Thursday, September 4, 2008

On the Street…..After Mac, West Village

Like I mentioned yesterday, the streets of New York are overflowing with young ladies in print dresses. Usually the fit of these dresses are quite good- but the prints, unfortunately, are often very unfortunate.

It had reached a point where I really started to believe that maybe a young lady couldn’t buy a great print without spending a lot of money.

However yesterday I saw this young woman leaving the Mac store on 14th with her new purchases. The fit of the dress is obviously great, but I was really struck by the beauty and sophistication of the print. My faith in Summer dresses was renewed when she told me she bought the dress at a flea market for $20.

This is one of those times when I ponder the question of quality vs. appearance.

I’m guessing that for $20 the dress is not silk. I didn’t inspect it super closely but the stitching is probably fine. I’m trying to imagine what you could do to the dress technically to justify a higher price, because visually it looks perfect.

For example, if the dress had a higher stitches-per-inch ratio would that make any difference to you?

If the dress was all silk would you happily pay more? It is easy and chic to say yes – but lets be honest, a dress like this is not an investment piece. If you can get two Summers out of it then it has served you well.

So I guess the question is: “Is quality always worth paying for if the item functions fine the way it is?” (I think ‘functions’ is the key word there).


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  1. Daniella

    September 4, 2008 at 9:45 am

    If it looks great, the cheaper the better. :)

  2. KEF

    September 4, 2008 at 9:50 am

    You bring up an interesting point, and I think price vs. value is something that a lot stylish women struggle with, especially in a fashionable city like New York. I think if you’re only looking to get two summers out of a dress like this, then it would be ridiculous to spend considerably more than this woman did. A friend recently told me she trys to buy one or two investment, long-term, high-quality pieces each season so that as she ages, her wardrobe becomes nicer and full of timeless clothes. I think this is brilliant: you build your wardobe slowly and affordably and then you supplement with cheaper (but not cheap looking), trendier pieces like this woman’s dress.

  3. maggiesnail

    September 4, 2008 at 9:54 am

    I would heartily agree with you Mr. Sartorialist (in regards to the comment made about dishing out heaps of money for a great print)

    I was looking for a floral print skirt just two days ago, and failed to buy one because of the over-priced price tag.

    Thank God the markets are here. :D
    (Yeah.I’m totally longing for a Mac though)

  4. Jazzbuff630

    September 4, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Beautiful print, but then again, I am partial to paisley. I can’t walk past Etro walking in, and buying yet another tie.

    The colors of the print go with her almod complexion. She has good posture. Might she be a ballet dancer? The almost-chignon she’s wearing and her lithe form both suggest that.

    She looks a little pissed. Is it that she can’t catch a cab on a hot day, or did some inconsiderate fool stand her up? The hand on her hip indicates expectancy, even impatience.

    Love the gold sandals. They’d be ultra-perfect if they were bejewelled.

  5. Deja Pseu

    September 4, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Here’s my nickel:

    Women with a willowy build like this woman can throw on just about anything and the fit will look decent at worst. Women with more curves have to pay attention to how a garment is cut and constructed, and of what fabric. Now that doesn’t always mean we have to pay more to get it, but it does mean we have to pay more attention. You’re right about the print, BTW. It’s lovely.

  6. Jovon Higgins

    September 4, 2008 at 10:01 am

    The printed dress does fit her well! My motto is if the item fits well and looks expensive…why not! In this case, I could not tell if she paid $20 or $120…This was definitely a great flea market find!

  7. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 10:03 am

    I’ve stopped paying more than $50 for an item of clothing, unless of course it is “an investment piece” (for example, winter jacket, jeans, etc). Most of the clothes I have bought lately have been from $5 to $20. There’s sometimes no point in paying a lot for something, especially if it’s is well made enough to last a couple (or even one) season.

  8. Dan in Richmond

    September 4, 2008 at 10:12 am

    I tend to buy everything as if it were an “investment piece”, for better or worse, and wear my favorite things until they can hardly be worn any more. This spring I bought two nice pairs of shorts at the Boss store (not cheap) and decided to augment with two cheap pairs on sale at a department store. I did get use out of one of the cheap ones but will probably never wear the other. Real silk or linen or whatever feels better, as does a better cut, and the way my clothes feel, even very casual ones, affects the way I feel (very much). Now on the other hand, if I do find something I love at a cheap price, I’m thrilled – so I wouldn’t pay more just for the sake of doing so, but it’s a lucky day when you find something cheap you’re really crazy about.

  9. simplyolive

    September 4, 2008 at 10:20 am

    well worth the 20 bucks she paid for this!

    both the print and the cut of the dress are lovely.

  10. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 10:20 am

    I think the girl is a model from Singapore, Jacqueline Alblas. You can see her here.

  11. dirtydirtylaundry

    September 4, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Quality is not as important as aesthetic, but there’s always a line you have to draw. A dress, especially one worn in a city by a busy, outside woman, has to be of a certain quality in order to withstand the wear and tear of the environment. I would definitely pay a lot more than $20 for a dress that fit me half as well as that dress fits her.

  12. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 10:27 am

    The idea of “investing” in clothes because they are well made and look good now doesn’t mean they will look good to you in a few years. I have bought jackets, in particular, that I thought I could keep for decades that were a waste of money. For one thing, your own taste changes even if your size and age wouldn’t, rendering a lot of items undesirable after some time passes. However, cheap hardly ever looks good…

  13. gusi

    September 4, 2008 at 10:30 am

    ive see loads of women with expensive branded outfits (logo-showing.. yuck!) yet still make it somehow to look cheap or sloppy.

    in my book, its all about knowing what best fits u.. regardless of the money invested.

    ps. lovely print, indeed!

  14. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 10:31 am

    I think it’s highly likely she’d look good in anything…. hard to tell exactly from the photo but it looks like two large scarves sewn together to form the dress? Done very nicely if that’s the case…

  15. Adriana V

    September 4, 2008 at 10:32 am

    I agree about the comment about fit for different body types. I’m not overweight but I’m small and not particularly slim, and being the bargain hunter that I’m, sometimes I have to insist on buying higher end pieces, since the fit is better. If I were this slim, I could wear a towel outside and people would say “perfect fit my darling”
    I have another comment, I would like to see more pictures of women with other body types, I love this woman in the pic, but I want to see people I can relate to. Fashion does not discriminate in size. Again, this is not to be politically correct, it is merely an exercise on looking for different people.

  16. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 10:33 am

    i would pay for silk.

    but most ‘young laadies’ have a budget….

  17. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 10:40 am

    It’s certainly difficult – especially for women (I’d guess – I’m a man) as the whole aesthetic of men’s clothing has more to do with aptness for function which can clearly be evaluated and therefore have a value set on it. Peer pressure and the fiction that “it can’t be worth buying if it doesn’t cost enough” must play a part too. This idea finds its reductio ad absurdam in the scent market.

    Anyhow she looks fabulous – well done her and well spotted!

  18. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 10:43 am

    This dress is easily made with large scarves, if one is so inclined. That way, one could have a beautiful print, quality fabric, and a cheap price all at once.

    I’m less likely to spend more on summer pieces. I’ve also copied a cheap (as in less finely made, lesser materials) find that has a great shape, in better fabric and with better workmanship.

  19. Miguel

    September 4, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Lovely garment. Nice colors too.

  20. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Every girl has a dream of products with famous brand.
    But if you are tasteful and beautiful,anything you pull on would be the product with famous brand.

  21. Tess

    September 4, 2008 at 11:02 am

    My girl & I shop exclusively at used & thrift stores. Her closet is full of $300+ high-quality jeans that she purchased for about $12 each, and my closet is full of fantastic dresses (Diane Von Furstenberg, Kiribilla, Calvin Klein) that I found for under $50 each. We get to look cute & still pay rent, all without new resources (fabric, shipping, labor) being used!

