Fashion Focus: Is cheap the new chic?


In these particularly challenging economic times, many fashionistas are turning into “frugal-istas.”

Everywhere we turn it is evident the economy is adversely affecting every facet of American life. However, style conscious ladies can still look fabulous, even if they can’t afford to get gas, groceries and Gucci. Luckily, there are many absolutely affordable ways to stay stylish this summer.

Several local boutiques are already putting their summer merchandise on sale to clear space for incoming fall items. For example, Del Mar Kids and their Back Room for women are in the midst of a 50 percent off sale on summer clothing, making it fun to get contemporary kids’ stuff for the little ones, but fashionable finds for you too.

Online shopping is an easy way to save dollars, just a few clicks and lovely things show up on your doorstep a few days later., “the ultimate hook-up for the fashion obsessed,” includes many highly sought after designer brands, fashion trends and offers great value., of which I am a member, features online sample sales for many luxury brands, hosting at least three sales a week with 50 percent or more off retail prices. Membership is free (for now), but you have to be invited. If interested, contact me and I’ll invite you.

Many designers are doing low cost collections for discount super-retailers such as Target. Isaac Mizrahi was the first of many big name designers to do collections for Target, and now their women’s department is brimming with cute, fun summer fashions for cheap. The prices are so low it makes it irresistible to throw a couple trendy items in the cart with the detergent and housewares.

Outlet shopping can be fun – there’s nothing like scoring a great designer piece at a deeply discounted price. Premium Outlets in Carlsbad is a great destination for outlet shopping, but both Ross Dress for Less and Marshall’s in Solana Beach, which offer 20 to 60 percent off of department store prices, are a quick and easy way to save on style for the entire family.

Consignment stores such as Ladies Designer Resale and Carolyn’s, both in Del Mar, are great places to find deeply discounted, gently used designer goods. Many consignment stores will even bargain with their customers, especially on items that have been in the store a while.

One of the biggest style trends is “mixing it up.” This means mixing high quality pieces with trendy, less expensive ones. It makes an outfit interesting and gives it dimension. When someone is in designer-wear from head to toe, especially if it includes a logo, it can look like they’re trying too hard. After all, this is San Diego, where there’s a generally casual fashion vibe. But remember: it’s important to have great personal style and dress appropriately.

Kristen Clay, a Carmel Valley mom, keeps it cute and classic, wearing a T-shirt from Banana Republic with Capri pants from Safarlou in Solana Beach, but pairs them with Burberry sandals and a Gucci bag.

Adriana Padilla, of Pantera Jewelry, said, “I love mixing it up fashion-wise. I adore designer shoes and bags, which my husband usually buys me for special occasions, but I’ll wear them with a sweater I bought from Target and a skirt from The Rare Earth in Del Mar. I always accessorize with jewelry – many pieces belonged to my mother, but some I actually bought on sale at department stores.”

Some women are finding innovative ways to save money. For instance, two of my friends, Amy and Sue, bought a dressy Valentino clutch purse together, each paying half. Considering how often they would each actually use the purse, and the fact that they would rarely attend a cocktail or black-tie event together, it totally made sense to them and garnered each a 50 percent discount.

Also, these two women trade clothing and accessories on a regular basis, keeping their wardrobes fresh. They said it works out great and their only regret is that they don’t wear the same shoe size!

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