Searching for a good deal

We all like to save money and feel like we got a bargain. Many times people turn to the Internet for that good deal but it turns into a deal that went really bad.

So often we see gals ordering their “dream dress” online. When doing this they are taking the chance of: will it come, will it come in time for the event, will it be the correct size or color, will it fit? If not ordered from a reputable company, the answer to these questions is usually NO. That good deal then is not such a good deal.

We can’t stress enough to Touch It, Feel It, Walk Out of the Store with your purchase. By supporting a local business that gives back to your community, you will find the dress that works for you and your budget while supporting an independent shop, hopefully, or a chain/corporate store in town.

There’s a lot of knock offs online. What is a knock off? It’s usually from an overseas company, usually China, that will steal pictures from many designers, post the pictures on their website and sell the dress as their own. The dress that they made will be sold for a significant amount less than one expects, the one that was shown from a well-known designer. When/if the dress arrives it usually does not have a label sewn into the dress, is often not the beautiful gown that the web showed, the fabric is not even close to quality, and oh the fit. Hmmm. Who was this dress made for?

Many companies will also allow you to send your measurements to have a dress custom made. If the total price is $59 for a custom made gown, including shipping, do you really think this is going to be a beautifully made dress that fits your every curve, that will make you feel like Cinderella? Instead, the arms may be way too tight, the neckline too big, and let’s hope the zipper doesn’t bust halfway through the event.

Another chance when ordering online is the hacking of your credit card. Face it, there’s a lot of unethical people trying to operate businesses out there. Later down the road, when you least expect it, your credit card numbers can be ran for purchases you did not make. This is a fine example of why you should go through your credit card statement each month with a fine tooth comb.

Are you concerned about being the only one at your event with YOUR dress? Ordering online guarantees nothing. When shopping locally many independent shops will keep track of which dress styles goes to which event. Thus avoid the duplication of the same dress at the same event.

Keep your mind at ease and shop any of the great boutique and special occasion shops in Billings. We have a great selection and any of them would love to earn your business.

Does The Number Really Matter?

Does the size of your clothes really matter? The tag that is sewn into your clothes should just be a guide to finding the right piece of clothing. Why are women so obsessed with the number on the tag?

So often when working with a customer to select a dress for a special event, when the salesperson asks what size they wear, the response is: “I used to be a size ___.”  It doesn’t matter what you used to be. Today is the day that you need a dress, a great dress, and we will find you one that will make you look and feel great. No matter if you have gained or lost weight and changed dress sizes from last month or last year, YOU need a dress AND the sun will come up tomorrow no matter what size the tag states.

Remember, size is nothing more than a guide. Shop owners know their merchandise and how dresses fit. AND Every brand is different. Just like no two bodies are alike, no two brands are alike. If you say you are an 8 and we bring you a 10 to try, it is because that brand runs small. We also have a brand that if you wear an 18 we will have you try a 16 and maybe even a 14. Then you run into “Missy” sizes vs “Women’s” sizes and oh, throw in a “Junior’s” size also… It can all be confusing, and frustrating at times, but let the person offering you customer service and earning your business navigate through the maze of brands, cuts and categories. Your job is to pick the dress that makes you feel like a million bucks.

In 1958 a size 8 dress is now the same measurements as today’s size 16. That may be based on some standards that designers do not follow. We actually have a brand of dresses that a 4XL equals a size 18. If this doesn’t damper a woman’s day, nothing else will.

The AVERAGE American sized woman today wears a size 16.  Who determines the meaning of “average?” What are the guidelines for measurements? Who makes these decisions and is there a Sizing Police that makes sure that all companies follow these guidelines? The clothing design and manufacturing industries can be comical at times and a game. It’s how we respond to what others say we should be that will determine our outcome and attitude. Don’t fall into this game. Find the dress that fits YOUR body no matter what the tag says.
On that note, keep in mind that many dresses need adjustments. If you have a part of your body that is larger than the rest, find a dress that fits the larger part and have alterations done to make the rest fit.

Men make it so easy. They could care less about the size tag in their pants. They buy the pants that feel and look the best. Maybe we could take some lessons from the guys and quit focusing on the number on the tag.

The World of Pant Legs

One can get overwhelmed when pant shopping. There’s skinny, straight, bootcut and flare. Than we add the crop, capri and ankle. There are many other options but these tend to the most popular on the market in our area. Take some time and try on a variety to see what works for your shape along with the fabric that is used will make each pant look and hang differently.         

