Did you know the world revolved around voluptuous Mad Men star Christina Hendricks? Neither did I! Fortunately, I read New York Magazine’s The Cut blog, which alerted me to the fact via a story about Hendricks that ran in the The Daily Record of Scotland. The Record quoted her as saying:
“People have been saying some nice, wonderful things about me. Yet not one designer in town will loan me a dress. They only lend out a size 0 or 2. So I’m still struggling for someone to give me a darn dress.”
Wait a minute. I’ve been out of school a long time but I seem to recall that the earth revolves around the sun and not an actress. So I better explain why a pretty, talented lady like Hendricks (who wore Zac Posen to the Emmys on Sunday) can’t always get the loaner dress of her dreams. It’s not size-ism, despite what the Hendricks quote implies. It’s logistics.
The designers only have small sizes available because sample sizes are made to fit runway models. And here I will acknowledge that, yes, models are taller, thinner and more beautiful than the typical person. It’s part of the job requirement. Learn to deal with it. The world doesn’t revolve around you and your insecurities whether you’re an actress or an accountant. Not only will there always be people that are taller, thinner and more beautiful than you, there will be people who are younger, more experienced, smarter, more charming, better connected and/or — unless you are billionaire Carlos Slim — wealthier. That’s reality.
Anyway, the runway samples are made to fit models who show off the clothes to store buyers and fashion editors, enabling the designers to get orders and press. Look up “sample” in any dictionary. It’s defined as “a portion, piece, or segment that is representative of a whole. An entity that is representative of a class; a specimen.” The samples represent the styles that may then be ordered in a variety of sizes.
People who happen to be model-sized or close can borrow the samples that represent the style. Lucky for them. Not so lucky for the rest of us including Hendricks, whose measurements, according to The Record, are 39D-30-39. But is the fact that she’s out of luck so awful? (I’m out of luck as well. Samples are too tall for a 5’4″ woman.) For the hell of it, let’s suppose that all designers decided to make all runway samples 39D-30-39 and only hired models of that size. That would still exclude the majority of people. Some of us would be smaller, some of us would be larger. We have to accept the fact that we are not all the same size and never will be. (For more on the challenges of sizing, read this New York Times Magazine story and the many excellent posts that Kathleen Fasanella of Fashion-Incubator has done on the topic.)
Then, you might be wondering, why don’t designers make a range of sample sizes? Refer back to the definition of “sample.” It defeats the purpose of making a specimen or representation if you’re making the entire line. Why should designers invest enormous amounts of time and money to make 12 versions (that number assumes they’d do U.S. sizes 0 – 22, and doesn’t take into account differences in height) of each style, including styles that might never be ordered by stores. And this would all be just in case Christina Hendricks wants to borrow one for free?
Let’s look at how this would work with jewelry. A good sample size for a ring is a 6. It’s an average size that’s likely to fit at least one finger on many women, so a customer can get an idea of what the ring would look like once it is made in her size. Most (but not all) of my female customers fall between a 5 and an 8 when it comes to ring sizes. I do rings in quarter sizes, so to cover sizes 5 through 8 — while discriminating against my poor 4 3/4 and 8 1/4 ladies — I would have to do 13 sizes of each style in order to have a ring ready to go for nearly anyone who walks in the door. That could easily cost me $100,000 per style. Ridiculous! That’s why I just do a single ring for people to view and order in their own size.
I would love to get a ring on Christina Hendricks. If she tries on my gold-and-diamond Borgia poison ring in sample size 6 and it fits her, I’d be glad to loan it to her for an evening. I haven’t seen a single episode of Mad Men, but I liked her two-episode arc on Firefly, so why not?
If the sample doesn’t fit her, I’d be delighted to custom-make a ring in her size. Of course, she’d have to pay for that. If I started making free rings for everyone who wanted them, I’d go broke in less time than it is taking me to write this post. Duh! Everyone wants free stuff! Meanwhile, contrary to popular belief, having a dress/purse/ring seen on a celebrity doesn’t always translate to big sales. Press is good for overall brand recognition, but there are times it doesn’t move a single unit. If you’re not going to be compensated for your work by the customer AND the customer isn’t guaranteed to generate sales, does it seem like a smart idea to start making special things and giving them away to every person who thinks the world revolves around him or her? If common sense isn’t providing the answer to you right now, you might want to reread my posts Get Smart (About Manufacturing) and Get Smart (About Custom Work) about the costs of production.
Remember, I’m just talking about sample sizes and loaners here. If Christina’s complaint was, “I walk into stores and they don’t have my size,” I wouldn’t be writing anything like this because that is a legitimate complaint and entirely different from the sample size issue. I’m not saying that women of a certain size shouldn’t have access to great clothes. They should. Support the designers who do offer a wide range of sizes! My designing friend Zang Toi has customers of all sizes and ages. They choose from his tiny runway samples and he makes their pieces to order. Stacy Lomman of taffetadarlings took the unusual step of pre-selling her samples in order to raise money for her first show via Kickstarter (you can still contribute here). She’s currently fitting the dresses to the models. After, she’ll resize the dresses to fit the people who bought them. A few dresses will have to be made from scratch, costing her extra money. But, if her models were 39D-30-39, the same thing would be happening. Repeat after me until you learn it by heart: one size does not fit all, bitches!
