Cheap Thrills: “For What It’s Worth”

Left: Marco de Vincenzo $1170 at Right: Zara’s sequin dress $149

I thought this was an excellent time to reprieve my “Cheap Thrills” column. Once again, I have selected an item in the market and showed the high priced version alongside its less expensive doppelganger (or a reasonable facsimile). In many instances, it is a fraction of the cost. Many of the pieces are festive, in keeping with the season.

Will the quality, workmanship, fabrication, and detailing of the latter be on par with the former? Probably not, but then again, there are times when it is. In many cases, the differences are minuscule, barely discernible, discernible only to those with the most well-trained eye, and not enough of a negative to outweigh the positive (the price tag). In some cases, I actually prefer the less expensive version and not just because of the price but by its design, fit, size, etc. I’m a huge proponent of investment fashion, but there are some times when one might want something more disposable.

Anyway, it’s not about wearing labels but mixing high and low, having confidence, and “attitude.” I’ve seen women look horrible in Chanel and fabulous in inexpensive finds. As Bill Cunningham was fond of pointing out, it’s not the clothes themselves but “the WAY the clothes are worn” that makes all the difference in the world.

Left: The Saint Laurent Kiki metallic leather over the knee boots can be pushed down for a slouchy look, $ 1995. Right: More info/purchase Zara’s gold metallic boots have a 2.2-inch kitten heel and pointed toe, $99.90 More info/purchase

Left: Azzedine Alaia’s sleeveless knit mini dress has a crew neck, cross-over straps at open back and concealed zip closure at side, $2200. More info/purchase Right: Zara’s LBD has a bit of stretch in the material and features a straight neckline and an opening at the back. There is a hidden side in-seam zip closure, $69.90. More info/purchase

Left: This 1980’s Bill Blass gown is made of black rayon with a large hot pink and red satin bow at the bust. From the front, the dress looks strapless. There are two straps on the back with matching color blocked ruched satin. Built-in interior support keeps everything in place. Hidden zipper up the back with hook-and-eye closure. It is of Couture quality, with so much attention to detail and hand-sewn finishings. It is in great condition and marked US size 6, $3250. More info/purchase Right: Zara’s light purple shiny bow top has a V-neck, adjustable spaghetti straps, and backstretch detail, $39.90 More info/purchase

Left: Naeem Khan’s Fall ‘2019 show closed with three legendary supermodels taking to the runway in silver sequined gowns – Pat Cleveland, Alva Chin, and Karen Bjornson. This one, worn just before they surprised attendees, is made from tulle that’s naturally stretchy. It’s designed with a plunging neckline, softly gathered waist, and a front slit, $3495. More info/purchase Right: Zara’s silver sequin long dress has a V-neck, long sleeves, front slit at hem, and front closure with lined buttons.$199. More info/purchase

Left: Dolce & Gabbana’s black and white polka dot trousers are crafted from silk and made in Italy. They feature an elasticated waistband, side pockets, and a wide leg. $942 reduced from $1345. More info/purchase. Right: These Zara flowy high-waist wide-legged polka dot pants have front pleat detail and side zippered closure, $69.90. More info/purchase

Left: In the fashion industry’s eyes, leopard-print is considered a neutral – so Paul & Joe’s ‘Caban’ coat will go with so many outfits. It’s been made in France from soft, thick faux fur and has exaggerated lapels, leaving plenty of room for a scarf. The concealed inside pocket is ideal for slipping your phone or cardholder into, $595 reduced from $850. More info/purchase Right: Zara’s faux leopard coat has a high hooded collar, long sleeves, front pockets, and front metal zip closure, $119. More info/purchase

Left: Nili Lotan’s Sophia blazer is an exclusive at NET-A-PORTER. It is made from sequin saturated fluid crepe in a structured silhouette and cinches at the waist, $1995. More info/purchase Right: Zara’s black sequined tuxedo has a contrasting lapel collar, pronounced shoulders, and it can be worn with trousers or as a mini dress, $119. More info/purchase

Left: Malone Souliers’ Marion metallic leather-trimmed satin slingback pumps are made from lustrous satin and trimmed with gold leather, $312.50 reduced from $625. More info/purchase Right: Zara’s metallic two-tone high-heeled pumps have a heel height of 3.4 inches, $59.90. More info/purchase

As you can see, all the inexpensive pieces are from Zara. That was not unintentional given how in sync they are with the pulse of fashion, and how successful they are with creating affordable fashion.

Marilyn Kirschner
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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