Consensus on capri-cious fashions

Editorial director Laura Beaudry evidently struck a nerve with women with her May editorial “Can you see me in capris?” lamenting the selection of apparel in catalogs for the over-40 crowd. (Women’s apparel catalogers, take note.)

I just read “Can you see me in capris?” and felt it necessary to write you. One of my staff received her copy of Catalog Age before I did, read your letter and immediately brought it to my attention and said, “Pat, did you write this?”

I guess I’ve been complaining a little too much at work about my problems – as you so aptly described – with clothing these days. I not only work for a catalog company (Godiva Chocolatier, so you think you’ve got problems), but I do most of my shopping by mail.

Thanks for the lift, I needed a laugh. Also, it’s great to know I’m not alone!

Pat Benoit, corporate sales/customer service manager Godiva Chocolatier

I read your May 2000 editorial and I couldn’t agree more with your comments about the current clothing styles. I’m 63 years old, still very involved in the business world and want to look stylish. I do buy from Talbots, mostly tailored pants and jackets. I also love dresses – with sleeves – that are not baggy, droopy, frumpy, or made for sticks with no roundness to their bodies. But even Nordstrom’s women’s apparel catalog styles are for the most part one-size-fits-all baggy, too long, and too ugly.

I am an avid catalog shopper, considering I lived for a number of years in Alaska in a remote area where everything was purchased from a catalog. Now, I just prefer not to have to fight the horrible traffic in the Seattle area to go to the malls, but I’ve been so discouraged with the clothing selections lately. I buy only high-end, quality clothing, and I insist that garments be well made and finished on the inside as well as the outside.

Lately I’ve been taking out my stash of fabric and making my own clothing. I have enough fabric on hand for at least two years of sewing, and this is where my new wardrobe is coming from.

Lorie Graff, president WITM Enterprises (former owner of Jehlor Fantasy Fabrics catalog)

Thank you for trying to explain the situation to apparel mailers. Your editorial in the May 2000 issue of Catalog Age was fantastic and, sadly, so true!

As someone who has analyzed sales results for a women’s apparel catalog, I think a lot of these companies are passing up opportunities for additional sales. At the catalog I worked with, the “women”-size buyers almost always outperformed the “missy”-size buyers, even though less than half of the products in the catalog were available in their size range! The larger-size buyers had a higher multi-buyer rate, higher average order (without charging $10 more per item for larger sizes, like Clifford and Wills does), and a higher response rate. Just imagine the sales numbers if they actually carried full-length pants and shirts with sleeves!

As a consumer, I think it’s too bad that the buyers and manufacturers for the apparel companies do not pay more attention to your words of wisdom. It would make my life a lot easier when I go shopping…whether through a catalog, on the Internet, or in a store. Like you, I have money in my wallet to spend – and catalogs with capri pants to recycle.

Nancy Zafft, circulation consultant Edgewater, NJ

A friend mailed your wonderful editorial to me and I have to say you certainly voiced the same complaints of most women over 50! How do women over 50, weighing more than 150 lbs., try to look good in capris with cropped tops (sans pierced bellybuttons and tattoos), or in those sleeveless shifts with clunky shoes?

Thank you for that great editorial. Hopefully, our complaints will be heard. Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy flipping through a clothing catalog again? Out with size 2, in with size 12!

Barbara E. LeFevre, coordinator for pastoral care and volunteer services Day Kimball Hospital

Loved your editorial…tell it like it is! The sad thing is you will see some women like us trying to pull off the “look,” and it ain’t a pretty sight. Spandex is for those who need it the least! (Except in undergarments….)

I’m tired of wearing “bag lady” dresses, too! Thanks for raising your voice for the “redistributed” boomers!

Betty Allred, vice president National Wholesale Co.

Yeah…whatever happened to the burgeoning middle-age generation? Did we suddenly disappear from the marketers’ screens? Even Brooks Brothers went teensy, dropping their 14 and 16 sizes. I guess I’ll have to wear my Brooks Brothers black wool double-breasted suit forever, because I certainly can’t get one from them again.

After the onslaught of spring fashion catalogs and a total lack of regard for my taste, sense of propriety, or concession to wearability, I resorted to going into a store this spring to shop for a dress for a July wedding. I figured I’d better get going if there was even a chance of finding anything there, either. Even career designer Ellen Tracy went sheer! What’s a mail order addict to do?

I wonder how old the new marketers and merchandisers are. Probably the same age as the gals and guys putting the Web together for us. And we know nothing about the Web…oh, except how to use it, and buy from it.

Dawn Roberts, advertising manager Graymills Corp.

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