What could Christina Hendricks do to get around her free dress problem? I’d recommend that she stops worrying about freebies and instead becomes a valued paying customer. Any designer is more inclined to whip up special pieces for reasonable prices for customers with good track records. It’s great to have a working relationship with a designer, as my customers can attest, and I’d say the same of buying clothes from Zang and Stacy. It’s not as if the free-dress phenomenon (which I’m not against because, as I said, it is good for branding) is an ancient tradition that must be respected. My Facebook friend Jeffrey, a fashion-industry veteran, notes, “I sold many dresses to many of the Dynasty and Dallas girls way back when —and yeah we gave them a deal but it was by no means free.” Gorgeous blogger Madeleine of In New York Paris Tomorrow, another retailing vet, says, “Sad days for indie shops: we used to SELL these things, and the shoes and the bag and the jewels. Still trying to understand the Swag Parties for the Emmys etc … and … we didn’t give deals (although friends could borrow our own pieces).”
Finally, for those who can afford it, buying is every bit as glamorous than borrowing, if not more so. As Jeffrey points out, “Elizabeth Taylor wore her own jewelry, her own clothes, had no stylist and was still every inch a star.”
Christina is probably closer than any other actress today to having Liz-style va-va-voom, and I enjoy seeing her on the red carpet. I hope she continues to find plenty of gorgeous dresses to wear, even if they’re not always free.
Remember, y’all, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, in which one pair of jeans magically fits four girls although they have completely different measurements, is fiction! In real life, one size does not fit all. It doesn’t matter if a sample is a 0 or a 14 — it still won’t work for everyone. That’s the simple truth, not a personal attack. We’re living in a world without magic: no unicorns, good witches or supernatural denim. But, hey, at least we have Antoine Dodson and Sam Waterston’s eyebrows. What!? Those things seem magical to me!
UPDATED TO ADD: I like the cartoon here. It reminds me of some of the issues I raised above.
Wonderful post! A wealth of information. How great that ET (Liz Taylor, not “ET”) didn’t have a stylist and she wore her own stuff. What a disaster the red carpets would be these days if that were the case! Your Borgia ring would be perfect for Ms. Hendricks and OMG, she looks insanely hot on the NY Mag. cover. I will loan her a dress any day!
Yes, but will you make her one for free? 😉
You better not! We can’t have both of us working for nothing!
thanks for writing this. i am a fashion student and work in retail, i can’t believe how often i have to explain to people that ready-to-wear comes in standard sizes but women do not! unbelievable how adverse we are today to alteration or tailored clothes, it really wasn’t very long ago that homemade and commercial tailored clothes were the norm – for some people they still are
It’s interesting to me it’s standard for men to alter suits, but department stores don’t always make women aware of in-house tailoring options for higher-end clothes.
It truly is impossible to have something fit all people the same way. Even ring sizers don’t tell the truth about how that size 6 1/2 ring will really fit you. A lot depends on the shape of the ring, which, of course, is never the shape the ring sizer is!
even with suiting I have had women refuse to consider alteration. perhaps because there is such a variety of style and cuts available that women think that they don’t need to buy and alter. and yes, menswear is very different! and sellers of men’s suits are generally better trained at offering alteration advice.
the worst is when women take the poor fit of a standard size personally, that their body is ‘wrong’ is some way.
Such a great post! You’ve been on a real rip lately!
I have finally watched my first 3 episodes of the Rachel Zoe Project and I had no idea about the process some celebrities go through when attending events, etc. If I somehow became famous, I would much rather continue to keep up with fashion and pick out my own clothes rather than pay a spazzy maniac to hunt down the latest and greatest just because it’s new. When a big designer gives you something for free, that doesn’t mean it’s reflective of your own style. The designer probably has their own agenda as well.
I’d like to hope she’s just joking around about the freebies that seem so prevalent these days.
PS- I’m a DD and there is no way in hell those are just Ds.
Of course, the designer has an agenda!
And I can understand why people use stylists because they have so many events to go to for professional reasons and not enough time to pick out 100 outfits for themselves…but you can still use a stylist and buy things if you have to. Charge it to the studio!
Yeah, I guess it would be incredibly time-consuming to stay up w/ it all if you were that busy. Yes! I can has expense account please?
oh yeah, i thought the same thing, i’m a DD/E and both my boobs put together might equal one of hers, but i doubt it.
deja pseu says
Christina Hendricks could wear a burlap sack and still look good. But yes, I get what you’re saying.
I agree, she looks good in practically anything. I thought she was one of the best on Emmy night.
elena daciuk says
well said wendyb! it amazes me that people do not understand the “cost” behind making several pieces in hopes that just maybe…someone will pick it up…you explained it SO well…
I’ve done it and regretted it big time. Cost me a lot of money. Clients saying, “What I really want is this ring as earrings” or “I want these earrings in silver” and I’ve made it on spec and they haven’t bought it.
Nowhere in her statement do I hear a tone of, ‘the world owes me’ but I do see her point. There are more women in America over a size 14 than any other size. It IS size-ism when not one designer can see beyond their nose to outfit a voluptuous Real sized woman. If one had, I’m sure they would have acquired scores of dedicated customers for life. Your opening comments were petty and low brow.
