November 19, 2007

by Carly J. Cais, fashion designer
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.
Even though Victorian has made yet another comeback for the third (?!) straight Fall in a row, this year’s version is about adding a little twist of sexy here and there. An exposed ankle, a waist-cinching belt, a form-fitting blouse or accessories in just the right location – together, these touches keep this trend in au courant. Here are five vintage-style picks hearken back to more modest time, yet still look modern and alluring enough to keep you rooted firmly in the present:

PRIM LITTLE JACKET Ooh la La Redoute! Where to start? Gorge French-style clothing, affordable stateside prices, excellent customer service, on-trend, impeccably chic, and affordable – and excellent quality. Is it evident I’m somewhat fond of this store? Not surprisingly, they have the season’s perfect Balenciaga-inspired shrunken boy blazer you’ve been looking for, with nipped-in tailoring, a wide neckline & boy-meets-lady pinstripe. This preppy chic number would look equally chic with frills (like the blouse below) or skinny jeans & a boatneck tee. Add a vintage-style pin like in the photo (our suggestion: the $80 Alda die-cut steel & brass brooch from Vice & Vanity) and get ready to garner ooh la las of your own. Riding Jacket $50 (on sale) at

KEY NECKLACE Key-themed jewelry is everywhere this season (and yes, I too am offering a key necklace in my collection) but KidViskous delivers an updated feel in mirrored lucite, with a sweet heart in the center. It is fab by itself or layered over other retro-style necklaces…plus the 18″ length is just right for highlighting decollete peeking out from that oversized V-neck sweater I know you have hiding in the back of your closet – it’s time to pull that out, dust it off, and sex it up! Key to my Heart Necklace $44 –

While dreamy & romantic sounding, flouncy ruffles often end up as a hardcore Fashion Don’t & should really come with some version of the following warning: in order not to be mistaken for an extra in a costume drama, or worse, Sean Connery flying the Brigadoon freak flag at the 2003 Oscars, keep jewelry to a minimum, pair with high-waisted black pants, and go romantic in a soft Gibson Girl inspired wave, or rock a striking contrast in a spiky ‘do. This softly tea-stained version features a removable bib & appropriately retro price: $40! Ruffled Lace Blouse available at

VINTAGE-LOOK PURSE Snagging that handmade look designers laboriously create in their bags, but at a non-designer pricepoint, means wading through a sea of shockingly cheap-looking versions. (Handmade = charming; Homemade = fashion felony.) However, the vintage’y print, faux suede, handmade organza flowers & chic ribbon trim on this gem can definitely withstand scrutiny & comparisons with its more pricey compadres. The frame is so exquisitely detailed that when asked, simply lie & tell them you unearthed it in the back of a darling old antique shop…somewhere. Flower-Adorned Frame Bag $50 –

SUEDE ANKLE BOOT If you invest in only one piece of footwear this fall, make sure it’s a bootie. Fab with everything from jeans to minis, swingy capelets to puffer jackets, the ankle boot is the easiest way to update your chilly weather gear. Available at a range of pricepoints from labels like Anne Klein, MICHAEL Michael Kors, Jessica Simpson, BCBGirls, D&G Dolce & Gabbana, and Roberto Cavalli, these b.street booties are an affordable way to try the trend for only $25. The slit down the middle is uber-chic and affords that little glimpse of foot that so titillated the Victorians. (Note: you may have some trouble choosing between black, brown, and gray.) Add textured tights, and off you go. Sueded Ankle Boot; Honeycomb-Textured tights $5 at

The bib-style necklace is currently such a hot trend, there are almost too many to choose from. If you want to it out without financial pain, has the goods for under $10. However, if you’re ready to make the leap, look no further than this stunning, one-of-a-kind crystal collar necklace from Couture Saboteur. It just begs to be layered over a dark high-collared jacket & frilly cream-colored blouse, or float at the base of your neck above a strapless gunmetal satin gown. Because it makes such a dramatic style statement, skip other distracting (and detracting) accessories & keep your outfit simple and elegant, so the focus remains on your neck where this bauble can really stand out. Crystal Collar Necklace $250 –

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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