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Looking for Saks Fifth Avenue fashions at a fifth, or at least a fraction, of the price?

Rummage through Cassandra's Closets - Salt Lake's solution for shoppers seeking high fashion at bargain rates.Don't expect to find Second Hand Rose there. But designer clothes that Barbra Streisand would choose might be.

Cassandra's Closets aren't thrift shops.

They are consignment, or resale stores, and as opposed to a thrift shop, the consignment shop owner picks things. You can't just drop off used clothing. "We are very selective and only take the better-quality, nicer things that somebody would still like to wear. We try to take designer things and make them more affordable," said company president Suzi Berrett.

Cassandra's Closet, named after Berrett's 20-year-old daughter, made its debut four years ago after Berrett was introduced to consignment shops during a California vacation.

Believing that Salt Lake women would be sold on the unique consignment concept, she went to work. Six weeks later Cassandra's Closet in Holladay (4227 S. Highland Drive, 278-5446) opened its doors.

"I had never been in any related business, so I was taking a real chance," the attractive brunette admits. "It was fun, tiring and a little bit scary. But looking back, I have never been sorry. We have met a lot of nice people and have had a lot of beautiful clothes."

Clothes for sale at the area's three Cassandra's Closets aren't used; they're gently worn - and must look brand new.

To be accepted for sale, the clothing must be better quality, in style (1 to 2 years old), cleaned and pressed. The stores take only clothes that are in season.

Here's the draw for both sellers and buyers.

Clothing at Cassandra's is marked to a fraction (about a third) of the retail price - and the consignor receives 50 percent of the selling price.

Merchandise is kept 60 days - then returned to the consignor or donated to charity.

But new merchandise is packed into the small closet-like stores on a regular basis.

In fact, according to Berrett, "To be effective, consignment shopping needs to be done on a pretty regular basis. A lot of our regular customers come in a couple of times a week because the nicer things always go first."

While Berrett carries everything from expensive furs to Gucci bags and $1,000 dresses from Paris, her stores have something for the entire family.

The Holladay store only stocks women's clothing, but the Sandy store (Union Square, 9460 S. 7th East, 572-9200) has clothing for women, men and children. Cassandra's Closet in West Valley (2964 W. 47th South, 967-3977) also takes clothing for women (including wedding gowns) and children.

Customers of all three stores are of all income brackets.

When Barrett opened her first store, she catered primarily to working women who had to dress nicely - but weren't paid enough to purchase expensive clothing.

Many of the original customers are still coming back. And, they're bringing their friends - including many wealthy ones.

"Many of women who come in to consign clothes could buy the shop over 10 times, but they just have fun seeing what's here and how much they can buy for almost nothing," Berrett said.

"It's not a matter of having to shop here; it's not a matter of not having enough money. No matter how much money a person has, it's fun to find a bargain. It's far better to pay $60 to $70 for a Gucci bag than the full price."