Since the talk of a return to a more tailored wardrobe didn’t occur in 2002, dress and suit firms are looking for new ways to maintain their career position. According to an NPDFashionworld Consumer survey, tailored clothing purchases for the first nine months of the year fell 18.4 percent in dollars to $10.2 billion and 21 percent in units.

One way rtw makers are addressing the downturn is to take to path pioneered by the late Bill Blass, who reacted to more casual dressing in the early Nineties by designing his collections around dressy separates. Diane Von Furstenberg, known for her dresses, has evolved her line to nearly 50 percent separates.

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