Friday, January 7, 2011

Would You Pay $348 for this Dress?

Because I almost did. Seriously, I was SO close to buying this little Nanette Lepore number. I think I about lost my mind, readers. You see, I went on a lunchtime expedition to Lord & Taylor with a coworker who needed to return some shoes there. Of course, I had to take a swing by the designer dresses and try a couple on "for research."

I get that this black ponte knit sheath probably doesn't look like anything to get too crazy about. I do get that. But I put it on, and it was like THE MAGIC DRESS. I was quite sure that I looked absolutely sensational in it—it framed my tattoos perfectly, my figure looked smashing. Don't even get me started on how great my butt looked.

I can't remember the last time I bought a dress, but I really talked myself into this one, even at the steep price. It's the kind of thing I'd wear to work all the time.

The only problem was that it had a tiny little flaw: the twist tie that goes around the waist had become un-tacked on one side and was flopping around. The easiest thing in the world to fix, right? But for $348, I wanted a flawless one.

I told my issue to the sales person. She didn't have another size 10, sorry. At that point my friend cheekily piped up that I might be offered a discount on the flawed one, which the sales girl declined to do. My only option was to pay full price for the one they had, apparently. Readers, I was NOT going to be making any repairs to a $348 dress before I even wore it. It was the principle of the thing. I'm sure you understand.

Well, I left it, thinking I would find it elsewhere online. But by the time I got back to the office, the magic of the MAGIC DRESS had worn off. Was I really about to pay that kind of money for a doubleknit sheath dress? Granted, it had incredible butt-flattering properties and a few special design features (pleated cap sleaves, a wide waistband, a surplice pleated sweetheart neckline, and the aforementioned waist wrap) . . . but nothing I absolutely couldn't try to replicate, I suppose. So instead of ordering the dress, I ordered three yards of black doubleknit. When I'm going to find time to sew with it, I'm not sure.

Damn, it's hard being principled sometimes.

Please tell me you understand, readers. That a certain magical item of clothing has you so entranced that $348 seems like an absolutely reasonable price for a simple work dress. Anyone?

111 comments:

  1. I would pay it. The "right" dress is priceless and when you had it home you would have it right there to replicate in other dresses. FYI - go back and ask for a manager. Bet you get a discount for the flaw.

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  2. Or at least go back and take pictures of you in the dress, so you can knock it off better *naughty*

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  3. I agree with lin3arossa - take pics & make/drape a copy of this style for yourself. If it's as fab as you think you'll be wanting more versions in different colours & spending $348 several times over would make mem faint LOL! :)

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  4. I agree with Caryn! Sometimes you pay for the design, not the dress itself. Fix the flaw, and then you've still got a 'magic' dress PLUS the opportunity to study it and make more! Consider it a creative investment piece ;)

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  5. Quite frankly, the only thing worth paying that much for is shoes, and even then. I you make a normal salary like the majority of people you think twice, even if it is the most fabulous thing is the world, it's just clothing.

    Although I can't say I regreted my 500$ (on special) Piodi boots. *rouinr*

    :)Love your blog btw

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  6. It depends on the kind of money your making but I've never been in the position where I could afford that kind of money.

    You could do like the pro do and buy it, copy it and bring it back.

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  7. I learned over time that the heat of the moment will make you buy impulsively. If you budget can handle it, by all means. But if you have to labor over the decision, you didn't the right thing on passing. Plus when you have time to think about, the passion dies down after while. You're a skilled seamstress, I know you'll create something just a flattering.

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  8. I seriously considered it once ... Nordstrom had a gorgeous Tadashi Shoji shutter-pleat sheath dress that I knew I'd never be able to replicate, was in my favorite color, and would flatter my figure. But I'm totally not in a position to pay that kind of money for a dress (supporting the family on a lowly liberal arts degree salary, heh). I keep hoping I'll see it on the clearance rack somewhere ;-)

    Nordstrom also wants $300 for a Kay Unger sheath that I love. Forget it! I got Vogue 1182 (exact same dress) for $4 during a JoAnn's sale, and I have another $25 worth of shantung, lining, and invisible zipper. 90% off is more my style, lol.

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  9. Buy it (make sure you can return it) take it apart and make a muslin from is. Then reassemble it and return it. I have done that more than I care to share with your readers.....

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  10. It all worked out the way it did for a reason. You can create this dress, we've seen your skills at work. I do understand your dilemma, though. There are some items at the better, designer levels that just have the right fit and style; they are worth it. It would have been a concern for me that it was already coming undone because it's not like $350 dresses really get the shopwear that less expensive items do. There is a workmanship issue with that one.

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  11. The argument in favor: I've read Nanette Lepore makes all her dresses right here in the NYC Garment District.

    The argument against: $348...for a DRESS? That's some people's weekly take-home pay (though you can make that argument about the price of almost anything and as others have said, if you can afford it...). It just seems like a lot for an article of clothing that isn't a coat. A good wool coat...with a fur collar. I guess I'm just practical that way and probably out of touch with the price of things.

    I recognize women's clothes are costly and are sometimes imbued with "magic" that men's clothes never are. But with your draping, sewing, styling, tailoring, etc. skills, I say challenge yourself to make the most figure-flattering dress you can and let all of us enjoy the process of watching you do so.

    One man's opinion.

