Once upon a time, before you were born, or maybe not, cheap clothes were just, well—cheap. You bought them in nasty, bare-bones stores, and even though you looked really great—because you are so beautiful that anything looks good on you!—when people asked you where you got that amazing thing, you were inclined to shrug and say vaguely that you couldn’t remember or that it was a gift or some other bad lie.
Now, of course, if you stop the chicest girl in the corridor and inquire as to where she found her perky pleats, her fringed fandangos, she fairly shouts out the 29th-floor windows that she got them in the most plebian shop on the high street, or fished them out of a bottom of a thrift shop bin. Even those among us blessed with a fat purse extol the virtues of mastering the mix, popping a Zara blouse over a Chanel dirndl or marrying a Topshop topper to Céline trousers.
Maybe this is due to the revolution in social media, where everyone can access images of the loftiest fashion shows a minute after they happen, making it easy to copy—oh, scratch that, I mean, create an homage!—to each and every runway look. Or maybe in our increasingly freewheeling democratic society, we are more than ever convinced that it is we ourselves who are the authors of our own signature style. And while it’s nice to have expensive things (I mean, come on, who doesn’t like expensive things?), it’s also wonderful to be able to put thrilling looks together without having to eat cereal for a week or, the way prices seem to be going (have you looked lately?), an entire month.
This season, with wild eclecticism reigning on runways—Victorian goth angels! Chic geek know-it-alls!—it’s easier than ever to animate your fashion fantasies without decimating your paycheck. Above, a panoply of fabulous fall suggestions, and everything is under $200.