'Jersey Couture': fancy dresses, homespun service
Customers get that, bling and personal attention at Diane & Company, the setting of "Jersey Couture," returning for its second season on Oxygen Tuesday, Feb. 7.
The show is now in a half-hour format, but the gist -- a family-run establishment where everyone works to find customers the right dress -- remains the same.
"We make dreams, not drama," Kimberly Gambale says. "We are a family that runs a business. We are going to keep doing it with or without the cameras."
Her mom, Diane Scali, opened her first store in 1977. Initially, there were casual items, and there have been a couple of locations until they settled in the 6,000 square-foot Freehold, N.J., store they're now in.
No one there needs to ask what size someone is; they know by looking. They stock more than 3,000 dresses ranging from $349 to a $25,000 one-of-a-kind handmade gown.
"This is for the shopper who doesn't want to go to the mall," Gambale says.
It's also for the shopper who appreciates service. Often, customers shop by committee, bringing friends and relatives. The store, which specializes in the occasion dress, caters to women of all sizes, ranging from double zero to one client who had a 67-inch waist.
Though some go for plunging necklines and others want more conservative gowns, what becomes clear watching a preview of the season is that each woman leaves feeling pretty and happy with her new dress.
Shop early in the day. "Have a clear head," Gambale says. "At the end of the day, you are over it, and sometimes you make a rash decision."
Fashion rules are meant to be broken. "Who is to say someone who is petite can't wear a gown? It's all about proportion."
A woman knows when she is in the right dress. "Trust your gut instinct -- but make sure that gut is in the proper undergarments."