Recently, I attended a shopping party showcasing CAbi– the in-home clothing line of former Nordstrom fave Carol Anderson. They use the same model as other shopping party brands; here’s how the CAbi website describes it:
A CAbi Consultant partners with a Hostess to create a CAbi show. A Hostess simply invites her friends to her home, and the Consultant… brings our latest designer collection into the Hostess’ home and gives an exclusive presentation.
I had heard of the line before, but this was my first event Really, what’s not to like? It’s a great chance to sip some wine and eat hors d’oeuvres with a bunch of ladies while looking at clothes.
The real benefit of this kind of shopping experience is the knowledgeable consultant. Because she concentrates on one brand, she really understands the garments and has detailed knowledge of fabrics, construction, and sizing. Sadly, that depth of expertise is ever more hard to find in traditional retailers– even at some high-end department stores.
Of course, there are drawbacks, too. Since the rep has to transport the line from home to home, she carries select sizes. Consequently, the ordering process might involve some guess work.
Also, my feelings about the clothes were subtly influenced by the other guests at the party. I actually avoid shopping with friends because I know I’m susceptible to this kind of input and prefer to follow my own instincts about the things I try on. On the other hand, people who typically enjoy getting others’ input would probably love this opportunity to do so in a comfortable, friendly setting.
And then there’s the whole question of whether the shopping party structure pressures people to buy. Keeping it real- the entire model probably depends on it. However, I personally don’t feel like I have to buy simply because I’m attending the party. Now, would I accept a similar invitation if I knew there was no chance I’d purchase? Probably not. What do you think? Are you comfortable attending a shopping party even when you have no intention of buying? What do you consider the right etiquette in that situation?
So did I end up buying? Yes- a lightweight pinstriped jacket with contrasting, floral-print cuffs. It’s chic and versatile, and I’d been searching for something like it for a while. Check it out:
The above photo is from the CAbi canary blog, which featured a post about this blazer and offers a lot of good info about the brand in general.
Lucie Amberg is also a contributor to Powder Room Graffiti.