Gap shearling jacket, $348; black skinny jean, $88; belted hoodie, $58, available at area stores and at
Gap shearling jacket, $348; black skinny jean, $88; belted hoodie, $58, available at area stores and at (Gap)
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Thursday, August 7, 2008

The outlook for fall and winter: bleak and bleaker.

Even in the best of economic times, a $1,200 Prada frock would give us pause. Big pause. We mention this because we have a habit of grabbing the most expensive outfit on the rack, only to recoil in horror at the price tag. Champagne taste, Heineken budget. We recently spotted a most fabulous LBD -- little black dress -- and did the requisite recoil. Still, we've been lusting after it ever since. Lusting will be all that we do. Because these days, even springing for a $120 Prada knockoff feels like a splurge.

The good news: Frugality and fashion aren't mutually exclusive.

The celebrity tabs have even coined a new word for someone who copes fashionably during troubled times: the recessionista.

Back in the '90s, fashion folks got hip to the fact that the average woman can't afford a four-digit dress. Sharon Stone showing up at the Oscars in a Gap T-shirt and a Valentino skirt certainly helped the cause. Most of the time, professional fashionistas advocate mixing "high" with "low" items -- like tossing a Hanes tee underneath a sweet little Chanel jacket. (As if.) Isaac Mizrahi and Target; Vera Wang and Kohl's. Cheap became chic.

Now it's a necessity.

If you've absolutely, positively, got to have something new, look to our more egalitarian retailers for a little sartorial sustenance this fall: neo-conservative duds a la the Camelot-era ladies of AMC's "Mad Men"; ruffled blouses a la Melanie Griffith in "Working Girl"; rugged shearling jackets and coats.

And remember, this too shall pass.

(We hope.)

-- Teresa Wiltz

Next week: Cheap tricks for the gents

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