored blazers: Just as a rainbow of colored denim was a key trend, I saw this same idea in blazers.  Again, thinking forward, if you buy a color like denim blue, mustard, or pink, you will be able to wear it now while it is colder and then use it again when the leaves start to fall.
  5. Embellished jeans: The market was flooded with all kinds of embellished bottoms for spring and summer.  See my spring trends blog post for more info.  This trend will continue to be very strong into fall.  Look for raw edges, painted designs, and embroidery to grace the bottoms of jeans.  Again, since everything is about the ankle length right now, the ankle jeans you buy now will most definitely be wearable in the fall as well.  The great thing about ankle length bottoms is they are season-less!
  6. Teddy Bear Coats: This trend takes nubby fabric, like you might find on a teddy bear, and applies it to an over sized, zip up coat body.  The most popular color that I saw was teddy bear brown, see below.  We saw this trend be strong for this past fall season too, so if you bought one, you will definitely be able to wear it next fall or if you find one this spring that you like, you can feel confident that this trend will continue.  IMG_5689
  7. Wool Dress Coats: I am doing the happy dance on this one! While I love my down coats for warmth, I have missed the classic wool dress coat!  They are back for next season.  Now is the time to shop for coats, so if you find a wool dress style you like, buy it and put it away for next season.
  8. Vests: Here in Wyoming we love our vests.  They are so versatile, and a very handy extra layer when it is 2 degrees.  They will be fashionable next season, and I saw everything from down puffy vests to suede vests to menswear inspired styles. Vests are 3 season items, working for spring, fall and winter.  Thus, they are always a great investment.
  9. Shoe boots: Because the ankle length bottom is so strong, shoe boots continue to be an important trend in shoes.  I saw quite a few printed shoe boots, especially in animal prints.  Again, these are a great transitional style that will work now as well as into the next season.
  10. Polka Dots: The dots just keep going and going.  There is no slow down in the pre-occupation of designers with polka dots.  Again, a black and white dot top will work well for spring and fall.  Another great choice, would be a navy and white or mustard and white option.  These are colors that will transition easily into colder weather.  Wear white with them in the summer and then choose navy or black in the winter.

Re-Fill: Step 3 To A Closet That Makes Sense

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So here is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, and this is why you have faithfully gone through Get Organized: Step 1 To A Closet That Makes Sense and Refresh and Renew: Step 2 To A Closet That Makes Sense .  Now, you are truly ready to take advantage of your newly organized and cleaned out closet.  If you would like, you can also watch my videos on our YouTube Channel where I explain the process in detail, and if you need even more help in the process, you can join our VIP Facebook Group, Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas , and watch me go through the process in my own closet! 

The goal for today’s time spent in your closet is to create a “Buying List” where you will record all the things you need to shop for in the future.  I recommend that you carry this list with you in your purse for those unplanned shopping days.  It will keep you on track to purchase the things you need, and, as a result, you will be a smarter shopper who avoids bringing items home that have to be eliminated in your next closet clean out!

Please grab a piece of paper and divide it into 3 Categories:

  1. Basics I Need
  2. Items that Need Matches
  3. Trends I Want To Buy

BASICS I NEED:

This section of your list should include all the core basics that are missing from your closet or need to be replaced.  Basics include solid neutrals such as grey, black, white, tan, navy, brown.  Take a moment to take stock of your sleeved and sleeveless tops, jackets, skirts and pants.  Are there any that you didn’t pull out but that are wearing out? If yes, write this down on your list.  Other items in this category might be classic prints and fabrics like Hounds-tooth,  tweed, some basic plaids, etc. Also consider your layering pieces.  Are there any jackets that need basic tops to complete them? Do you have any basic slacks that lack a coordinating blouse or top? Do you have a good white blouse? Do you have a basic black dress that can be dressed up or down? Do you have a nice pair of black work slacks? What about your shoes? Do any of these need to be replaced? This step should produce the biggest portion of your list because these are the core items in your closet that work back and forth with everything else.  These are the things that you should spend more money on and focus on getting quality that will last.

