Dress Rich on Any Income

Psst: “fashionable” has nothing to do with what you spend and everything to do with how you shop. What to choose? Start with elements that are iconically luxe, like a perfectly draped dress or a vibrantly printed scarf. In today’s retail landscape, lush with top design at lower prices, bang for your buck is yours to be had.

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Homage to Hermès

What the lower-priced versions capture: the original’s bold patterns and fiery colors.


Echo silk twill scarf (far left), $85, and silk scarf (left), $98; echodesign.com

Gisel Florez

Runway Looks for Less: Long Dress

So like: Chloé. Delicate pleats and a color that wows are winning.


Calvin Klein polyester blend dress, $138; macys.com

Runway: Firstview. Dress: Gisel Florez

Runway Looks for Less: Envelope Clutch

So like: Céline. The rectangular shape and color blocking are über-chic.


Aldo patent leather clutch, $45; aldoshoes.com

Runway: Firstview. Dress: Gisel Florez

Runway Looks for Less: Chandelier Earrings

So like: Oscar de la Renta. He loves a cluster of brights, and you can, too.


Fantasy jewelry box stone and metal earrings, $25; fantasyjewelrybox.com

Runway: Firstview. Dress: Gisel Florez

Runway Looks for Less: Shiny Mary Janes

So like: Marc Jacobs. Metallic MJs (similar to these) ruled at his show.


Sam Edelman leather pumps, $120; 877-932-7726

Runway: Firstview. Dress: Gisel Florez

Runway Looks for Less: Floral Dress

So like: Nina Ricci. This one (and the original) works well for day or night.


Kai-aakmann polyester dress, $120; Albertine, 212-924-8515

Runway: Firstview. Dress: Gisel Florez

Runway Looks for Less: Nude Blouse

So like: Lanvin. This gorgeous cream is spring’s nonbright of choice.


Raoul silk top, $235; Finale, 732-886-3600

Runway: Firstview. Dress: Gisel Florez

Runway Looks for Less: Metallic Skirt

So like: Prada—our editors were verklempt.


H&M acrylic skirt, $50; hm.com for stores

Runway: Firstview. Dress: Gisel Florez

Luxe Details, Part I

Peplum Top More for less, thanks to structure and simplicity.

H&M polyester top,$30; hm.com for stores. Pono by Joan Goodman resin necklace, $140; Femmegems, 203-861-2531


Sleek Bag It’s the color of the hardware—rose gold—that amplifies the chic.

 Aldo  leather purse,$45; aldoshoes.c om. Via Spiga lea ther wedges,$225; viaspiga.com


Graphic Skirt The unusual color combination and saturated hues mimic high design.

 Tibi  cotton skirt,$275; tibi.com

Gisel Florez

Luxe Details, Part II

Draped Dress This outfit’s neutral color scheme (soft sheath, scarf, shoes, etc.) chases the cheap away.

 Calvin Klein  polyester blend dress, $128; Bloomingdale’s, 80 0-555-7467. Echo polyester a nd chiffon scarf, $38; echodesign.com. Chloe+Isabel gold-plated necklace,$34; chloeandisabel.com


Accent Belt Easy value added: Remove the dress’s self-belt and replace it with luxurious, grommeted leather.

J.Mclaughlin leather belt, $95; jmclaughlin.com


Woven Tote Utilitarian wicker getsa major upgrade with pops of shine.

Trina Turk wicker and vinyl tote,$298; trinaturk.com


Chunky Wedges This style is right off the spring runway; the price isn’t.

Bacio 61 leather wedges, $134; musthaveshoes.com

Gisele Florez

Budget Bling

...that would fool a jeweler


Crislu cubic zirconia and sterling silver earrings, $80; crislu.com

Courtesy of Crislu

Turning Nada into Something

The first budget babe: In the 1986 cult classic Pretty in Pink, Molly Ringwald played a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who’s desperate to fit in with the uppity crowd. When she gets invited to the big dance,she doesn’t let a lack of cash flow keep her from looking prom-tastic. Girlfriend cobbles together a fab frock out of thrift shop finds and castoffs, and thus a fashion-forward recessionista is born.

©Paramount/Courtesy of Everett Collection

Go-To Look

Big square shades. Air kissing is optional.


Elizabeth and James plastic sunglasses, $185; piperlime.com

Gisel Florez

For Instant Class: Tortoise

C Wonder resin and 14k-gold plated necklace, $68; cwonder.com

For Instant Class: Tortoise

Christian Siriano for Payless Gold faux-patent leather flats, $43; payless.com

Gisel Florez

For Instant Class: Tortoise

Trina Trunk gold and resin ring, $85; trinatrunk.com

Gisel Florez

They Could Spend More, But Why?

► Kate Middleton Her Zara dress (right) cost only about $80, but its of-the-moment color makes it chic. Smart tip: Her above-the-knee hem is as classy as knee length.


► Michelle Obama When she wears J.Crew (center, $298 for the cardigan, $158 for the skirt), women the world over can relate. Why she looks so great? The tailoring is perfection, and the mint hue is unexpected and special. Smart tip: Subtle embellishment adds oomph to a day look.


► Jessica Alba Her Aldo shoes (far right, about $125) are not one of a kind, but their mix of woven ethnic prints makes them seem so. Smart tip: The neutral bag thwarts any matchy-matchy cheese factor. 

Photos, from left: Getty Images, AFP/Getty Images, PPNY/GSNY/Splash News

Caution! How "Rich" Turns into "Cheap"

► Leather clothes can look rich, and embellishment can look rich, but embellished leather clothes look cheap. (Even on Kate Moss.)


► Leopard print can look rich, and zebra print can look rich, but leopard and zebra together looks cheap.


► Polka dots can look rich, and color can look rich, but multicolored polka dots look cheap.

Shop-Your-Closet Guide

Organizing expert Melanie Fascitelli says, “To feel wardrobe rich, buy less—and wear what you already own.”


► First, edit what you have. Find your most honest friend and let her help you purge.


► If a piece is damaged, unflattering or woefully out of date, get rid of it.


► Can’t let go? Store your edits in the attic for six months. If you forget about them, say sayonara!


► Take what remains and hang everything left to right (the way you read), light colors to dark, arranged by item (pants, then skirts, then tops).


► Keep the dressiest clothes (i.e., least-often worn) in a different section of your closet.


► Store costume jewelry in ziplock bags so you can see what you have.


► Make a list of five things you want to buy and shop until you find exactly what you need. Then stop.


Check out our style guide for classics with a modern twist.


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Courtesy of Shutterstock

Originally published in the April 2012 issue

Share Your Thoughts!



I respectfully disagree with the description of Mrs. Obama's outfit. I'm not sold on the idea that "women the world over can relate" to a 456.00 cardigan and skirt ensemble - especially not the women in my world. The unbuttoned last button certainly helps all of us to relate - especially after our favorite holiday meal; however, it contradicts the "tailoring is perfection" observation. This entire description was pretty ridiculous. Actually, the selection of this particular outfit as one to showcase was unfortunate. Many of the First Lady's outfits would have been a better choice...and I'm sure she would agree.

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