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Look Like A Million On Any Budget


By Peggy Butler

All the flash, but without the cash. Now funk on that!

Imagine! You've been invited to a glitzy fund raiser where all the women will be clad in jewelry by Cartier and wearing gowns by such designers as Vera Wang and Donatella Versace. Searching aimlessly through your closet, you discover that the only item resembling a designer ensemble is the rayon pantsuit you purchased last summer.

Panic sets in, as you realize that the gala is only a week away. Certainly not enough time to ask the boss for a raise, so you can purchase a dress with the Versace insignia on the label. So you think of someone who has clothes in the $600-$1,000 range, but no one comes to mind.

Time to panic? No, not if you're a designer bargain shopper. For less than $50 you can purchase a silk chiffon blouse, crepe pleated slacks and accessories to die for, all at basement prices. It all depends on knowing where to shop and what to look for.

Consignment Shops: Like any business, there are good consignment shops and bad consignment shops. The good ones offer name brands for 1/3 of their original price. The clothes are in mint condition with that barely-worn look. Moreover, consignment shops offer unique accessories by past and current designers, including scarves, earrings and handbags.

For women who enjoy wearing unusual earrings, clip-on styles are available in everything from pearls to rhinestones. Imagine the looks you'll get when you enter a room wearing a necklace, pendant and matching earrings that was fashionable in the Roaring 20s. How magnificent!

Thrift Stores: The merchandise found in these stores are traditionally cheaper than those found in consignment shops. They offer quality merchandise, but with less variety. Finding a silk suit by Ralph Lauren might be difficult, but if you're fortunate to arrive at the store before 10 a.m., you might find a silk Baracini dress or denim jeans by Dolce & Gabbana.

Your Local Goodwill: While many scoff at the idea of Goodwill as a place to purchase designer clothing, they're often surprised to discover that such stores offer a diverse selection of slacks, suits, shoes, jewelry, and lingerie. Granted, a few items maybe dated, but there's still a lot to choose from. The geographic location also plays a key role in relation to quantity. For example, a Goodwill in Seattle generally has a larger variety of merchandise than stores in smaller regions.

Estate Sales: They differ from garage sales in the quality of available merchandise. At estate sales, you can find one of a kind clothes and jewelry at reasonable prices. Reasonable, if your cash flow is accessible, but extravagant for money conscious realists, busy counting their pennies. At estate sales, expect to shell out a few dollars; so don't forget your check book.

Garage Sales: Merchandise found at garage sales range from gaudy to elegant. Here, you can find anything from a silk Ann Klein blouse to a 50 cent plastic bracelet, it all depends on what you're looking for.

Old Clothes Are Making A Comeback
Remember sheathes, those tent like dresses, popular in the 60s? They are making a comeback. If you purchase a sheath from a ritzy boutique, expect to pay anywhere from $125-$300. But if you're one of those people who don't throw anything away, and you still have your original sheath, you can dress it up with accessories and it will look as good as the expensive ones. Of course, you may have to make a few alterations, in the event you've put on a few pounds.

Use Your Imagination
Searching for an outfit that no one has a duplicate of? Impossible you say. No, not if you're the designer. Adding buttons, letting down a hemline, or tucking in an inseam can turn an ordinary outfit into a stunning ensemble.
A well-known clothing connoisseur said she created a one of kind gown that was the envy of all her friends. As expected, everyone asked where she brought the dress, and she just smiled and said "Oh! This is the creation of a new designer. In fact, he's so new, no one's even heard of him yet," the woman said grinning.

The gown that was being compared with the likes of a Sergio Valente design, cost a mere $5. The woman went to a vintage clothing store and purchased a gown that the saleswoman said was created in the 1940s. The gown was gold lame with puffed sleeves, a sweetheart neckline and fitted bodice. However, one of the sleeves was partially torn. She then asked the saleslady the cost of the dress. The woman replied $2, and noted that she would deduct $1, based on the condition of the sleeves. The woman took the gown home and redesigned it to her satisfaction.

She began the transformation by removing the torn sleeve, and adding rhinestone appliques to the bodice, which she purchased for $4. And voila, when she finished, the gown could only be described as stunningly unique.

We've all heard of those expensive department stores: Macy's, Neiman-Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, that cater to the rich and famous. Now you too can have a designer wardrobe, that would make Oprah Winfrey cringe with envy. Caviar anyone?

Peggy Butler is a freelance writer based in North Central Florida and author of the
book "My Head is Bloody, But Unbowed". Visit her website at www.Psbwrite.com.

Categories: Fashion & Beauty, Just for me,

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