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  12. I agree with Peter's comment. I know how it is to see the perfect thing and think it really is worth it, but then I think about how long it would take me to earn that money (and the fabric, sewing supplies, whatever else I need/want more in reality). I have shoes that do that to me more often than dresses. And also this one perfect sofa that I want so badly to replace my crappy $75 Craigslist futon, but it would cost almost 3 months of my salary. I guess in the end, if it's worth it to you for the perfect fit and ability to replicate, then it's your choice to go for it, but for that much money I think it's good that you at least have had time to reconsider.

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  13. With the dress on at the store, you were caught up in the moment and the salesperson erred in not offering you a discount while you were under the influence of the dress. You were absolutely right not to pay full price for a flawed product. I'm sure you can make your own dress and it will be better than what you tried on.

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  14. My first thought--think of all the fabric you could buy for $350! I think you could easily replicate this dress (and have it in a rainbow of colors)and have $$ leftover for some 4-ply silk. Be sure to share photos!

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  15. It is expensive but if you've got the money and it feels and looks that good on, then go for it. otherwise you'll lust after it for years to come.
    The shop assistant is being unfair not offering a discount seen as the garment is technically 'faulty'.
    so if she isn't offering a discount then it should really be sent back to the supplier.
    I would go back and barter with her, even if she only knocked $20 off although getting it down to $300 would be more like it lol! :)

    fashbrickroad.blogspot.com/

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  16. For a little black dress? Never ever.
    If it would be very special in design or in fabric which would be impossible to find and I was able to afford it, yes, maybe. But in the picture it looks just neat and not really that magic.

    You make your own magic Gertie, why bother? That was just a flash of impulse buying. We all know about it. :-) Next month you'll probably have forgotten the whole thing.
    You yellow dress is so much more stunning and outstanding. Heavens, why would you want to wear a LBD?

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  17. I recently saw my beautiful daughter in the most stunning black dress. I don't think I ever saw her look more womanly pretty. I told her so. She told me the dress was over 15 years old, worn a gazillion times as her go to LBD, and paid near 400 dollars for it. She also said it was worth every penny. It was. Now if you break down cost per wearing as in her case, your dress is not expensive. Would you prefer a 100.00 LBD that you only wear a couple of times because it just isn't as fabulous? I know you wouldn't. Go for it.

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  18. Oh my, Gertie--can I even begin to recount the times I've come this close to buying a dress/skirt/top/what-have-you, and talked myself out of it because I could sew it after all, right? ;) lol. My most recent moment of weakness was with a skirt at Anthro. It's fantastic, looked nice on, the print was gorgeous, etc. But it was over $100 (and I've already spent most of my Christmas dough on fabric ;) and I knew I could whip up the simple a-line style in an afternoon. But I came really close to buying it. Sometimes being able to sew is a double edged sword. ;)

    I really love the lines of this dress--and I think you could definitely replicate it easily! I agree with Claire's thought about wanting several colors in this style--so maybe making it yourself isn't such a bad thing after all. ;) hehe!

    ♥ Casey | blog

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  19. Oh, I completely get that. My main shopping rule is this: If I try something on and I look so amazing I immediately want to have sex with myself, I buy it. Period. (Well, unless it's so ungodly expensive I'll have to sell a kidney.)

    But you did the right thing. The price wouldn't have mattered if the dress had been flawless, but if you'd shelled out AND had to repair it ... the whole experience would've been sullied.

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  20. I think you should try to make your own version. If you make a dress that fits that well-- think of how amazing that would be! You could replicate it whenever you want!

    I had a co-worker once who bought a really expensive dress with a flaw, and then she expected me to finish it. (I wish she had consulted with me first-- it wasn't something I could easily fix.)

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  21. Not only have I considered spending an outrageous amount on a single article of clothing, I actually went ahead and pulled the trigger on it. It was this beautiful navy blue chiffon number that made me feel like a character out of a Jane Austen novel before I knew about Jane Austen. I think it was $300.00, and given that this was in the 1990s, that was a big purchase.

    I was still an undergrad, and I had my first credit cards. Looking back, I can say without hesitation that this was not my smartest purchase ever. I mean, what jeans and t-shirt college student has the sort of lifestyle where a formal dress will get worn more than once or twice? Certainly not me. But at the time, I didn't regret it one bit.

    But today, I'd really hesitate. And probably walk away to see if the want for the dress lasted a day or two. Since you started questioning it so quickly, not taking it home seems to have been the right decision. And as everyone else has said, you have proven that you can create your own beautiful dresses, so I'm sure what you eventually make with that black double knit will be just as lovely.

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  22. If it fitted me like a glove, I'd have gone for it, flaws and all. If I'd left the shop without it, I'd have only obsessed over it until it was mine... and then eaten porridge for a month, because I couldn't really afford it, but so what? I'd have felt it was worth every oatflake.

    However, if the heat of the moment has worn off, maybe that's your cue. Then again, if you can afford it, maybe you need to revisit it, see if you're still as enamoured with it, and then ask a different shop assistant/ manager if you can get money off to compensate for the flaw. It's a beautiful dress which will be a classic in your wardrobe, the details of which you can revisit in future dresses.

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  23. i get it on the expense but at the same time sometimes it's worth it to buy. i'm a jeweler and jewelry designer and i always say to myself, "oh, i'm not going to buy that for that price! i can make it in a snap!" but then i never do and i am a jeweler with no jewelry!

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  24. I'm currently in a similar quandary over a DVF wrap dress I bought for a small fortune on eBay last year. It's a fabulous dress, but it's just not flattering on me. What was I thinking, buying an expensive dress without being able to try it on? Now I have to decide whether to keep it so I can continue to study it (it's really not all that complex), or put it back on eBay to tempt someone else!