Obviously more than one designer HAS clothed her as she hasn’t appeared on the red carpet naked. Meanwhile, I said quite clearly, I was talking about her quest for a sample and for someone to “give” her a darn dress, not the issue of sizes in inventory. Here’s a reminder: “Remember, I’m just talking about sample sizes and loaners here. I’m not saying that women of a certain size shouldn’t have access to great clothes. They should.”
Reading comprehension is a good thing.
P.S. Calling a size 14 a “real” woman is size-ist too. We’re all real women, my friend. Except for the imaginary ones.
Joy D. says
It is the inherent notion that actors have to always be taken care of. I am 5’11 and easily a size 14 but I don’t complain. Maybe it was more of a hissy fit about her treatment than a size-ism issue. Sometimes the Cut likes to write fun stories that make you want to blame someone. I am happy you wrote this, especially since I was thinking of finally getting up the courage to post to Chictopia’s site. Arguments of this nature create unnecessary tension.
I’m looking forward to your Chictopia post. What’s your angle? Send me a link if you do it.
I cannot believe that you have never watched Mad Men??!!! WTF? It is one of the most fantastic shows ever. Beautifully written yada yada yada yada. I live in Australia and download it as soon as it appears on US TV. Get on it Wendy!
I loved Firefly too BTW x
I know, I’m funny about what shows I watch. I don’t get into that many of them, even when I think I should! I never watched any of Lost, for instance. I ponder getting the DVDs.
I don’t think Lost can be in any way compared to MM. I never watch crap TV shows, only most excellent ones like True Blood , Sopranos, Deadwood, Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, Carnivale….
Beautifully Invisible says
Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Christina Hendricks.
First of all, great post. You shared some great information here, and I enjoyed the inside look at how the loaning of samples works. Especially wear jewelry is concerned.
Second, size-ism is an issue when it comes to designer clothing, and it’s something Christina has commented on in the past as well. The Daily Record quoted her regarding the sample size issue, but she has also gone on record before talking about how designers simply don’t make size 14 dresses for mass market either. It’s harder for her to get dresses period – sample or otherwise. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling the Daily Record may have omitted some of what Christina discussed with them because framing it this way is much more sensational.
As you know, choices get severely limited once you go past a size 12, and even a size 10 is pushing it. I am a size 12/14 myself and I am constantly getting sized out of clothing I would LOVE to own but designers simply don’t make the piece in my size. Now, Christina has an advantage over me and can special order something from a designer. If only I had that luxury.
Lots of designers claim that the expense involved in producing these larger sizes negates the profit they would make from them, but that isn’t true. There is a huge demand for them. Some designers – like Marc Jacobs, are realizing that and have started to tap that market.
I think my biggest issue with the Daily Record piece is that the way they edited the article makes her sound whiny, and normally she doesn’t come across as whiny (or entitled) in her interviews. She knows one size doesn’t fit all – I just really think they chose to make her sound like a whiny brat.
I agree on the general issue of the need for larger sizes, but you should read Fashion-Incubator and the New York Times story for more insight into the real challenges of fit in plus sizes.
While I am not familiar with Christina’s latest work I think she’s gorgeous and don’t have anything against her, but complaining about not being able to borrow stuff…it’s not a legit complaint in my book.
Beautifully Invisible says
I did read that NY Times piece when it came out – some great information in it. I’ve quoted it myself in a few posts on my blog. However, I’ve never checked out Fashion-Incubator, thanks for the recommendation.
I agree that not being able to borrow things isn’t a legitimate complaint, but I honestly wonder how much of that article is just an attempt by the Daily Record to gain press. I would be willing to wager that they asked her the question because they knew the quote would be picked up after the Emmy’s.
If she really, truly is being whiny about the subject it would make me lose some respect for her.
This was a great post Wendy, very informative. Considering you’re a real woman and down to earth blogger, I value your opinion as a designer more than some elitist man who can’t be bothered to put down the champagne and cavier yet still begrudges women who don’t fit the sample size he designs. From your perspective as both a designer and a consumer, the explanation for why Hendricks and the rest of us can’t find our dresses among the samples makes perfect sense. Thanks for taking the time to address this issue.
I love Hendricks, but her body isn’t the only type out there. It’s great that she is helping to usher in acceptance of other body types, but if suddenly all the designers made samples only for her body then that would be just as discriminatory as the runway sample sizes right now! The fashion world and the whole world doesn’t revolve around her. Although apparently a British health official claimed she had the best body type that all women should aspire for, which is just ludicrous because even though I have my curves I could never be as curvy as she is! ugg we need to stop going to such extremes!
Agree, people rush from one extreme to another. I don’t care for anyone exclaiming “This is what a REAL woman looks like.” Does that make the rest of us…imaginary??
Kim Yamaguchi says
*rolls eyes at Christina Hendricks*
Ya know, it’s perfectly alright to NOT have things just tossed at you for free. A lot of designers lose money as it is with celebs who *don’t* return the loaners (right Wendy?), so honestly I wouldn’t blame *any* designer who just stopped loaning period.
And even when I was a sample size I was never tall enough (5’7). Oh and I wouldn’t be able to wear your sample size ring as I am a 5. But I really don’t hold it against you 🙂
5’7″ is tall to me 😀
And I’ll happily make you all the rings you like in size 5. Just let me know!
I think the important point to take out of this is that ready-to-wear clothing is very rarely made in sizes or proportions that the average woman who happens to have hips or a bust can wear.