ITEMS THAT NEED MATCHES:

This section of your list is for all those printed items that need a match to make them work.  Is a there a jacket that you don’t wear enough because you don’t really like the top that goes with it? Write that down.  Is there a printed skirt that needs a top to match?  Maybe you eliminated a top that you always wore with that skirt in steps one or two of this 3 step process.  Now you need to replace that top.  Write it down on your list.  It is also helpful to take pictures of any printed items so when you get to the store you can remember what colors are in the print.  Better yet, however, is to set some time aside to go “match shopping” and bring all of your items with you so you can see not only how the colors work but also how fabric textures and styles work as well.  Try new items on with your old items and see how they work together before you buy them.

TRENDS I WANT TO BUY:

Make sure you leave some room in your closet for current trends that will keep your wardrobe updated.  Take some time to read trend reports (I’ll have one coming in the near future), and identify your favorite trends of the season.  Write these down so the next time you are shopping, you can pull out your list and remind yourself what you need to look for.  Trendy items can be less expensive because they are the most likely to come and go quickly and won’t need to stand the test of time.  Just keep in mind, the lighter the fabric, the more it will show your figure flaws.  Usually, the thicker (not stiffer) the fabric, the better the drape will be and the better job the item will do of disguising extra weight.

So that’s it.  You’ve made it!  Wow! Great job! I’d love to hear your feedback on your biggest “ah ah” moments from going through this process.  And now…happy shopping!

10 Steps To Being A Smart Shopper

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We love practical and easy, don’t we?  I don’t know about you, but I am drawn to “3 steps to do this” or “5 steps to do that books.”  Somehow, knowing there is a fairly short list of things I need to do in order to have the desired result feels, well, encouraging.  So, in the spirit of getting right down to it, here are my 10 simple steps to becoming a smart shopper.

Step 1: organize your closet.  Let me warn you right off the bat.  If you are looking for quick and easy, step 1 might seem a bit daunting.  If I’m being honest, it is totally OCD, but I am completely convinced it will make getting dressed in the morning so much easier.    First, go through your clothing and separate out everything you haven’t worn in a year.  Next, separate your tops, pants, skirts and dresses into different areas of your closet.  Then, separate your winter items from your summer items within each category.  At the end of this step, you should have all your tops together, all your winter pants together, all your summer pants together, and so forth.  Last, organize each section by color using the ROYGBIV acronym for the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  Complete the rainbow by putting your greys and blacks after your purples and your whites and creams after that.  Now, go back to the items you removed in the beginning.  Put all your classic items like black blazers, white blouses and black pants back into your closet unless they are out of date.  Donate the rest.  Whew….sit down and rest a bit.

Why, you ask, did I have you go through that arduous process?  Because now you can clearly see what you have.  If you have 20 short sleeved shirts and only 2 long sleeved ones, you know you need to balance out your wardrobe a bit in this area.  If you have 8 hot pink tops and no neutrals, you may want to shop for some great basics that will work with more things in your closet.  Make sense?

This leads us to step 2: make a shopping list.  Once you know what you need to shop for, write it down on a list that you keep with you all the time.  Shopping trips happen at unexpected times while you are waiting for an appointment or when you have a few extra minutes.  Keep that list with you so that no matter when you shop, you can check it and stay focused on what you need rather than wandering aimlessly through the store waiting for something to catch your eye.

Step 3: shop with a color palate.  This step also requires some work, but not to worry, I have a handy video that will give you a great start.  Shopping with a color palate will focus your shopping in amazing ways.  It will help you say “no” to items that you love but are in a color that is not flattering on your skin.  It will also help you have the confidence that when you get that item home, it will go with something else in your closet, including your accessories like purses and coats.

