Welcome! Here we are in Part 3 of my Where I Shop Series where I bring you into my closet and show you the pieces I wear and tell you where I bought them.
If you remember, we’ve covered my bargain hunting at TJ Maxx and my boutique shopping and today we’re going to talk about a whole different way of shopping. I’m calling it the in home shopping experience. Several of my cherished pieces have come from this in home shopping setting so I’m really excited about sharing this resource with you.
I was introduced to the in home shopping experience by my dear friend and colleague, Marjory DeRoeck. She and her business partner, Carolyn Woodworth, have a studio in Lafayette, California where they show the Carlisle Collection four times a year.
What does “show the Carlisle Collection four times a year” mean?
The Carlisle Collection is a collection of clothes designed by one person in New York. Under the umbrella of the Carlisle Collection is also the line called Per Se, which is designed by a different designer. Per Se tends to be a bit more fashion forward than Carlisle pieces and fits a more youthful body.
When someone shows the Carlisle Collection in their home they show both of the lines. I have pieces from both collections in my closet.
Think of this shopping experience in the same way as you would a trunk show of a specific designer. Have you ever been in a store when they were having a Valentino trunk show or an Oscar de la Renta trunk show? Lots of items by one designer show up at one time for the upcoming fashion season. You place an order and receive them weeks later.
Those trunk shows happen in Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman Marcus, not in people’s homes.
The Carlisle Collection is shown four times a year. So four times a year the Stylists (that’s what they call the people who show the collection) receive big boxes of clothes. They open the boxes, pull the clothes out and display them in their homes or studios for a week.
Customers come by appointment to see the collection, place orders for the clothes they want and then wait for them to be delivered.
I’ve only shopped The Carlisle Collection but other companies operate just like this. A couple of them are Worth and Doncaster.
My first experience with Carlisle
If you knew my wardrobe history, you’d quickly see pieces I’ve carried over year after year are ones I’ve purchased from the Carlisle Collection.
I remember the first jacket I bought from the collection was in 2006. The tailoring was impeccable. All the seams on the inside were covered. It was as pretty on the inside as it was on the outside.
When I wore that summer jacket, I felt elevated. I don’t think I’d ever worn a jacket that had the quality feel that my Carlisle jacket had.
Their pieces are pricey, at least in my world. They aren’t anything like couture prices (Valentino or Oscar de la Renta) but they could be higher than ready-to-wear clothes in a department store.
I makes sense that they call it investment dressing. They’re made to last and you pay for it.
The drawbacks to in-home shopping
When you go shopping in someone’s home or studio during one of the four seasons that the clothes are shown, you only have the sample sizes to work with. The item you like may be sampled in a size 2 or a 16 and you’re a size 10. You need to take your best guess at what size you’ll wear.
You don’t go away with clothes. You get to view the items, try on sizes closest to yours, and then order them. Sometimes they will arrive to you within a week. Sometimes items are on back order because they’ve been so popular that they’re being recut. It could take weeks to get you in cases like this.
The pluses of shopping this collection
It takes a long time for their pieces to go out of style. Although some items are designed with trend influences, they’re mostly unique and quite classic in a modern way. You don’t see people on the street wearing the same thing you are.
One of my all time favorite alterations person is Joseph from Creative Alterations (1048 Brown Ave., Lafayette, CA, 925 284 5636). He does a lot of alterations for Marjory’s Carlisle customers. He says their line is so well made that they’re better than couture clothing. He says that with couture, they don’t leave enough seam allowance. Carlisle has seams in the waistband of pants and skirts like a man’s pant so they can be easily opened and let out if necessary.
Style longevity is my favorite part
As you can see in these pictures of me wearing my Per Se or Carlisle pieces, they have longevity. I still love wearing each and every piece and very often I’m getting compliments on them.
I don’t shop every season and some seasons when I view the collection I don’t really see anything that will fit into my wardrobe. But now that I’ve made a few purchases I have a lot of faith in the line. I know I’ll be wearing it for years to come.