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  25. If I could afford it, I might pay $348 for a dress (highly unlikely, but not totally out of the question. I might pay it for a coat or for boots, though), but not that dress. I mean, it's nice, but you've already proven that you can sew things that are super flattering, too, so why would you buy one? Especially a flawed one?

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  26. I totally understand. It would have been hard for me to walk away as well. But I would not want to pay that kind of money for a dress I have to repair. You have such wonderful skills. I'm sure you can make this.

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  27. If I had the money earmarked for "fun, expensive things" and it really did fit amazingly well, sure.

    BUT, not with a flaw, even if it were small. It really is the principle of the matter. If I am shelling out that much for a dress, it had best be flawless. As another commenter said, if it has that sort of flaw off the rack, I'd be concerned that there were others too.

    You have the talent to make something just as flattering, if not more so. Had it been flawless, sure, you could have probably purchased it guilt free—hey, it's nice to have something amazing that you didn't make some times—but since it was, you made the right decision.

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  28. I'd take a day to think about it, then go back and try it on again. If it's still fits like God had it made for you, ask for a discount again, and if they offer one, splurge on it. Why? Because a fabulous classic piece is worth an investment, even for those of us who can copy things. Why spend the time and effort to sew with black thread on black fabric (yuck, esp at night) in the elusive search for magic fit...which as we all know is some alchemical blend of fabric, cut and construction that can be difficult to replicate exactly. Eat ramen and go for it.

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  29. I completely understand. The magic dress is a mythical, hard-to-find relic... like a leprechaun or a unicorn. Think about it... if you fall into a $348 windfall, buy it online. You'll get your money's worth out of it.

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  30. oh hell. $348 for a dress that you have to mend as well... i totally understand you. without the mend i'd go for it if it really fits like a second skin and makes you look beautiful.of course!!

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  31. I have trouble spending $50. on a dress for an extra special occassion... I could not even imagine myself considering $348!! Maybe if I was going to meet the President ... But then if you look at that dress you tried on, it really doesn't look like it should cost that much - there isn't any "bling" to it... it's just a plain black dress - I'm sure you could make a better one and for a whole lot less. I think I'm channeling my Grandma, she lived through the Great Depression and I am having trouble these days with rationalizing the prices of things! How did everything get so expensive?? It's crazy... Sorry - I'll get off my soap box now! LOL

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  32. I notice you said that by the time you got back to the office, the magic wore off. That's good. Go back and talk to the manager with a clear mind, not the emotional "gotta have it" mind. The clerk may not have had the authority to knock off the price and the manager may have been off to lunch herself. If still no budging on price - pictures of the dress inside/outside and on yourself, and don't forget the tape measure.

    As for the price - it depends. If you already have a pattern that would serve as a starting point, knocking it off might not be such a big deal. BUT - if you have to start from scratch, by the time you factor in your time, $348 *might* not seem such a bad price, if you can afford it.

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  33. I am so torn on this one . . . I recently ordered a dress that was about $100 with the intention of enjoying it, and hopefully reproducing it again in another fabric/color. But if I never get to it (with all the other stuff on my list) I still have the original dress to enjoy. Casey is so right about sewing being a double edged sword! How many times have I put off buying something I want just so I could attempt to reproduce it . . .

    Tough call, but I am tempted to say go for it if they offer you a discount for the flaw. If they don't, try it on one last time, and take lots of pictures of it in the dressing room (and then go make your own)! ;)

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  34. No. No. No.
    But then again, I've never paid more than $100 for a dress. I guess that it depends on if you can afford it.

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  35. Absolutely! I think *especially* after sewing and patternmaking for yourself, you're able to recognize the value of not having to; find and buy fabric and notions, patternmake, muslinmake, adjust pattern, make a second muslin, make the final garment, and of course the time you put into it. Perfect dresses can absolutely be worth $350. The more I sew, the more I'm willing to spend for things that are perfect from the get-go. That said - when you have to alter them.... no, not so worth it. (I think you should have received the discount by the way. Hmpf)

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  36. If I had that amount in my mad money, I would go for it. That was an extremely minor flaw you described, fixing it would be equivalent to sewing on a loose button. Just because you are an excellent sewist, you don't HAVE to make everything!
    I spent too many years with a sub-par wardrobe because when shopping I was always into the "oh, but I could make that for a third of the price" mentality. Then of course I sewed the technically or visually interesting things, not the stunning basics I really needed.

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  37. I commend your willpower and yay for taking a stance. I? Would have bought it. And then? I would have alternated between severe buyer's remorse and admiring myself in the mirror. Then again, I have shopping issues.

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  38. I would buy it, as long as I could afford it and knew it would get worn.

    Considering what we pay in time & materials for our sewn clothing, it was a very fair price.

    Those of us in the affluent Western world have lost a sense of the value of clothing (and many other goods) in monetary terms. If economic conditions were more balanced around the world, there would be no Walmarts and Targets with such affordable goods.
    I think we would simply own less stuff because it would not be so cheap.

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  39. Size 10 you say? Perhaps I'll pop over on my lunch break and see if it's as magical on me. But to answer your question, that only magical dress worth that much is one made in the nyc garment district.

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  40. Just because you can make a similar dress doesn't mean that it's unreasonable to want to simply buy a beautiful dress from time to time. The moment that sewing becomes an obligation is the moment it will likely lose a lot of its magic.

