Attending a cabi Fashion Experience

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cabi standout jacket fall 2017I learned about cabi in 2011 when my friend became a stylist. This year, I really got to know cabi and the people behind the brand. I was invited to attend cabi Conversations where I chatted all night with founders and staff of cabi. I was also invited to attend Scoop, cabi’s twice-yearly conference that includes Stylist training and a fashion show of the upcoming clothing collection. However, I hadn't attended a cabi fashion experience since 2011… until this past weekend.

Sure, cabi makes high quality flattering clothing that somehow is timeless and completely on trend at the same time. But what sets cabi apart is the personal experience. In a time when stores are closing left and right, cabi continues to grow and succeed because they focus on the customer experience. At a cabi Fashion Experience, you learn about the clothing, you can see it, touch it, try it on, mix it and match it while having fun with friends and neighbors. A lot of you have asked why you can’t just order the cabi outfits I wear on the blog. The reason is because while the clothes are lovely on their own, to really choose the right pieces, right fit, and have the full cabi experience you need to first experience it in person.

I hadn’t experienced it at a cabi Fashion Experience since 2011. It was time to remedy that. This past Friday, I attended a cabi Fashion experience with my best friend. Cabi worked with a stylist I knew in my area to find a show we could attend, and provided each of us outfits from the latest cabi collection to wear to the event.

cabi standout jacketWhat I Wore to the cabi Show:
Standout Jacket c/o cabi (XL) | Lydia Blouse c/o cabi (XL) | High Straight Jeans c/o cabi (14) | Buzz Necklace c/o cabi | Buzz Earrings c/o cabi | Bon Vivant Necklace (as a bracelet) c/o cabi

When you host a cabi Fashion Experience, you get 50% off clothing. The more that is sold at your event, the more clothes you can get at 50% off. Also depending on how much is sold, you will receive store credit towards any cabi clothing you purchase. On top of that, if any future cabi Fashion Experiences are booked at your event, you can get half off an item if you attend that party. As a Hostess, all you have to do is gather the emails for friends, have plenty of space to sit, and provide some munchies and drinks for your guests; your Stylist will do the rest.

my experience attending a cabi partyWhen I arrived at the show, there was a rolling rack in the front of the living room, covered with a dropcloth emblazoned with the cabi logo. Folios with the catalog, an order form, and pen were at each seat. Set around the room were various accessories from cabi: jewelry in a velvet tray, shoes displayed on their boxes, and various other pieces like scarves were laid out on tables. The charming home was turned into a boutique! The Hostess greeted everyone, wine and La Croix was flowing and there was a table full of delicious snacks. The Stylist was also greeting everyone; the crowd was a mix of newbies to cabi and those who are already a fan of the line and have attended at least one other show. We mingled for about a half hour and then the Stylist got the party started.

what it's like to attend a cabi fashion experience partyFor this show, the Stylist had a second Stylist with her as an assistant. The Stylist gave an introduction of who she was, a bit about what cabi is and what makes the brand special, and an overview of the agenda for the evening. We then were invited to open the cabi catalogs in our folios. The catalog is organized by collection; each season cabi’s new line of clothing has several mini collections in it. Each collection has its own name and vibe, though pieces from all the lines mix and match beautifully with one another (and also mix and match well with previous seasons’ lines). As we opened to a collection in the catalog, the Stylist pulled pieces from that collection out from the garment rack and placed them on display. She would go over most of the pieces, what made them great, which ones were popular, and her tips for styling them. I’ve become pretty familiar with this season’s cabi collection but the only time I’ve seen the pieces in person were at Scoop and when they arrive in the mail. Seeing them in person, hearing another’s suggestions for styling was eye-opening and several pieces I found meh online now looked really appealing.

Through the presentation, several people from the audience asked questions and shared their experiences with pieces they owned. Those of us wearing cabi (my friend and I were not the only ones) would show off our looks when that piece was highlighted in the presentation, often sharing what size we chose and how we’ve styled it and how it has worn over time. This was really helpful as there were women of almost every shape, size, age, and lifestyle at this show. It gave me fresh ideas on how to wear what I already own, and see the value of some other pieces in completing looks with my current closet.

