Haute Thoughts by Heidi Dillon- Winter Clothes in May?!

I have fond recollections of the days, long ago, when summer was at an end a nip in the air would bring a rush of excitement and my shopping juices would start flowing.  After three months of bathing suits and shorts, I couldn’t wait to wrap myself in fur trimmed coats and chunky sweaters.

Life had order then. We purchased spring clothes in the spring, summer clothes in the summer and winter clothes in the winter. You could go into any store and know what time of year it was by looking at what was on the racks.

Retailers are in the business of selling clothes and they are always looking for new ways to sell more, so they got creative and decided to change the fashion clock. As a result, we are always confused. Sometimes I fell like I’m suffering from a type of fashion jet lag. Spring clothes are shown on the runway in September and start to arrive in November. Fall shows are in February and the merchandise starts shipping in May.

Technically, until December 21, it’s still fall and in most parts of the country it will be winter for a few more months but pre-spring and resort collections have already hit the sales floors. At least I get the resort thing, a lot of people take off this time of year for beach destinations and might need to pick up another caftan or whatever, but do we really need to look, at let alone purchase, a spring cocktail dress in December? What if I don’t want to go to any cocktail parties this spring?

My family and I spend the summer in Malibu where we never get dressed up, never think of clothes, and enjoy the company of good friends. Every summer beginning in June, I start getting phone calls from my sales people at my favorite boutiques, Alexander McQueen, Prada, Balenciaga, etc., telling me that the most “amazing” fall pieces have just come in. I’ve caved in in the past and agreed to let them ship some things to me on approval in Malibu. When the stuff arrived my skin started to itch just looking at all those wools. Last summer I put my foot down and refused to buy fall clothes until it was actually fall. While I may very well have missed out on some “amazing” things, at least my fashion clock was properly set.

This is a hot topic right now. On 12/11 there was a piece in WWD by Stephano Gabbana. He was complaining about the same thing I am. The department stores started that whole crazy schedule so that they could have a constant flow of new merch in the stores but the designers hate it because it forces them to have unreal production schedules and to design clothes that are sub-standard. They really want to stick to 2-3 seasons a year and ship clothes when it makes sense.

I hate the department stores. They have had a strangle hold on designers and customers for too long. In Dallas they actually run the social scene. Enough is enough.

Originally published in Snob Essentials. December 15, 2008