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  41. You absolutely did the right thing leaving it in the store. $350 for a "work dress" is a sizeable enough purchase to merit reflection. Any purchase that would be worth that much money is also worth consideration as regards its usefulness and your budget. If you still want it once you have really thought it over, buy it. You only live once, and if you can afford a thing without regret or financial stress AND you really, really feel good in it, you should go ahead and get it. However, if the purchase can't withstand a few days of scrutiny, then you should leave it behind. I don't believe in making purchases like that on the spot. It wasn't an auction, right? ;)

    All that being said, I spent less than that on my wedding dress, which was a positively beautiful 50's style dress, designed and sewn for me by a former dressmaker in a gorgeous Italian silk organza. No joke. If you are a little patient, you can probably have it for much less. Keep your eyes open.

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  42. This would be a fun project, considering the front drapes and back princess seamlines.

    So: Buy it, then drape a copy for yourself in a similar knit on your dress form using the dress and dress measurements to guide you. If the fit model is a bomb, and you feel you can't duplicate the dress, then keep the designer version. If your own draped model is successful, then return the original.
    It would be a Saturday well spent!

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  43. I would have paid it - but I don't have your sewing skills. I always look at "cost per wear" and for something like that dress that you could wear forever?? Totally cheap at $348. If you buy it you could then copy it in any color you wanted! Then you'd have lots of magic dresses.

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  44. I'm not gonna lie - I've bought dresses because of fit - but normally they are in the 189.00 range at Anthropologie. If a dress is super flattering on my body the more likely it is I will pay the money. I think you could go either way on this one - you could see if you could get the discount still. . .

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  45. For me, the real value of a piece of clothing comes from how I feel when I wear it. So on the one hand, I would definitely pay that for a dress that would make me feel good, and I could wear often. On the other, I'd probably take the same stand you did about the flaw.

    Also, there's the perceived value of the thing. I hate to admit it, but I'm pretty sure that I value clothing I pay a little more for above things that were inexpensive. I think it's probably a normal psychological response: you sacrificed more for it, so you tell yourself it's worth it and how much you love it. So it's a combination of actually loving it enough to pay more for it, and then afterward continuing to tell yourself that it was worth it.

    It's actually one reason I don't shop for clothing at thrift stores much any more. I started to feel like my clothes were mostly throwaway items, like I didn't have much attachment to them.

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  46. The dress is lovely and obviously suited for you. I would suggest that you return to store, talk to a manager about the construction flaws, examine the dress for other problems, and ask for a $100 discount. You may be able to talk the manager down a bit. If I could afford the dress I certainly would buy it and Peter has a point, it is made in the garment district which needs support right now. Consider how many hours it would take to drape, muslin, cut out and sew then multiply by say $10 per hour.

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  47. I completely understand. You know a lot about structured clothes and what looks good on your body from all your fitting exercises, so I'm sure if you thought it was worth buying, it was.

    I agree with Caryn. See if you can get a discount and buy it. Why try to reinvent "genius"? The design company has done all the work, figured out the fitting and stylng and fabrication. Buy the dress, enjoy it, and see if you can replicate it.

    You may have mentioned this, but sometimes a store can search all its branches.

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  48. I need to vent first; What a stupid, STOOPID sales twat! How can anybody be that stupid!

    Then secondly, if a dress- any dress makes your derriere laugh at the face of gravity... you get it regardless of price tag ( depending you have the means, der ). So yes, you have understanding pouring out of every pore from my house of spirit.
    Same is not to be said about that idiot sales chickadee who deserves to be born as polyester knit in her next life.

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  49. Why don't you just try it on again and wear it out of the store?

    Some call that shoplifting, I call it an oversight.

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  50. If you think you will wear it "all the time" get it. By the time you buy the supplies and sew it, you'll have $348 in it. And by the time you've worn it out you would have duplicated the design many times over. Sometimes finding a great fitting "off rack" dress is worth the $$$.

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  51. I would pay that for the "right" dress. You will keep it and wear it for years if it made you look and feel that good. You should have been offered a small discount for the "damaged" garment - go back and speak to the department Manageress.
    Plus, once you have it you can study the design and make one for yourself.
    Go on girl, dig out your pennies and get it bought!

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  52. I do undertand and would make the purchase provided it fit in my budget. I would have asked for a manager and got a discount. After all you work hard for your money, why pay full price for something that has a defect. I have also learned to do what I call the pillow test when I have impulsive moments like that. If I'm just as excited and have no reservations about the purchase the next day, then I make the purchase. If I do have some reservations then I wait for it to go on sale. I figure if it's really meant for me to have it will be there. Intertstingly enough I have gotten alot of my impulsive wants on sale. Maybe there is something to waiting.

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  53. this is such an interesting discussion. Not in a million year would I pay that much for a dress, particularly with a flaw. I always evaluate the cost and compare what else I could by, i.e. $ 350 of fabric.
    Shoes are a different category, not necessarily for trends of the moment, but well made and timeless styles, those are worth it. Plus I can't make shoes, but I can make a dress. True confession, I did do something similar, once in Rome I bought a 2-piece dress and jacket ensemble, very beautiful and Chanel-ish. I do love it however I only wore it 4 or 5 times. A coat or jacket is a better investment piece.