Step 4: know when the best sales happen at your favorite boutique or store.  For most of the industry, January and February are sales months for winter and July and August are sales months for summer.  Early markdowns happen in December and June as well.  Start checking back frequently in late December and late June to get the first chance at the best items.  If you wait to the end of the sale season, most of the great buys will be very picked over.

Step 5: use the store perks.  If your favorite stores have a layaway program with no fees, this is a great way to shop early in the sale season and put the items on layaway so you can pay for them a little at a time.  Does your store of choice have a rewards or loyalty program?  Make sure you are utilizing it and maximizing your shopping budget.

Step 6: shop for quality and not quantity.  Nothing is a great deal if you never wear it!  Don’t buy just because it is on sale.  In fact, when you consider the cost per wear of an item, in many cases you are better off to spend more on something that is higher quality and will last longer than less on something that is poor quality and will fall apart.  Check out my blog about cost per wear to learn more on this topic.  To determine quality, look at the button holes; they should be bound and not raw with clean edges and no hanging strings.  Next, examine the seams; they should lay flat with no ripples or bumps.  Then, look at the stitching; good quality items have 8-12 stitches per inch.  If the item is patterned, look at where the pattern comes together at the seam.  Does it match or is it askew?  The higher quality items will match the pattern all the way around the garment.  Last, look at the hems; a quality hem will be double stitched and will not be visible from the outside of the garment.

Step 7: shop alone.  I know, I know….you’re thinking that you need that teenage daughter or friend to tell you the truth about how something looks.  Who can trust a sales associate, right?  Well, speaking from personal experience, you can trust a good sales associate, especially one you have built a relationship with and who knows you and what styles and brands you like.  The problem with your teenage daughter or friend is that oftentimes their advice to you is based upon what they feel is a good style for them.  It is difficult for most of us to disassociate what we feel is stylish for what actually looks good on someone.  This is where a professional comes in who has been trained how to help you shop.  At the end of the day, you are the one who has to wear what you take home.  Shouldn’t you be the one to decide if it’s right or wrong?

Step 8: buy a complete outfit rather than pieces.  Nothing is worse than buying something amazing at the store only to discover that you have absolutely nothing to wear it with when you get home.  Worse yet are the various orphans in your closet that you were sure would match that pair of pants but didn’t and so just hang there…waiting.  You can avoid this scenario by buying an entire outfit from the start, including the accessories needed to complete it.  After all, good dressing isn’t just about the top and bottom you are wearing; it is about the complete look with the appropriate shoes, accessories, handbag and coat.  Not sure you agree with me?  Have you ever seen someone put a Columbia parka over a dress?  Sadly, I have.

Step 9: focus on building your basics first and then add the trends.  Make sure you have the bones of a good wardrobe – one or two pairs of black pants, a black blazer, a black skirt, and several nice blouses or tops that can work back with all of your basic bottoms.  Then begin adding other neutrals like browns and navy, all according to your color palate.  Make sure you have a nice casual coat and a nice dress coat.  Be sure you have shoes that coordinate with your wardrobe and are appropriate for dressing up or work.  Once you have this foundation, you can start spending money on trends like cold shoulder tops, embroidered bottoms, and the like.

And finally, step 10: don’t wait for sales to get your workhorse pieces.  There are items in your closet that wear out the fastest because you wear them the most.  Your basic black items are usually among these.  Don’t settle for less than wonderful on your workhorse items.  These are the things you splurge on to get the absolute best quality you can afford.  At the end of the day, quality = longevity.  The better quality fabrics and workmanship of higher priced items will hold up in the washing machine and will with stand wear much better than cheaper items.  Spend your money where it counts.  For these pieces shop in the prime season so you get the best selection of sizes and the most choices.  This means shopping in March and April for summer items and September and October for winter items.

Discover Sympli – Easy Dressing For Every Body.

