Couture versus Ready-to-WearWritten by Diana Pemberton-Sikes
"What's difference between couture and ready-to-wear?"
It's a question that's been hitting my inbox a lot of late from women all over world. They may have been reading high fashion magazines like "W" or "Vogue" or are thinking about upgrading their wardrobes, and are wondering what, exactly, difference is between these designer categories.
Basically, it boils down to fit - and money.
* COUTOUR (koo TOOR) is French word for "sewing." Couture clothes are those that are fitted and sewn specifically for a client, often requiring several fittings for an exacting fit. The clothes may be specifically designed for client, such as a one-of-a-kind wedding dress or a one-of-a-kind red carpet ensemble, or they may be part of a designer's couture collection, which are pieces designer shows that are available for custom fit.
Typically, couture pieces are made of fine fabrics or feature extensive hand work (like beading or embroidery) that drive up price to thousands or even tens of thousands PER PIECE. Because of cost, couture clothing, which once had 35,000 regular customers during its heyday after World War II, has an ever-shrinking regular buying base of about 1,200 people worldwide today.
Couture is also known as made-to-measure or bespoke (British).
* HAUTE COUTURE (oht koo TOOR) means "high sewing," and is term reserved exclusively by those European fashion houses that offer made-to-measure apparel in or around Paris and belong to Fédération Française de la Couture (which began as Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in 1868 by Charles Frederick Worth). Following strict guidelines regarding number of pieces shown per collection and number of collections shown per year, current members include venerable fashion houses like Balenciaga, Chanel, Hermès, and Valentino.
You can learn more about Fédération Française de la Couture at:
* READY-TO-WEAR, or prêt-à-porter (prêt a poor TAY) is designer apparel that's made ready-to-wear in standard sizes and sold through boutiques, better department stores, mail order, and online. While consumers can have pieces tailored to fit after purchase, customization is not included in cost of ready-to-wear apparel. Many brand-name designers, like Vera Wang and Carolina Herrera, only show ready-to-wear collections, but still create a handful of couture pieces upon request for influential clients.
So when you read in a fashion magazine or hear on television that designers are showing their ready-to-wear collections, you know that those are pieces that you'll find in their boutiques or in department stores come new fashion season. Couture collections are those shown to high-paying clients who either go to fashion house directly to be fitted, or who order from designer's "look book" and have pieces made up from measurements designer has on file from client's previous fittings.
Fashion After 40Written by Diana Pemberton-Sikes
With so many designers and trends targeting svelte body of twenty-something, is it possible to look fashionable as years pass and your body begins to tell tale?
In fact, with a little ingenuity and sleigh-of-hand, it's easy to be fashionable and stylish regardless of how many candles are on your birthday cake.
Now let's be frank: unless you work out religiously, you probably don't have same body at 40, 50, or 60 that you did at 25. Time, gravity, and pregnancy all take their toll on female body, as does menopause. And when you mix a mature body with fashions obviously made for a younger person, it can lead to self-doubt, frustration, and confusion.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Getting older also means getting wiser, and like a fine bottle of wine, you're improving with age. So you don't have same body as those twenty-somethings you see in magazines or on TV. So what? Would you REALLY trade everything you've learned since your twenties for body you had back then? Probably no sooner than you'd like to re-live puberty, thank you very much.
So how can you be fashionable without wearing all those body-conscious clothes so en vogue these days? By remembering "3 C's" when you dress: clean, classic, and coverage.
Clean lines create a clean silhouette which makes body appear more youthful by skimming trouble spots instead of calling attention to them. Complicated cuts, seams, and details usually call for a killer body to pull off, so if you haven't got it, steer clear of those styles.
Classic styles are called classic because they remain in style year after year. Why? Because they look good on so many bodies! Sheathes, A-line skirts, flat front pants - all tend to flatter a variety of shapes. What's more, because they remain in style year after year, classics are easier on budget than trends.
Covering appropriately is key to aging gracefully. If your upper arms, thighs, and décolletage have all seen better days, it's time to cover them up a bit instead of sharing wear-and-tear with world. Now I'm not talking about draping yourself in a tent for rest of your life. Far from it. I'm talking about wearing short sleeves instead of going sleeveless, Capris instead of shorts, and modest necklines instead of plunging necklines.