November 13, 2007

As a designer – my line is RIVETED Clothing & Accessories – I’ve developed an eye for style over the years…and right along with it, a nose for a bargain. Half the fun of fashion is looking fabulous without needing to declare bankruptcy. Each week, I showcase five hot designer-style steals (each for $100 or, in most cases, for much, much less)…along with one splurge-worthy item.
With the cold weather comes just the excuse you were looking for to escape the high-paced hustle of city life by hightailing it off to a secluded spot in the wilderness, curling up by a roaring fire, and slowly sipping a mug of hot cocoa. Whether its a romantic getaway in a secluded cabin or a trip with the girls to your fave chalet – or you just want to dress the part – here are some great country-inspired picks to help you get cozy. However, unless your name is Paul Bunyan, no piling them all on at one time!

TEXTURAL SCARF Mixing your fashion media (think sweater-style knits + cotton or other wovens) is in-in-in this season – if this fab all-in-one mixed wool & silk dress from Missoni (at right) is anything to judge by (it’s Missoni…meaning it’s safe to judge). To punch up some of the many black coats that are probably hanging in your closet (I know mine is stuffed with them!), try a mixed-texture scarf. With a cotton edging on a substantial knitted body, it shifts the attention up toward your face, while the mix of beefy knit and cotton offers just the right amount of warmth on cooler evenings when a heavy coat is overkill. For sophisticated office days, try gray, and when you’re craving a bit more attention or out on a date, go for hot pink! $38 at

Give thanks to the fashion gods that the days of knotting your boyfriend’s oversized shirt at your waist in order to create a little desperately-needed sex-appeal are (so) over! With so many adorable, body-conscious cuts in blouses, there’s no better time to be fashionably female. The sweet plaid print is ultra-modern, while the puff cap-sleeves, waist-defining tie & ruffles – which draw the eye right to your feminine…*ahem*…assets – mean there’s no chance you’ll be mistaken for one of the boys. A tailored skirt, killer heels & thin belt at the waist keeps the look city; alternatively, pile on the country charm with a pair of Frye boots & denim jacket. Emma Ruffle Top, $34.50 at

If the winter wind is threatening your poor earlobes and ‘muffs just aren’t enough to brave the chill, break out a more rugged bomber-style topper. With built-in ear flaps & a mere $13 – $13! – it delivers an adorable Sienna Miller snowbunny look that’s way easy on the wallet. Houndstooth Bomber Hat (at left) – Alternatively, try the fab (faux) furry style (at right) from Victoria’s Secret. Leave the voluminous stuff in the closet & pair this instead with skinny pants and a tight-fit sweater; loose & sexy does it with the hair…et voila…instant chalet chic! Trapper hat, $34.50 at

Sometimes you just tire of jeans, and slacks are a bit…well, slacking when it comes to comfort. Cozy pants in a thin-wale corduroy (remember: thin wale, good; wide wale = visual width on your legs = bad for most except the super skinny) will not only bring you back to your High School glory days, but also increase your closet’s versatility. Look for riveted details, high back pockets, and a slight flare to the leg for the most flattering fit. The shape elongates and slims the legs; perfect with your favorite baggy sweatshirt and beat-up Birkenstocks when you just don’t feel like dressing up…& killer tucked into knee-length boots and a paired with a military-style jacket when you do. And the super-sweet thing is that these Piper Spiral Cords come in no less than four inseam lengths, to fit everyone from the sweetest Petite to the leggiest Tall. $39.50 at

Although military-style has infiltrated pretty much all of fashion this season, it’s best attempted in small doses…such as in a pair of versatile boots. Tuck your skinny jeans into them and add your fave oversized leather weekender for a trip to the ‘burbs; top with a swingy capelet and tight skirt for a more fashion-forward Helmut Lang-inspired feel. And don’t let
the 4″ wedge frighten you – they already have a 1″ platform, so they’re easy to walk in and surprisingly chic. Platform Boot, $44 –

Rachel Leigh originally made a splash back in ’04 with her wire-wrapped rings of precious and semi-precious gemstones & pearls. Now, she has…branched out into amazingly affordable bracelets, earrings & quirky-chic necklaces that are being snapped up by publicists, celebs, and style-savvy fashionistas in the know. This antler necklace with adorable embedded mini-crystals is striking enough to stand alone as a statement piece, or equally stylish as an accent piece when paired with a cluster of delicate chains gently resting at your throat. Rachel Leigh Antler Crystal Necklace, $136 –
If there are any high-priced pieces you’d like me to find similar, less-pricey versions of, please email me at *carlyjcais AT*. ‘Til next week, fellow bargain-hunters!
– Carly J. Cais


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