Behind The Seams

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New York Pulse

November 2003

Experts thought the $30 dress was worth $250.

By Libby Callaway

WHEN you buy that little black dress this season, what you’ll get isn’t always what you pay for.

One from H&M that costs just $29,90 is better-made than Diane von Furstenberg’s version, which sells for $285.

And don’t think you’re getting a great buy on a $55 dress at Zara — the synthetic fabric is itchy, the empire-waist ribbon doesn’t line up in the back and it’s not even lined.

Those are some of the findings from the experts at Madame Paulette, Manhattan’s premiere couture tailoring shop and dry cleaner.

The Post asked the staffers at Madame Paulette — tailor to Versace, Chanel, Vera Wang and Sotheby’s Auction House — to rate the quality of several dresses, which cost from $29.90 to $425.

We chose a black dress because it’s the party season’s must-have and it goes everywhere.

We wanted to find out whether the price tags reflect the true quality of the garments — and help our readers learn for themselves how to pick well-made clothing, no matter what it costs.

Our experts were John Mahdessian president of the Madame Paulette, and tailors Robert Pendleton and Galina Leykina.