I don’t know about you, but the whole “by appointment” thing for all of the higher end trunk shows is pretty intimidating.  You mean you can’t just be a fly on the wall and look around?  Well, NO YOU CAN’T!  Big disclosure here: I sold Etcetera clothes for the past two years and I recently passed my agency on.  So, I really DO know how it feels on both sides of the trunk show thang.  Now, you will too!

Let’s start at the beginning.  Trunk shows.  The ‘big names’ in this business are Carlisle, Worth, and Doncaster.  Carlisle and Worth both have sister companies which sell at a more comfortable price point and for a more casual lifestyle; these are Etcetera and WorthWear.  As my familiarity is with Etcetera, that is what I will be writing about today.

Etcetera: The “little sister” company to the 40 year old Carlisle Collection

Average Price: $160

How to Buy:

Shows are held four times a year for about a week (almost 2 weeks if you shop with a ‘first week’ seller).  All fabrics and designs are exclusive to Etcetera, a NYC based company.  Clothes are ordered at the show and generally are available to you in 2-3 weeks.  Rush orders are possible.

Etcetera’s most expensive item, this GORGEOUS leather Aubergine coat for $595. If you are a fan of Tory Burch, you’ll recognize that this jacket is similar to Tory’s leather jacket from last year, but ETC’s is $300 less expensive!

ETC’s top designer explains, here in Nashville, how the artwork they created was then used to make the fabric for the blouse worn by the model. Pretty cool, huh?

Why Shop This Way:

I wondered the same thing until I went to my first show.  The clothes are great and made to last and last.  Unlike a store front, the women who sell these clothes are usually part of your community of peers and would be devastated if you bought something that was not flattering or did not hold up.  This accountability works well when you are the buyer. There is not a 19 year old sales girl telling you how hot you look in those too tight pants! These are real women, working to sell clothes to women, most of whom have had babies and the changing body that comes with childbirth, and their number one goal is to make you look and feel like a million bucks.  I mean, there are tons of clothes that a 20 something would want here, but Etcetera takes extra care to make each piece ultra flattering as they know that many of their shoppers are not 100% comfortable with their bodies. The only way this business works is by word of mouth and repeat business.  So, quality and customer service are a must.  Plus, there is no hunting for parking spots, no standing in line for a dressing room and then again to check out because the trunk shows take place in someone’s home.

Furthermore, Etcetera works with a “less is more” attitude. Your clothes should be multi-functional, so you can have less of them.  Most of ETC’s separates can be dressed up or down making them appropriate for office, the carpool and the weekend.  Did I mention that they last and last?  By the time you are ready to retire an ETC piece from your wardrobe, your price per wear will be well justified.  I’m not sure how they do it, but the clothes always seem both classic and fresh.  And, the ETC company truly works with the collection season to season and year to year to let you build on your past purchases.  Basically, the more you shop, the more you appreciate the way they operate.

If I had an empty closet, or a daughter who is a recent college graduate, an ETCETERA suit and an outerwear jacket would be top of my list for things to buy.  The suits can all be separated without having that “suit” feel.  But, wear together and the gorgeous suit emerges.  Most suits are under $500, even with tax.  And, they really do compare to an $850+ suit.  The details are incredible.

I don't car how old you are: this jacket ROCKS!  Be warned, this is the jacket your teenager daughter will continually steal! $315

I don’t car how old you are: this jacket ROCKS! Be warned, this is the jacket your teenager daughter will continually steal! $315

Things That Might Make You Uncomfortable.

Why the Appointment?

A couple reasons:

1) There is no way these ladies can just hang out at their house all day and night every day waiting to see someone will show up!

2) Most importantly, they only have ONE of each item and the sizes are most likely not the size you are looking for.  SO, they are all trained in fit and how to find something cut on a similar pattern in your size so that they can determine proper size.  It would simply be way too many clothes if all 200+ pieces were each available in a 0-16!  Thus, if too many people are there, you won’t get the customer service you want and need and you won’t see all the clothes- they’ll be in someone else’s dressing room!  Believe me, appointments are good, they are just hard to make when it’s your first time.

