Guess how much the above dress costs.
– It was recently worn by Sarah Jessica Parker to a movie premiere. Have a number in your head? Good.
– It sells at Steve and Barry’s . Hmmm.
Well, reader, you may have put two and two together and remembered that Ms. Parker has a line of clothes that sells at Steve and Barry’s and that everything in said line sells for under $20 – an intriguing feat all its own. However, this dress actually sells for a rather surprising $8.98. A price that undercuts even Wal-Mart. And it’s not hideous, and apparently the quality is not too bad (though I’d have to see it for myself to make a personal judgment call on that fact – since I tend to be a bit picky). Regardless, a recent New York Times article queries “Is This the World’s Cheapest Dress?”. As a quasi-expert in cheap (but fabulous) clothes-shopping, I’d have to say that no, it’s not the world’s cheapest dress. But. Maybe the world’s cheapest dress designed by a celebrity who (at least) has style, is being sold new, and is reported as being of reasonable quality. Perhaps.
It’s not news that we all (well, not *all*, but most) love the cheap clothes. Designer wares tends to cost somewhere on the continuum from a lot, to expensive, to a fortune. A lamentable fact to clothes-lovers who happen to not have bundles of money such as myself. And it does make sense, sometimes even to those *with* money to shop at places like Forever21 and H&M, etc. for those super trendy items that will be rendered useless (as in out of style but, uhm, also literally useless – they might/often/always fall apart rather quickly) in a few months – especially when they are nearly identical knock-offs of the original (which raises some questions of its own – speaking as a designer who probably wouldn’t be a huge fan of having my ideas stolen and mass produced). Which is, of course, one reason why big name designers work with retailers such as H&M and Target to create a mini line of their clothes but cheaper (and not like those “cheaper” lines of some designers that are still expensive to the general public); because those designers probably want their clothes to be more accessible to their admirers of more modest funds (in some ways, at least), and working with those retailers permits the lower price point that we all seem to find so gosh darned titillating.
Of course, things are sacrificed for the lower price – such as fabric quality, fit, and detail – which is why I, personally, occasionally tend find myself somewhat disappointed in those lines as compared to the designer’s namesake line. So, as much as I love, love, love some of my clothes from H&M, Forever21, et al I also love holding a piece of really, really well made clothing. Something that I can really live in (I sure love my clothes, but I don’t tend to baby ((most of)) them), toss around, and still be able to hang onto because, hey, maybe some day I’ll have a kid and she’ll want it when she grows up. Or, maybe I’d just want to pull out the original when that style comes back into fashion. Either way.
Ms. Parker champions, “fashion is not a luxury.” And it’s true that maybe sometimes (often) it’s too inaccessible – especially when you’re literally just paying for the name you’re wearing and little else. I suppose it all depends on how you see fashion; where you exist on the continuum of viewing clothes and the industry that surrounds it as simply the things you wear so as to not be naked, as an art-form of its own, or any other number of standpoints on the subject. But, as a whole, I think many of us have lost appreciation for a well made, beautiful piece of clothing that someone put a lot of work into creating. “Fashion” has become so much more about just business lately, leaving out the art of the craft, and the personal expression (of both the creator and the eventual wearer) – not to mention quality.
It’s why you can pick up a one-of-a-kind vintage piece of clothing from 50, 60, and more years ago and still wear it, and sometimes if you know the right places you can get it cheap too.
All I know is that my favorite dress that by the way has gotten me more compliments and taken me to the widest variety of occasions than most everything else I own cost me about $5.00, and came from Goodwill (about 6 or 7 years ago)(( and it’s still in good condition)).