Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Designer Looks for Less

The Topic: Poor Couture—Cruelty-free and a Fraction of the Cost

The Dish: While the fashion world is already focusing on fall, I'm finally ready to embrace spring and update my wardrobe. After revisiting a few designers' spring collections, I came to the conclusion that spending upwards of a grand—one thousand dollars—on a casual outfit was, to put it gently, freaking insane. The problem? One look at the Marc by Marc Jacobs spring collection. Hey clothes, why are you so pretty and expensive? Hey Mr. Jacobs, why do you use leather and other animal-unfriendly goods?

To remedy the situation, VN Editorial Assistant Liz Miller led the way through one of her favorite pastimes: Bastardize the Designer Duds. The mission: Snag a photo of your favorite designer outfit, set a budget, and hit the (affordable) stores.

Obviously, we weren't looking for exact replicas of high-priced items, but runway fashion has a convenient way of trickling down the retail line, sneaking into the majority of items for sale at our store of choice—Forever 21. With the exception of the belt and purse, we managed to find everything at San Francisco's three-story location. Here's the financial breakdown:

Item: Designer / Deal
Plaid Top: $168 / $19.90
Blazer: $228 / $24.90
Shorts: $158 / $17.80
Belt: $110 / $20.00
Shoes: $463 / $14.80
Bracelets: $84 / $5.80
Headband: N/A / $4.80
Total Cost: $1,211 / $108

Total Savings: $1,103

That is a lot of biscuits, ladies and gentlemen.

The goal was to find pieces that 1) replicated the outfit's overall tone rather than serve as a carbon copy, and 2) more importantly to me, were wearable and versatile. Take the jacket, for example—I found a style that was more similar to the original, but I never would have worn it again. I remember hearing a shopping tip years ago, claiming that in order to get your money's worth out of an item, you should wear it once for every dollar spent. The likelihood that I'll wear this blazer 25 times versus its counterpart's requisite 228 times is pretty good.

The purse was a previous investment, designed by the certified-vegan Urban Expressions. It was a bit of a bullet for me at $49.95, but it's the perfect size and style for everyday use, especially for carrying around multiple layers for unpredictable spring weather (or, you know, every day in San Francisco). And while affordable, accidentally vegan clothing can be great, it's always nice to support all-vegan, eco-friendly companies, too.

The Final Word: Of course, $108 is still a lot to drop at one time, and I don't often buy complete outfits. It's a smart idea to use what you have, building a look around one or two pieces already hiding in your closet. At the very least, checking out designer collections can help fire up some cheapskate creativity to put some spring in your style.


  1. i guess you could say that this shopping trip was quite the deal of fortune. deal. see what i did there? of fortune.


  2. I think you're outfit looks ten times better. Down with the designers, and up with the real people!

  3. Love your outfit! Forever 21 is an awesome & affordable store...I buy tons of accessories there!

  4. I just used a Marc by Marc look in my Spring inspiration collage over on my vegan blog, Soul Food! (http://feedmesoulfood.blogspot.com/) Great recreation!

  5. Give me a thrift shop any day of the week.

  6. Give me a thrift shop too.
    Or a swap meet.
    Yeah, the clothes in your outfit may be vegan, (cruelty-free to animals) but what about the poor wage-slave humans that had to make them?

    Boycott Forever 21