Cool and comfortable. That's what we all want to be on warm summer days. So when it comes to apparel, nothing snug will do. Let the air circulate.
In the trade, dresses that do this are called "floats."
Nancy B. has designed and manufactured floats and other apparel for larger women--or women who simply like the loose look--for more than 24 years. Physical Attraction is the main label. It can be found in all 250 shops of a major chain. But the manufacturer asked that we not identify the chain. Some of the same styles are sold under the private labels of several other Southland stores.
The average retail prices for Nancy B. separates range from $25 to $45. But at Nancy B.'s Factory Outlet in Sun Valley, expect to pay wholesale or sometimes much less. The outlet inventory includes manufacturer's overruns, samples and some seconds of the current or last season's designs.
Seconds are on racks in the foyer, with bits of tape placed next to the flaws. Examine all these items carefully, because some have major flaws. Dickeys and tank tops were $2, and other tops, pants, skirts and jackets were $4.
The shop's main room is small but filled with Physical Attraction merchandise. The "One Size Fits Most" line attracts women who regularly wear sizes 10 to 20, soon-to-be mothers and almost anyone who is into camouflage and comfort. There is an abundance of oversized, polyester-cotton interlock T-shirts sized in this fashion. These retail for about $36, but the below-wholesale price was $15. A few solids, plaids and stripes in summer shades were on the rack, but most were prints.
Tall women will appreciate the rack devoted to those 5-foot-8 and taller. Pants and skirts that retail for $32 to $35 were marked at $8.
Another rack was crammed with muumuus in a polyester-cotton fabric for $10.
We spotted some cutoffs we liked for $8 that founder Topper Blumberg said sold wholesale for $14. There were also hand-painted tops with pants to match that he told us sold in retail stores for about $60. The price here was $12 for the tops and $8 for the pants.
Blumberg started Nancy B.--named after his eldest daughter--about 28 years ago and has kept it a family business. He is pleased that his son, Bruce, has taken enthusiastically to the business, and both father and son are proud of the fact that all of their merchandise is made in Southern California.
"Even the thread is made here," the senior Blumberg said.
This is a true factory outlet, located on the premises of the manufacturing plant. There are no dressing rooms and credit cards are not accepted. They take cash only. It's important to make decisions carefully, too, since there are a few other "noes": No exchanges, no refunds, no exceptions.
WHERE TO SHOP
What: Nancy B.'s Factory Outlet.
Location: 11759 Sheldon St., Sun Valley.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Cards: None. Cash only.
Call: (818) 768-7273.
Geri Cook's Bargains column runs every Friday in Valley Life!