If you make an appointment: you will feel the pressure to buy when you walk in to see the clothes.  However, the overwhelming display of quality will comfort your mind as you mentally add up everything you want! But, fear not.  While I know that you will feel this pressure, as a former agency owner for this line, I can assure you that we really love to have people just come to browse…just tell them this upfront,”Hey there, I’m curious and I just want to come see!”  My hope always was that this same person will send someone else in who will end up as a customer.

Also, many of us are money scatterers.  What I mean is this: we drop a little money there, a little here, and so on.  ETC requires planned spending which is sometimes hard to do.  But, if you plan your shopping, you’ll end up better in the end.  Why?  Well, how many of us find ourselves desperate at the last minute for an outfit or two and we end up spending too much on something we like too little.  STOP THAT!  Be thoughtful about your purchases and buy for the long haul. You know you will need at least three go-to outfits this fall.  Shopping at ETC lets you plan this and buy in such a way that those three outfits can really make about 8-10 outfits with what you already have.  But, it requires the single large purchase, not just a little here and there.  When that invitation or event comes up, with Trunk Show planning, you’ll be ready.  If you are a super busy professional:  you need to shop the home show route!

We all tried on this sweater and LOVED it.  Perfect with jeans or a pencil skirt, this sweater has many uses, including hanging in MY closet!

We all tried on this sweater and LOVED it. Perfect with jeans or a pencil skirt, this sweater has many uses, including hanging in MY closet!

Well, I guess it’s pretty obvious that I am a huge fan. This may be the longest post I have posted.  I do love the Etcetera line and the concept. I enjoy being a “just” a shopper now that I have passed on my agency.  So, the next question is:

Where Can You Buy The Line?

Cathy Shell’s home on Hampton Ave (Green Hills).  Email her at [email protected] or her ETC partner Anita Stanford at [email protected].  I’ll be helping them out for the next two shows with the transition from my agency to theirs.  If you are more comfortable contacting me through this blog, that is fine. I can make you an appointment.  The show starts tomorrow, July 28th, and runs through Aug. 10th.  Appointments are available all day, everyday!  If you are interested in the line, but Green Hills is not convenient, or the scheduled dates don’t suit you, email Melanie Moran (A Regional Manager for ETC) at [email protected] and she will find you an alternate agency to fit your needs.  There are several sellers in Middle TN.

The next ETC show at Cathy’s house will be at the end of September.  It will showcase this Fall collection again, but with the Holiday collection included. However, MANY of the Fall pieces are always sold out by the Holiday ETC Show.  So, it’s best to come to each show if you can, even if you don’t buy (remember, it’s OK not to buy!).

I recently went to an ETC fashion show.  These photos are from that show and from Cathy’s house, where the clothes have all been set out and are waiting! I hope this post has helped to lift the veil on  the “by appointment” trunk show!

This snake skin fabric sewn into this knit skirt is to die for. It does nothing on the hanger, but you put it on and (ok, this is going to sound bad as we’re talking snake skin, but…) it comes alive! Really very cool and pretty.

I love this longer car coat length jacket. It is both black AND brown making it a breeze to fit into anything you are wearing!

This is BEAUTIFUL in person. I also wanted to put it in as I noticed that while I was putting in my favorite things, I didn’t have anycolor in here! I’m such a sucker for neutrals, but I know most people LOVE color. ETC has color, but grey, chocolate, black and bronze dominate. But the colors are oh so pretty: rich pink, robin’s egg blue, purple, chartruse, red and METALLICS. Don’t forget sheen and metaliics this season!

Here are some of the clothes hanging in Cathy’s home. This is a good example of how Etcetera can be casual as well. Notice all the knits. I love the Roin’s Egg knit short sleeve cardigan.