Retailers learned to reshape how we look at body type to drive retail sales at the Shape Event as part of AmericasMart University at Atlanta Apparel Market on Saturday, Aug. 22. Licensed image consultant Mary Ann Sudnick, owner of Mariani’s Boutique, spoke about going beyond sales to establish credibility as a true expert customers are comfortable trusting with wardrobe decisions.
She outlined the three major body types – without using the familiar “fruit” analogies that often leave women feeling less than good about themselves. She explained how to use color and accessories to create balance and harmony that accentuates a customer’s best features and camouflages those she doesn’t like.
“We have to encourage customers and inspire them to step out of their comfort zone,” says Sudnick. “Women’s bodies change, so they need to be able to find styles that still flatter – and that is possible.”
Ellie de Souza Cruz, managing director of Plie Europe, (www.plieusa.com) offered advice on why shapewear isn’t just for special occasions anymore. “It’s about all-day comfort to be able to look good in whatever you wear,” she says. As fabrics and manufacturing processes improve, shapewear continues evolving into everyday wear that makes clothes fit better without conjuring memories of our mothers’ stiff girdles. There are options to flatter without sacrificing comfort, and it’s important to help customers understand all the products available to help them improve the fit of their clothing choices.
Since every woman wants – and needs – a great pair of jeans that actually fits, Kathy Moca, founder of Beija-Flor Jeans, (www.ilovethesejeans.com) shared her experience of going from a successful retailer to developing a line that uses Brazilian design to flatter figures around the world with comfortable, durable, fashionable jeans.
To tie the whole look together, Sudnick showed examples of her Top 10 Wardrobe Essentials ranging from a great white shirt to a patterned trench, then demonstrated how to turn each into a stylish ensemble. “What’s the difference between a good outfit and a great outfit?” she asks. “Accessories. They create a trademark.”
As retailers look for every advantage to gain and retain customers, service is more important than ever. Being able to help a customer find clothes that flatter – whether she’s a size 6 or size 16 – is invaluable. Developing that trust creates lasting sales relationships that extend beyond economic cycles.