What do you get when a woman gets frustrated over the fact she can’t find a simple tee that really fits and flatters?  Well, you get Sympli.  Jan Stimpson’s quest to find a tee led to the creation of a company designed around women’s bodies and fit.  Indeed, the women behind Sympli “shape each garment on multiple women and spend countless hours designing, tucking, pinning and repinning…flattering fit is an evolution and [they] don’t cut corners.”  What is the result of all of this effort?  A garment that fits where you need it to and doesn’t cling where you don’t.  Honestly.

In fact, Sympli is so passionate about creating a product that any woman, no matter what body shape, can wear with confidence, they stand against the unreasonable expectations the fashion industry places on women.  Supporting a Canadian non-profit that helps women overcome eating disorders is just one of the many ways Sympli is taking a stand to encourage women to love their bodies.  The other is creating a product that really fits and flatters, from a size 2 to a size 24.

If you have never tried Sympli, I encourage you to come down to Fashion Crossroads this weekend for our trunk show.  Our Sympli Rep Charlotte has been with the company for over ten years, and will be in the store with the Spring 2018 Sympli samples as well as some in stock samples.  We have stocked the store with new Sympli in preparation for our event, so there are many new items to try!  Best of all, we are having a trunk show party on Sunday from 11-5 p.m. that will be catered by Grant Street Grocery.  Join us for great food, a little wine, and in store modelling from 12-4 p.m.  All in stock Sympli will be $10 off for the entire trunk show, and any Sympli purchase will get you registered to win one of two free Sympli tops to be given away on Sunday.

What Is Cost Per Wear and Why Should I Care?

cost per wearI’ve been in this business my whole life.  When I was three, I was here at the store sleeping under racks while my parent’s worked late into the night re-modelling.  I started working at the store when I was thirteen, and worked my way up the chain from the stock room to now being co-owner.  Over the years, much has changed in the clothing industry.  One of the most significant changes is the “throw away” clothing epidemic.  Does the word “epidemic” hit you as too harsh?  I’m not sure it is, and let me explain why.

I have customers tell me stories about how their mothers and grandmothers shopped at our store when having at least one “good” dress was expected.  It was their Sunday best, and they knew they would have to spend a little more, but that dress would have them looking their best when they wanted to “put on the dog,” so to speak.  The ideology was that when you wanted to look your best, you never settled for inexpensive or poorly made clothing.

Those generations calculated the value of an item of clothing on cost per wear.  This term provides you with the amount of money it costs you each time you wear the item, and it is a great tool for demonstrating why it isn’t always better to buy inexpensive clothing that you know you will have to replace in a year or less.   For example, let’s say you spend $60 on a blouse that is from a good brand that has a reputation for quality.  Any quality item of clothing will last you at least 3 years if you care for it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  If you wear it 2 times per month and expect it to last 3 years, then the cost per wear is $2.50.  Here is how I came to that number: 2 wears a month X 12 months in a year = 24 wears in a year.  If the top lasts for three years, you will have 72 wears.   $60 divided by 72 wears = 81 cents per wear.  Now, conversely, let’s say you spend $20 on a top that is cheaply made that will likely only last about 6 months if you wash it in cold water and hang it to dry.  Using the same formula, that top will cost you $1.67 per wear (12 wears in 6 months / $20 divided by 12 = $1.67).  So you can see that it actually costs you more to wear the cheaply made top than the more expensive one.

There is a false perception that when you spend more money on clothing, you are just paying for the name brand.  The reason certain brands cost more is because they have earned a reputation for quality.  That reputation comes from a consistent use of better quality fabrics and better construction.  These two together translate into clothing that stands the test of time.

I was fortunate to watch how this mindset transformed one of my employees.  When she first came to work for us, she was in her late twenties and had completely bought into the throw away clothing mentality.  She told us, “I never spend a lot on clothes, and I don’t expect them to last.  When they fall apart, I don’t feel badly because I didn’t spend that much to buy them in the first place.”  Over time, she began buying our brands.  She started to see how better quality fabrics and construction really do make a difference in the way an item looks and feels on the body and in how it holds up to repeated washing and drying.  Being financially savvy, she also started to see that she was actually spending less money on clothes by buying better quality.  It was the cost per wear epiphany.  After working for us for the last several years, she has come to understand that there is a reason some clothing is more expensive and that that expense is not arbitrary but directly tied to quality.

