The Sex and the City movie bonanza has rather interestingly coincided with the annual late-May-early-June sample sale blitz, creating this swirling clusterfuck of Magnolia Bakery-scarfing, picture-snapping hordes in my West Village neighborhood, and New York’s style elite ripping each other’s hair out for a cocktail dress at 70% off.
Ultimately, as much as we all like to dream about a $700 pair of animal print stilettos or long for a $1,000 suit, nothing satisfies a New Yorker like a really great deal. And while I fully support all of the higher-priced designers I’m featuring here (ultimately, any imitation is just that), it’s getting unrealistic for most of us to spend $1,000 on a dress when we can barely cover our groceries. So, in the second installment of my Recession Special series, I’m highlighting some great knock-offs of coveted spring/summer pieces.
Phillip Lim Grecian Asymmetrical Dress
Speaking as someone who almost lost a limb at Lim’s recent sample sale, I can personally attest to the fact that his collections are incredibly desirable. His blazers are all I want for spring: cream ones, bright red ones from his menswear collection… sigh. But one of his best spring dresses, a floaty, sipping-on-Ambrosia-at-an-outdoor-dinner-spot dress, is quintessential Lim: feminine, slightly ‘50s, perfectly structured. And, er, $800. However, you can buy a dress that’s eerily similar — and in a great vivid green — from Mint Jodi Arnold on net-a-porter.com for $365.
Vena Cava Dress
The ladies of Vena Cava are famous for creating unbelievably gorgeous prints for their feminine, vintage-inspired pieces. This season I’m obsessed with a peach-colored swingy silk dress with black beer cans printed on it. Genius! Alas, while that one is totally one-of-a-kind (and would pretty much take up my whole stimulus check), a stand-out lightweight option from the 2007 Spring collection has made an improbable reappearance at Old Navy, of all places, for a mere $34.50. While the material, I’m sorry to say, isn’t as luscious as the original, a seagrass-y print on the skirt is a dead ringer.
The single most sought-after item last summer, these perfect strappy sandals (and especially the over-the-top studded versions) were what fashion editors famously spent their rent money on. And that’s right, dear reader, I myself bought a pair for a ridiculous sum and had the worst buyer’s remorse ever the next day (like a bad hangover), but have since worn them literally three times a week, and they still look perfect for this summer. Now I even wish I’d bought the platform style too. And guess what? I can. While the platforms were over $700 at Bergdorf Goodman last year, Nine West has put out the same thing for $89, and Ralph Lauren for $119.