As for the comment above that claims people are “adverse” to alterations or tailored clothes – well, as a mother-of-two, I find it ludicrous that people (likely people who can buy off the rack, mind) think it should just be standard for me to spend hundreds on a dress I like only to have it altered. Are only runway models and small chested women who are currently in vogue are allowed to buy well-fitting clothes? Aren’t we meant to be promoting healthy body types instead of having a hater party on Christina Hendricks for pointing out a larger issue that is a problem in the fashion industry?
Yes, I agree, she should just fork out for a dress. I doubt she has an easy time buying one, though.
I’m not having a hater party on her. I think she’s beautiful. But sample sizes don’t fit her and they don’t fit me and they never will. She needs to buy, that’s all. Being able to buy well-fitting clothes is another issue that I’m not focusing on here. I am focused on telling people what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to manufacturing samples.
“As for the comment above that claims people are “adverse” to alterations or tailored clothes – well, as a mother-of-two, I find it ludicrous that people (likely people who can buy off the rack, mind) think it should just be standard for me to spend hundreds on a dress I like only to have it altered.”
i think if you really like the dress, and you’ve spent ‘hundreds’ on it – then it makes sense to alter it to best fit and flatter you (if that’s what it needs), so you will get the most wear and enjoyment for your money. or alternatively, get your measurements done by a tailor, give them your hundreds and get a well-fitting garment that way.
i’m small-chested, and it really isn’t all that easy to find clothes that fit me on top, or bottom. i know women from size 6 – 26 (Australian, in US i think it might be from 2 to plus-sized) who all have fit problems with standard sizing – if it ever does fit you properly you’re very lucky!
Look, I can’t say I have an opinion on what you wrote necessarily because… well, all the pictures of Christina Hendricks made me forget how to read temporarily. But in my jumping from picture to picture I happened to notice you say you watched “Firefly,” and now I’m kind of swooning over you. Christina who?
In closing, you really should watch “Mad Men.”
McGone! It’s nice to see you. How’s Fernando?
He’s… good? I guess? I sent him to St. Louis a few months ago and I think he was going to Colorado after that. I suppose I should look into that, shouldn’t I?
Madeleine Gallay says
Oh good, I worried about your anti-spam words. Mine is Vacation – lovely.
Thank you for the mention.
Having never watched the show either, well it’s NOT True Blood, I must say she is rather glam. She’d look fabulous having that Elizabeth Taylor baby blue dress mad to order for her.
McGone, you made me laugh …
She’s gorgeous and I’d love to sell her some jewelry!
you amaze me with your information! where do you get it all? you must retain everything you read, hear, see, and then some-impressive darling, impressive:)
i hope you are well and i am getting really exciting about my wolfie friend! it is september which means that we will soon be coming good on our “pledge” money, correct? When can I expect my wolfie to arrive?
September, as soon as the funds clear, supposedly two weeks after the campaign closes. I’ll let you know whe it’s on its way!
Joy D. says
I am simply stating that an argument like this, originally made by The Cut (I love them as a news source by the way) can be turned into a tense argument about size-ism. I also think all sizes should be addressed, excluding sample sizes.
You and I totally agree then — yes, all sizes should be addressed. But as a manufacturer, I feel it’s fair for me to explain that it’s an impossibility for a sample size, by definition, to fit all possible wearers. If anyone else wants to make this into a tense argument about size-ism, they are deliberately misreading me because they want to have a fight, or not concentrating hard enough and accidentally misreading me.
Topaz Horizon says
You know, I’ve been meaning to address this issue for a looooong time now since, being in the magazine industry, I’m always asked spitefully why we put skinny women in our fashion pages. And I can never really say all the stuff you just said up there because however way I put it, someone gets offended! Thank you for your bravery!
I’m sure people are going to be offended by this, but then they’re deliberately misreading it because they’re spoiling for a fight. There are always people who do that. What can you do about idiots? Can’t kill ’em. It’s illegal.
If only it wasn’t illegal. Sigh.
Beautifully Invisible says
I for one agree with what you wrote (even though I may sound like I am arguing). I think it’s a great post and extremely informative. I just take issue with the Daily Record because I think they took what was likely a more innocent response to a question and have sensationalized it. I could be wrong though, in which case, shame on me 🙂
Vegetable Assassin says
I agree with you in principle Miss B, don’t I always? Plus I know you speak the truth about the samples etc.
However, don’t actresses get freebies for events from designers all the time? They can’t all be a size 2, surely? I think she’s right, why shouldn’t she get sent stuff like other actresses because she’s not a size 2? Surely any designer with any business savvy at all, for the free publicity alone, would think it worthy to spend some moolah to get their dress on an it girl of the moment like Christina and custom make a dress to fit her gorgeous curves? The publicity would be golden, not to mention resulting sales. How many regular fashion conscious ladies in regular life SEE runway models wearing the stuff? How many would see Christina Hendricks in a gossip mag or site wearing it? WAY more. Plus it’s not like she’s a size 20 for crying out loud, she’s slim and curvy and hot. They’d have nothing to lose.
Plus, have you seen Miss H. on Mad Men lately? Yes she is larger than a waifish size 2, but no way is that chick a 39D. She’s busty yes, but she’s not huge everywhere else. She’s a 34D maybe, 36D even but no bigger than that.