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  54. That is a pretty dress! My position is that sometimes it's better to spend more money on "everyday" things that are really really good. I have an expensive purse that has proven to be a really good buy because it is classic and sturdy enough to carry almost daily. If you pay $350 for a "basic" black dress but wear it 3x a month and it makes you feel great, that amortizes quickly.

    On the other hand, is this dress worth $350 to you? I agree that it would be ridiculous to pay full price for a dress needing repair. Even so, have you found yourself thinking about it? Going back to look at it online? Ive found that giving myself a cooling-off period is a good way to decide if I really want something. If I'm still thinking about it in a few days I'll pull the trigger--assuming I can afford it without taking money away from other uses that are more important, which of course is the clincher.

    Sounds like you'd enjoy the challenge of draping something similar and you're likely to actually get it done (unlike me, sigh) so that may be the best path to take here! In any case Vogue often has Nanette Lepore patterns so maybe in a year or so you'll be able to pick up the actual pattern.

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  55. Yowza! That's far more than I would spend on any dress, other than my wedding dress, but then again, I'm pretty cheap when it comes to clothes. I'll pay that kind of money for other things, just not an article of clothing.

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  56. "At that point my friend cheekily piped up that I might be offered a discount on the flawed one, which the sales girl declined to do."

    That's not cheeky at all! Maybe it's different in the US? I'm in the UK and if something's damaged you'll get 25% off *at least* and without any hesitation from the sales assistant. Only qualifier is that it then can't be returned under any circumstances.

    Re: the price, it's all subjective. If I had the money, I would only buy clothing that I was sure had been produced in fair conditions or even better, locally. Because of the industry, that generally means it'll be much more expensive. But I think it would be better to have 2 ethically produced pairs of trousers a year, for example, than a new pair of jeans every month that rarely get worn (I know a lot of people who do that). "Make do and mend", you know? And I reckon the overall expense wouldn't be much different.

    We don't take care of our clothing anymore and we expect to have new garments whenever we want them :-(

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  57. I think you made the right decision. Personally, I'd rather spend the money on fabulous fabric and make something perfect for myself. Then again, I couldn't afford the RWT equivalent of soome of what I sew.

    And did someone above suggest buying the dress, TAKING IT APART, making a muslin and returning it? I traced a Marc Jacobs dress (leaving it all in one piece) once because I wanted it in a different type of fabric but even so, that felt like stealing. I'd hate to buy a dress that had been ripped and resewn. I am AGHAST I tell you.

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  58. FYI, I've only gotten a 10% price reduction for a flawed garment at ATL. I didn't try to negotiate for more, though.

    I think i would pay that for the most perfect dress, but if you say the magic wore off then maybe it's not the most perfect dress. :) I also do as someone else mentioned and wait a day or so to see how much i loved the garment.

    My current obsession is rediculously priced running clothes. I try to justify it because they are not something that i could easily make myself (and don't have all of the tools to make), but really i can justify just about any purchase, :)

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  59. I make clothing and I STILL find value in buying "that perfect dress". I have some Marc by Marc Jacobs that I wear TO DEATH, because I love them so much. It's worth it and it's nice to have something that you DIDN'T have to make, you can spend time making OTHER things.
    Plus, don't buy that one, go to Nordstrom.com & buy it from them!
    http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/3126763?origin=category&resultback=0
    I don't think that salesgirl DESERVES the commission--she wasn't very helpful! Hmph! (Side note, YES, I work at Nordstrom :D)

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  60. Our finer dept store have in-house alterations. I'm surprised they didn't have that option. You could buy it, replicate it, and return it. Me personally, if the price is that high, I sleep on it at least a day or two. As you have experienced yourself, the "magic" does wear off if it wasn't meant to be, and if you are still thinking about it after a week, get it! (I assume since you were trying it on in the first place that you *could* afford to buy it if you wanted to.)

    Another thing, you mentioned you were shopping with a friend. That can really amp up one's urge to impulse shop, because it's more fun when sharing the experience. Knowing that gives me even more of a reason to think about those super extravagant purchases.

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  61. If you custom make fine clothes for sale, you know you cannot make and sell this dress for that price. Even at three times the price, you would not be making a profit.
    Worth every penny!

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  62. I understand so much I would go back and buy it. How much did you end up spending on the red lace dress including the muslins and the Voile mockup? I would go back and ask for the manager, too, on that flaw. you can copy it more easily from home as well. As for the money, you don't have kids yet so it is easier to splurge on yourself.
    After reading the other comments, I think you do need to factor in the cost per wear. It is a work dress, after all. $300-$400 would be cheap in the long run. Look out for Vogue to buy the pattern or make a knock-off as well. However, I agree with the other post about the magic alchemy that is almost irreplicable. I did walk away from the "perfect" $189 cardigan at Anthro because it was only half wool and the other half acrylic. But a sweater would not have the same kind of wear in Texas you will get out of a work dress in New York.

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  63. I can totally sympathize. Now that I can (kind of) sew, the cash goes towards things I can't make these being - mostly - art and shoes.

    I fell for these Vivienne Westwood "Lady Dragon Orb Smoke" heels that I thought were totally sexy and cheeky and then when I went to buy them thought "Wait, this much for jellies? Am I deranged?" and didn't get them.

    I totally regret it. But! since you *can* sew, I'm going to go with the majority here and say you should go Recessionista and buy it, copy it and then take it back.

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  64. I have that dress! It is really amazing and totally flattering to the figure!. I have in navy and I really love it...except I found mine at TJ Maxx so it was much cheaper. I would get it if I knew it was the magic dress.