After all the collections were presented, the Stylist removed the dropcloth on the rolling rack and wheeled in a second rolling rack that had more of the same pieces, just in a broader range of sizes. Working with cabi, I often have to guess on my size and do it based on what I already own, sizing up if unsure to be sure it will actually fit. There were pieces like the Flashdance Dress and Tailor Coat that I really have liked the look of but feared ordering because they would be too big on my short frame. It was nice to be able to not only try them on but be able to feel the fabric and see little details like the zippers on the cuffs and the tonal trim.

I think the most fun about the cabi Fashion Experience is how we women all were helping one another. I came in knowing no one except the Stylist, but by the end we were sharing personal stories, helping one another to style outfits, even changing in front of one another. We together would help a woman find a perfect outfit for an upcoming occasion, would vote on which size would be the best. Such a supportive group experience is rarely experienced when shopping at the mall!

attending a cabi fashion experienceThere was no pressure to shop, and honestly the way the event took place I never noticed who was placing an order and who wasn’t. The show isn’t immediately “closed” that evening, so if you go home and a day or so later decide you want to purchase more, it’s not too late. It was a very comfortable experience, one you could go to without any intentions to buy just to see the line in person. But honestly, once you see, touch, and try on the clothes you’ll likely become a cabi convert like me.

To find a stylist in your area, visit the cabi website. I’d love to read your experiences attending a cabi Fashion Experience or hosting a cabi party in the comments!

While cabi did not pay me to write this post, they did provide me and my best friend with outfits and gift cards to make purchases at the cabi Fashion Experience. All wording and thoughts are my own. I was happy to provide this review since so many of you have had questions about cabi and how to buy their clothing.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I just attended my first Cabi show and I have to respectfully disagree with you. To me, this is just another MLM scheme. I’ve been to all the parties and they cycle through. Right now it seems we are on “high-end” “designer” MLMs cycle. You hear the same story at all of them — Stella and Dot gives the same “creative control” line. I don’t believe it. If you want to sell your designs, set up a website and sell them directly. The only reason a business sets it up any other way is because they save on having to hire sales people directly (payroll taxes suck for employers too) and make more money the MLM way (and yes I do have a business, so I know how these things work). Also the quality is nothing special. None of the fabrics are premium — it is all rayon, cotton or basic denim. Their $239 booties are not even all leather. You can design your own all leather shoes for less. Additionally they don’t certify any of their material as environmental friendly and they can’t certify that the people making the clothes are being treated humanely. If I’m paying $76 for a plain tee shirt that I have to HAND WASH and lay flat to dry (which, by the way, if you do with you Target tee shirts they will stay looking new for “years and years” too — the other selling line), I expect a lot more.

  2. Allie, I love your blog and have been a longtime reader. I have an honest question: It seems to me that cabi is a multi-level marketing (MLM) organization. There have been several articles lately on the many problems with these (notably LuLaRoe but also others). Here’s an example: https://qz.com/1039331/mlms-like-avon-and-lularoe-are-sending-people-into-debt-and-psychological-crisis/
    Is cabi different? What are your views on these businesses in general?

    1. The reason I work with cabi is because I got to know how the business works. It does not consider itself an MLM and is not a member of the association for such businesses. While a Stylist may make a bit of money on having a team, it’s not their bread and butter like other businesses. Yes, Stylists need to buy inventory up front, it’s made extremely clear and they’re not conned into buying more because it’s a good deal, etc. When you place orders at a cabi party, it’s not coming from the stylist’s inventory but the actual cabi warehouse so there’s no push for stylists to turn their own homes into warehouses or buy gift sets to break down to be able to get a larger commisison on individual pieces. I did an MLM a decade ago, when The Body Shop had an at-home division. I lost a ton of money because there was so much finagling and pressure to buy more, and needing the special order forms and business cards and display container etc etc etc. I’ve not been a faqn of such a business model since.

      cabi started because Carol Anderson was designing clothing but didn’t like how buyers dictated her clothing to get them in department stores. So she went rogue and created cabi (Carol Anderson By Invitation was the original name). This way, the brand can make the clothes they want, and create an intimate relationship with the customers who want to be customers. I only know one Stylist/consultant personally, she has been one since 2011. This is now her full time job. She has a couple stylists on her team but that’s pretty recent. Her money doesn’t come from recruits, but from creating relationships with clients that return season after season. She has borrowed fashion books from me to better understand how to dress a variety of figures. She knows the product inside and out. And there’s no sales pressure. As I mentioned on Facebook, a smart cabi Stylist knows it’s better to have someone leave a party without buying a single thing than cause anyone to have buyer’s remorse. Clothing, especially higher end clothing like cabi is about creating a relationship. It reminds me a lot of when I worked in apparel on commisson. You get to know your customers, you know their style, their budget, their interests so you can cater to them better and better each season. I’d say cabi is more like shopping at a boutique that pays on commission, just that the boutique is in a person’s living room instead of in a brick and mortar building.