As for everyone saying ‘she’s not the only body type out there’ no, she isn’t. Neither are you. Or some size zero anorexic model. It’s okay if a size 2 actress expects free dresses but not okay if a size 8 actress expresses an interest in the same thing? Shame on you.
Check me out being all in your face about shit. 🙂 Feel free to come over and bash me back though dude.
I would speculate that she’s taking a little poetic license, as we tend to do in conversation. I don’t think she’s getting NO dresses. She’s certainly worn plenty of big designers, including Posen at the Emmys, and I can’t imagine she’s bought all those dresses. She’s been embraced by the media, so I think she’s popular and attractive and yes, I would hope designers would love to loan to her IF they have something in her size. But you’re missing my point — which is that one-of-a-kind samples aren’t made in her size, as they’re not in mine. They’re made for runway. They are SAMPLES. No, people don’t make size 8 samples. They make size 8 INVENTORY. Like I said, if she wants specially made pieces, all she has to do is establish a relationship with a designer or designers. If she’s a nice person to work with, I’m sure she can do that (if she hasn’t already). From my own personal experience, it’s NOT worth it to make something on spec and for free for even established good customers. Ever changed your mind at the last minute about what you’re going to wear out one night? Actresses do that too. It’s not a good idea to spend, say, $5,000 hoping to get publicity and not even get the publicity (which, as I pointed out, doesn’t necessarily lead to even a single sale).
To reiterate my personal situation, I make my rings in a size 6 because most people can get them on at least one finger, even if it’s the pinkie, just to get an idea of how it will look on them. If Christina Hendricks is a size 6, she’d be welcome to borrow the Borgia for an event. If she’s a size 5 and I have to make an entirely new ring, no, it’s NOT a good idea for me to invest the money in that on the off-chance that she’ll be inspired to wear it a specific night. It is VERY unlikely that it will pay off in increased sales IF she wears it. The public’s perception that a good celebrity placement leads to a particular product selling out immediately is WRONG. I have been there and done that. Again, would I make her the ring if she’d pay for it? I’d be thrilled.
Veggie, life isn’t fair…we’re not all sample size. That’s how it is. Some people get to squeeze into free dresses and some don’t. As my grandmother would say, missing out on free dresses… “that should be your biggest problem.”
Loved your post. YES. Cannot believe you haven’t seen mad men Christina is the sexiest woman on earth — and all anyone is talking about because she is a size 14 — ANY DESIGNER – SHOULD MAKE HER A FREAKEN DRESS FOR FREE — for the PUBLICITY. SHE”S THAT HOT. YES. IT”S A GOOD IDEA. DESIGNERS get a lot of play — meaning FREE PUBLICITY when ACTRESSES wear their goods and promote their fashions too. It’s a win/ win item and they can cut that model and start manufacturing it – because she is what American Women are A SIZE 14 – the average american woman is a size 12 – So whoever makes her EMMY dress — makes a deal with someone to KNOCK off their own dress. STACY LOMAN — I HEAR OPPORTUNITY KNOCKING AT the proverbial DOOR>>
I think Stacy’s and Zang’s clothes would look great on her. But Christina should buy their clothes — just like I do. Don’t know about Zang, but Stacy can’t afford to give anything away no matter what kind of publicity she’d get. Actually, that kind of publicity has put a number of small designers out of business when they can’t produce enough to meet demand.
Meanwhile, Maria Pinto had her clothes on Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, and she filed for bankruptcy.
Publicity ain’t everything, you know 🙂
Great post. I’d never really thought about this side of things but I now feel much more clued up.
I’m not surprised, as I never knew anything about manufacturing issues till I had to manufacture! You live and learn.
Consider this scenario. A designer makes multiple samples of a dress in a variety of sizes. Let’s say six different sizes, ranging from petite to plus. Then NO STORE buys ANY size of that dress. That’s a whole lot of product to sell for half-price at a sample sale. In the meantime, he has to store it somewhere. Imagine if he did that for 20 styles that didn’t make it to retail. All that wasted time, money, warehouse space … you can’t do too much on spec. You have to make sure you have orders for your product before you run wild producing it. I’ve totally made that mistake and been stuck with expensive inventory that I didn’t want (I was trying to please a hypothetical customer) for YEARS.
I once dieted to fit into showroom samples (a bit bigger than catwalk as house models are bigger) – It wasn’t healthy but it gave me a better wardrobe to wear to work. But then it was the 90’s (check early Friends episodes) so the fashion wasn’t very healthy either.
As an app designer, I’m down with the no freebies. Freebies and Promos lead to people grabbing something they may not really want or need, and then criticising it because it wont take shorthand or make them a Bloody Mary in the morning. Paying for something means appreciating the value and perhaps enjoying it even more. Remember when Liz was on the red carpet and someone admired her diamonds? She replied “And they’re mine”
I’m always fascinated by how the freebie issue affects every business, whether software, hairstyling, tailoring, retail, apparel design, jewelry design, photography, graphic design, animal adoption (really — “kittens free to a good home” is NOT a good idea) … it’s universal. I kind of collect examples, so consider yourself collected! I think I’m going to have to quote you one of these days. Love the shorthand/Bloody Mary thing. Shoot, I don’t do either of those things myself!
Superb Liz quote too.
Julia, the Thanksgiving Girl says
Yes, yes and yes! I so agree with the “grabbing something they might not need just because it’s free” and “enjoying it more” parts. I’m guessing this is part why I’m never particularly drawn to sales – I believe if I have to wait for an item to go on sale to get it, it’s either I don’t really want it that much or I shouldn’t be trying to afford it anyway.
