“It is Chic to be Cheap”

Fran Double Layer Blazer in Black and Cream $239 thefrankieshop.com

Coco Chanel famously said, “The best things in life are free. The second best are very, very expensive.” There is irrefutable wisdom to that observation, but I have also found a happy middle ground. I am constantly searching online, whether it’s 1stDibs, Net-a-Porter, Farfetch, Zara, The Frankie Shop, eBay, Etsy, or vintage websites. Very often, my insatiable hunt leads to the discovery of items that are not only great but they are also ridiculously inexpensive.

“Today everybody can look chic in inexpensive clothes (the rich buy them too). There is good clothing design on every level today. You can be the chicest thing in the world in a T-shirt and jeans — it’s up to you.” – Karl Lagerfeld

The following 12 finds, priced from $40 – $390, play out in a predominantly neutral color palette (black, white, silver) with touches of color. They are “of the moment” but still classic and chic in their own way.

Swoosh! A little bit of fringe goes a long way. I love the playfulness of this black silk fringed tie, which is secured by a silver tie clip. It’s a perfect mix of the masculine and the feminine. It is priced at $135 and is offered by Butterfly Shirts, on etsy.com.

Binge Knitting’s Fringed Medusa Clutch in scarlet red evokes a sense of refined bohemianism. The compact bag measures 11.5” in width and 9.5” in length, without considering the striking 8” fringe. Like all Binge Knitting’s products, it is made of 100% up-cycled cotton and handcrafted in Mexico. Each bag is unique and made to order. Priced at $110, it is for sale at bingeknitting.com.

Fringe trim adds a playful surprise to an otherwise simple black midi dress. “Reba” by Rotate is made of lightweight textured crepe (100% ECO-Vera Viscose). 49” long, with a high neckline, fitted silhouette, and slightly padded shoulders, I can imagine this being worn for many different occasions. It would also be great for just relaxing at home. it is priced at $389 and for sale at thefrankieshop.com.

A touch of shimmer is always alluring, especially these days. I love the inherent simplicity of MM6 Maison Margiela’s long-sleeved mock neck top made from a stretch fabric and entirely coated with fluid silver-tone sequins. This would be a versatile piece to own. Perfect for Zoom or for a party; best of all, it’s reduced 30%, from $376 to $295, and for sale at mytheresa.com.

Zara’s Limited Edition sequin knit dress with zip back closure is cut with the ease of a long-sleeved t-shirt. The silver sequins add another dimension. Priced at $119, it is available at zara.com.

One can argue whether fashion rises to the level of art but what is undeniable is that art will always enhance life. This unique polymer clay necklace is obviously inspired by Piet Mondrian’s signature grids, lines, and use of three primary colors. Measuring 9.6” long, it makes a statement and is made to order by ZaiZai Jewelry, an Etsy shop based in St. Petersburg, Russia. Priced at $59, it is available at etsy.com

This compact, collapsible umbrella is printed with a pattern inspired by Piet Mondrian’s Composition in Red, Blue, and Yellow (1937–42), an artwork in MoMA’s collection. It comes with a printed sleeve. Priced at $40 for non-members; $35 for members, it is for sale at moma.org.

All artist Mary van de Wiehl’s Limited Edition and unisex bags are signed and emblazoned with her bold black and white expressionist artwork, recalling Franz Kline’s work. They are made in Leon, Mexico — the same factory where Louis Vuitton produces their bags. This generously sized and exceptionally well-made tote bag is lined in black and white striped cotton and printed with two of Mary’s paintings: WON’T STOP NOW on one side; ARE WE THERE YET? on the other, so you are really getting two bags for the price of one. Priced at $390, it is available at blacklinecrazy.com.

Regardless of the season, there is nothing chicer than a jacket in optic white. This “Cora” shell jacket is made from practical and lightweight technical weave fabric. It has a mesh lining, adjustable cuffs and hem, side pockets and looks good belted or unbelted. One size fits all and is priced at $159 at thefrankieshop.com.

This croc-embossed faux leather short-sleeved shirt jacket has an oversized cut, large flap pockets, pointed collar, and covered snap buttons. Unlined, it is a great year-round piece and looks far more expensive than it is. Priced at $159, it is for sale at thefrankieshop.com.

Lightweight, airy cotton button-down shirts are indispensable wardrobe workhorses, especially as it gets warmer. Finding one with perfectly placed black and white stripes is not so easy, so I was instantly drawn to this particularly chic version. “Sylvia” is priced at $129 and for sale at thefrankieshop.com.

Ann Mashburn’s leopard pony buckle flats are the epitome of chic. Made in Italy, they’ve got a 1” covered heel and a sixties-inspired, covered geometric buckle that will make you feel like Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour. The slightly cushioned insole will feel like a dream on your feet. Instead of costing well into the 4 figures (as many of the Roger Vivier pumps do), these will only set you back $350. They are for sale at annmashburn.com.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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