Suzanne O’Connor’s Bargains LA

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Couture Learning Curve

By Suzanne O'Connor

Back in the day, I knew less than nothing about clothing quality, design and fit. In my early twenties I lived in jeans, plaid flannels, sweats and lace up army boots. I was the epitome of poor Melrose hip.

At the time, my mom was writing a bargain shopping column for the LA Times. Occasionally I would spend the day with her at some of her favorite stores. Spending time with her was always fun. Her wit and sense of play made everything an adventure.

One afternoon she took me to a high-end women’s resale boutique on the Westside. While she and the owner chatted it up, I explored the racks of high end designer dresses, suits, gowns and more. Chanel, Gucci, Versace, Chloe, St John and more were all there.

The feel of the fabrics was the first thing I noticed. The weight… the texture… The intricate beading, the unusual buttons and collars…. the details!  No one I hung out with wore clothes like that.

My mom insisted I try on a vintage Chanel skirt suit. I was feeling out of place and really didn’t want to try on what I could not buy. But I did, to please my mom.

Once you try on a Chanel Suit, you know. It feels like nothing else. The fit was beyond perfect. The way it moved with you. The weight of the garment. How it conforms to your body. It was sublime.

I spent the afternoon trying on garments I could not afford, even at resale. Beautiful gowns, formals, suits, dresses and shoes. I felt like a princess.

The owner shared with me how the garments were made. The hand work. The cost of the fabrics. How the fabric cuts & seams made the garments fit so beautifully. I got a quick education on Haute Couture and designers. It made my head spin.

Sadly, I didn’t have anywhere to wear any of these beautiful items. So Mom bought me something she thought I would wear. A versatile navy blue, wool blazer by Anne Klein.  Not couture, but still hand constructed and sewn. I wore it back then with my sweats, tees and jeans. I still have that blazer and wear it with graphic tees and jeans. It still is awesome.

I happily still live in jeans & sweats but have added in higher quality garments along with a few high end, couture dresses for special occasions. I now own several vintage and couture coats, jackets and skirts.

All of us deserve a bit of beauty and quality in our lives. If you have a good resale boutique near you, haunt it.  Look for garments that speak to you. Buy them and enjoy them, for a long time.

Quality never goes out of style.

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