The capri pant is also known as crop pants and clam-diggers. They are longer than shorts and shorter than trousers. In the past they came between the knee and calf. This year they seemed longer than usual. This can cause issues with those that don’t have the height.

Our favorite has always been a capri that has a cuff because when you are short all you need to do is put 1 more roll in the cuff. This year with the longer style and slimmer leg, it was more difficult to make the adjustment.

The hem of the ankle pant ends right above the ankle bone. They tend to be a slimmer leg that can be so useful no matter the season. If you are short and don’t want to shorten the pants and they are made from a nice twill with a wider hem, it is easy to flip the hem up for your ankle pant. Depending on the size of your calf, these can also work really well tucked into boots. Usually it’s the skinny pant that is best for a boot but those with larger calves the skinny doesn’t work. But more importantly, ANKLE pants look REALLY great with a great pair of shoes!

Everyone should know the skinny, straight, bootcut and flare pant. The skinny and flare come and go every so often with trends. We think to past eras and the pictures of pants that we may laugh at but now they reappear again. There is a reason why you shouldn’t get rid of your clothes. Just think, your granddaughter may love the new outfit she just purchased and when grandma pulls the same out of storage and says she used to wear the same style, it’s a lesson learned that things reappear in our fashion world but more importantly, Grandma was hip too!

A good alterations professional can fix all issues and often times can recreate the pant leg to fit your individual leg and likes. If someone has a larger calf that isn’t allowing the leg on the capri to lay correctly, ripping the seam and putting a hem in the edge is a possibility. For the shorter person, taking the skinny pant and rolling up the hem to make an ankle pant works great. If allowed, due to circumference of pant leg, taking the ankle pant and rolling into a capri may work.

We are experts at dealing with shortness. To our surprise, there are gals out there who have just the opposite. It’s hard to add length to jeans but taking a capri and rolling it up to above the knee for a pair of shorts works. Many will wear ankle pants as capris. Once again, if the leg is too tight split the seam. And finally our favorite, those that take a bootcut jean and put in a great cuff to make a capri.
There’s a solution for many issues. No one pair of pants are alike and no one body is alike. Work with what you have and think outside of the box. Now go enjoy our Fall and shop local!

Dresses of Today and Yesterday

Remember when our grandmothers and great grandmothers wore dresses on a daily basis? We then gravitated to wearing dresses for special occasions. That usually included church, weddings, funerals and work. Back in those days a dress was accompanied by heels, hose and foundations. Add those to a 100 degree day and we wonder why dresses don’t find a permanent home in our closet today.

Today dresses are more functional. Prints, fabrics and cuts can create a great dress for any occasion. That occasion can be sitting at sporting events, drinks on the patio of a great pub and the backyard baby shower. They are comfortable, classy and most importantly, you can be yourself. No fancy shoe, hose or foundations required.

Maxi dresses come in a great variety of solids and prints. They are cool,  comfortable and perfect for summer vacations, street festivals and go great with flip flops! A maxi dress is a long dress. Never not buy anything because it is too long. Dresses can easily be shortened. If you aren’t able to accomplish this task on your own take it to one of our great alteration professionals in Billings.

A midi dress is perfect for the office and more formal occasions. These dresses will be form fitting or A Line and knee length. This style goes perfect with a dressier shoe. Granted this isn’t the dress to wear to sporting events, sitting in the bleachers cheering on your favorite player. This would be a great dress for a wedding, work and will easily blend in for drinks after work.

Flirty dresses will have great cutouts and fun prints. They can have a hi-low or handkerchief hem. They are flowy and perfect for all summer activities.

The white dress is always a favorite for summer. Just don’t wear it to a wedding as a guest! White screams summer. Since we’ve been wearing our parkas for so long it’s time to get out into the sun and nothing shows off a tan better than white.

The black dress is no longer just for holiday parties. Black will always be classy. For the summer the fabrics and cuts will help combat the summer heat while looking cool and comfy.

The floral dress is perfect for any event. Floral says “summer fun.” Floral dresses can come in soft prints or bold and vivacious.

The mini dress is here. We have seen hemlines go up and down. Some items that are sold as a dress we wonder who would wear it. Anyone can wear the mini dress but if uncomfortable with the length, a pair of leggings or legging capris can be a perfect compliment. You just turned the dress into a tunic.

The oversized dress is perfect for so many occasions.  They tend not to have a shape but usually come with a great neckline. They work great for casual and a simple shoe or dress it up with a heel for a more formal occasion.

