50th Designer Dress Days sale celebrates fashion, charity, tradition
By Allison Carey, The Plain Dealer | Posted October 08, 2018 at 08:05 AM
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The National Council of Jewish Women’s Designer Dress Days turns 50 this year and while things were different 50 years ago, one thing remains the same. Giving back, helping others and raising money for good causes will always be important and if you can get designer fashions for less in the process, that makes things even sweeter.
Story and photos (unless otherwise marked) by Allison Carey, The Plain Dealer
In 1968, Designer Dress Days premiered in the Shaker Heights garage of Liz Faulb, a National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland vice president who thought that cleaning out our closets and offering some finer fashions for sale would be a great way to earn some money for the good work that NCJW is known for doing.
The idea was born when Faulb invited ladies over for what she called “Sherry Hour.” While sipping the sweet wine, she essentially took the clothes off their backs. The women showed up in their loveliest dresses and left wearing paper dresses that had been donated by a friend. The real dresses became part of the first sale.
The one day sale exceeded all expectations. They would have liked to have earned $2,000 but by the end of the day they raised $14,000 and they knew they were on to something.
Over the next few decades the sale expanded to two, three, four and even five days before settling on four days since about 1987. This year’s show starts on Friday, October 12 and continues on October 14, 15 and 16 at the Mandel JCC in Beachwood.
Throughout the years, the event has seen 11 different locations, never missed a year, had more than 41 chair persons and has made over $5 million in sales. The event has totaled 168 sale days, that’s five and a half months straight, used 187,500 hangers, offered 250,000 items for sale, had more than 10,000 volunteers working more than 125,000 hours, have filled more than 150 moving trucks with merchandise and have had over 100,000 customers, according to NCJW records.
Each year, with the help of over 250 volunteers, the sale features luxury designer items in new, like new or gently used condition. You’ll find clothing from formal to casual, handbags in a huge range of prices and styles, costume and high-end jewelry, furs, leather, coats and more. This year, coordinators have added contemporary designer jeans and athleisure by companies like Lululemon and Anatomie.
After collecting donations for the last year, the sale will be overloaded with standout pieces by designers like Chanel, Valentino, Escada, Eileen Fisher, Gucci, Prada, Burberry, St. John, Yves Saint Lauren, Missoni, Diane von Furstenberg as well as contemporary designs from Michael Stars, Free People, Marc Jacobs, Rag & Bone, Vince, Theory, Seven For All Mankind and more.
Since 2004, Designer Dress Days has found a welcome home at the Mandel Jewish Community Center in Beachwood. There will be a jewelry room, a fur room and a large clothing, handbag and accessories area with a dressing room.
This year the show will have close to 10,000 items for sale at about one-eighth of the retail price in many instances. There are always plenty of brand new items donated from many local boutiques, bloggers and larger stores. Donations also come from the more than 2,000 members of NCJW.
The annual DDD sale is the largest fundraiser for NCJW/Cleveland, an organization now in its 124th year. In 1982, for example, DDD earned $104,000 and in 2015 made $250,000. The money is spent on several projects that benefit women, children and families in Cleveland.
Current projects include Partners in Literacy which helps children learn to read and encourages parents to read, Focus on Foster Care, which provides foster care families with clothing, books, toys and personal care items, self-esteem classes, mentoring and holiday celebrations. NCJW also advocates for women’s reproductive rights, gun control and works with legislators on voter rights and human trafficking issues.
When it comes to shopping Designer Dress Days, we’ve learned a few things over the years and we offer the following tips:
•Have patience, you might have to wait in line to enter or to get into the dressing room. People tend to show up a couple of hours before the start time. Last year a motivated shopper arrived at 5 a.m., she was likely overambitious by a couple of hours.
•Decide what is most important and go there first because furs, jewelry and handbags are all in separate locations. Purses, special occasion items and furs sell the fastest.
•Wear undergarments that allow you to change easily, quickly and in front of others. You might consider leggings and a tank top. The dressing room is large but has no privacy. There are no mirrors in the clothing and accessories sales area. Several years ago, some shoppers bypassed the dressing room line and stripped off their clothes in the open to try things on and that didn’t go over too well.
•Travel light, there are no shopping carts, you’ll have to carry everything so leave the heavy handbag at home and leave coats in the car.
•Buy things that fit great and make you feel amazing. Don’t buy just because of the designer label. Organizers want you to love your purchases for many seasons to come.
When: Friday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, October 12, 14, 15, 16. Note the event is closed on Saturday.
Where: Mandel JCC at 26001 South Woodland Road, Beachwood.
10 a.m. to 4 pm. Friday
10 a.m. to 4 pm. Sunday
Noon to 8 p.m. Monday
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday
Admission: Friday is Preview Day with the best items available, admission is $20, all other days are free.
50th Anniversary Specials: Look for prizes on the 50th minute of the hour, special treatment for 50 year old shoppers, discounts for Monday shoppers who return on Tuesday.
Discounts: Look for 20 percent discounts on Monday and 50 percent discounts on Tuesday.
Parking: Plenty of free parking is available at the Mandel JCC
Donate: Items are collected throughout the year at the NCJW warehouse located at 26055 Emery Road in Warrensville Heights. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Thriftique: Items not deemed perfect for DDD and items left unsold after DDD as well as furniture, decor, toys and more can be found at Thriftique, the NCJW resale shop at 5055 Richmond Road in Bedford Heights.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.
Call 216-378-2264 for free furniture pickup.