  22. Lakmi C. Flecha

    September 4, 2008 at 11:14 am

    50% beautiful dress, 50% absolute confidence in wearing it…

  23. -h of candid cool

    September 4, 2008 at 11:16 am

    she's absolutely beautiful and elegant.

    just because its $20 doesnt neccessarily mean it wont hold up. quality can be bought at all prices points, and so can crap.

    one may want durability, if one wants something for casual/day, a cotton dress is a lot easier to care for & can take more "abuse" than a silk dress.

    so i guess it all depends on what purpose the item is serving.

  24. deantsugio

    September 4, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Prints are personal — so what is divine for one, may not be for another — sorry arbiters of taste — I’m not a paisley fan and am not a fan of the dress either — it’s basically scarves sewn together — so at $20 it’s fine, but really, if one knew how to sew, it could be made pretty easily — it’s a straight seam at that. The woman, on the other hand, is chic, exotic and lovely and makes a ho-hum summer fad look chic. I first say this scarf long dress at the Gucci store last summer (it was lovely, clever, beautiful and expensive) and then at the stores on and near Canal Street (where is wasn’t lovely or beautiful, but it was cheap). This cheap version is great for the beach, grocery store or Mac store. I’d be surprised if it lasts more than 3-4 washings. One pays for quality and craftsmanship — it doesn’t come cheaply — but the question should be when does paying for quality become absurd and one is really paying for the label. This dress is fine at $20, better at $10, stupid at $50. I mean, when did it become acceptable to pay $200 for a pair of jeans or $100 for a t shirt? We all like to think that the prices labels charge means that the garments are of quality — which would justify us paying those prices — but then again, that is why I love fashion — it is worth every cent if you can’t live without it…

  25. ricola

    September 4, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Super hot girl in a super hot dress.

    I think Keff said it best, about a gradual accumulation of solid, classic wardrobe pieces augmented with more affordable things. Yesterday I bought a Burberry suit and a couple of 8$ thermal henleys (-ies?) right along side. I also think that you dont have to spend a large amount of your take home to do it. As a costumer I’ve found hundreds of exceptionally made, beautiful clothes at markets, vintage/thrift/charity shops. Let me tell you, if you ever have the chance to attend a costume sale, especially for film, do it. Theatre Shops have incredible collections.

  26. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Yes, I would pay more for higher stitch to inch ratio, and for pure silk. Here's why:

    1) I try to make every purchase last as long as possible, for several reasons.

    a. In the first place I am very picky, and it can take me a very long time to find even a simple item like a white silk sleeveless blouse that I like. The amount of time I spend looking means I want this to last!

    b. I don't like buying super trendy items that only look good for a short period of time/date themselves quickly. So, if something could be worn forever but falls apart to quickly, I'm frustrated by that lost moment.

    c. I get really attached to my clothing and accessories. They match my moods, my aspirations, special moments in my life. They mean a lot to me. I don't want them to come in and out of my life so quickly.

    d. I think I save a lot of money by spending a bit more to keep things longer.

    e. I prefer to build a wardrobe, and I think to do this you have to have long lasting pieces.

    f. I don't think one item vs. another is more worthy of investing in, necessarily. Sure, I spend more for my suits, my coats, my evening gowns, my shoes. But, I wear my jeans much more; I wear my casual dresses much more. I think they should be just as nice and last just as long.

    2) I don't like cheap clothes. I can't relax in them. I can't feel good in them. By cheap, I mean cheap in quality. Give me thrift store YSL and discount store Prada anyday, but I can't go into H&M. I can't feel happy with cheaply made, quickly made, mass produced, low quality fabric, already unraveling at the seams clothing. I just can't.

    3) I like to present myself well. Not only the aesthetic but the immediately apparent quality has to be there, or I won't buy it. I'd rather have 2 dresses than 10 if this is what it takes.

    4) Slow clothes movement! Environmentalists will tell you to buy quality, and clean it gently. Its better for the planet.

  27. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Yes, I would pay more for higher stitch to inch ratio, and for pure silk. Here's why:

    1) I try to make every purchase last as long as possible, for several reasons.

    a. In the first place I am very picky, and it can take me a very long time to find even a simple item like a white silk sleeveless blouse that I like. The amount of time I spend looking means I want this to last!

    b. I don't like buying super trendy items that only look good for a short period of time/date themselves quickly. So, if something could be worn forever but falls apart to quickly, I'm frustrated by that lost moment.

    c. I get really attached to my clothing and accessories. They match my moods, my aspirations, special moments in my life. They mean a lot to me. I don't want them to come in and out of my life so quickly.

    d. I think I save a lot of money by spending a bit more to keep things longer.

    e. I prefer to build a wardrobe, and I think to do this you have to have long lasting pieces.

    f. I don't think one item vs. another is more worthy of investing in, necessarily. Sure, I spend more for my suits, my coats, my evening gowns, my shoes. But, I wear my jeans much more; I wear my casual dresses much more. I think they should be just as nice and last just as long.

    2) I don't like cheap clothes. I can't relax in them. I can't feel good in them. By cheap, I mean cheap in quality. Give me thrift store YSL and discount store Prada anyday, but I can't go into H&M. I can't feel happy with cheaply made, quickly made, mass produced, low quality fabric, already unraveling at the seams clothing. I just can't.

    3) I like to present myself well. Not only the aesthetic but the immediately apparent quality has to be there, or I won't buy it. I'd rather have 2 dresses than 10 if this is what it takes.

    4) Slow clothes movement! Environmentalists will tell you to buy quality, and clean it gently. Its better for the planet.

  28. cigalechanta

    September 4, 2008 at 11:48 am

    The top designers have some hideous prints. Usually too bright, too large, that the average woman cannot wear them. Some of these designs hit us in the wrog place!. Dries has done some beautiful prints this season but he has a few clinkers.

  29. OndrejS

    September 4, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Its amazing how many low budget shoppers you suddenly find here:).
    In my view the basic principle of dressmaking is that the higher the quality (which includes also aesthetics) the more labor, talent and/or quality of material you need. All these things cost more the better they are. If you find something cheap than it is rather an exception than a rule. And someone is payig the difference for you. It can be the store (selling off its extra supplies, or the dressmaker not being recognized for his talent or someone growing out of his dress and selling it on the flea maket)Therefore I would gladly pay for higher quality but I would be excited about getting something of quality for a cheap price. It is not feasible to only look for bargains though. Free lunches are quite rare…
    Scott, thanks for bringing this topic up here. I always love to reason about fashion :)

  30. christina

    September 4, 2008 at 11:55 am

    That’s a tough one. I always feel guilty buying cheap stuff because I know it’s not going to last. But some pieces, are better off not hanging around in your closet forever! So my conclusion: don’t be afraid of inexpensive clothes as long as they don’t look cheap. But definitely spend more money on investment pieces/classic items.

  31. d2fang

    September 4, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    No point in paying more, since you said it yourself that the dress won’t last more than 2 summers. Investment pieces are for things that you expect to use for years – you wouldn’t spend $10 on a wallet, and have to replace it every year.

  32. Hannah

    September 4, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    I say: if you can’t tell an item is cheap then hell, buy it! Why wouldn’t you? However, in an overwhelming majority of cases, cheap things both look and feel cheap (whether it’s fabric, cut, stitching, whatever). I’ve found this even with basics; you can
    tell the difference between a plain shirt from Hanes and one from Alexander Wang simply by the way it drapes. And of course there’s no question that the expensive versions of items like jeans are immeasurably superior to their cheaper counterparts. If you can afford to, then go for it – what better way to spend your money than to wear it? I promise both you and the people around you will be able to tell – there’s just something about a well-constructed jacket…

  33. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    i used to live in Montreal, canada and every summer a certain “it item” came out…so i would usually look for a more affordable version…cause lets face i could use it for 3 months max and then it was cold again! Now i live in hot weather all year around so now i dont mind buying pricier better quality summery pieces.