Julia, the Thanksgiving Girl says
Great article, Wendy! So glad I have the time today to just sit nd read it in all comfort and silence, with a cup of good coffee.
Personally, I kind of understand her frustration, which probably comes from seeing her fellow acting ladies get gorgeous designs for free and having enough to choose from, it would probably feel a little unfair to me too, if I were in her shoes. But, at the same time, it’s also can be kind of frustrating how celebs get so many things for free in general – the kind of things they’re capable of buying and can afford on their own. When it comes to expensive designer gowns and jewelry, I believe many could afford renting it and paying for the service. So in a way, Christina’s complaints are not as fair either. Anyways, the world is not the fairest thing out there in general 🙂
Hey, sometimes I pout a little too when I can’t grab something off the rack and have it fit perfectly. It would be so awesome if it did. Christina and I can go out for drinks and bond over that, and I’ll give her the name of my awesome tailor and explain the whole concept of “I buy things that don’t fit perfectly and she alters them so they fit!”
sharon rose says
Hi there-well, hear hear!! An excellent post as usual and lets hope she hears of the merits of loaning and owning a piece or pieces of WendyB jewellery!! Liz looks stunning in this photo too!!
I’ll gladly loan her necklaces if the rings don’t fit! That’s one of the things I liked about the jewelry biz. I can always get SOMETHING to fit someone.
This is a fantastic post. BTW – I don’t know why Ms. Hendricks is doing all the large-breasted ladies a disservice by allowing the myth to persist that her chest is a 39D. Her back is relatively narrow. Her breasts are very large. I estimate she’s a 32 back size and an H cup at least. The way the industry gets away with purporting that her bra size is a D is that her full bust measurement is in line with a 39D. Her under bust (i.e. back size) clearly is not. Remember how a 38B is a 36C is a 34D. Well a 38D is a 36E is a 34F is a 32G. Add an extra inch and you’ve got an H cup.
Oooh, I didn’t know all this. Thanks!
Just want to add that, with those dimensions, she\’s in custom sizing (as many people are for many reasons i.e. wide hips or waist or shoulders or long limbs etc.). It\’s completely unreasonable for her to expect (as she\’s not even \”off the rack\” sized), that she\’s going to score a dress worth thousands of dollars for an event.
This has nothing to do with her worth based on her size. It has to do with the cost of labour and materials.
Ah yes, of course you would understand this because you are making pieces yourself now! Once people start producing their own work, the challenges of pleasing everyone are very clear, aren’t they!
Great post! Now I’m wondering whether her Joan Holloway wardrobe is altered to hell or not. I thought that all of the characters were wearing borrowed vintage pieces…
I know you’re a big fan of the show. Get to the bottom of this!
I will say that people were smaller back in the day and most vintage sizes run small, in my experience. Vintage sellers make a big fuss over what they call larger sizes. Though maybe one of my vintage-dealing commenters can shed more light on that.
In an interview with the NY Times blog T Magazine, the show’s costume designer, Janie Bryant, was asked: Where do the clothes come from?
“I designed for a lot of the principal characters and I’ll build for them. We do rentals, and then I’ll also buy pieces from vintage stores. It really is a mixture of everything. I would love to design for the entire show, but it would take so much time, not to mention expensive.”
She must have custom designed a few pieces for Christina. I know that one of her signature red dresses has been worn on the show more than once.
pretty (face) says
First and foremost: you have to watch Mad Men now!
That was an interesting post from an economical point of view. But I think the problem still remains of this tall skinny image which all actresses seem to have to bend to if they want to get any work, which is why the sample dresses come in that size. Wouldn’t it be better if hardly anyone was using samples because they were all at their natural body weight? xx
Like I said, sample dresses are made to fit the models. And, like I said, those models are always going to be taller, thinner, prettier. It would be better if they were thin like the supermodels of the ’80s and ’90s instead of emaciated like some of the ones of recent years, but even so, it would be thinner than most people. (Also whose to say what everyone’s “natural body” weight is? Some people are thinner than others.) The majority of actresses, too, will continue to be more beautiful.
And what if the models weren’t taller, thinner, prettier? What if they were average in all ways? What if they were size 14? Size 14 only fits…size 14s. Everyone else above or below would STILL not be able to grab that sample off the rack and wear it out without huge alterations. We are not one-size-fits-all. Would it really be healthier to tell people that they MUST be size 14 in order to wear samples? What if a runway show was a whole mix of body sizes? You and I would STILL only be able to wear our sizes off the rack, if that. We would still be crying, “Oh my God, only one of these dresses fit me and it’s not the one I like. Life isn’t fair! The designer hates me because he sent me the ugly dress!”
I’m talking about economics, logistics and the reality of size variations.
@BeautifullyInvisible I thought the Record presented her quite sympathetically. I don’t think they were trying to create a scandal. It was more like, “Look at this gorgeous woman who can’t get a break from the mean fashion designers.” It was I who thought, “Wait, it’s ridiculous to think that every sample is going to fit you or that the designers are unwilling to send you sizes when actually they don’t have those sizes.” If she said, “I go in stores and they don’t have my size,” I wouldn’t have written anything because that would be a legitimate complaint. She’s confusing the issues of sample sizes and inventory sizes.
