I was wary when my friend Patty invited me to a trunk show called CAbi that she was hosting. In New Jersey a trunk show generally means a body bound and gagged in the back of an Oldsmobile. In this case, however, it meant a wine-infused suburban moms shopping spree in a friend’s Country French inspired living room.
Home trunk shows have become the Tupperware of women’s fashion, a hassle free way for women to purchase high-end jewelry, upscale clothing and custom handbags without the side effects of mall rage. Plus, it’s a good way for women to connect, socialize, and discover who’s had chest enhancement.
CAbi is a clothing line made exclusively for home party sales. CAbi clothes are designed not for teens, models or fashion plates, but for regular women who may not get dressed in business attire each day, but still want to look civilized when they do their “life” stuff, like walk the dog, shop for groceries, or go to CAbi parties.
I wanted to balance out my wardrobe. Like my stock of Tupperware, I had more bottoms than tops. My wardrobe consisted of jeans, Levi’s 101’s. That’s the style number. It’s also the number of pairs I own. Jeans are a staple to any wardrobe because they answer to any occasion. Unlike, say, the poncho, that’s limited to Mexican fiestas and the 1970’s.
“Terri,” our platinum blond trunk show consultant, stood 5’ 8” and weighed 98 pounds. This 38-year-old modern day peddler was not your grandparent’s bearded street merchant with a cart. She was Malibu Barbie’s mother, with a body that looked like she spent more time scaling Mt. Everest than selling an urban clothing line.
Seeing that she looked terrific in everything she modeled I wasn’t sure if I should feel inspired or depressed until I listened to her spiel and learned in 45 minutes from Terri the answers to questions I’d struggled with my entire life: How to make my bust one size bigger, how to shave 6 inches off my waist, and how to hide, as she called it, my “muffin top middle.”
Unlike department stores that use trick mirrors that flatter the body (the kind that make you look great in the dressing room, but that your bedroom mirror yells, “What the heck were you thinking?”) CAbi uses a trick wardrobe to accentuate a woman’s figure.
“Our wide waistbands help tuck in tummies!” Terri explained. She lifted her chic, “Boho Blouse” to reveal a wide waistband attached to the stylish, “Lacy Skirt” draped on the wire hanger that was her hipbones.
“Some of our blouses are designed with features that elongate the torso to make you look taller,” she said, modeling a tailored, button down cotton blouse that was shorter in the middle and longer on the sides. Terri did in fact look taller, if you’re into that funhouse mirror kind of look, but unless she was trying to conceal a two-gun holster, I viewed the look as a fashion disaster. The other ladies, however, seemed to love the blouse, and the concept.
Terri enlisted Patty to model the draped tank, a sleeveless top in a floral print. Magically, the chest enhancing front pleats caused her breasts to mushroom an entire cup size. “I’ll take one of each color!” Patty cried. Terri wasn’t just hawking clothes. She was selling a dream.
Patty’s friends and neighbors sipped more wine as they listened politely to Terri’s little nuggets of wisdom like, “As hem lines go up, so does the economy!” They “oohed’ and “aahed” over each selection. I overheard Nancy, a neighbor, say, “It’s all nice, but I really shouldn’t spend the money right now.”
By the time Terri finally let us loose to “attack the rack,” the ladies were as liquored up as gamblers at a Las Vegas casino. They grabbed at the merchandise. One woman yanked hard at a blouse, which bothered me, because I was wearing it. It felt like a Janet Jackson Super Bowl moment, only nobody cared.
At the end of the evening I glanced at Nancy’s order from. She had bought three dresses, two blouses and four pair of slacks. And Patty had earned over two hundred dollar’s worth of clothing by hosting (which explains why I’ve been invited to three CAbi parties in the last two months and haven’t been invited to a Christmas party in five years).
I’m glad that I attended the CAbi trunk show, because I bought something that I really liked: a new pair of jeans. I plan to wear them to my next occasion—a CAbi party. The one I’ll be hosting.
When Jersey Girl Lisa Tognola traded her job as freelance writer for that of full-time mother of three children, it didn’t take long before her writing was reduced to grocery lists, notes to school nurses excusing her kids from gym class, and e-mails to her husband reminding him to call his mother. Daily life as a suburban mom was fraught with challenges and unexpected dangers like adult dinner groups, town hall meetings and home shopping parties. Rather than fight her fate, this mom embraced it by unleashing her inner columnist. Her monthly column, Main Street Musings, reflects on life in the suburbs—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Visit her blog http://mainstreetmusingsblog.com/ Follow her on twitter @lisatognola