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  65. I understand. I tried on a coral cocktail dress, just because I could, and it looked so good I bought it! it was $375!! I is not possible to replicate it due to its intricacies and the unusual fabric....but what was I thinking? I still love it however and will wear it to my sister's birthday party tonight. Just need more occasions to wear it :)

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  66. The feeling you get when you wear something you feel so hot in, so perfect, so...is worth whatever you can afford to pay. Just because you can make it doesn't mean you have to--there are lots more dresses out there to make. But that feeling? Not always easy to come by. And I agree with Caryn--I find it hard to believe a manager would not give a small discount for the flaw.

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  67. Hi Did you watch Nanette Lepore, "Behind the Label" on Halo channel? (I taped the show for the first time to watch).

    Interesting. If you missed it, it will be on again Tuesday at 2:30 pm.
    Halo channel is 195 in Kansas City.

    I can understand wanting to buy a special dress - . I am sure you will find another dress that you will want more. At least I am that way.
    Or if you sew a dress somewhat like this dress. One of the things I like about you and your site the sewing and helpful hits.
    I know that I keep hoping for a dress and looking on ebay. (the female desire of a cute dress).

    Polly

    http://pollyaplain.blogspot.com/

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  68. Think of the money you'll save! Plus, I always justify buying fabric by telling myself I'm not only getting a new garment I'm also getting hours of entertainment. TWO BIRDS!

    You made the right choice.

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  69. If you can afford it, buy it...but, not as a second, which it is if not in perfect condition!

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  70. I have two main rules when it comes to buying clothes. I try only to purchase ready-made garments if a) I can't make it myself (as it contains too many special techniques/finishes) and b) if it made from fabric that I wouldn't be able to source myself. These two rules normally get me by.

    Although... there is an old saying that does stick in my mind (particularly when I am trying to justify a purchase hehe) - if something is well made and loved, quality is remembered long after price is forgotten.

    Your readers have made some fabulous comments - I particularly agree with Caryn (if you can afford the dress that is).

    Good luck Gertie!

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  71. When I'm in similar situations I always ask myself two questions: 1) will this purchase change my life for the better somehow and 2) Will this purchase get me closer to my goal (financial or whatever). If you can truthfully answer yes to either of those questions you're good to go. If not you'll probably only regret it down the road. For the record, I think you made the right decision.

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  72. If I had been with you, I bet you'd be the owner of the "magical" dress. (I think I might be a bad influence on my friend's budgets), but when something is perfect, it's like a gift from God that you need to take. Not all custom made clothes we make for ourselves fit perfectly, but if this dress did, it really is something to invest in for the pure research of it alone. You know that every dress you'd make from then on would have that magical fit. Not to mention that the dress is so great that it can be worn almost anywhere. It's not too fancy that you'd only wear it once or twice. You'd definitely get your money's worth and if the store didn't offer you a discount, I would ask them to have their alterations department fix it at no cost. The dress should be perfect for that price. Don't buy it and then return it though.....you don't seem like that type of girl. I say if you still think it's perfect, buy it and thoroughly enjoy it. :)

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  73. I recently made one of these impulse buys when I went lunchtime shopping with a friend - at the time I thought it was a great dress and that I could justify the price, but after a full day's wear I realised it didn't fit properly (we're spoilt when we can make our clothes fit how we like), and then the fabric started to pill! So I say take some secret snaps with your phone and really think about it... Could Vogue 8685 be a starting point for making this?

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  74. This one is just too darn hard to call.

    No decision

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  75. Too much money for a dress. You could sew something you would like better and still have money for shoes, and a handbag.

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  76. My husband would buy this in a heart beat for me. He is insane! Sorry, no refletion on you ;) He likes to spend, I like to save. He bought a gorgeous raspberry colored leather purse for me (unsolicited) as a surprise. It was close to $300.00 which I found out after the bill came. I had a bleapin fit! After using it a couple of weeks, the stitching started coming undone. We took it back to the store and they wouldn't fix it! We took it to a shoe repair shop and they fixed it. I should have fixed it myself. I would have been happier. I appreciate that he wants me to have nice things and I would never make a purse. I have used it for three years now and it is wearing out. He has very good taste but it should have lasted much longer for that price, in my opinion. A bit of a rant there. Sorry!

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  77. I´m stunned, how many people do suggest, to take the dress home and copy it. If I understand correct, someone even said, to take it apart.
    I think it is alright to try to copy from a picture - but it is not ok to take a dress home and bring it back after taking measure.
    It is someone else work, ability and knowhow and thats the reason such a price is asked. The more if it is produced under fair condition.

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  78. NO EFFING WAY. I could never justify paying that much money for something like that. Even if it was financially possible for me.

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  79. If the dress had been perfect, I might have considered buying it. But not even sure I would have bought it, especially with your sewing skills.
    On the other hand, one deserves a special item from time to time...
    In fact, for that price, I would buy shoes, which I can't make myself, but not a dress that I can sew...

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  80. NO NEVER!!!!!! But I would make sure I made one exactly like it- hunt and invest in a fabric and keep making muslins untill I am ready! That is why we can and do sew!

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  81. Nanette Lepore is one the few designers who makes her clothes in the US instead of China. Her clothes are expensive because her workers make a living wage (unlike China.) In fact, they're made right in New York City. She has been a champion for saving the Garment District. I'm sure you could buy the dress, contact her workroom, and ask her to fix it.