Beautifully Invisible says
That is quite possibly true.
Regardless – you presented your viewpoint beautifully.
P.S. if you ever would like to loan out some of your jewelry to someone non-famous, I wear a size 6 😉 LOL
I loan to the non-famous all the time. All the designers/manufacturers I know loan to friends/family/good customers. You just don’t realize they do that because those people aren’t famous! If you’re in NYC and have a big event and need a ring, just let me know 🙂
I was once out with four friends and we realized all of them had borrowed the necklace I was wearing that night.
such a great post! agreed! i think this chick needs to chill out and buy her own clothes like the rest of us – its not like she’s poor or anything… and great point with the jewelry! i never thought of that but its so true – imagiiine how expensive that would get to create a range of different sizes for a one night event? great blog 🙂 thank you for your comment! i hope you keep visiting!
Same here! Come again! 🙂
she has a body that won\’t quit! va-va-va-VOOM!
size 0-2 is not exactly the norm in our society, but that seems to be what models wear, and i don\’t see that changing any time soon.
i think it would be REALLY NICE if all the celebrities actually had to buy their own clothes and jewelry, just like the rest of us do. it is so annoying to me that the more success one gets, the more freebies come along, while the rest of us have to scrimp and save for what we wear. annoying! shell out! shell out instead of selling out! buy something you love, rather than waiting for a hand out. or dress within your means, for crying out loud.
I am so in favor of “shell out!” Ha ha ha! Though I really don’t mind the synergistic relationship between brands and celebrities, when celebs get loans of AVAILABLE items in exchange for free publicity. But once I have to start custom-making things for people, the publicity isn’t free. Hello! I’m paying to make something! So there should definitely be a limit. Actors who wouldn’t ever work for free shouldn’t expect other people to work for free.
This kind of thing happens in the non-celeb world too. All the designers/manufacturers I’ve known happily loan and gift things to their friends, family and even to special customers. But there are always the people who don’t appreciate it and instead take it too far … they start wanting to pay below-cost to keep something. Like the actors, they’d be appalled if asked to work for free, but they think it’s okay for other people to lose time and money. When you experience people like that, you get them out of your life pretty fast. They’re like vampires, except not in the sexy True Blood way.
Couture Carrie says
Very well-argued post, darling WB!
Well said, WendyB!
A lot of people seem to be sympathetic based on the fact that if she were to buy her own dresses she’d have to pay thousands of dollars for a dress she can only wear on one occasion. But that’s also supposing she buys dresses from the huge designer names that dress the other stars. I like your suggestion of her becoming a paying customer and developing a working relationship with designers. Why not work one-on-one with smaller little-known designers to custom-design dresses for her to wear to red carpet events and pay for them? In all likelihood it won’t cost as much as Versace Atelier, plus she’ll be raising the brand profile of lesser-known designers.
Here’s what I would advise her to do. Her clothes are a legit business expense — she’s obligated to wear them to promote the show. Her employers should be picking up the tab, IMHO (probably not in their humble opinions but this is my fantasy!). I’d arrange a deal with one designer: clothe Christina for 40 appearances this year. There would need to be a proper contract so that the designer gets paid, but she’d get a special rate for doing the work in quantity and promoting the designer. Then everyone’s happy. She gets custom clothing, the designer gets paid, the right people are doing the paying, everyone is strengthening their business relationships. Wouldn’t that be perfect?
Fajr | Stylish Thought says
Love me some Mrs. Hendricks though I do, I read the NY mag piece and thought the same thing: Buy a dress bitch!!! I’m tired of “stars” feeling entitled to free ish. Christina, no they can not make a free dress for you and your two full grown children (breasts) and then have said dress just hanging around for the next big busted starlet that comes along (more likely to see Haley’s comet)
“Full-grown children” made me laugh out loud, for real!
Yeah, it would be like me making a sample-size woman’s ring in size 4 or size 9 just so one person could borrow it…then I’d be waiting the rest of my life for someone to walk in with that size finger who’d actually buy it. Not a good deal for me.
fashion herald says
Hallelujah! Thank you for shedding some light on sample production. There is a lot of misinformation out there about samples and sizing. I spent about 15 years of my life trying to squeeze into sample sizes for informal and formal modeling shows (in smaller market shows, not NYC): some fit beautifully, and some I had to fake. Oh, the fun time I had lying on dressing room floors trying to squeeze into Gucci pants. Not even models will fit all runway and showroom samples, which is why there are fittings before shows. No one should expect sample sizing to be fair and judicious across the board, because, as you have so well-explained, fashion is a business!
And god, yes, I wish stars would start paying for beautiful clothing and jewelry to wear on the red carpet that is a reflection of their own taste and style. Now that would be refreshing.
I was thinking of you as a good contender for sample sizes considering your willowy build. I totally should have gone into more detail on the pre-show fittings because peeps not in the biz don’t know about that. Darn! Actually, I’ll do a whole separate post on it based on Stacy’s fittings. Thanks for the idea!
fashion herald says
But then you would have had a monster post!! Definitely worth its own thing. Fittings in small markets mean standing around with a bunch of girls in your underwear and heels while a rep or designer circles, deciding who should wear what. You can imagine the humiliating stories I have! But getting the proper girl in the right dress to show off the design is a big priority – it’s like an artist having the proper frame and gallery lighting.