Don’t think that living in Montana you don’t have anywhere fancy to go that you can’t wear a dress. Where what you like and what makes you feel good. Find the style, fabric and print that brings out your best.

Graduations, Reunions and Weddings

It’s graduation, class reunions and wedding season. Chances are you will be going to at least one of these events the next 4 months if not quite a few. This is a time of family and friends, a time of sharing laughs and memories so plan out your attire prior to the gathering so when the time comes you can focus on the event and not stress over what to wear.

From backyard barbeques to small and large venues, graduations and class reunions will be attended. It’s important to know where the event will be held and dress appropriately for the weather. Some venues will have climate control while many won’t. Dressing in lighter fabrics will probably be the best choice.  Natural fabrics such as cottons and rayons are always good choices for breathability and absorption. If you are attending an afternoon barbeque in Montana that may go into the evening, the temperature tends to drop so having an extra layer along may be welcomed.

Many graduations and class reunions that are held in small communities are usually in the school gym. These gyms will be packed with family and friends and usually lack air conditioning. This is a great time for a lightweight and flowy outfit.

Summer is the most popular time for weddings. Before deciding on what to wear to the wedding ask yourself what you know about the wedding. Maybe a phone call to someone in the family can help you in deciding what to wear. Over or under dressing may make you feel uncomfortable.

There are a couple of things we suggest not to wear to a wedding. One is WHITE and the other is RED. White tends to be reserved for the bride, the focus of the event. Red is a color that tends to draw attention and once again, you don’t want to compete with the bride.
Weddings tend to be formal or semi formal and everyone has their own meaning of this. Some invitations are being sent out with a suggested dress code. You may think this is odd but unfortunately in the society that we now live in, it is not odd at all. This is how we look at it; the bride, groom and their families have spent a lot of money on the wedding from venue to food to decorations. They have chosen to invite you to celebrate with them as they start their new life together and they really don’t want you to show up in shorts and flip flops. Unfortunately, this has happened which is causing many couples to state a dress code.

Shoes are something to spend some thought on. With a lot of outdoor venues for celebrations you don’t want to be wearing spiked heels and sink into soft ground all evening. Will you be parking on the should of a rural road and walking to someone’s backyard for the graduate’s celebration? Walking in a heel on gravel is not ideal either. Cute shoes come in all heights so there will be a great shoe for the occasion to go with any outfit.

Enjoy the summer with family and friends. Have a great time meeting new and getting reacquainted with others. Make your outfit work for you and enjoy your time.

Little House on The Prairie

For many of us who grew up in rural areas and had 2 TV stations can relate to watching “Little House on the Prairie.” For me it was Monday nights at 7:00. I never missed it.

The show was focused on family, community and helping your neighbor. Everyone was always willing to lend a hand. This was not foreign to me as that was similar to the farming and ranching community that I was raised.

Than there was “The Mercantile.” Mr. Olson ran a business where people would purchase necessities. It was a “one stop shop.” He wasn’t rich by any means but am sure some thought he was as he had money coming in. Not realizing the money that was invested in hopes of having the right items for the folks of Walnut Grove.

Have things changed from Walnut Grove Minnesota and the time of helping your neighbor to Billings Montana and a bit more fast paced lifestyle? We have many more choices of businesses to support. We have big business and small businesses and the Internet. We have prospering businesses and those that are struggling.

As a small business owner I will be frank: It’s really scary to be in business right now. It seems like we have more and more businesses closing down. Thinking about Cold Water Creek, Hancock Fabrics, Vanity, Gymboree, Toys R Us, and Herberger’s. These businesses provided employment to many which provided for their families. I can’t imagine what they are going through as they struggle with what to do next.

Many blame online shopping that has taken a huge chunk of sales from our local businesses. I look at it a couple of ways. First of all, I work REALLY hard for my money and I believe a business should earn my business. Customer service is key to a successful business and if you don’t feel that the business earned it, take your money elsewhere.

Do you give local businesses a chance to earn your business before shopping online? I understand that sometimes not everything can be purchased locally but I feel it is important to check with your local shops prior to online.

We have a lot of great causes in our community. Keep in mind that it is the local businesses that support OUR community. It is the independent businesses that buy the Little League signs, the Boy Scout Popcorn, ads in the school publications. They are the ones who purchase the tables at the fundraisers. Give these folks a chance to earn your business. They are the ones that I hope are able to withstand this storm.

Shop small. Shop local. If you are at a baseball game and see a banner at the field, check out that business. If you are at a fundraiser and see sponsorship or donation from a business, go out of your way and stop by the next time you have a minute and learn about what they have to offer. It’s the Little Guy that will appreciate your business. We independent business owners are like Mr. Olson; we have a passion for what we do and appreciate you. We are not Harriet who is the money hungry person.

Prom Season

We are in the midst of Prom Season shopping. Billings schools will start holding Prom mid March and other schools throughout the region will continue into May. It's a fun and frustrating time for both the teen as well as the family involved, which is often Mom or Grandma.

If you are the Mom/Grandma, you need to come to terms that times have changed since you went to Prom. The days of the big puffy sleeves, high collars and poofy skirts are gone. Girls now often want something that is sleek with some wanting bling while others want simple.

Here are some tips for Prom dress shopping before leaving the house:

Set a budget. There’s a Prom dress for every budget. What is realistic for your familyFinding something that makes the teen feel beautiful on her special night while being realistic to the finances available will make everyone happy in the end.

Come to terms about what each of you want. This means if the adult wants something more conservative while the teen wants something more grown up, come to terms to a happy medium. A life lesson we all learn is to compromise.

What do our stores have to offer? All of the shops in Billings have selected and invested in dresses. So many times girls will look in magazines at gowns and come into the store to find that particular gown. I can guarantee that that dress will not be found in our area. The reason; magazine ads cost a lot of money. Dress companies will feature their most expensive gown in those magazine ads. These dresses probably range from $850-$1200. Our local stores stock dresses to meet the needs of our clientele. A dress in that price category will not be a good seller in our region.

Bring along any shoes, jewelry and undergarments that you want to wear with the dress. Proper foundations can make a dress fit and look so much better. Also, trying dresses over jeans will not really give you an idea of how the dress will fit and lay.

 And finally, hygiene. Take a quick shower before shopping. To many this seems like an odd request but you would be surprised.
Plan ahead when dress shopping. You can run out the night before Prom and buy jewelry but don’t expect to purchase a Prom dress within days of Prom and be ready to go. A majority of dresses need some sort of alterations and if you are needing alterations done by someone other than mom or grandma, you need to get on their list. From shortening the straps to cutting length off of the skirt; plan ahead for a good alterations professional to make your dress fit perfectly.

And finally, many of us want to make sure that we will be the only one wearing YOUR dress. That will only happen when you shop at an independently owned shop. If you are shopping online you never know how many other girls are purchasing the same dress for the same dance.

Have fun; both in terms of shopping and the big dance. Don’t let stress of the dress get to you.

New Year New You

Are you finding yourself in the Frumpy Category? Do you wish you could go back in time? We can’t turn the clock back but as we start a new year it is a great time to start a new you.

So many times we get in a rut, whether it be in life or in fashion. A new outfit or even just a new piece of clothing or accessory can give us a new outlook. I don’t think men realize how easy our attitudes and outlook on something can change when we feel great about how we look.

Trends come and go. Maybe you have a piece from your past that you absolutely loved and could never part with. Is it back in fashion but maybe needs a little adjustment? Dust it off and take it shopping with you for an accessory or a complimentary piece. This may also be a good time to take it to a tailor to make a few changes. We have some great gals in Billings that can really work wonders with fabrics and fashions and bring new life to an old and or frumpy piece of clothing.

If you are ready for a new you, grab some basics and a statement making piece, whether it be a pant, top, jacket or scarf. Make it work for the new you, not the frumpy you. Stepping outside of your box is an ok thing to do.

Maybe this is the year you make a change in how you dress. I am not saying that if you are 60 you should dress like you did when you were in your 20’s. Times and fashions have changed. Whether you want to try trendy or conservative, there are great fashions calling your name.

I invite you to go out into our community and see what all of the great little boutiques have to offer. Don’t be afraid to experiment and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Boutique owners love what we do and we love customers who want help with styling and are open minded.
Billings is very fortunate to have a wide selection of boutiques that offer a variety of styles and price ranges. From great shops on 24th Street West to downtown to the Shops at Shiloh to even one in the Heights, we are all small business owners that have a passion for what we do. I know I speak for all boutique owners when I say that we would be honored to earn your business.

Take a deep breath. You can do this. Make the year 2018 the best year yet. We can’t change our past but we can look and feel damn good for our future.