Mad about Sacai and Simone Rocha? Curious to see new lines like Gauchère and Toogood? The summer sale at Relish begins this Friday, June 23, at 10 a.m. and continues through July. Aficionados head to the boutique a couple of days ahead to stake out their desired items, so when the crowds arrive, they don’t have to spend time searching. Well-Being Editor Mary Carpenter is a regular at the sales event, which is now in its 23rd year. In light of that landmark, we’re republishing Mary’s description of how to make the most of the event.
TWICE A YEAR some friends and I get together for what has become a ritual—the twice-yearly sale at Relish, the Georgetown boutique that caters to the fashion-forward. I’m not a fashionista, so this is something of a lark, but we’re serious enough to know where we’ll be once every six months.
At around 9 a.m., we start our decadent morning with breakfast at Leopold’s, consuming heart-breakingly delicious European coffee and tasty pastries. From the window, we watch people lining up outside of this clothing store that is out of our price range for the rest of the year, although not impossible for a well-deserved treat or holiday gift to self.
When the doors open at 10 a.m., we don’t race unceremoniously out of Leopold’s, but we don’t linger either. It’s a great sale, as much as 50 percent off on the first day as opposed to chintzier sales that mark down the merchandise 10 percent at a time over a month or longer. And the clothes!!! A carefully curated selection of designer items from Marni, Dries Van Noten, Joseph, Sophie D’Hoore and more we would otherwise be reluctant to try on, fearing we would be expected to make a purchase and, worse, hovering salespeople chortling their praise. When the Relish dressing rooms fill with those women who stood in line, we find a corner in the back where we hang up our choices and, mostly discreetly, try them on. Then we often switch and try on each other’s choices.
What sets Relish apart from other high-end retailers is the owner Nancy Pearlstein, who is frighteningly honest. You often have to vie for her attention, and sometimes you must slink around conspicuously in the hope that she will notice you. If something you’ve tried on doesn’t look good, she will tell you with a deep frown, or sometimes a carefully chosen word.
In all likelihood, you find something that works. In more than 10 years of attending many of these sales, I still own and wear almost every item I’ve bought there. And I’m someone with a closet full of what-was-I-thinking’s—clothes someone told me looked good, are a dismal failure and still upset me too much to toss.
Even if you find nothing, you will have gained a new sense of fashion possibilities and perhaps be better prepared, once six more months have passed, to go whole hog at the next sale.