And I admit I miss those days of fitting into sample sizes – all those dresses are stored away awaiting Arm Baby 🙂
Miss Peelpants says
This is a seriously great post. I’ve been thinking about it all day. I haven’t come up with anything particularly new to say, I just wanted to basically say ‘yes, you’re right, she’s being silly and she should buy her own frocks’. I also kind of agree (with her) that it’s unfair, but only in so far as, why should someone skinny get free clothes – just for being skinny and famous?
Anyone in the public eye is surely earning enough money to buy their own frocks. I have no sympathy for anyone moaning about not getting freebies.
La di dah (brilliant captcha today!)
The freebie thing really doesn’t bother me because both the brand and the celeb are benefiting. Celebrity placement doesn’t necessarily convert to immediate sales but if it raises a company’s profile enough, it might be the difference between staying in business and going out of business (though there are no guarantees — note Maria Pinto and Michelle Obama). C’mon, wouldn’t it be great if Angelina Jolie was wearing pieces from Vintage-a-Peel rather than, say, Rare Vintage, which has gotten a hell of a high profile from dressing her? (Rare has great stuff but I’d love for you to get the props instead because I know you and heart you!)
Anyway, even though I’m okay with the freebies, they’re a privilege, not a right!! 🙂
I’ve never watched Mad Men either…and I’m emailing you. I’m a blithering idiot after having read this and I don’t want all of your readers knowing how shallow I am.
You are a silly, but beautiful, lady 😉
P.S. Christina Hendricks doesn’t have a necklace named after her but you do!
I read the NYMag article and thought the same thing Wendy. Why doesn’t Ms. Hendricks BUY a dress like the rest of us non-celebrity, non-sample size women? I miss the days when actresses mostly chose and purchased their own clothes, without expecting designer freebies. You’re right that visibility doesn’t necessarily translate into sales. Isabel Toledo is still a struggling designer despite the publicity fromichelle Obama’s inauguration outfit. The average woman may buy her shoes at Payless but still isn’t going to shell out for a $2000 dress.
There are so many examples. Narciso has always had financial ups and downs — Carolyn Bessette Kennedy was a big get but not the same as having a business plan. Sarah Phillips did a custom inaugural gown for Hillary Clinton — in a style that wasn’t even representative of Sarah’s personal style — and ended up going out of business. In jewelry, Anthony Nak recently went out of business despite scads of editorial credits including Vogue….
Publicity is important but it’s not everything. People constantly confuse fame with fortune!
I got giddy that someone else watched Firefly (mostly my husband forced it on me at first, but hey who can resist a little Jewel Staite (loved her since the rainbow hair in Nicks Space Cases) … Also great that you made it known that giving things away for free, even to celebrities, does not necessarily boost sales… I’m going to control the rest of what I was going to say because it will come off as mean. [stop] 😉
ey me I had some getaway parenthesis in that one.
Email me the stuff you’re not saying 😀
I have zero sympathy for tv and film stars who want free stuff and can’t get it. They have enough dough to pay for things the rest of us can only dream of, so they should shut it and pay. Then they get to keep the dress instead of giving it back!
I’m bothered by the idea of anyone receiving a free dress and then auctioning it off to charity. As a designer, if I want to give to charity, I give. If I want to give a gift, I give a gift. But if I give you a gift, you better not turn around and act like it makes you a philanthropist! Anyone who buys a piece is welcome to auction it off…I definitely hope the people who auction off dresses have the designer’s okay for it. I’m going to assume they do. It would be very weird otherwise.
While I understand auctioning a piece off for charity decades later, after something was bought and worn and loved for years, profiting in the instantaneous way you outline above is really bad form.
AsianCajuns (Cath) says
I think all celebs get stuck in the myopic celeb world and forget that most people don’t get things for free. That being said, I do love Christina Hendricks.
She is definitely a hottie!
Megan Mae says
This post is full of so much “yes”. Incredibly well put. I’m passing this link to other people.
I haven’t seen Mad Men OR Firefly.. So don’t feel bad about that.
Phew, I’m not alone in missing out on Mad Men. Glad you liked the post!
Miss Janey says
Miss J feels the Hendricks’ pain. No one has called her up to offer the loan of their fabulous dresses either. It sucks!
If you’re ever in NYC, I’ll loan you jewelry as a consolation prize 🙂
Designers have been making SPECIAL dresses for celebs since the yr 1!
Like what celeb wants to wear something off the ole sample rack?
I remember fitting Ali MacGraw for the fashion awards at Anne Klein…OK so I’m 80
But let’s get REAL here
Jeeze I’d paint a dress on Christina H. if given the chance..hope it doesn’t rain…ahem
Great post. I agree wholeheartedly. And thank you for the link too! LLGxx
Christina Lindsay says
Excellent post. I think it’s unfair that celebrities get so much stuff for free. Of course designers can’t afford to cover all sizes.
I hate to admit but I’ve never watched Mad Men, although most of my friends do. I always think Christina Hendricks looks fantastic on the red carpet. As for vintage Liz Taylor… Love xx
FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com says
I love your extremely detailed, in-depth, intelligent and wonderfully written posts on subjects that tell us more about the fashion industry.
I knew sample = sample size, then you order your own.. but you’ve highlighted it in a new way for me 😀
ANOTHER fine post from Miss B. Loving your work.