  34. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    she’s beautiful and super thin. you can put a rag on her, both of them will still looking fabu!

  35. suzanne nelson

    September 4, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    To answer your question (is quality worth paying for….) then i think no. But on the other hand if you are beautiful, tall, thin, and tanned not a lot isn’t going to function well. As already pointed out, different body shapes need more attention and ‘function’ as in looking good, narrows considerably often forcing you up the price/quality ladder. Also, I don’t want to get preachy, but i feel we should consider ethics here, i won’t buy things i know have been made by under age poverty stricken individuals in third world countries getting paid 25c a day and I won’t buy a white T for $50 because of the label in the back Certain clothes have gotten too cheap and others way too expensive. We have to learn to make informed choices.

  36. Yarnhog

    September 4, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Spend on the classics, save on the trendy pieces.

  37. veronique

    September 4, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    I find it easier to spend less on summer clothes than winter ones: For instance, summery cotton pieces fron J.Crew are just fine, but their wool skirts, coats and even their cashmere sweaters are absolute crap.

  38. sdg1844

    September 4, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    The dress and the woman are lovely. It’s Summer in NYC and you soend more time in the cold than not. Why bust up your budget? I’d rather spend the $$$ and invest in Fall/Winter clothing that will need to stand the test of time and the elements.

  39. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    for a print i’d go with cheap, as long as it doesn’t fall apart, because it’s a little less versatile and timeless, which makes it less of an investment.

    but also, i’d definitely pay more for items of clothing i find difficult to get – like pants or button-down shirts for my curvy body type.

  40. lfr

    September 4, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    to me, the success of this look is about 15% due to the dress and the rest to the woman wearing it.

    that being said, i love cheap clothes, but that’s probably because i’m broke.

  41. James Taylor

    September 4, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    My girlfriend bought a dress similar to this one a few months ago for around $20, and has been wearing it all summer. On Monday night we were crossing West End Avenue and a total stranger exclaimed, “Don’t you look beautiful! What an amazing dress!” My girlfriend got annoyed when I mentioned how cheap it was. Apparently this is a social faux-pas I wasn’t aware of. I’ll know for next time.

  42. Paul Pincus

    September 4, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    truly stunning shot.

  43. marc

    September 4, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I guess that you just have to be lucky to find a dress (that dress!) for 20$ in your size. Anyway, this girl is lucky in every sense :)

    Really nice topic, Scott.

  44. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    #1 – while a higher stitches per inch ratio would entice me to view a dress like this as a more “sound purchase”, I would not place a higher value upon it as it takes the same amount of labour and materials to produce.
    Anyone with a pattern can make a functional garment, so as a student of this profession, I try to distinguish between craftsman I should respect and patronize and those I should not align myself with.
    #2 – As long as the fabric is not a sweaty synthetic, I don’t see why it would need to be silk. Most of the time, if a producer has used a fine material (silk, leather) they include the small price difference of the material into the overall mark-up equation and you pay far more for an only slightly more expensive material.

    I think a good example here would be Marc Jacobs collection versus Marc by Marc. You’ve stated that you find Marc modern because he can present a garment at MxMJ made of lesser materials at a cheaper cost with the same integrity as his high end work at LV or Marc Jacobs Collection. There should never be an excuse for poor craftsmanship but there’s no reason to be snobby about materials or label (as long as the quality is there!)


  45. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    expensive does not necessarily mean high quality….theres been uproar in designer womenswear recently about the decreasing quality of the garments; combined with a higher price–|> I recently read about a women who bought the new YSL Muse bag and the leather on the front lock peeled away afetr just two days!! this was on a website and all the comments to the post agreed- jimmy choo bags with weak handles, etc etc….

    i saw designer clothing today where nobody even bothered to snip off the threads!!

    i understand that we must pay higher prices for higher quality but it seems to have reached the stage where second-hand is the only reminder of QUALITY…

    I dont think many people realise thats its not an issue ofprice, its VALUE FOR MONEY!!

  46. Missy's Got Fighting Blood

    September 4, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    When you have a build (like my former Italian/Spanish roommate), you can wear $24 jeans and they look like they cost $190.

    My twin went to the movies with this guy and she squealed about how a pair of jeans fit on Thandie Newton and he said: "It's not the jeans, it's the body."

    And that is so true. And from then on I started counting calories and exercising more. I want my clothes to fit a certain way and if I want to get $30 dress at H&M, I'll be able to pull it off. Who cares if I'll trash it in a month or two.

    Anyway, this girl's hair is plain and simple and nice. The dress fits perfect. I was jealous when I saw it.

    Her skin — nice. Arms – nice. Everything just works. Even the bag that's next to her feet.

  47. Missy's Got Fighting Blood

    September 4, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Uh huh! Exactly

    LFR said:

    to me, the success of this look is about 15% due to the dress and the rest to the woman wearing it.

  48. Katie Killary

    September 4, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    I have a print dress with a terrible print pattern on it. I just realized that… ahh! haha

  49. Tea Lady

    September 4, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    I agree with Deja Pseu. I have a friend who is absolutely tiny and can wear just about anything. Most of her clothes are from thrift stores – and she always manages to look amazing. Granted – she does have a good eye for clothing. I on the other hand, with a few more curves can find cheap/thrifted clothes sometimes. But often I don’t like the fit – and end up spending more for something that fits me perfectly. I don’t have a straight up and down boy-ish figure that looks good in everything.

  50. Kristine

    September 4, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I will buy anything that looks good on. I have linen pants from Target, and a dress from a local boutique. My ceiling for value for clothes is definitely far below designer.

    But that said, I’ve found that for certain clothes (pants especially) the cheap stuff just doesn’t fit well, and I would rather invest in something that looks/feels good that will be around a while.

    I love bragging about my good finds. I have a pair of $5 shoes. Good fashion that doesn’t cost a fortune is something to be proud of, IMO.

  51. *indie_queen*

    September 4, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I tend to spend more money on things like coats, shoes, bags, occasion wear- anything that I will wear over and over. I am quite clumsy, so anything I wear on a daily basis for a short time- summer dresses, t shirts etc- I don’t spend much on as it is not worth it. I will only ruin it some how!

  52. The Storialist

    September 4, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    As an avid thrift store shopper, I usually ask the opposite question about an item to see if I really want it or if I’m just attracted to the low price. I ask, “If this skirt were 80 dollars instead of 8, would I still buy it?” If I even think, “yes” for a minute, then I’ll buy it.

    Hurray for the 20 dollar dress!

  53. Olviya

    September 4, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    dress looks great, really great!
    i think, that the point is HOW to dress clothes in general. some people look superb in second hand, and some ugly in latest Chanel

  54. tuetre

    September 4, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I think that most people feel better about themselves when they wear something of good quality, even if something of a lesser quality would do just as well in its place. No matter how good it would look, I wouldn’t feel right wearing a cheaply made dress to an important occasion, for example.

  55. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    I can't stand maxi dresses. They look like nightgowns. Same silhouette in a daytime fabric.

    I know lots of women (and men) seem to think they're very elegant and feminine, but it's just too much fabric for daytime.

