Women Sell Designer Fashions From Their Houses

My SA Life:

The displays are enticing, with coordinating jackets, tops, pants or skirts and even shoes and scarves. And the women shopped, oohing and aahing over a dress, a sweater, this top, those pants as though they were in their favorite neighborhood boutique.

But this isn’t a boutique. It’s the Terrell Hills home of Caroline Bentley, direct-sales representative for Carlisle Collection and Per Se, and the clothes are set on racks among her couches and dining table. She is among several San Antonio women who open their homes three to four times a year to show designer “bridge” clothing for order.

“Typically, bridge designers are one notch under designer lines. Bridge lines have more distinctive styling than contemporary misses but are usually not as pricey as designer lines,” says Fashion-incubator.com.

A black quilted jacket from the Carlisle fall collection cost $495; the matching skirt cost $295. A Thakoon couture jacket and skirt in the September Harper’s Bazaar cost $4,950 and $2,295, respectively.

The complete collection is shipped to Bentley just days before she opens her doors to clients. The day before opening, after everything is unpacked and hung, Bentley and her sales crew “tried on everything in the collection and got to know every detail of it — how it fit,” she said. “My crew is all sizes, shapes and heights.” And though everything does not come in every size, she has every style of pant — flat front, trouser, etc. — in every size.

Bentley and her staff of four circulate in the large living-dining room — made larger by two walls of mostly glass — assisting clients with their picks from the season’s offerings. Previews are done by appointment, and Bentley allows only three clients at a time. Occasionally a client will come early or late for an appointment, which happened recently when two other clients dropped in.

Bentley takes it all in stride, but the place was abuzz with activity. One thing that helps Bentley and her staff keep things straight is the “tools the company offers,” she says.

Logo from Carlisle Collection.

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