What I learned about luxury designer clothing from an afternoon on Net-a-Porter.com

Net-a-PorterWith all the hubbub over the launch of PORTER magazine, I decided to take an afternoon and check out Net-a-Porter.com “the world’s premiere online luxury fashion destination.”   I went in thinking that there was no way I would find anything that would be in my size range, nor in my price range.  While a printed cotton skirt from Carven was way out of my price range at $550, after some spelunking I found that there plenty of offerings that would be wonderful purchases.  That is, if I really needed better-quality clothing than what I already find at the various department stores and boutiques that I frequent.  Who knows–there might actually come a time when a $245 printed satin-paneled jersey skirt from Diane von Furstenburg is something I can afford and will wear.  Yet there was a whole lot I learned just from cruising around the Net-a-Porter site on a Sunday afternoon…..\r\n\r\nDesigner clothing sizes are not as small as most of us think they are. Considering the aforementioned DvF skirt, I was pleased to find that it is\r\n\r\n

DvF Mae printed satin-paneled jersey skirt--$245 at Net-a-Porter.com
DvF Mae printed satin-paneled jersey skirt–$245 at Net-a-Porter.com
\r\n\r\noffered up to a 14–and that the measurements of the size are bigger than what I first thought.  In this skirt, I would fit into a size 12!  I was totally shocked.\r\n\r\nWhy is this??  Well….\r\n\r\nThere are no standard sizes for women, so many designers create a range for their customer. Fashion manufacturing threw out standard sizes for women’s clothing sometime in the late 1980’s, as most of us have figured out.  What we all thought we figured out was that high end designers purposefully made clothes only in small sizes.  We figured they only wanted skinny women to wear their clothes. That’s not true at all.\r\n\r\nYou can tell a designer is designing for you by the size range and measurements.  When Karl Lagerfeld had his capsule collection for Macy’s, I figured I’d never be able to purchase any of the pieces.  That is, until one of the saleswomen told me that “his sizes tend to run big.”  Who knew?  Always check a designers size range and the measurements that go along with the numbered sizes.  You will be surprised.\r\n\r\nThe sizes you might see in a designer’s boutique are not always representative of the sizes they carry. My exposure to designer clothing has been mostly through high end department stores and boutiques in various cities (Boston, Chicago, Miami.)  Rarely do I visit a designer’s boutique in the city that the designer *actually* lives.  Going to the DvF store in New York is way different than the DvF store in another city.  Likewise, an online venue like Net-a-Porter can carry sizes that department stores might not carry for floor space reasons–not because they want to make “fat people” feel bad.  It’s never that personal.\r\n\r\nIf a designer is not designing for your age group, you’ll know by the sizes.  I could have phrased this as “not designing for you” and leave the “age group” out of it, but let’s face it–some designers are interested in selling mostly to young, thin women and men with lots of money.  When trendy boutique-type stores like Anthropologie or All Saints limit their sizes, those of us unfamiliar with luxury brand designer clothing–not just upscale, overpriced, hipster duds–tend to think that the luxury brands are doing the same.  Not all of them.  Yes, some do want the trendy youngsters, no doubt about that.  Those designers, however, will make collections that are way, way trendy and not what most of us on the spectrum of adulthood would consider worth the investment.\r\n\r\nDesigner clothes are an investment.  Buy better, buy selectively.  Many people who shell out the bucks for luxury brands don’t have closets full of the latest of everything.  Individuals will buy selectively, picking pieces that will fit their style and their ongoing wardrobe.  A good, grown-up wardrobe is very different from the trendy, disposable wardrobes many of us had when we were young.  Take that DvF skirt.  I know that I could fit that with a black V-neck cashmere sweater , simple earrings and black leather pumps and wear the hell out of that outfit for a couple of years.  Why?  Because animal print,  black cashmere, and black pumps rarely go out of style overnight–together or seperately.  It might take a few years for one or the other to change, but I will get my $$ worth from all three pieces before I “retire” any of them.   Not to mention that people In The Know can tell when you are wearing a quality  luxury designer garment and something that’s a better department store brand or even a cheap knockoff.\r\n\r\nWhen it comes down to it, the decision to buy a luxury/designer brand should have more to do with your need for that type of clothing, and your budget, and not whether the designer likes or doesn’t like women of various ages or sizes.  If you do not have true need–not emotional need–for designer clothing, then by all means buy it.  And buy it selectively.  If, however, you one of the minions that needs luxury designer clothing to feel good about him/herself, then your priorities are misplaced.  Luxury clothing might be something that certain people can buy on a regular basis, but for most of us, it is indeed a luxury.  It shouldn’t be something that you’re only going to wear to the next wedding you attend.  A luxury designer item should be something that fits your style, fits who you are, and what you want to say to others and to the world.\r\n\r\nSo that’s pretty much it.  Luxury designer goods aren’t usually purchased by the bagful (unless you have the means,)  aren’t necessarily purchased as a trend piece (unless collecting is your thing,) and aren’t just for weddings and other special occasions.  If we choose carefully, and according to our personal style, they can be good fashion investments.  For some of us, purchasing that special skirt or dress or suit can be like purchasing a car or a boat is to someone else.  It makes us not just feel good, and isn’t just a symbol of status, but is purchased to make a statement about who we are and what we way to say to the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *