by Chrysa Smith

clothesLike many women, I love to look at the fashion magazines. I get the buzz on what’s new in beauty, what I might want to buy and the latest fashion trends. I fully realize that some of the products might be well out of my limited budget, and that I won’t look quite like the anorexically gaunt models wearing them. But I really get annoyed when a magazine is supposedly targeted to ‘real’ women—and there’s barely a fashion item in there that I can afford.

Take ‘O’ for example. There’s a sweater for $54, some oxfords for $46 and a ‘Mistress of Darkness’ black dress in there from Target at $75. But let’s get real. Most of the fashion items aren’t for the average gal. $268 loafers, $675 dress, $275 jeans. What? Either my socio-economic level has dropped like a rock (which I’m beginning to believe more and more these days), or these publishers are smokin’ something funny.

Of course, so much is based in the larger metropolitan areas. Madison Avenue and Rodeo Drive aren’t strangers to this type of couture, but for the majority of us living in the burbs, we ain’t finding this stuff at Marshall’s or Macy’s. On a recent trip to NYC, it just struck me how different the clothing was–and I was once part of that fashion scene. But now, after living in the burbs for over 25 years (could I be that old?) I just dress differently–although I still like being in fashion.

Luckily, there is help. The TODAY show does a segment where they compare the outrageously priced outfit with something more reasonable that provides the same sense of style. Stores like H&M are on the cutting edge of fashion. Even though they’re targeted to slightly younger ‘bods’, there are quite a few items in there that work, regardless of age. Chains like Kohl’s and Target have begun carrying special designer lines that are more ‘hip.’ And for purses? There’s not much that compares with Marshall’s, where very high-end bags can be had for dozens of dollars less.

Maybe we’ll hit the lottery some day. But for now, we’ll have to settle for those knockoff numbers at more reasonable prices. Who knows? On the clearance rack, you occasionally get lucky–scoring some of those higher end items at a fraction of the price.

So, here’s to us—those with great fashion sense and smaller wallets. May we be wise in fashion sense and lucky in shopping.