A Guide to Buying and Collecting: Affordable Couture by Jemi Armstrong & Linda Arroz (Book Review)

I was recently sent this amazing book- ‘A Guide to Buying and Collecting: Affordable Couture’ by one of the authors-Linda Arroz herself. It’s a book that every collector and aficionados alike would appreciate and covers everything ranging from ‘how to identify couture’ to ‘realizing the difference between real and fake;’ ‘caring for your garments’ to ‘where to shop.’ The authors- Jemi and Linda also share their experiences with collecting vintage and couture.The book also includes several interviews with collectors who share what they have, how they acquired it and where they found their wares at such a bargain. There was one gal in particular- Beverly Soloman, who happened to live in my general vicinity and boasted a lovely collection of jewelry and scarves. Huge thanks to Linda for connecting me to Beverly, as I had the chance to meet up with her and her husband, sculptor Pablo at their ranch (one of the oldest homes in Texas and magnificent) one sunny afternoon. We sat down in her office and chatted about her life in the fashion industry.

Beverly grew up in Houston and had her Mother’s sketches {Mom was a fashion designer in Miami in the 50s} stored in the closet. Her Mother would always tell her stories about her glamorous life and the amazing clothing she’d design. Let’s just say the fabulousness of her Mother’s life and closet had rubbed off on Beverly. When she was fifteen, she was a local model for department stores and local morning TV shows. After she’d get off school, she’d drive over to a major department store (such as Foley’s at the time) and ask if they’d need any help on the sales floor and whatnot. It was not long after, that she’d regard the sales women as her ‘second mothers.’ They’d teach her the ins-and-outs of the trade, etc. and it was then that she started buying and collecting beautiful pieces with everything she earned. One women in particular who worked in the fine jewelry department, taught her about that portion of the business, while also getting her to start putting pieces that were on sale on layaway. After that, things looked up for Beverly… She had written a letter to Diane Von Furstenburg and they responded by offering her a job representing Houston in their new fragrance line. She also worked for Revlon, where she gained more knowledge in skincare, sales, marketing and honed her skills in fragrance. She was also thrilled she got to tour the factory. After working for Ralph Lauren (in fragrance of course), she started her own business as a fragrance broker. Fast forward several years to when her husband- Pablo first introduced her to the ‘love-affair’ of thrifting. During one of their first thrifting adventures, she ended up finding a few high-end scarves (one being Hermes) for a mere dollar. She now thoroughly enjoys it and the ‘thrill of the hunt.’ Her vast collection includes vintage (the best pieces being from the 50s-70s), original 70s YSL and Oscar de La Renta pieces, vanity art, fashion books, vanity art and compacts. She credits her Mother for her passion for vintage, like when they would go shopping, her Mother would turn the garment inside out and point out the construction and whether the work was good or shotty. Beverly says that you can collect pieces for a lifetime- as long as you take good care of it; case in point, she still has a black wool shawl she had acquired when she was in the 8th grade. She told me that her stories of her collection have been in numerous publications, but being in Affordable Couture has been the highlight of her life.

It’s not everyday a book spikes up a new found friendship. I am so thankful to have the book in my archives, as a reference for my ahem (sorry boyfriend) growing vintage collection and as a memory for when I met my lovely friend, Beverly. Her story was inspiring and heartfelt. And seeing her collection… well, it was just…perfect!

YOU dear readers, have a chance to win your own copy of Affordable Couture– just go HERE and enter!

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