Our grandmothers knew what they were doing.  They understood that a good dress made them look their best because it fit properly and had quality workmanship.  They also knew that spending a little more was necessary to accomplish this end.  Have some fun calculating the cost per wear on some pieces in your closet.  It is really eye opening.  It is also a great buying tool.

 

 

 

Travel Like A Boss!

Mom and I just returned from a market trip to Dallas, Texas.  Hopefully, you have already checked out my blog post on our Treska Warehouse tour.  If not, do it now so you can learn all about how a Treska necklace is made from start to finish!

Today’s post is on a different topic, however.  I want you, our precious customers and loyal readers, to know that we absolutely, positively, believe in the lines we sell at Fashion Crossroads.  How much, you ask?  So much that we wear them and use them when we travel!  You all know that we women take our very favorite things with us when we go on trips.  The ho-hums in our closets never see the inside of our suitcases and travel bags.  Oh no, only the coziest, cutest and most comfortable items get that special privilege.  For me and my mom and our trip to Dallas, those favorite things were Sympli and Vera Bradley.  Let me tell you why.

IMG_4216Sympli is the most wonderful line (not kidding) that I have ever worn.  It looks amazing because it has a fabulous fit, and it is oh so comfortable to wear.  Because you can pack it without worrying about wrinkles and because the line is so well thought out, you can literally grab two bottoms and three tops and have a whole week worth of outfits.  For example, I brought my Sympli leggings and mini skirt (I always wear these together) and my capris for my bottoms as well as a white pair of jeans.  Then I threw in my sleeveless Cascade Top (see picture above), my cold shoulder Nu Urban top, my Go To Tank Tunic and my favorite Sympli jacket.  These 7 pieces saw me through 5 days and took me from seminars, to show room floor, to dinner out on the town.

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When it came down to packing, both mom and I chose Vera Bradley travel gear even though we each have other options.  My mom took her Vera rolling carry on in black. She was able to push it through the airport with ease due to the four wheeled bottom.  I was able to lift it above my head to put it into the carry on luggage rack without breaking my back!  Yeah for me!

I took my Vera Grand Traveler soft sided bag, my Vera tote and my Vera cross body cell phone purse. You can see some of these items in the picture below.  The tote bag worked to hold my book, spare cell phone battery, headphones, files, Kind bar, and iPad while I was on the plane without being too bulky to fit under the seat in front of me.  The cell phone purse was perfect to sling across my body to keep my cell phone, driver’s license and credit cards handy and within reach while I was going through security and waiting to board the plane.  When it was time to get on the plane, I just took my cell phone purse off and put it inside the tote, and I didn’t have to get in a fight with the gate agent about having too many carry-ons.  Inside my Grand Traveler bag was the Vera hanging organizer that I could simply hang up on the back of the bathroom door and reach all my cosmetics easily without cluttering up the bathroom counter.  I also had my Vera jewelry organizer which kept my earrings and necklaces and bracelets in separate compartments (I love organization, especially when I travel). Then, while I was at market, the Vera tote worked perfectly as a brief case.  I have to say, I really do love these products.  IMG_4230

When I convince my customers to buy a product we sell based upon my recommendation, I take that very seriously.  Know that before I will tell you it is a wonderful product, I have put it though the test of my own life.  If we sell it, we believe in it!  We have just marked down a special rack of discontinued styles and colors of Sympli to 30% off.  (Mark downs in this line never happen so grab them while the gettin’ is good).  We also have several patterns of Vera Bradley that are 25% off, and we are expecting our new fall arrivals from Painted Medallions and Falling Flowers any day!

Happy travels, and don’t forget your Sympli and Vera Bradley!

