The idea behind the "better" brand is simple -- a designer of a high-end line comes out with a well-made, but less expensive version. Nothing new there, but this season more designers are paying attention in the wake of moves at both Target (Isaac Mizrahi) and H&M ( Karl Lagerfeld is set to design a collection).

The retail term "better" refers to both the price and as a description of the line -- if the designer's main collection is best, the next tier is better.

"We are describing the 'better' designer lines as affordable luxury -- a designer aesthetic at a better price point," says LaVelle Olexa, senior vice president of fashion merchandising for Lord & Taylor. New lines from Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors will debut clear into the fall.

Summer dresses -- which are often one-season wonders -- are a good way to explore the concept. Pair a sheath with simple shoes and strong jewelry for a perfect day-to-evening look.

Soon a good Calvin Klein dress could cost less than filling up your SUV.

-- Janelle Erlichman Diamond

Jones New York Signature paisley V-neck dress ($139), at Hecht's and Lord & Taylor.

Lauren by Ralph Lauren leather strappy heeled sandals ($79), at 888-475-7674.Calvin Klein praline silk beaded dress ($250), at Lord & Taylor, Hecht's or 888-222-1213.

AK Anne Klein Glossary slides ($69), at Lord & Taylor.