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AFFORDABLE COUTURE Jemi Armstrong Linda Arroz A guide to buying and collecting

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Sample pages from a book to be published autumn 2012 by Vivays Publishing


Page 1: Affordable Couture

AffordAble couture

Jemi Armstrong Linda Arroz

A guide to buying and collecting

Page 2: Affordable Couture


What to know before you go

Y ou’ve made a decision to boost your wardrobe IQ by seeking out some of the most coveted clothing in the fashion world. Perhaps you already own a piece or two. It is wise to learn as

much as you can about the designer or couturier who created your garment.

Getting started: do your homeworkYou have made an investment in your wardrobe so investigate the name as you would any investment. Sitting on the sidelines of couture collection shows may still be an elite experience, but the virtual world provides instant gratification as images from the runways of Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo are streamed and tweeted in real time. Prior seasons are archived online as well, allowing for an in-depth view of the designer’s evolution, not to mention a “study guide” for recognizing past works when shopping in vintage or consignment stores to add to your investments. Visit these websites to witness the designer couture collections and ready-to-wear from anywhere on the globe:

• FirstView(• Style(

I like my money right where I can see it – hanging in my closet. Candace Bushnell (HBO series ‘Sex in the City’)

Page 3: Affordable Couture


Page 4: Affordable Couture

AffordAble couture24

Turning your garment inside out will truly expose the value of your piece. Noted American designer James Galanos’ use of quality fabrics and thoughtful garment cuts and construction have made him a living linkbetweentheFrenchcouturetraditionandAmericanready-to-wear.Today’s Ralph Rucci is the first American designer since Mainbocher to design ready-to-wear as well as being invited to show as an individual designer on the haute couture schedule.

CheCklist: ConstruCtion detail

• Turn the garment inside out.• Look for obvious indications of alterations such as uneven stitching or a repair.• Inspectthehemtoseehowmuchfabricisintheseamallowance.Facingmay

be used to keep the hem stiff and hanging away from the body. Chanel suits traditionally have a gold metal chain weight at the jacket hem to ensure that the garment hangs smoothly. Some dresses or skirts may also have weighted hems.

• Examine seams and darts. In couture construction, these are stitched down for additional stability as well as to eliminate bulk and maintain a smooth line in the outer garment. Couture garments have more darts and seams in places like the underarm, bust and waist to add more ease and a custom fit. The seam allowance edge is often finished with seam binding for a neat appearance and to prevent fabric from raveling.

• Study the additional layers of construction. A suit jacket or dress might have interfacing in the front to stabilize the shape, and in older garments, flannel patches were often added for warmth. A cocktail dress may have a boned bodice, or corset-like infrastructure, to provide a foundation for strapless gowns or tops. All of these

Page 5: Affordable Couture

whAt to know before you go 25

As you inspect your garment inside out, you will notice the sheer perfection, thought and effort paid to the inside, which only the wearer will see. If it’s not perfect inside, the garment isn’t or it has been altered or repaired. Seam finishes and seam allowances are primary qualifiers for quality level. Hem allowances are generous, often at least two inches or more. Seam allowances should be at least one-inch. The back hem in couture clothing may be a half-inch longer to balance the overall silhouette and flatter the derriere. The hemline itself may have garment weights inserted to ensure it falls well over the hips and will not pull or rise up. All seams are finished in couture, often by hand. Lapels, collars, cuffs and some waistbands will be interfaced, which helps support the shape. You can usually tell if something has interfacing, as it will feel more solid and structured, not limp or flimsy. Buttonholes are another sign of a couture garment. They are bound and usually hand finished. Buttons will be made from natural materials like leather or abalone, even glass, but not plastic. Often you’ll see custom covered buttons in the same fabric as the garment.

details will feature small, hand stitches.• Consider the closures and fasteners: Observe tiny details such as small covered

snaps and hook and eye fasteners. Hooks and eyes are used in waistbands, necklines and garment openings as additional insurance for a smooth fit. Covered snaps are often used to make lingerie strap guards, which prevent the bra strap from slipping. Buttonholes will be hand stitched or bound with fabric. Buttons will be covered with fabric or made of natural materials. Zippers have been used in couture since the early 1900s, but nylon zippers weren’t introduced until the 1960s. A nylon zipper in a vintage couture garment will be an indicator of some alteration or repair.

Page 6: Affordable Couture
Page 7: Affordable Couture

Ten Key Pieces You Should Own 04Ten Key Pieces You Should Own

Page 8: Affordable Couture

Affordable coutureJemi Armstrong & Linda Arroz

A guide to buying and collecting


designer’s runway show is finished, images of the current season’s


present designer clothes in fashion layouts, but also show the

readers how to get the look for less. Affordable Couture is not

about how to recreate the look with what are commonly referred

to as knock-offs. This practical guide book will give collectors and

enthusiasts a better understanding of the high end designer fashion

market, specifically how and where to look for affordable couture,

resale couture and high end vintage pieces.

The authors offer practical advice about key pieces every wardrobe

should have, how to take care of your couture garments and an

international directory of where to find couture at a discount in

major cities around the world. Affordable Couture is a quick study

on how to immerse oneself in the couture world and build up a

fabulous collection to where or to archive.

This guide is aimed at anyone who is interested in designer fashion

and fashion as art, as well as students and individuals who want to

know and understand more about buying and collecting high quality

designer and vintage pieces.

the authors

Jemi Armstrong is a well-known fashion illustrator, author and


Illustration. She is a sought-after costume illustrator for film and

TV. Linda Arroz is a lifestyle and image consultant whose expertise

includes fashion, fitness, wellness and beauty. She has appeared

on hundreds of TV shows including Good Morning America and

Entertainment Tonight, sharing tips and trends.


That was then this is now

What to know before you go

But will it fit?

Ten key pieces you should own

How to care for your couture


The collectors

Where to shop


220x170mm(6¾ x 8 ⅝in)

208 pages with 150 illustrations


Recommended retail price:

£ 19.95 | € 24.95 | US$ 35.00

31,000 words

ISBN 978-1-908126-24-5

September 2012

key features

* Clear guidance on where and

how to buy couture

* Useful tips on caring for your


* Suggestions for key pieces you

should own

* International shopping guide

www.vivays-publishing.comVIVAYS PUBLISHING LTD