Cheap or Steep?

Rach's buddy Gretta Monahan shows you the right ways to save and splurge on the ultimate party outfit. It's a little something we like to call chic-onomics. *Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in May 2009.

Cheap Chic: Blouse

This peasant top is a steal since it's meant to be loose and flowy. (Translation: You're not paying a premium for fit.)

$25, Old Navy Gauzy Embroidered Peasant Top, 800-653-6289 for stores


Smart Spender: Blouse

Detailed seams, like a nipped waist or double-ruffled collar, mean a top is slimming. We'll pay for that.

$40, Sleeveless Ruffle Top,

Shelve less Blouse

Cheap Chic: Bracelet

To keep low-priced accessories looking great for longer than a season, dab a little rubbing alcohol on metal pieces.

$55, Linea Pelle Washed Italian Leather Double Wrap Bracelet,


Smart Spender: Bracelet

When investing in jewelry, look for high-quality materials (soft, not stiff, leather), sewn-on details and care instructions.

$105, Screw Bracelet,

Decorative Nail Bracelet

Cheap Chic: Bag

To ensure an inexpensive bag will last, check that the lining is well-stitched (give it a few light tugs) and that the zippers or clasps function properly.

$8, Merona Crocodile Double Buckle Open Clutch,

Red Bag

Smart Spender: Bag

This clutch's hinges stretch far across its base: a mark of durability.

$135, Abas Montecatini Full Frame Clutch, for colors

Bright Pink Bag

Cheap Chic: Jeans

Stick to dark shades that aren't prewashed -- you'll get more wears before the color fades.

$20, Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. Totally Slimming At Waist Bootcut,


Smart Spender: Jeans

Pricier jeans often have reinforced stitching so they won't lose their shape over time. A dark wash in a straight leg or boot cut is timeless.

$179, J Brand Love Story in Dark Vintage,

Blue Jeans

Cheap Chic: Shoes

Bargain shoes usually have an unforgiving fit. Be sure the material doesn't squish toes or dig into your upper heel. When in doubt, go up a size.

$55, Apt. 9 Kendal Dress Heels,

Red Open Toe Shoe

Smart Spender: Shoes

Designer pairs often have less material at the toes and heels, so your foot can expand naturally.

$90, Himel Shoe,

Red High Heal Open Toe Shoe