Fashion from the Inside

How Houston women in the know remain stylish, often at low cost.

Houston Fashion Types and Where They Shop

demier cri: she is always first with what’s In, reads Women’s Wear Daily. Wouldn’t be caught dead in a Pucci now but loves Halston. Uses Vogueand Harper’s Bazaarthe way other women use Sears catalogue: she calls her saleswoman at Sakowitz, Neiman’s or Esther Wolf and orders by page number.

last year: always two years behind, though may spend plenty. Finally bought Pucci last spring, will get her thick gold chain out of layaway next month (thin chains are In now) and plans to wear long dresses for all evening occasions this winter. No special store loyalties, but 90 per cent of her purchases are on-sale items.

European: this look comes mostly from Sakowitz’ Rive Gauche shop in Post Oak—all St. Laurent clothes—though Jerry Abrams and Toni Mayer (who used to work at Rive Gauche) serve up the same look at Ms boutique in River Oaks at slightly (but not much) less cost. She may buy in Neiman’s Valentino boutique too, so you know she has money. The European woman dresses almost completely in separates by day, wears soft blouses, high-waisted wide pants, swingy skirts, chunky colored beads and scarves. Her jeans cost $35-80, fit exquisitely and may come from Veneziano or De Noye in New York. She picks up half her clothes in Paris or Aspen or St. Tropez, but likes Houston boutiques like Back Street in Galleria and ESP in San Felipe Green. She may be slightly older than but in many ways resembles

hip: this gal is trendy—sort of a junior Betsey Johnson version of dernier cri. She has fashion sense and money and may buy anywhere, but prefers boutiques whether inside department stores (Daring Days and Little Evenings at Sakowitz) or out (Ms, ESP, DK’s in Fondren Square and especially Tootsie’s in Montrose, where she gets her Goodie Two Shoes and Cork Ease platform sandals) .She buys her Levis at the Gap in Galleria and her Wild Mustangs at Tootsies. Warning: it’s hard to be hip when you’re over any of the following: 40, size 12, 5’9”.

eclectic chic: can be a mature version of hip; eschews the “ensemble” or “outfit” look, loves Halston but is not afraid to bring out her seven-year-old favorite dress to wear with her lapis jewelry she bought from Sammy Becker at the same time. Unpredictable, interesting. Amazing ability to buy from five different places and gets it all together. Unlike

tacky: who buys a lot, spends a lot, but nothing goes together. She is only one degree superior to

frump: “a dull, plain, unfashionably dressed girl or woman,” according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.

Junior League: this type used to be big on circle pins, black dress and pearls but has moved into her current uniform: the “little jacket dress” (Jr. Leaguers’ favorite fabric is alaskine). Wears white gloves still to the Symphony, weddings and similar occasions. Like Wolfman’s, Neiman’s, Esther Wolf. Conservative. Expensive. Careful. Dull.

Jill Jock: may be 50 but still walks like she’d be great at field hockey. Favorite dresses are tailored polyester, often from Everett Buelow or Oshman’s. Looks ridiculous in ruffles, perfect in tennies. Loves pro shops and the new Drop Shot at San Felipe and Voss for tennis clothes.

camp: outlandish, crazy combinations of color, style and vintage. Suede wedgies and floppy hats. Requires daring, chutzpah and a good figure or may look just ridiculous. May shop junk shops, second hand, and import stores and fill in at boutiques.

Isadora: lots of long, flowing, old fashioned stuff—silks and chiffons. Needs dramatic flair to carry it off properly. Hats and turbans. She is an attic freak. She is really quite different (except at first glance) from

feathers: she’s long and flowing, but obviously cost her. Elegant. Usually tall. Looks great in boas. Buys designer clothes at Neiman’s, Esther Wolf or Isabell Gerhart. She loved hearing that long silver fix furs are back in style.

go-go: hot pants and white boots.

sexy: vast spectrum here from subtle cleavage—slim to poured-in-overripe, from Zsa Zsa to Chicken Ranch types. Can be a variant of dernier cri, eclectic chic, or feathers. No one notices her shoes.

ethnic: whichever country is currently in vogue, this lady is in costume—ready to yodel in peasantry, make like Minnehaha, or beat the jungle drums like a native. Sometimes brings these clothes back herself from her latest safari. Right now Far East and India are very Big. Stanley Marcus brought back gorgeous embroidered goodies from China for her, but saris are cheaper if you can figure out how to get them on, my favorite ethnic tells me.

earthworks: faded, worn, patched jeans with work shirt and sandals. No good for those past 35 or 130 lbs. Can be converted to hip by substituting a shrink for the work shirt and adding silver buckled antique belt from Greece, but in this case jeans may be faded, but not threadbare. She used to buy her oldies at Honest Threads (now folded), now goes to Clean Earth, the Staff of Life, or to Tootsie’s next door poor relation, Paradise Revisited.

Getting Dressed in Houston

Now that I’ve talked with the experts, I realize I’ve been buying my clothes all wrong. Every piece of clothing I own I bought on the run. My closet is full of “great buys” (I’m a sucker for a sale) which I was always sure I’d find something to go with, but never have.

I usually buy for events—I wake up one Thursday morning and realize that if I wear that old brown dress again to the dance Saturday, people will begin to think I don’t care how I look.

But no more. Not after interviewing some of Houston’s best-dressed and the people who sell them their clothes (two of the latter promised to take me in hand). Although I did come upon two women who still go back to New York for their wardrobes and several who pick up over half their stuff on travels outside Texas, most of these folk like buying in their

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