If you have the opportunity to shop this way, I’d encourage you. And of course, if you can take an image consultant with you, she could help you make selections that will be spot on.
Are you up for a new way of shopping? Have you shopped this way and had success? Please do share!
To catch up, here are the links to the shopping series:
The Where I Shop Series: Boutiques
The Where I Shop Series: TJ Maxx
MicheleOctober 27, 2016 at 8:11 am
You would enjoy the CAbi line also that is sold at in home trunk shows. I was a rep for this line in the past and still shop for it 2 times a year when their collections debut.
BrendaOctober 27, 2016 at 8:56 am
Yes, you’re right. I should have mentioned that line. It’s definitely a lower price point from Worth or Doncaster or Carlisle. Would you say, Michele, that CAbi is more trend-forward? I think of it that way. Thanks for adding that to the list. It’s another one that people could check out. Do you like the intimacy of seeing a line in someone’s home? You have experiences on both sides of it–being a rep and being a customer. I’d love any more thoughts you have about this type of shopping.
Lorrie AndrulisOctober 28, 2016 at 9:20 am
Yes, cabi does offer some trend-forward pieces, but we also offer some great staples for your wardrobe. At cabi’s price point you can purchase some trendy pieces without breaking the bank. We do have two main collection offerings per year, and two additional collections debuted within each season. With cabi, you can continually add and update your wardrobe, the mixing and matching from season to season is amazing. I have been a stylist with cabi for over 12 years, and still have some of my original pieces from my first season.
BrendaOctober 28, 2016 at 3:38 pm
So very great to hear from you, Lorrie. And thanks for sharing more information about CAbi and that home shopping experience. I’m so happy you’re enjoying being a stylist. I bet you have a lot of fun with recurring customers.
Rita BlanksOctober 27, 2016 at 4:41 pm
I’ve been buying Carlisle and Per Se for the past 25 years and cannot praise their clothes highly enough. An important part of my wardrobe as they have such style longevity. Another line, Etcetera, is one I turn to also. I think they may tend to be a bit younger in style also. And want to add that on your recommendation I also purchased the neutral colored Gabor sandal you got this summer. I just love it! Thank you so much for showing it with many of your outfits. That has really enabled me to make the most of this pair of shoes.
BrendaOctober 28, 2016 at 3:30 pm
So fun to hear from you, Rita! I think I need to get to an Etcetera show one day. I’m thinking I’d probably love it. That’s interesting that you’ve been shopping there a lot. Would you say most of your wardrobe comes from this shopping source? And I’m so glad you enjoyed the Gabors! They really were a most delightful purchase this summer. So good because it was so neutral. Trying to find a winter alternative that does the same thing!
Rita BlanksNovember 1, 2016 at 8:01 pm
I really am not fond of shopping in an actual store anymore, although I used to love it. The small town I live in has none of the interesting shops I used to love to haunt, and by the time I drive to the closest larger city I’m not left with much time to shop. No more daily stop-bys at an interesting little shop I might drive by. Almost all my “bigger $” selections in my closet now are from the Carlisle and Per Se collections, and I love that they have real stay-ability in my wardrobe.
BrendaNovember 2, 2016 at 8:27 am
That’s really great! You know our circumstances change (living in different city, state, country) and we have to adjust. Sounds like you’ve made some perfect choices with the Carlisle Collection. Good for you, Rita!
Stacey KeelingOctober 27, 2016 at 7:53 pm
Style longevity…I like that term and need to work on that thinking. My tendency is to think after a year or two that everybody has seen something already. Mixing and matching is the key though and definitely not my strength. Working on it though. 🙂
BrendaOctober 28, 2016 at 3:36 pm
Stacey, I think you’re right about style longevity. It works if you mix things up. I have a rule with my clients. I use my Wardrobe Workout Charts to create outfits for them which they keep in their Wardrobe Binder. This means they have a reference for put together outfits that they can assemble in five minutes or less. I date them and once they are two years out, they’re expired. And that’s because of how fashion and style changes.