    Anyway, as for the quality question, as someone else mentioned, bodies and personal tastes change over time. But even if your body and taste has changed in as little as one year, but you wear an expensive pair of jeans 2 days a week for the whole year, the cost-to-wear ratio works out. I never spend much on sweaters because no matter how high quality and how great they look and how high the cashmere content, they will eventually start to pill and look shabby. In this case, a cheaper sweater will look just fine and last just as long. I have lots of trendy throwaway pieces from H&M that look great for the two summers that I wear them. Nothing lost there. But jeans? That's different. Every female knows how hard it is to find jeans that fit, so when you do, it's best to just pounce on them.

  56. Claire

    September 4, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Unfortunately I think people with certain builds can get away with inexpensive clothing better than others. I could never not wear a bra the way this woman is doing, for instance, and I’m probably too short to purchase this as-is.

  57. stylefox

    September 4, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    I have a few shopping rules that have worked well for me:
    1) Always buy high quality shoes and boots at a nice retail store.
    2)Buy high quality clothes at consignment stores that still look almost new.
    3)Buy some of the cute items at Target that are made by designers – when you only care that it lasts a season or two.

  58. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 1:39 pm

  59. Ida, Norway

    September 4, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    I love the cut, the fabric and the length of the dress (and her cheekbones).

    More expensive clothes doesn’t guarantee better quality. Cheap is good and flea markets are fun! :-)

  60. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Great shot, as usual – the way the picture on her Mac purchase echos the dress is terrific.

  61. Tiffany

    September 4, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    I stay in sunny Singapore where there’s only one season all year round. Despite the humidity and “resort” temperatures, it’s almost a crime how few girls wear long dresses.

    Like you mentioned, I was beginning to despair and wonder if only the rich can lounge about in long flowing dresses.

    Most long dresses in the big department stores here cost at least USD$100, and they’re usually nylon with plunging necklines or bare backs.

    Ah, I yearn for high end designs but I’m only willing to pay low end cost for it (perfectly tongue in cheek :D )

  62. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    i really believe that high quality construction is not necessary for all articles of clothing. Classic staples, things that should fit just right,sure. But everyday wear – I get so frustrated when I see simple, generic-cut clothing in stores for hundreds or thousands of dollars when it simply is not necessary. I’m so glad you brought this up! the girl looks great.

  63. Alice Olive

    September 4, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Agreed – this is beautiful and she looks fabulous.

    I’ll pay more for fabric and fit. And I definitely expect more than two seasons’ wear. No matter how much I pay – which means I steer clear of extreme fashion trends.

  64. marlys

    September 4, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I buy vintage as much as possible. Finding good pieces takes time, but the reward is a perfect combination: high quality AND low price. There’s nothing like a sweater that actually WAS made “like they used to”.

    The more I collect/wear vintage, the more I perceive new clothes to be poorly constructed of materials that won’t last (I know there are some exceptions to this, but they are often beyond my budget).

  65. Regina

    September 4, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Well, I think it’s a question of value, and not price.
    As you said, this kind of dress won’t last more then two Summers, so, why not look for a cheaper but wonderfull dress, instead of buying an overpriced one?
    Well, I’m very much into buying at flea markets myself (called “brechós” here in Brazil).
    Now, about the print and being myself a fashion designer who also does print designs, I don’t know why we can’t find buyers to fabulous prints, you know? Maybe it’s because of the number of colours (if you have a high number, it will cost more to produce) or just “because”. Really, I don’t know. Any guesses?

  66. anya

    September 4, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    love the outfit, saw her when i there = ] and made a mental note of it. so yay me! i think that it doesnt have to be silk or amazing stitching as long as its

    1) not necessarily comfortable,but not itchy or digging into skin

    2) attractive on you

    3) doesn’t fall apart or discolor or shrink, etc. . .

    so yay!

  67. [email protected]

    September 4, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    How much you spend means nothing! I just picked up a never worn YSL raincoat for $40 at my favorite Salvation Army here in Vegas (sorry folks, but there’s no way I’m telling where it is!). I go in at least once a paycheck with a max $30 budget and have every designer name on the planet. I’ve tailored some no name suits and you can’t tell i haven’t spent over $1000. I bet a lot of the people you shoot are major thrift store shoppers.

  68. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Adriana wrote:

    “I have another comment, I would like to see more pictures of women with other body types, I love this woman in the pic, but I want to see people I can relate to. Fashion does not discriminate in size. Again, this is not to be politically correct, it is merely an exercise on looking for different people.

    10:32 AM”

    I agree. I’d also like to see more older women. They exist and buy clothes.

    And while I really enjoy this blog, the use of “young ladies” is a bit quaint. How about “young women”?

  69. Kerri Rose

    September 4, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    You bring up an interesting point that I constantly struggle with! I think that to find good clothes at good price is an art. I also think that if you find a piece that is so “you” one doesn’t really even need to worry about the price/quality as much. I think if you wear something like this right, and it’s your color and style it can’t possibly look cheap.

  70. whyioughtta

    September 4, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Interesting question. I’m sure other people have expressed this, but is it correct to assume that something that costs $20 is “poor quality”? Because that implies the inverse as well…that expensive clothing is always better clothing. And that’s definitely not the case.

    It’s a beautiful dress but to answer your question, no I wouldn’t pay more for it in silk–mostly because of its trendy maxi length but also because, like you say, the pattern will limit its lifespan (if only because one can usually only wear something a pattern like this for so long before getting tired of it.)

    My philosophy is to put my money into a few really good timeless items and spend a few bucks here and there on inexpensive trendy “2-year” pieces.

  71. mc582

    September 4, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    It is worth paying a lot for accessories because they can really change your look.
    I think that:

    High-quality accessories + Cheap dress = Great result


    Cheap accessories + High-quality dress = Poor result

    What does Mr. Sartortialist think?


  72. the dressmaker

    September 4, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Personally, I am willing to pay a little extra for silk, it just feels a little nicer and less sticky than those synthetics. But these days, I sometimes have a hard time telling the difference! If not feeling sticky, synthetics feel much cooler than natural fibers. Sometimes synthetic fabric doesn’t feel all that bad.

  73. plumpdumpling

    September 4, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    It probably also matters that she bought it at a flea, right? Assuming that flea market means secondhand. Any old maxi dress from Necessary Clothing is $20 new in the city, but this probably sold for much more back in its heyday.

  74. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    I love the way she has comfortably set down her laptop purchase. I know if that were me I would not be able to let go of the box handle until i was home.

  75. gwenmax

    September 4, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    A lower quality garment provides freedom. If it were silk, would you so casually mill about in the heat? worry of stains? romp in park? run in the surf? splash in the fountain? picnic in the grass? eat ice cream with the kids on your lap. Like life, the simple things are the greatest pleasures…just like this lovely simple dress.

  76. SB

    September 4, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    know yourself and the rest will follow.

  77. The Domina

    September 4, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    It depends on your body type…if you aren’t tall and thin or petite and thin, you have to pay a bit more attention to construction detailing, though you can often find that detailing at a cheaper price.

  78. Tessa

    September 4, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    She looks amazing! I think that if you have an understanding of fabrics, vintage brands and what suits you you can do quite well thrifting. I am all about flea markets! I have some pieces from them that have lasted longer than things from much fancier shops. In fact, Sart, I have been wondering when you were going to come and check out the fashion-fest that is The Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene.

    Such a lovely neighborhood and display of real, rootsy style as opposed to Williamsburg-type trendiness. I imagine with fashion week and so many folks in town we will see lots of new visitors to the market. I will be there serving up Mexican ices, stop by!

    Congratulations on all that you are doing and thank you for this blog. It makes me smile every day!

  79. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    and yet another way that shows apple is able to make a computer trendy

  80. Duncan

    September 4, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Wow; great picture, great looking girl.

    If the item’s right for you; cut, cloth, fall, colo(u)r.. buy it. To be driven simply by cost is clearly wrong, however bargains are rarely as good as they appear.

  81. Fair shopping fairy

    September 4, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    I totally agree with Suzanne (12.10 pm). I am extremely wary of supercheap clothes because they were probably made in a sweatshop. If you find an inexpensive piece in a thrift store that you really like, that fits, that doesn’t look cheap then why bother to search somewhere else for the same item? As other people have said before I think it’s more about attitude/bodyshape rather than the pricetag maybe even the quality of the clothes.


    September 4, 2008 at 5:43 pm


  83. Indiana

    September 4, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    The material points for me are quality, function and style. I don't want anymore garbagey-throw-away-H&M crap–I'm sick of things falling apart.

    And the truth is, if you have a well-made piece that is well tailored and maintained properly (that means NO DRYERS and only cold water!), you can keep that piece your whole life and will likely be able to wear it for a season every five to 10 years–or sooner considering the increasing speed at which trends and styles now cycle through.

    I'm still wearing pieces I bought in university.

    As clothes are shipped all over the world these days and the materials to construct them can tax resources, this also becomes both an environmental and ethical issue as well.

    Hold on to the classics and always buy the best quality you can! That's my two cents.

  84. indigo warrior

    September 4, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Doesn’t the question really become whether or not your time (of which none of us has an unlimited supply) is worth the dress? At twenty dollars, even a bookstore clerk could afford to say yes to that dress comfortably (it would take maybe two to three hours for a girl working retail to pay for the dress). At a higher cost? Probably not. It’s not a versatile piece (one wouldn’t wear it to work, for instance, but could probably wear it to school or out for a casual afternoon), and as you say, wouldn’t get more than two season’s wear. Then the question becomes why is that person standing next to you trying to figure out the stitches per inch of your dress seams and what is your most available form of self-defense … (c:

  85. Kristian S. Skeie

    September 4, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Excellent post, thank you! It made me smile. I bought some italian “Crispi” mountain boots in 1996… and I still wear them! How about that ;-)

  86. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Not sure price equals quality much anymore. Looked at a 850.00 cotton Ralph Lauren (polo) sportcoat and it was about the same quality as JCREW 350.00 jacket. Both came from China, fused interfacing, plastic buttons, and 1/2 lined. If you’d look at vintage Ralph Lauren (polo) from 15 years ago it was much better constructed. Seems everyone is cutting corners these days.

  87. saudade

    September 4, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Completely agree with anon @ 6:35 PM. I’ve been disappointed as of late in many moderately high end designers — especially in blazers and other pieces meant to last for some time. I also do a lot of thrifting, and 70s and 80s Lauren, etc. is leaps and bounds beyond what you can get today. Why is this? I think it’s like what Lagerfeld said: It used to be there was luxury and no market, and now there is all market and no luxury.

    That said, I have bought very nice pieces that I will get a good 4 or 5 seasons of wear from at [insert low end clothing store here]. But I take good care of my clothes. You know what works well as a rule for everything from low (generally basics and trendier bits) to high
    (better construction, classic wearability) end items? My best friend and I use a general rule for a significant portion of our clothing of $1 per wear.

  88. monique

    September 4, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    She looks exquisite. She is quite beautiful. Personally, something like this I wouldn't pay more than 50 bucks for. It's really "of the moment" and she won't likely being wearing it in summer 2009 and definitely not in 2010.

    It's pretty basic: spend the money on things you expect to be wearing for a long time to come and those faddish items that you think are cute, snatch 'em up at H&M or, if you can find them, at thrift shops or flea markets. That's really just common sense.

  89. funkia

    September 4, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    AND, her sandals are from target. i know because i own the same pair – $14!

  90. Chester

    September 4, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    On many people’s comment that she’ll look great in anything, I wish there’s a way we could test it. I don’t think she will. No one can possibly look good in anything. I don’t think she’ll look good in MC Hammer circa 1990s clothes. (But she sure looks damn good here!)

    On the point about function and “quality”, there is such a thing as overkill in seeking quality. The purpose of having high stitch counts is usually to make sure that hems and connecting fabrics stay in place. For a hem that is, say, 3 inches long, is there really a difference between 1,000 stitches (approximately 333 stitch per inch) and 2,000 stitches (approximately 666 stitch pr inch)? I’d say the that the 2,000 stitches won’t do a significantly better job than the 1,000 stitches. I certainly wouldn’t pay extra for such stupid effort for “quality”.

  91. Monica

    September 4, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    What do some people here have against H&M? It's not all garbagey and throw away. I have expensive dresses, but well, I have a thing for bargain hunting. There's this lovely baby doll dress I got from H&M and it's been with me for a year (I wore it like.. 15 times–in different places!) and it still has the quality it had when I bought it from the shop. It's how you take care of your clothes that matter too. If you throw in a delicate dress in a heavy duty machine, well. ;)

  92. Ileana

    September 4, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    As anonymous said the cutting corners that happens these days doesn’t justify the price some labels charge for their wares. Unfortunately, fashion is a business like any other and they must show a profit like any other be at it the expense of quality and workmanship. That’s why 2nd hand (vintage…hate that term, so ego driven) clothes hold up so well.

  93. magstermash

    September 4, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    It’s hard to believe she only spent $20 on a dress that fits her so well and looks so great on her.

    The print and fit are amazing but I wonder how the dress would look if it was in a solid color? It seems that dresses with prints can draw eyes away from tiny imperfections as long as the lines of the dress are in place.

  94. magstermash

    September 4, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    I agree with indigo warrior and anonymous (the one who says,” not sure price equals quality…”).

    Also, I don’t know about NYC, but I know in many parts of the country, it’s quite difficult to find a dress for $20 that fits so well, let alone one with such great print. In addition, most young women can’t shell out hundreds’ of dollars for a summer dress so more often than not, people settle for function.

  95. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    right price does not mean quality anymore.

  96. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    I agree that this is as much an issue of ethics as anything. Going cheap by buying vintage makes sense; buying new things that are cheap typically less so.

    The thing is that even if the item was not made in a sweatshop, what we call in economics “externalities” are not factored into the price. In other words, the transportation cost from China, say, of the item is factored into the overall cost, but the environmental damage that is created by the shipping is not. The world economy is nuts these days – everything is disposable and no one blinks an eye at fish being caught in the Atlantic, shipped to China for primary processing, and shipped back to North America for canning/packaging. Honestly, if you think about these things in a serious way, you realize that stepping back and NOT buying all of the cheap crap on the market is something important that you as an individual can choose to do. You’re not paying the true cost of the junk that you buy at a dollar store; same goes for a great deal of stuff in “fashion” stores.

    I have always loved clothes, especially good quality ones, but because of years spent as a student had fallen into a trap of buying too many cheap pieces (in addition to vintage finds). I’m no longer a student and now earn a good salary, so I’ve started to think more about what it means to be spending my money on clothes. I’ve done a bit of a review of my wardrobe recently, and have decided to just stop buying new clothing. Like most people, I have enough clothes that I could not buy another item for several years and remain well-dressed . I think that fashion and style have to be about creativity, and what better way to express this than by playing with what you already have (or can purchase carefully and cheaply at a thrift shop and/or maybe adapt with your own sewing skills). Lately I’ve been ripping out old sweaters and am going to knit the yarn anew into different items. Just thinking…

  97. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    She looks good. It’s encouraging to see someone with the same build as me getting encouraging reactions to her clothing. I always hate my profile.

    When I shop, I try to only buy things I love and look good on me. I don’t like to buy aggressively trendy things that are inherently unflattering. I am extreme in my tastes–if I like something, I LOVE it and want to wear it to death, not matter how much it cost.

    I’m thin and and trust me, finding AFFORDABLE clothes is really difficult. Go into the average mass market, affordable store, and it’s meant for shorter, not so thin people. Certain things will fall off me and no amount of tailoring is worth it in that case. I inevitably get frustrated even trying to buy basics. And I will not buy a $50+ t shirt.

    Great dress, it makes me sad that the summer will be ending soon.

  98. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Beautiful, she looks like a modern Pocahontas (sp.?). I agree about the prints. It is so hard to find a print with integrity, instead of a mass-produced poorely designed product. I have yet to find a good print dress, second-hand or self-made may be the way to go. As for quality vs. appearance, I think that it all comes down to manufactorers with lower price points not really caring about the actual design, because they are mostly not catering to a sartorialist crowd.

  99. Amanda

    September 4, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    once i read a quote that said “the happiness of buying something cheap goes away when the reality of ad quality arrives”. I laughed so hard when I read that because i’m one of those bargain-hunters you see everywhere. I probably wouldn’t have pai dthe extra cash if it was silk!!!

  100. Anonymous

    September 4, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    This woman is divinely beautiful, and the dress looks very special on her. Speaking for myself, I’m obsessed with quality, fit and fabric, and tend to buy for the long haul. As a result, I don’t have a whole lot of clothes. However, I find it impossible to buy an item that may look great, though it may last for only a season or two, if for instance, the stitching is too big. No one else may notice, but it will drive me absolutely bonkers. Similarly, I’m having a really hard time with fancy labels that cost no small amount…and then you look at the label and they’re made in China. I have nothing against things made in China, but when you’re paying top dollar for clothing, it’s really hard to justify.

  101. Anonymous

    September 5, 2008 at 12:04 am

    i’ve found similar dresses at flea markets. they’re cotton, but they do look and feel like silk. she looks fantastic.

  102. Anonymous

    September 5, 2008 at 12:20 am

    Price does not always equal quality or fit. Sometimes cheap clothes look cheap. It takes a little hunting, but you can find almost anything for an affordable price. As a student, can’t spend much money on clothes, and I doubt I ever will even if I have the means. Also, living in a dorm, my washing machines eat up my clothes in a minute, so buying anything fragile and expensive is useless.
    20$ is about what that dress is worth, and it looks great. I have a similar one that cost about the same. Frankly, I would be embarrassed to wear designer clothes that everyone would know were expensive, especially if I could get something similar for cheap. Who needs to parade around that they waste their money on things like that?

  103. Alicia

    September 5, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Sure, it’s nice to invest in high-quality pieces for your warbrobe (i.e. expensive), but you can always throw in a few inexpensive, trendy, ones into it as well. Sometimes i call inexpensive things ‘cheap thrills’.
    I’ve always believed that it doesn’t matter how much something costs, as long as you wear it well, own-up to it, and know that it fits you well.
    This dress is gorgeous, especially on her, because she wears it so well, she knows that it compliments her figure and style.
    Great find! I wish we had such great markets here!
    Take care!

  104. Anonymous

    September 5, 2008 at 2:25 am

    well i certainly hope it’s made of nice material. i would never pay $20 for a thrift store dress if it was made of rayon! i wouldn’t even pay $1 for a crappy synthetic, whether new or used, because i would never be comfortable in it. yech.

  105. Anonymous

    September 5, 2008 at 2:37 am

    I think people should be more conscious of what they are buying- under what conditions it was made, how environmentally sound the material is.
    Most of the clothes I buy are from second hand/Op Shops or high quality Australian made, with a strong emphasis on natural fibers because if they are treated right they will out last synthetic materials, plus they feel better to wear. I also try and buy pieces that are interesting in their own right and not simply a trend piece, this way they last longer in style terms.
    That all said sometimes it’s great to pick up a high st piece that can finish of an outfit by making it more ‘current’.
    It all comes down to personal opinion but I strongly believe we should be more aware of where our clothes have come from.

  106. orenjinosky

    September 5, 2008 at 5:15 am

    WOW! what a look….

    well, till today i buy things that is :
    1. comfortable enough when i’m wearing it,
    2. fit with my budget of course
    3. i can wear it in more that one occasion

    so… i guess quality and function both are essential

  107. Dexter James

    September 5, 2008 at 5:29 am

    Thanks for discussing such a decent and important topic. Really it is a fun to search for clothes which are sexy, stylish and and come at a cheaper rate.

    Your blog is fabulous..

  108. Fujitaka

    September 5, 2008 at 5:33 am

    In summer it may doesnt matter how good is the clothe but it really matters in winter.

  109. Anonymous

    September 5, 2008 at 6:18 am

    First of all, that is indeed a beautiful print on a beautiful woman.

    The only difference I’ve found between very expensive clothes and moderately priced clothes is in the construction and fabric. Two items may seem to be exactly the same garment on the rack, but the way they feel and fall on my body differs. Having said that, I think it is entirely possible to find well-cut, high quality-fabric clothes on the high street and even at street markets.

  110. Taru Tuomi

    September 5, 2008 at 7:30 am

    beautiful Mac-ad..

  111. Annie

    September 5, 2008 at 7:50 am

    Great dress… Sartorialist you have done it again… was in nyc a month ago. While there I fell in love with diverse places but in particular the people… your blog keeps me in touch on the iconically original people that I encountered everyday there… I hope to live in nyc very soon…
    your blog keeps my inspiration thank you

  112. Violetsrose

    September 5, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Cost and quality are, these days, two entirely different things – I have worn hugely expensive designer clothes that are made dreadfully where you are paying for the name – and I have worn cheapy H&M clothes that are beautifully made (even down to the little thred bars holding a lining to a skirt – you never see that kind of detail on clothes today let alone on something that cost hardly anything!) – cost is not authomatically linked to quality anymore – you can find some really good things at cheaper prices

    If the garment functions well the way it is then, to me, that is quality

  113. Clare

    September 5, 2008 at 8:36 am

    I'm a little dissapointed that most comments are viewing the pros & cons of cheap clothes in terms of quality, fit & fashion. It's also worth remembering that if something seems to-good-to-be-true-cheap it's likely some poor soul is slaving away in a sweatshop to make it.
    I think here in the UK we have an addiction to cheap clothes, which as a recent documentary on Primark showed, can come with a high ethical price tag.

  114. Keiler

    September 5, 2008 at 9:03 am

    I think if a person gets too obsessed with surrounding themselves with quality objects – clothes, art, food, or whatever, it can lead them to believe that they need quality in order to be happy. Every experience they encounter with cheap goods becomes an irritant rather than another interesting experience.

    The question about cheap, but attractive clothing also brings up questions about manufacturing, though. Maybe quality is worth paying for when it doesn’t come from sweatshops. Of course, designer wear isn’t necessarily ethically produced either.

  115. Anonymous

    September 5, 2008 at 9:39 am

    I wonder if it was bought at a flea market in New York for $20 or if she bought it elsewhere in the world for the equivalent of USD20.

    USD20 can get you quality fabric and workmanship elswhere in the world! so cheap is all relative.

  116. Jen

    September 5, 2008 at 10:23 am

    It’s a lot easier to make a dress cheaply (cheap fabric, simple cut) for a thinner woman. Because those types of dresses don’t require a lot of work, they’re just cheaper.

    I can make a dress like that in an hour or two on my sewing machine. But to make a dress that’s tailored to my shape and flattering to my non-model body requires a bit more styling, planning, and work. The results are worth it, and that’s why it’s so hard to find cheap dresses for the every day woman (average American female size is a 14).

    That said, she bought it at a flea market and $20 is pretty high for flea market pricing. I imagine it was originally more expensive. I have a similar maxi dress from Anthropologie that cost around $100.

  117. Anonymous

    September 5, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Beautiful dress.
    The Indian cashemere print is beautiful too.

