Saturday, November 1, 2008

Savvy Shopping - The St John Suit For Status

Christina Binkley in the Wall Street Journal article
writes about the transformational value of clothing, a fundamental principle that while true, it hard to define. We've always known that "clothes make the man" but which clothes exactly are the key to being treated like a VIP.

Maître d's are expert decoders of social rank. When I dine with CEOs at Michael's in New York or Spago in L.A., we score the best tables. On my own, I wind up seated near the kitchen doors.
Unless I wear my St. John suit.
It is very understated, with no logo. The navy blue knit tank dress hits right at the knee. A zipper up the front of the jacket adds a modern edge, but the look is timeless. That is what St. John is famous for -- and it is why the brand is often disdained by the trend-conscious fashion cognoscenti.

Yet when I wear my suit, maître d's snap to attention, sales clerks rush to assist me and people I barely know offer me favors.
What is it about the cut of certain clothes that signals "VIP"? Men's Brioni suits and Charvet shirts are famous for it. Bottega Veneta and Akris have it. Their head designers can tell you the fabric cost the moon and the tailor apprenticed for three years, but it's more difficult to define what conveys the effect of Somebody. As with pornography, you know it when you see it. Delivering that cachet -- that power -- is the promise of the luxury business.

The cost of luxury can seem outlandish -- particularly now, in an uncertain global economy. Clothes are particularly hard to value. While cars and high-tech gadgets -- Maseratis, Audemars Piguet watches and first-generation iPhones -- offer not only performance but the cachet of a visibly rich item, clothing does less to convey what you spent on it. Clothes get stained and snagged, and they go out of style quickly.
But clothes also have the power to transform you.

Most important, clothes can speak the secret language of status.
At this point I have to say that clothes alone don't make the difference. It's the entire package that matters and accessories are a big part of the package.
Sorry Christina, but a well fitted classic black suit from a mid priced line such as Tahari, Theory or yes even Banana Republic, in a good fabric with fine jewelry, a high end watch, classic Cole Hahn black pumps and a good handbag will get you more play with the Maitre D's at Spago and Michaels, that this St. John Suit with no jewelry and the wrong bag and shoes.
And...when the St. John Suit that you paid thousands for is out of fashion, you'll still be wearing the fine jewelry and the high end watch.
Even you state that paying a lot for designer clothes doesn't necessarily bring value.
These days, getting value for money is more important than ever. But spending money on hot designers doesn't guarantee you'll impress others. My green-gray Marni suit, which cost about $675 at the brand's Milan outlet, garners compliments but no restaurant-table upgrades. My cropped Stella McCartney jacket, $304 on sale at Barneys, has led to no adventures.
Digg this

No comments:

Add to Technorati Favorites