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  82. Some things are worth it, but only you can decide that. The could check other stores for a 10. Did you check eBay? If you decided it's not worth it, sew yourself something close and equally as killer.

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  83. I would have bought it. Nanette Lepore makes amazing clothes in NYC and is an advocate to keep jobs in the garment district. I have no problem paying more for clothes that are made in the US. It would have been worth it to me. I agree with what A little sewing on the side said, those living in the western world have lost the value of making clothes because discount stores have told us our clothes have to be cheap.

    I would have of course talked to the sales associates manager to either get a discount on the flawed dress or get me a flawless one. Lord & Taylor is a store that should offer flawless customer service and flawless clothes.

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  84. naehenundmehr and Suemarie:

    I agree, to buy a dress, take it apart, copy it, and return it is a form of theft.

    Although I'm not an extremely experienced sewer, I believe I've had more exposure to formal fashion design studies than most people on this blog. Fashion design firms do a lot of work researching and developing designs, sourcing materials (including designing fabrics) and arranging for skilled people to make them up. There also are distribution and promotional costs.

    I'm not saying that many women's garments aren't overpriced, especially compared to men's clothes, but if this dress is actually made in New York by people who receive a decent wage, all the more reason to buy from this company.

    The reason a commercially made dress looks commercial is usually the result of making prototypes and testing different fabrics. That costs money. Anyone who regularly peruses home sewing blogs sees numerous disasters. If it were that easy to copy a designer or bridge designer dress (which is what I consider a $348 dress to be), everyone would be doing it.

    The self-delusion is amusing.

    Gertie, I enjoy reading this blog, although your taste often differs from mine, especially the super-vintage stuff. But that's a very nice, versatile dress, and if you really like it that much, I fully support your buying it, although get a discount if possible.

    Wear it to death, and then try to copy it.

    Life's too short.

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  85. A few years ago I bought a dress for $500. It is a very simple style, but what caught my eye was the fabric. My hand went right to the garment on the rack before I even knew it was a dress. It's an Italian knit jersey in a combination of 75% silk and 25% cashmere, a simple black-on-winter-white print. In all my decades of sewing, I had never seen a fabric like this (and I've saved myself lots of $$ over the years by DIY'ing my wardrobe.) The dress is a classic wrap dress, a style that I could easily make myself, but it was the fabric that spoke to me. I feel fabulous every time I wear it. And in the end, it's the number of wearings that you get out of it. I'll have this dress for year. All this being said, a store of that calibre should definitely replace or repair the that dress. I'll bet that the designer would want that to happen too.

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  86. I don't think I'd be alive for very long if I brought home a dress that pricey.... But I do often get swept away by clothes that are out of my budget. :/ It's very painful in the store, but I do find that that feeling goes away after a bit.

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  87. I'm surprised at the number of sewers that are suggesting you copy the dress and return it. How would you be able to enjoy wearing something you basically stole? Considering the time and money that would go into trying to reproduce the dress, I think if you really love it and can afford it, you should get it. It seems like it would be a practical dress that you wear often. It would be a good idea to check it thoroughly though because of the flaw.

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  88. I wonder if you've considered this justification to buy the dress (and granted it approaches the dramatic a bit)
    I wonder how many women have tried on dresses in the past they had no hope to buy? Not to have bought for them but that THEY could buy.... They couldn't work, they mostly likely had no income other than what their husband earned.
    You, on the other hand, can buy that dress. No grand justifications, no asking anyone for it, no begging. You'd just like to buy it.
    Just my thoughts...if you REALLY want it buy it!!

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  89. Take a few days to think about it. Like Casey said, your ability to sew can really put a damper on your buying - which is a good thing most of the time, but sometimes you just want to pick up a great dress at the store! Personally, I wouldn't buy it but that is because I really don't have that money to spend, and buy most of my clothing for around $20. I'm pretty sure you will be able to find that same dress on one of the shopping sites, like Gilt Groupe, Rue La La, Haute Look, etc... for $100-something bucks, so I would wait for it to go on sale. Check out Filene's or Nordstrom Rack if you have time or inclination.

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  90. I have the same dress, bought for about $120 at a Nordstrom Rack (I live in San Francisco). Have you looked online? Mine was in a 12 & bought about 5 months ago, but still worth looking.

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  91. Way to go darling! I definetly understand your point. My principle aswell is that I don't buy anything pricy if they are not absolutely perfect. I have pile big enough of things waiting to be repaired/fixed as it is. And definetly if there is a flaw, deduced price is mandatory, otherwise it stays in the shop. Expensive items must be wearable without any repairs. I think it's just madness to pay hundreds for item that you can't even start using without some work on it. It's a bit like buying a diamond ring without diamond or getting a movieticket to a movie you have to film yourself first.

    However if the shop would be willing to come up with reduction on the price, then repairing it yourself would be worth it :)

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  92. I would have bought that dress! But I think you show admirable discipline and I congratulate you on making the "right" decision.

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  93. I'd be more likely to pay that much for a well-made basic that I could wear once or twice a week than something I'd only wear once year. So, yes, normally, I would have bought this dress.

    However, you should be able to get a discount or get the store to find you a perfect one. So, in your situation, I would have done exactly what you did.

    As for the whole, "I could make it myself, so why should I pay for it" issue you really have to factor time and opportunity costs into figuring out how much it would cost you to make it yourself -- not just the price of fabric.