      As for the inital purchase a cabi Stylist makes… all of that can be sold at the end of the season in a Sample Sale. The Stylist I know has never ended a season in the red. And I’ve seen how the business has grown and changed since she started – the quality and fit has improved, they’ve brought on experts who used to work for designer denim brands, they hire stylists to work in the corporate office so they understand what is really going on in the trenches, they provide microloans to women across the globe to start businesses and help support their families and communities, and they really treat their Stylists with the respect they deserve. I can’t speak on any other at-home sales companies, I only know from parties I’ve attended, what friends selling them have shown on Facebook, and pieces like this. But I really do feel cabi is different, and it’s why I have chosen to partner with them time and time again. 🙂

      1. Thanks so much for your thorough response! That does sound like a much more sustainable business model.

        1. Hi Kathleen! I am a cabi stylist and have been for 5 years. I love Allie’s response. She really touches on the business nicely. We are 100% not an MLM. I’m really proud to represent the brand and be part of this company. Good for you for asking questions rather then jumping to conclusions and lumping all businesses together.

          1. Agree completely!!! We are SO different in comparison to other so called “direct sales” companies. We truly are changing the way women shop and work in a classy way!

  3. Hi Alison, I love your blog! I’ve been to several Cabi parties over the past 10 years and I have a love/hate relationship with the clothing. I’ve purchased some great pieces that I’ve kept for a long time and I’ve also purchased a few pieces that I could not wear at all. I find it hard at the party to figure out what to try on, which size, the rep is usually helping so many people at once and there is not a good mirror and lighting to really see if I like what I’m trying. At the last party I attended, I purchased some pants and a blazer for work and by the time I had a chance to wear them I realized they were way to large but the season had passed so I didn’t think I could return. They are in my closet, I may try to sell on ebay.

    Also, the clothing is VERY expensive. I realize it is marked up 2 and 3 times like all home demo products.

    1. The clothes are not cheap but the quality is really good and I find it rivals nicer department stores like Nordstrom and the prices are in line with brands they sell there. I can see some parties being harder to shop if the Stylist doesn’t have a broad range of sizes or it’s really crowded. I’ve learned many stylists let you come to their house to try on alone or bring a couple pieces to your house. When I’ve received cabi clothes from the brand I need to change my mindset from oooh pretty to oooh practical. What will I wear it with, what holes are in my closet, do I actually need it, etc. Its so tempting to get into the excitement of a party (and clearly that’s part of the point of having the party) and if it’s not well laid out it can be easy to end up with buyers remorse. On a positive note, cabi clothing gets gobbled up on eBay and Poshmark and there’s Facebook groups completely dedicated to reselling it (and separate ones where they just talk fashion and share selfies and they’re great for figuring out fit and styling combos)!

  4. FWIW, I’ve worn cabi clothing for years. I try on the clothes (at the Fashion Experience, aka cabi party), and mark the Look Book for the sizes I would wear, then take the Look Book home. I mull it all over, peruse my closet, and then place my order by emailing the cabi rep. So, you don’t have to order on the spot, you can take a day to think about it. I love that my cabi clothes mix and match so well from one season to the next, and they are currently stylish in a way that says ‘me’.

  5. Alison – cabi is actually how I became aware of your blog, which I’m now reading regularly (and signed up for your newsletter!). I’m finding it very interesting to learn about the business of blogging. I work with a great stylist and now find that the majority of my wardrobe is cabi, but I’m trying to broaden my horizons and some of your suggestions have sparked me to make other purchases (through your links now that I understand how things work). What pieces didn’t stand out to you before this Fashion Experience that you’re considering now? That happens to me every season, so I’m always curious which pieces are “sleepers” for other people.

    1. The Flashdance dress I thought looked grumpy but now especially since I’m working from home I find it awesome. That pink cardigan with the lace up back I never noticed before but it’s a gorgeous color and really flattering on. And my friend got the Tailor Coat. I figured I had a long Navy collarless cost from cabi from a different season and didn’t see the value but in person that coat is pretty badass!

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