  118. Iheartfashion

    September 5, 2008 at 11:04 am

    I agree with the commenters who point out that this woman would look beautiful in anything. Fit is less of an issue when one is a model, and cheap clothes automatically look better on this body type. That said, I think the dress is gorgeous and she wears it well!

  119. red

    September 5, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Thank you very much for this information.


  120. Carolina Lange

    September 5, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    The dress is amazing! And I’m so glad that is costed her only $20! Fantastic, beautiful and affordable for everyone!

  121. Nina

    September 5, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    I would pay more if the dress was made from wild rather than farmed silk. The source of the materials is important if you’re interested in animal welfare in the same way that the manufacturing is.

  122. Anonymous

    September 5, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Sart, for all your fine qualities, you must not have much experience with second-hand shopping. :)

    Expecting to find a real silk dress of good quality that will last for more than two summers for $20 is not at all unreasonable, if you are shopping at a flea market.

    I do almost all of my clothes shopping in thrift stores, and I regularly find exceedingly stylish and high-quality items for $3-$10. This summer I’ve even scored some items by Marc Jacobs, Armani, and MaxMara, only lightly used, all for less than $10, at Goodwill and the Salvation Army.

    People have this pre-conceived notion that second-hand clothing stores are the Land of Polyester and Sweat-Stained Bowling Shirts. ‘T’ain’t necessarily so.

  123. Anonymous

    September 5, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    I have spent the last couple years buying tons of clothes that have faded or had stitching come apart. Now whenever I look at clothing, I consider quality and whether or not it is a significant addition to my wardrobe. Naturally, if you can meet both those requirements in a second-hand shop, then it’s win-win.

  124. Anonymous

    September 5, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Went out today in Toronto and saw 2 young ladies obviously influenced by this picture. To the last detail.

  125. acasi

    September 5, 2008 at 2:16 pm


  126. Jingoist

    September 5, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Wow. That’s all one can think to say… “Wow.”

  127. Nitasha

    September 5, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Can definitely still be silk for $20 – that dress looks like it was made in India (we have lots of cheap silk clothes there!).

  128. Gabriela

    September 5, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    She is amazing! A true princess!

    I think that making clothing that works, looks good and is cheap is the secret of big stores such as H&M or Zara.

    Not everyone knows how to appreciate a good silk or a well done seem, but even those who do, won't always want or be able to pay those extra 300.

  129. Anonymous

    September 5, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    It’s the beautiful woman and the scene in general that makes this a great shot, not so much the dress which, I think, looks chintzy in and of itself. For those with thin frames, it is easier to pull off an inexpensive dress that doesn’t require a great deal of construction. But different bodies need more complex construction for the clothing to be flattering, so some just can’t pull this off without looking “cheap”. It just depends on the body type, I think.

  130. victor

    September 5, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    nice hobo look, but definitely not gipsy bags ;)

  131. Anonymous

    September 5, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    This young lady is just that–young. And tall. And thin. She could wear a tablecloth and get away with it. Very pretty.

    However, those of us who are short, “un certain age”, curvy, etc. would not be so well-served. What works for this young lady works because it works for her particular size, shape, age. No matter the woman–or the man–if they are well-dressed in their/for their age/body type/personality, the look will be perfect–as you have proven time and again with your photos, Sart.

    As to material: Polyesters and acrylics DO NOT BREATHE, therefore, they are painfully uncomfortable to wear in heat and humidity. That being said, try to find something moderatly priced that isn’t lined in polyester or made entirely of polyester. While four-season folk may get away with fake fabrics, we who live in 100% humidity for a better part of the year swear by natural fibers every time; that is, if we want to actually move in them without being drenched in sweat within ten seconds.

    Cheaper, therefore, isn’t always good, but I am happy it works for some.

  132. E.R.

    September 5, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    To tell you the truth what bothers me about the dress is that you see these scarf print, v-neck, long dresses coming and going everywhere on everybody. So yes, this young woman looks beautiful in hers, but be it silk, many-stitches, expensive or none of those things, why would anyone want to wear the “it” dress of the summer. I think the ubiquity of the dress cheapens the dress, no matter how it is made.

  133. Momma Magpie

    September 5, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    It absolutely depends. And I’d like to be able to explain when I know whether something is worth paying more for. For the most part though, I would have to say that quality is less important to me. I’m an “in the moment” kind of gal. Most moments I find my wallet a little short, so I guess I’d opt for a bit less quality.

    I love the question and I love your blog. So very stylish and on time.

  134. Anonymous

    September 5, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    hell yeah.
    thats how us poor people get by every day.

  135. lil

    September 6, 2008 at 1:00 am

    agree with mc582 about the accessories. interesting point.

    expensive vs cheap for me is usually a case of considered online investments or opshop finds, so i rarely compromise on fabric quality. polyester and friends are definite deal breakers.

    though i do often compromise on the structure with cheaper things, opting for loose and unstructured. you can always play with proportions but you cant fix up cheap fabric.

  136. Rare Autumn

    September 6, 2008 at 6:03 am

    after this many comments i guess no one will read mine, but here we go:

    1) when you buy something vintage / at the flea market they very rarely price it according to material / designer / similar (hence you can pick up a chanel jacket for 30 dollars or something if you’re lucky)

    2) when it comes to buying cheep vs investment pieces shouldn’t we think more about the green footprint and fair labour than if we can save a buck / really need to make that investment?
    (obviously buying at the flea market as this lovely lady has solves all this – at least if you’re not looking for something bespoke of course)

    i’d be really interested in the sartorialist’s views on this – perhaps especially craftsmanship in clothes in relation to the above

  137. Sharon

    September 6, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Cost per wear even if you are likely to wear this ONCE= $20. Which is a ridiculously cheap price when you look this great.

  138. Susanna-Cole

    September 6, 2008 at 10:12 am

    gorgeous dress! and is true, beautiful things don’t have too cost a fortune! :D

  139. Anonymous

    September 6, 2008 at 11:03 am

    buy what you can afford. I know a person who will only spend alot of money on her wardrobe and is in debt up to her eyeballs. While it is nice to wear labels, it is also possible to look fashionable (though it does take more work) and speed less.

  140. Tiffany

    September 6, 2008 at 11:44 am

    That is the best thing about thrift shopping. You can find silk anything for less than $20 (at least in Chicago) even if you have to have a piece worked on a bit, you will still come out on top.

  141. Anonymous

    September 6, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    God I wish I could be good looking in
    $20 clothes! Yes it definitely needs your sense of fashion to be brilliant but yet, in most cases, it’s also really important that the one who wears the clothes looks good. Just like in this picture.

  142. Anonymous

    September 6, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    That’s Jacqueline Alblas, a Singaporean-born, half-Indonesian, half-Dutch model…gorgeous, I must say. She can pull ANYTHING off.

  143. hewn enthusiasm

    September 6, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    She looks stunning in the print, and for $20 it looks well-made. It was the right girl in the right dress, to quote Michael Kors!

  144. Charles

    September 7, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I have studied mode and add that for my i’ts more important the way fit clothes , (pattern design), that the quality of the fabric in . Specialy in suits (i told of cheap clothes)

  145. Maryda

    September 7, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Ohhh Jacqueline Albas, she’s Singaporean with Indonesian/Dutch origin. I used to go to school in Singapore and always bumped into her, since Singapore is a very tiny country. We both went to International School and she’s been modeling since junior high. I’m very proud of her, since I’m Indonesian, too :)

  146. Chee Chee Loves the North

    September 7, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    She has IT! You know you do when you can rock something like this that hardly cost a thing!

    She kind of has a Sade look around the eyes. That said, her face, to me matches her outside, her build, her “vibe.” It’s more than the dress with her. So jealous!

