This petite refuses to pay big money for clothes


Shopping used to be a major hassle for Rena Hung. But when you're size 2 and 95 pounds, God has to punish you somehow, right?

Ms. Hung got the best revenge. By scouting stores, researching sales and being patient, she's learned that being small can mean big savings.

With two sons and a job in real estate, Ms. Hung, 36, doesn't have much time to shop. So she tracks sales by writing them on her calendar and sneaks to outlets when she can.

The closet of her Owings Mills home is filled with the impressive results -- Chanel shoes for $10, Calvin Klein jeans for $17, a Valentino dress for $100.

"It's become a habit with me," she says. "I never pay full price."

As a size 2, how do you find clothes?

In the beginning, I thought it was a disadvantage. When I first came to this country 15 years ago from Taiwan, I couldn't find anything. I had to go to teen shops. That's why I started shopping at vintage shops. I found some really beautiful things. But now I think being size 2 is an advantage. I can get very good sales.

Is there anything you avoid because of your size?

Really long skirts drag me down. I hate a lot of detail. You wouldn't find me wearing lace trimming or a bow tie or something with a lot of pockets. I like very simple design.

What do you like to wear?

I like mostly designer and vintage clothes. Donna Karan is my favorite, but I have pieces by Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, Valentino, Chanel, Ungaro, Armani. Most of the clothes have to be altered in the sleeves and the hem. In my closet you won't see a lot of color. I wear beige, brown, off-white or black. I can't wear purple.

How do you mix designer and vintage styles?

I will wear a vintage jacket with designer pants. I have a pair of brown Calvin Klein pants that I'll wear with a vintage coat that has leopard trim.

Where do you shop?

Everywhere. Loehmann's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nan Duskin, consignment shops, thrift shops.

How did you first get interested in clothes?

My sister was a textile major in college; I was a history major. Sometimes I helped her out with projects.

It seemed like everything I helped her out with won an award. Eventually she said maybe you should be in the field instead of me.

Do you ever think of fashion as a career?

Maybe one day. I design some of my children's clothes, mostly because I can't find good quality clothes for them. Friends tell me I should go into the business. But it's not that easy. It requires a lot of time and money.

What's your favorite in your closet now?

A Giorgio Armani brown silk jacket. It's a size 12. On most people it would be a short fitted jacket. On me it's long and it really moves, it breathes. I wear it with a Donna Karan short skirt.

What's been your best buy?

A Donna Karan washable silk swing coat. It's grayish-green. It was originally $1,650. I got it for on sale for $130.

Do you consider yourself a good shopper?

I don't have a lot of time to shop. But I write down the dates of sales on my calendar. I don't do frequent shopping, but I shop for bargains. And I'm willing to wait until things go on sale. I once bought two Italian dresses at Ruth Shaw for $10 during a sidewalk sale.

How do you dress on the weekends?

I'll wear tight riding pants, Calvin Klein jeans or leggings with a Gucci wool jacket or an Armani jacket and a high turtleneck.

What about accessories?

I collect vintage hats. I have about 150 or 200 in my closet. I got started at an auction in Rhode Island about 8 years ago. I went to buy a washing machine. I came home with that and 30 hats. I wasn't really into jewelry until a year ago when I bought myself an emerald necklace at an auction. That's what I like to do now -- buy pieces at auctions.

Anything you wouldn't dare wear today?

I gave away all my Laura Ashley stuff. Somehow it got too tight for me. And as I get older, I don't think I look good in a lot of flowers.

If you could ask anyone, with whom would you go shopping?

Coco Chanel. I like a lot of her stuff. I recently read a book about her, and she had very good taste and her own style. I only have one Chanel suit in my closet. Maybe she could give me more ideas about accessories.

Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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