That means I’m doing a lot of restyling and updating every season or more. But if you were just buying outfits and wearing them the same way, I would expect that by two years you’d be sick of it and want to buy more clothes. Just food for thought!
Maria CopelandOctober 27, 2016 at 10:42 pm
Thank you for a lovely description of what we do! I work with Carlisle & PerSe’s sister line Etcetera. It is one of my greatest joys sharing our clothes with other women that enjoy well made, unique pieces. Hearing the customer’s perspective is wonderful! Etceterally Yours, Maria in Olathe, KS!
BrendaOctober 28, 2016 at 3:36 pm
Thanks, Maria! Yes, I am a happy customer! Cheers to what you do!
Lisa WhiteOctober 28, 2016 at 2:49 pm
Well, this was news to me. I never heard of Home Shopping or the Carlisle/Per Se lines before….double delight, for sure. I was invited to Tupperware parties years…no decades…ago. A cousin had a Stella & Dot jewelry party, but a clothing line ….a first! Trunk Shows at Neiman’s always scared me a bit as I read (very pricey) into the invitation. I have been to their fall fashion shows….the Champaign and food helped to make it an “event” like an Art Opening…which is good as I could only appreciate the pieces like works of art. These lines are very interesting and I will have to check them out….and wait for an invitation…
BrendaOctober 28, 2016 at 3:39 pm
Lisa, you can also go online. They show things online and probably have a way for you to reach out and view a collection in person. I’m not much of an online shopper. I have to touch things. So if you ever want to touch things I’m sure there are plenty of people in the Chicago area who’d be happy to invite you!
Lisa WhiteOctober 31, 2016 at 1:13 pm
I filled out the information online a few days ago and received a call from a local rep. The show will be in January at the Four Seasons hotel. The Presidential Suites are rented out and I will receive my invitation. This will be a new experience. Although I can order online, now, I think I will wait to get the full experience in January. I will be taking a cruise in Spring of 2017, so I will be able to choose something special for the trip.
BrendaOctober 31, 2016 at 7:31 pm
Oh good for you! Yes, I would definitely see it in person. It’s a shopping option and you’ll see if you think it would work for you. And if it doesn’t? Just walk away! You’re a great shopper and quite creative about sources.
Barbara DrakeOctober 28, 2016 at 8:29 pm
Brenda, what a nice description of trunk show shopping!! It is a great way to shop! My trunk show favorite is Doncaster….. in part because Doncaster caters to petites, misses& WOMENS Sizes. If you haven’t shopped this wAy before I would encourage you to try it!! Even investigate the business opportunity to consider either for yourself or someone you might know.
BrendaOctober 30, 2016 at 9:12 am
Glad to hear of your success with trunk show shopping. I have a colleague who has sold Doncaster for years in New York. And very great to hear all the size options in Doncaster. Thanks so much for sharing that with us, Barbara!
CarolOctober 29, 2016 at 7:35 am
I have to say that I was overall unhappy with my Carlisle shopping experience. I bought a beautiful, expensive pair of pants ($500) but the consultant recommended too small of a size. I paid an additional $50 in tailoring to let out the seams, but the pants never fit right. (Too short in the seat is uncomfortable and looks awkward!). They didn’t allow returns. The clothes were beautiful, but if you can’t try the right size, it is pretty risky.
BrendaOctober 30, 2016 at 9:23 am
Carol, this is truly the most difficult thing about shopping this way: they don’t necessarily have your size to try on and you have to make guesses. I’m sorry you had this experience.
I shop Carlisle for a client of mine. She’s done really well with this collection but I have no qualms about asking the Stylist to return something that doesn’t fit if that’s the case when it’s delivered. It seems to me these kind of companies have to make those allowances. And you’re right! Something to short in the seat is NOT comfortable!