Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to Look like a Million Bucks on a Budget

Being in style is so expensive, thinks the average consumer, but that's not true, it can just look expensive. Not many women I know want to spend $300 on a Dooney and Bourke giraffe print bag, but I can drop $20 for a giraffe print handbag that I saw online. There are so many things that have the look of fashion designer apparel and accessories but not the price. Now I'm not talking about buying the fake bags you would see in Chinatown or on the streets of Manhattan; that's engaging in a criminal activity. However, part of being fashionable is recognizing the trends that come from the designers that are popular and buying the equivalent at your price range.
And there are so many opportunities to get the look at an inexpensive price -- in fact that's what America is all about. Taking the elite styles and making it possible for the masses. Where but in America would mass merchandising happen?
Take my earlier example, a Dooney & Bourke giraffe print bag with a price tag of $295 (there is a whole line of giraffe print bags at Dooney & Bourke). Now for that kind of money, I can buy a small gas stove for my apartment or a 4-piece dining set, or an evening out at a nice restaurant and a Broadway show or a weekend at a good hotel in the mountains of upstate New York. There's plenty that I can do with that $295 instead of splurging it on a bag. Then again, I'm not a fashionista where I have to have a designer bag. I'm happy to get the "look" of that same bag and I can get it for approximately $20 on Amazon. For me it's a no brainer, I'll take style at a budget price.
You and I can do the same thing when it comes to the black shirtdress over here by Ralph Lauren. The shirtdress is one of those great pieces that you can wear at the office during the day and be ready to go out at night by accessorizing with either a scarf or chunky jewelry and a change of shoes. I can either buy Ralph's at $169 or I can go to Target and buy a similar look and have fashionable style from Merona for under $30.
Now if you are the kind of shopper who wants the authentic thing by all means, buy the real thing. I'm not here saying that it's foolish to do that. But what I do want to make clear is that you can still take advantage of the latest trends and do so on a small budget, and that's why having fashionable style can be so much fun.
Keep in mind that just because the lookalike is cheaper doesn't mean that you would want to buy it. The consideration for whether a product is worth the purchase should be the same. Is the product well made? If you see uneven stitching, loose threads, flimsy material, then it's really not worth buying. Will you get a lot of use out of it? This is an important question. For me, I like to combine fashion with practical use. I buy something because I will get a lot of use out of it in addition to it being cute and fashionable. A bargain is only good if you get more than your money's worth.

Originally published 08/30/2010

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