    To make a good decision, you need to know how much your sewing time is really worth in a concrete dollars and cents/hour number. You might find that the dress is actually a steal once you average out how much it would "cost" you to sew this up yourself.

    Buying a basic and timeless dress you can wear often and feel great in means you won't have to spend precious sewing time you could be using to work on a vintage inspired item you truly couldn't get anywhere else and that would contribute more concretely to your income (either through your book or through contributing in a richer way to your blog's theme).

    Just my two cents.

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  94. Some people suggest that we don't know anymore what's the worth of a good piece of garment.

    Aside from this dress, that is probably well designed and produced locally.

    But how do you know if you are paying the right price?
    Buttons come off easy from expensive garments as well.
    Or do you mainly pay for expensive branding and advertising?

    Businesses try to sell you us feelings and emotions. That's quite clever. Reading these comments, most are willing to pay for a good feeling or the promise of it.

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  95. Oh, my gosh. An amazing dress is worth the money if you think you'll wear it often. I agree with the others who've pointed out how much your precious sewing time is worth to you (and us!). Once in while, I think it's fine to invest in good clothes that fit well and save yourself the time and energy. But there is a problem with the lack of an offer of an "as is" discount--that said, I'd probably buy it anyway if I had the money.

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  96. Hmm, its a tough one. Like others have said, if you can afford it. . .
    Its not a dress that I've fallen in love with, or a handbag, or a pair of shoes. Its a watch of all things! $250 is a lot of money to me! but I'm under its spell. The website does a 50% discount code for international customers though, which makes it a bit more affordable. I'll just have to save :)
    Let us know what you decide!
    Ashley x

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  97. Well, I don't know you Gertie (apart from through this blog), but it seems to me you work exceptionally hard, both at your "day" job, and on your many sidelines. I am a believer in supporting manufacturer's who create quality pieces that will last and last - I think it's better for the environment, the world, and also (in the long-run) our wallets.

    So I would ask the store to contact the designer's workshop and see if they would be willing to repair the dress, on the basis that if they did I would happily pay the tag price.

    You'll love it forever, and you work hard so why beat yourself up over it?

    Like others here, I totally disagree with buying the dress, copying it, then returning it - this is no different from stealing the item from the store.

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  98. Although I have made plenty of formal dresses in my life, sometimes it's just SO NICE to buy one instead! There are some great discount sites out there that sell designer clothing though. Never pay retail. :)

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  99. I'd pay $348 not to have to wear my uniform to work...

    You may want to peruse the Vogue patterns, they sometimes have knockoff patterns very similar to Ms. Lepore's styles. I made a jacket a few seasons ago that was identical to one in NL's collection. Just look at the line drawings. That may save you some time starting out with a base pattern in the replication. Good luck!

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  100. I'd pay $348 not to have to wear my uniform to work...

    You may want to peruse the Vogue patterns, they sometimes have knockoff patterns very similar to Ms. Lepore's styles. I made a jacket a few seasons ago that was identical to one in NL's collection. Just look at the line drawings. That may save you some time starting out with a base pattern in the replication. Good luck!

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  101. Hi there,
    I stumbled across your blog in my search for a good sewing community and like-minded people with similar retro tastes. I'm brand new to the world of sewing and have always wanted to make my own dresses. I just got a brother XL3600 for christmas... and I'm anxious to learn.
    Does anyone have an opinion on a good project for starters? Easy dress or shirt patterns... or a website that can help?
    Let me know- i'd much appreciate expert advice!

    Elise

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  102. Honestly..."NO" I would not pay $348 for this little number, no matter how cute it made my butt look! What...maybe it has 3 yards of fabric in it...that works out to $116/yard. I don't think so...

    Me...I'd whip the cell phone out in the dressing room and take pics of the dress and then recreate it at home for a fraction of the cost!!! :-D

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  103. On the one hand, the only time I've ever paid $350 for a dress was my wedding dress.
    On the other hand, I tried on an absolutely wonderful sweater once. I was out of town and tried on a sweater at the Saks outlet store. Even at the outlet, it was $150 or so, which is more than I've ever paid for a sweater. But it was more than a year ago, and I still wish I'd gotten it!

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  104. It would depend on where the dress was made. I would never pay that much for a dress manufactured in a sweatshop in Bangladesh. But handmade in France I might – if I had the money.

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  105. My entire life, I've found very few clothes I really love in stores, and even fewer than that that fit my problematic figure. I say buy it, wear it, and then when the day comes, deconstruct it and make yourself another.

    Also, in a day or two, if the dress 'haunts' you, you'll know whether it's a 'gotta have' or not. Trust your heart.

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  107. A work dress? Then the big question everyone's forgotten - Will it wash?

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  108. Go buy that dress! If you don't, it will haunt you forever!!!! Trust me, I know!

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  109. I was brought up to think about how long it would take to earn the amount in question & if the item would entertain/keep me happy or i guess be worn for the same number of hours then is was worth it!

    My thoughts - no don't buy it.

    Re-create it at a fraction of the cost. Horrified at the thought of buying to copy & return but why not copy from afar...

    some say there are only nine stories in the world that authours tweak - wendy mullin made me think the same of tailoring...

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  110. My wedding dress. Yep. 875$ worth of figure flattering beauty to be worn once. And now, after having a baby I shan't ever fit in it again.

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  111. With your skills, I think you can make something very similar. Now you know the fit and details of the dress, if you see it anywhere else you can nab it for less. But I think you can do it, lovely Gertie!

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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