Not All Cold Shoulder Tops Were Created Equal!

I have found my go-to cold shoulder top, and I’m so excited about it,  I wanted to share it with you!  Sympli has added a new top to their line called the Nu-glimpse top, and it is the perfect cold shoulder top!

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Nuglimpse Top By Sympli available in store or online 

Why so perfect, you ask?  Well, let me tell you!  As I have watched a myriad of women try on various shoulder exposing tops at the store, I have noticed that not all cold shoulder tops are created equal.  Some are too big in the shoulder, causing them to fit poorly on the arm or droop. Some make it impossible to wear a bra which means fiddling with a strapless bra or bandeaux (just kill me now).  Some show so much shoulder, women feel a bit naked and too exposed.  This is why I love this top from Sympli!  It has shoulder cut outs that are the perfect size, giving you the cold shoulder look, but in a way that any woman can wear.  I also love that this top does not show your bra, eliminating the hassle that so many cold shoulder tops pose. Best yet, it has a slight a-line cut so it doesn’t show any extra weight you may be carrying at the waist.

What is also amazing about the Nuglimpse top is that you get all of the other wonderful features of Sympli – no wrinkles, no fading and no stretching out.  This top will look this black and this great 5 years from now.  With Sympli, you just wash in cold water and hang to dry.  It dries wrinkle free, and you are off and running! The use of 12 oz weight fabric instead of 9 oz weight, means that the fabric drapes rather than clings to your body.  It really does look amazing on.  The fact that it is the number one selling line in our 5,000 square foot store is a testament to this.

There is the issue of price, however.  Sympli is not inexpensive.  This top retails for $124, but when you calculate cost per wear, it really is a great value.  If you just wore this top 1 time a week for a year, you would only be spending $2.58 per wear.  Given the fabric’s longevity, you will have this top for much longer than a year so the cost per wear goes down the longer you own the top.  Considering the fact that it is black, it will work back into your wardrobe easily.  Given that it is a mid-hip length hemline that pairs with any bottom, the styling opportunities are endless! That $124 doesn’t seem so costly now, does it?  That is the magic of cost per wear! Spending more on a really great item ends up costing you less than spending less and having to replace the item in six months because it has pilled, lost its shape or shrunk.  And as always, Fashion Crossroads offers a great layaway program too!

So, that’s my product review of Sympli’s Nuglimpse top.  It is my favorite cold shoulder top in my own wardrobe, so I am unashamedly recommending it to you!

Making Rose Quartz Work In Your Wardrobe

With Pantone’s announcement of Rose Quartz as the color of the year, you may be wondering how to wear such a soft and gentle shade of pink.  I am dark haired and look much better in bolder colors.  As a result, I usually avoid pastels.  What I love about this shade of pink, however, is how well it pairs with darker shades like brown and olive green as well as with creams and whites.  

  
When pairing Rose Quartz with olive green, it is essential that you stay consistent with either warm or cool tones.  Rose Quartz it usually a slightly warm color, so you will also want to choose a color of olive that is also slightly warm.  Avoid strongly warm greens that have a predominate yellow undertone.  The other fantastic aspect of putting Rose Quartz and olive green together is that the pink adds a feminine aspect to the more masculine olive green, especially in utilitarian or military themed items.  Military continues to be a strong trend in spring so you should see plenty of military vests, tanks, and light jackets out there.  Try putting a Rose Quartz tank under them!

Rose Quartz is also beautiful with creams, khakis and browns.  Apply the same advice of matching the level of warmth, and you can’t go wrong with any of these colors.   You can also pair Rose Quartz with its counterpart color of the year Serentity blue.  This feels less earthy to me than the other choices, but remains a viable option.  What I’ve done here is to put an ice blue blouse under the Rose Quartz sueded vest and then pop the two with with a Serentity blue purse.    It’s a nice combination with both soft and strong elements.  

  So have fun this season exploring these new colors.  You may just find your new favorite !