  147. Anonymous

    September 7, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Scott did you really have to include the Apple products in there? I thought you had class…

    it’s the nature of the beast ;-( nothing lasts forever

  148. Anonymous

    September 8, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    It seems that in the last 20 years clothes have declined in quality regardless of the price, which makes me feel ripped off. I fight to squeeze as much value out of each piece as I can.

    I wash in cold water and avoid using dryers whenever possible. I admit the clothes line in my small apartment is silly, but my clothes are doing better and my laundry quarters go further.

    I max out my limited sewing skills on repairs for my cheap stuff, and see a tailor for investment pieces.

    Rit dye serves me well. Especially because basic black knits fade quickly, and you can touch them up on your stove top in one hour.

    All of this is work. But I can make a little time if it saves me some money.

  149. Shaina

    September 9, 2008 at 4:05 am

    this look is really flattering on her. It elongates and brings attention to her already tall figure and shoulders and arms in a “good” way. The pose she’s in is just as justifiable. Really beautiful piece.

    sometimes you can get good quality at a less expensive price and sometimes quality doesn’t matter as much as looking “good”.

    so hit-up the thrift stores! u’ll find all sorts of treasures! even brand names! ^^

  150. bmommy

    September 9, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Your right, she does look amazing! It just goes to show you that if you have a good eye you can find lovely pieces anywhere, even at flea markets…

  151. Dee Vazquez

    September 9, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    I disagree, you can definitely get quality at a low price! I just purchased an 100% SILK Dolce Vita trapeze dress for $20 and The original price was $275!!! No lie. Ladies wait for the sales and if possible NEVER pay full price on anything because eventually Everything Must Go!

  152. Sad eyed lady of the lowlands

    September 10, 2008 at 11:22 am

    She´s tall, super thin, has good posture, a long neck and amazing shoulders. This is a supreme advantage. It goes without saying. With this body, she could pull anything off. Her body and poise will help and improe almost any outfit. The way she carries herself s also important, it gives her an aura of confidence and elegance.

    Every single girl in Rio de Janeiro wear dresses like this one, every summer. If you walk down Leblon or Ipanema from december to march, 9 out of 10 girls wil be wearing one of these dresses.

    And it´s not true that price equals quality. Not these days. Not anymore.

  153. shopguy35

    September 10, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Have we thought that it may have only cost $20 because it’s vintage? Please don’t forget that this dress style has already been “in style” before. I’ve seen many beautiful vintage versions of these maxi dresses that were made beautfully (thus the reasons they’re still around)and they have been very inexpensive. Many times, it’s the new interpretations that get the fabric and pattern all wrong, expensive or not.

  154. Anonymous

    September 10, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    it’s awesome she has great consumer sense with clothing. too bad she doesn’t with technology — new macs are coming out within 3 months.

  155. KT

    September 14, 2008 at 9:05 am

    I am afraid this dress is not very complimentary to the femaie form. It makes the model’s body look like an upsidedown cone!

  156. andrea

    September 14, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    i was more taken by her face than her dress.

  157. Anonymous

    September 14, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    i like how she pairs her dress with gold indian slippers (called ‘chapal’ here in asia)… i would have done exactly the same! love, delia xoxo

  158. Adrienne

    September 14, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    she looks great.
    as to quality vs. price, there are certain pieces that you need to invest in a bit to get the right fit or functionality (heels are much more balanced if you pay more, tailored pieces fit better etc.). However, I think always paying top price for everything is just silly, because at that point it is just a question of being a slave to branding. if it looks good, who cares how much you paid and who the name on the label is?

  159. Cynthia

    September 15, 2008 at 10:57 am

    For trendier items, I will actually go for the better brands because I can wear the dress a few times and then just sell it on eBay. Clothing has definitely become more liquid these days, and let’s face it, I don’t want to keep last year’s trend in my closet too long… who will want it then?

  160. Brother.Stasi

    September 23, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    This piece looks surprisingly beautiful, but stitches per inch or even the fabric quality will have likely little to no affect on this price because it is not being made to be sold… it has been made, sold, worn and loved, then discarded and resold/found (likely a number of times over.)

    You said she found it at a Flea Market… if she found it in Macy's or H&M for that price then it might say something about the quality. I sometimes find secondhand original Helmut Lang second hand, etc… the price says nothing of the quality of the garment rather the intelligence of the seller/shopper.

    All in all.. it is a beautiful classic dress and she got it for a steal!

  161. Anonymous

    October 27, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    It pretty much depend on the piece of garment you are wearing! I live with that duality, when the piece justifies it or when it doens’t, when I can afford it or not… for instances I’ve been purchasing some “good” label/designer pieces from previous collections today (stocks stores), so I get to the conclusion that most of the times is you who makes the garment, and not the way around! The rest is up to you!
    It can easily and dangerously becames a fallacy… so the credit is on your side… I believe.

    Appart from that, love your blog, the photos, not every figure… but this one looks great. Even the image on the mac box creates great perspective on the overall image.
    All the best!

  162. Anonymous

    January 24, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I have some H&M clothes which last and last and last and look as if I bought them yesterday. I am already tired to have them but cannot get rid of them because there is nothing wrong about them. So 20 € can be good investment too.
    As well as I have some H&M which dies after first wash.
    And some expensive brends does not have exiting quality of cut and material.
    So it is important to look carefully all the time and not rely on brands as well as neglect mass market.
    Anyway the most important is who you combine your stuff and how you wear it.

  163. Anonymous

    April 7, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Does anyone else feel incredibly let down and betrayed when the buttons on an investment piece fall off after only a couple of wears? (hello Marc Jacobs dress, DVF coat) or the hem undone (hi there Moschino skirt), seams come apart (yes yes McQueen shirt, not split or ripped, but undone). This is not wear and tear. I don’t buy expensive items for the sake of it or for the label. For that matter I don’t buy cheap items for the sake of it either. But when I’m paying several hundred pounds for an item, I expect better construction than from something that was £80 from the high street. I’ll pay the extra for something I can wear again and again not only because it’s timeless and I like the style but because of the damn good quality which sees it through the years! It sometimes seems paying through the nose for these things doesn’t actually get you good old fashioned honest quality.

  164. Kim_Lan

    August 26, 2009 at 5:49 am

    That's a good sartorial investment that she did when buying her dress !! ^^

  165. GHD Precious Gift Set

    December 14, 2011 at 2:51 am

    ;) In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German physicist

  166. Loulune

    December 14, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    wow, this is a nice invitation to discussion ! I was afraid that people in the fashion-style-even street style-world were completely loosing touch with cheap clothes. this is great. well, it was 2 years ago. I hope it’s still the same :)

  167. TutsIdioguito

    January 8, 2012 at 11:04 am

  168. julian

    September 10, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Price isnt a particularly steadfast reliable indicator of quality and ‘shelf life’

    However, price does get you beautiful ‘looking’ and ‘feeling’ materials and, for me at least, a far far superior cut and fit than I could ever hope to find on the high street

    Whether the clothes last longer than cheaper high street brands is pretty hit n miss……sometimes yes, sometimes no

    However, you can get undeniable bargains in second hand designer shops, that is no question

    I’ve paid £200 for nearly new designer suits in London, which if bought new wouldve set me back upwards of £1,000 each

    So paying for the designer versions does get you superior materials and a better cut and fit, but in terms of lastability or durability of these items…….theres no definite rule

    As for the lady in the picture, the dress she’s wearing I think would suit a lot of women, its very wearable, simple, elegant and attractive – i certainly wouldnt say it looks cheap

    You can, if youre lucky pick up some fantastic finds in charity shops and flea markets.

    you dont have to be a supermodel type to make it work, although on very pale skin I dont think it would be a good look

    she does remind me very much of a Modigliani though, all long lean, elegant lines

  169. Fafa White

    March 26, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    :) she looks great with her dress and standing straight with confident :)

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