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.
-- Teresa Wiltz
Next week: Cheap tricks for the gents