Growing up in Brooklyn, Pam Friedlander could never afford to shop in the trendy clothes stores that so many New Yorkers flocked to. Her mother, however, took her to shops that carried similar clothes at affordable prices – and although Pam went on to become a realtor and later director of an adult day care program, she never lost her love of fashion – and never forgot the lessons she learned while shopping with her mother. Seven years ago, she started helping herself and other women who had lost weight to find the right clothes to make them feel comfortable, attractive and confident – and all while keeping within a budget they could afford. Pam works with clients both in person and virtually (through Skype, email, telephones, etc.) both in Connecticut, where she lives, and around the country, to find the style that works for them and to help them buy the clothes and accessories that make them look and feel good about themselves. To do that, she usually starts on the web.
Gilt.com – “High end items at low prices”
Pam likes gilt.com because it has “a lot of the high end items at low prices.” Gilt has designer fashions for women and for the men and children in their lives. From Axel & Hudson for kids and Tracy Reese for women, Gilt carries shoes, jewelry, maternity clothes, furniture and even Italian bedding by Errebicasa, often at prices 60 to 80 percent off retail. There are toys and games, wall art and rugs and a lot more besides fashion on the Gilt site, but those seeking a bargain on designer clothing can easily navigate past those other tempting distractions. There is, however, a trick to shopping on Gilt, says Pam. It has limited quantities and is “not open to purchase until noon – and by three or four in the afternoon, what you want is gone.” Pam suggests a customer should “know what works for you,” make a plan, find the right styles, colors and sizes and then hit the site at noon when the sales start.
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Beyondtherack.com – “all kinds of price levels” for the “everyday lifestyle” and the “fashionista”
Beyond the Rack “has all kinds of price levels,” says Pam, and carries a variety of clothing that fits both the “fashionista” as well as those just looking to keep their “everyday lifestyle” fashionable. While in the summer Beyond the Rack appears to concentrate on back-to-school fashions for children, a little scrolling down will reveal lingerie, swimsuits, tees and tops, dresses, blouses and jackets, most from well-known labels. Beyond the Rack carries blouses by L’Adore, jackets from Bright Lights, BigCity and a wide range of clothing made in Canada – by Canada Day. Full-figure and petit lines are highlighted, and there are accessories and shoes galore, from La Regale evening bags to heels from Chase & Chloe. For Pam, this is one of those great places to find something that looks like a more expensive item, but where she can find it at an affordable price.
Net-A-Porter.com: A great place to browse “even if you can’t afford it”
“If you know your brands,” says Pam, Net-A-Porter is a great place to browse, “even if you can’t afford it.” This is where she often sends clients to find “what they visualize themselves in” and to find “what turns them on.” The site is not cheap, but has many good deals and at the very least it is a key starting point to find what is trending – and what to look for elsewhere. “What the world’s most stylish women are buying now” is not just a news headline but an enticement from the team at Net-A-Porter. The site takes pride not only in following trends but also helping those who want to become part of those trends by buying big name designer fashions without paying a big price. The site is packed with selected items from Jimmy Choo to Vivienne Westwood and from Michael Kors to Tara Matthews. Part weekly magazine, part catalog store, Net-A-Porter offers insightful, well-written articles on fashions and on those who make and wear them. That reportage combined with the variety of items for sale help make good on Net-A-Porter’s boast that it is “The world’s premier online luxury fashion destination.”
Fabrizio-gianni.com: Pants “shaped for a woman, not for a teenager”
Despite the Italian name, Fabrizio Gianni clothes are designed and made in America, although much of the fabric is from Europe. The online store is packed with a delightful and stylish variety of pants and jeans, many made with fabric that has a “memory” that helps it better fit the body and keep its shape without sagging. “More than just pants,” says a company spokesman, “these clothes are designed both for comfort and to flatter the figure.” Pam agrees. “I love them,” she says, because the pants and jeans “are shaped for a woman, not for a teenager.” Although they seem a little expensive, adds Pam “they last. They don’t shrink; they go back to the right shape, and they are a great value.”
Polyvore.com: “A key research site”
“Discover, shop, and express your style” is the challenge and the motto of Polyvore.com. Just the headings alone show how eclectic this online shop is, as it includes everything from denim dresses and Aztec cardigans to red plaid pants and sleeveless black blouses – as well as “feather rings” and other little delights. Marc Jacobs and other designers frequently contribute articles to the site, which is packed with editorials on style and fashion as well as products to buy. For Pam, Polyvore is a key “research” site both for her blog and when shopping for her clients. This site “shows you what you are looking at” in great detail,” and if “you can’t afford” what it is selling, she adds, this site will at least give her or the shopper a better idea of what they should go look for at a lower price.
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Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.