The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

The Psychology Behind Affordable Luxury

The Bagsnob recently alerted us to a bit of fashion insanity: Coach has put a $10,000 pricetag on its Legacy collection Alligator bag.

Those who commented on the post were justifiably shocked and befuddled, and demanded to know if the execs at Coach had lost their minds.

We, too, wondered if they'd gone off the deep end, but were determined to uncover the method behind their madness—and we found at least one good explanation on (Ok, maybe not good but certainly apt): Luxury brands apparently need to create high-priced anchor items in order to fool consumers into purchasing their lower-end, and hence "affordable luxury" items instead.

In other words, the lovely people at Coach would like you to covet the 10k gator bag, then satisfy your needs by purchasing a $200 Coach hobo bag instead as a sort of consolation prize.

This reasoning makes sense to us, because we've succumbed to this sort of thinking ourselves. We've certainly bought designer sunglasses or t-shirts or keychains just to get a piece of the action. And apparently, that's exactly what designers want us to do. According to the WSJ article, "accessories like sunglasses, fragrances, and logoed belts drive the sales of companies like Gucci and Louis Vuitton."

We've also been tempted to buy Marc by Marc Jacobs because it's cheap compared to Louis Vuitton, or Miu Miu compared to Prada, and well, the list goes on.

Our advice for outmaneuvering marketers is to simply know your budget, know your values and then stick to them. It's hard not to draw comparisons, but if your budget for a winter coat is $200, then don't buy a $300 designer coat just because it's on clearance at a sample sale.

But what about you? Are you swayed by the astronomical pricetags of certain designer goods? Is your frame of reference a blur because of them?

Fashion Advice: How To Look Rich

Let's face it: No one gets ready in the morning saying, "I want to look poor today." Right?

The truth is we all want to look like we have something—whether it's great taste, impeccable breeding, or a rockin' hot body—but considering the recent surge in luxury goods sales, we'd say most people today want to look rich.

So what makes someone look wealthy? These days, it's anyone's guess...but if higher education has taught us anything, it's what Old Money looks like. This list if far from being exhaustive, but here are a few ways to help you look like you come from Old Money:
  1. Wear classics. It sounds cliche, but by sticking to classics (and that includes modern classics like well-fitted jeans) you'll be well on your way to looking rich. Go for classic fabrics—cotton, cashmere, tweed, wool—while avoiding polyester at all costs. J. Crew, Banana Republic, L.L. Bean, the Gap, even Target are all fair game as long as you stick to classics. Understatement reigns supreme.

  2. Pay attention to grooming. Skin, teeth, hair, nails and toes should all be well-maintained (in that order). Clean, neutral makeup, natural looking highlights and neutral polish manicures (with medium to short length nails) all look rich.

  3. Wear an expensive watch. If you can't afford a classic Cartier or Franck Muller, go for a classic Timex or Swiss Army timepiece.

  4. Wear good shoes, and keep them in good condition. Anything leather or European is good; high-end comfort brands are also very popular, like Tsubos and Campers. If you're a teen, you can wear sneaks and they can get as grungy as you want.

  5. Carry an expensive classic designer handbag. Shop outlets and if necessary. Something leather, nothing flashy, no large visible logos. Fellow rich friends will recognize your bag without having to see the brand.

  6. Wear elegant sunglasses. Again, no gaudy logos are needed. When in doubt, go for classic retro black shades.

  7. Never pay retail. The rich get and stay rich by saving, not spending.

  8. Keep jewelry to a minimun. Diamond studs can be worn daily or with a little black dress.

  9. Skip the tattoos. They're just not rich.

  10. Hang out with rich people. Generally speaking, this is the best way to study and imitate the way they dress, since they typically avoid trends or what you see in magazines and on the Hollywood crowd, and rather create their own understated versions of trends. For example, brightly-colored Lacoste polos, Birkenstocks or the Tiffany 'Bean' may have their moment in the old-money fashion spotlight for a year or so (old-money's version of a trend lasts longer than one season.)

Hooray for Clinique Bonus Time!

It's Clinique Bonus time at Bon-Ton, Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Elder Beerman, Herberger's, and Younkers now through Saturday, September 8th.

The bonus includes some cool goodies for fall as well as great basics...

1. Long Last Lipstick in Sugared Maple
2. High Impact Mascara in Black
3. All About Eyes Rich
4. Blushing Blush Powder Blush in Smoldering Plum
5. Clinique Blush Brush
6. Moisture Surge Extra Thirsty Skin Relief

Shopping for the Clinique Bonus is a family tradition of sorts among the women in our family, and while we have waaay too many of those cute, small makeup pouches, the makeup is always worth it!

P.S. Clinique Bonus is only available at your favorite Clinique counter and not available online. Yours free* with any Clinique purchase of $21.50 or more. Value $50.00.

Fashion Radar: Laura Dern in W Magazine

Last night we managed to get through most of the September 07 issue of W while getting our hair 'did' at the salon. No small feat, considering this hefty issue is about 6 inches thick (but then again, two-tone highlights on long-length hair seem to take a good two months to complete, so we had plenty of time.)

At any rate, one particular fashion shoot really stood out: the photographs of Laura Dern taken by Juergen Teller titled "Fashion Party". In fact, all the other photos in the magazine seemed rather boring by comparison.

We didn't recognize the actress at first, but fell in love with the model's mischievous smile in the first shot (red heels, heading into the wine cellar). We recognized the photographer right away, unmistakably Juergen Teller. Most people either love him or hate him. Generally speaking, we get a big kick out of his work.

Yeah, he does the unretouched, washed out snapshots that appear to have been taken without him so much as looking through the viewfinder...but it's a great idea, and somebody's gotta do it. That's how we often regard art: We're glad somebody out there is doing it. Manifesting that idea for all of us. And so it is with Juergen. His recent Marc Jacobs campaign shots of the teeny-tiny people on a vast, white page made us literally laugh out loud they were so clever, so pointed!

Back to Laura: She's held a special place in our hearts ever since we ran into her and Jeff Goldblum in the city after a performance of Rent (with the original cast, we might add), during the summer of '96. She graciously posed as we, starstruck high schooler that we were, snapped her portrait with our film-loading Canon. Ah, the memories.

It's hard to believe that was 10 years ago. Jurassic Park was back in '93 (where does the time go?). And sure enough, she looks older in these photographs, but in case you haven't heard, people age. That's right, they actually get wrinkles over time. Shocking, but true.

At the same time, some people gain wisdom earned by experience. Laura certainly has. These shots are raw and real and engaging. For some unknown reason, they kind of reminded us of what we always thought or dreamt we might look like in the future...psychoanalysis please?

See the rest of the "Fashion Party" photos here. >>