- Keep your homage on the light side. A slavish recreation of Grande Dame style, in bridge brands, often winds up unsophisticated or ironic. Or both. You want to stay this side of costume.
- Affordable Grande Dame inspired shoes, with materials and design of a quality that accurately represent the species, are hard to find. I recommend scouring sales for the real deal. 70% off is possible with luxury goods. After all, they have a huge margin on material costs, and they’ve already spent the dollars on labor and marketing.
- Clothing in light cloth, i.e. white jeans, silk/cotton blouses, and pencil skirts, is the easiest to source for reasonable prices. Avoid visible branding.
- Were I given the chance to purchase one, and only one, Grande Dame-inspired items of choice, it would be a vintage Chanel jacket. Followed closely by Ippolita bangles. Perfect with boyfriend jeans, even if I had to ditch my sneakers.
Grande Dame “Inspired” Shopping Possibilities (my grandmother always said “possibilities.” And “territory.)
- Bouclé or other “Chanel-esque” jackets. Those we can find by the score. J. Crew works, especially when 55% off at The Outnet, but vintage stores of good repute can net you the real thing. I trust Farfetch to have vetted the global vintage market.
- Reggie did not mention tops, but I watched Blue Jasmine last weekend, so I’m going to say silk/cotton, sometimes with a bow. Totally doable. While YOOX is iffy for outré items, which I find are never as cute as they look in the photos, simple goods are, um, simpler.
- Pencil skirts. This one’s easy too. J. Crew’s ” lady” heritage pulls through – again. Or, if you want to explore the next level up, Halsbrook awaits. Final sale is on now, so a skirt that was $690 is $276, with an extra 20% taken off at purchase – final price of $220.
- Nicely-tailored trousers. Again, not one of Reggie’s key parameters, but Cate Blanchett wore a couple of pair and I just know that even the Grande occasionally want pants. Here, find your fit at Banana Republic, J. Crew, Talbots, in a high-quality fabric, and stick with it. Find a tailor to help with hems and waistline, any other alterations are much harder to get right.
- Accessories. Scarves, belts, bags. Yikes. Hermès all. Right. I’m going to say that moderate-priced silk scarves are possible, (perhaps Une Femme knows?) but I will not be recommending leather goods knock-offs. Pretend Hermès “H” belts, lookalike Kellys, etc., no. Please no. I admit, I rather like some of Coach’s new bags. Gone are the horror days of nylon logo sprawl.
- Shoes. Viviers, Manolos, and high-end strappy sandals. Here, we’re going to have to look for sales. You might be interested in an article on Vivier sample sales in New York. Or actual Manolos on sale, at Saks and at Neimans. Love those patent wine D’orsays.
- Jewelry. One of my dearest temptations. Others may buy too many white tees, or linen shifts, I’m overstocked with gold earrings. But I’ve also got Beladora on our side, and another special coupon code for $150 off any purchase of $750 and above. Code: New Year. Good until February 14th, fortuitously.
- Resortwear. Its own category. The Grande Dame goes wild, and shows her toes, with sandals by Bernardo (doesn’t that bring a Lady Gaga song to mind?) and Jack Rogers on sale at Zappos. Just like Jackie. She might cover up in a Crochet cotton cardigan, via Mango. And while Lilly is always OK, I prefer to skulk around Tory Burch’s sale, or venture abroad for something like this cute Italian size 44 cotton pique shift – on sale down from $1,191 to $356, At Matches.com.
- Outerwear. As Reggie told us, the Grande Dame wears fur coats and Barbours. No point in shopping for furs, one really doesn’t want to wear them these days unless they are hand-me-downs. But floral- or William Morris-lined Barbours can be found on sale at Orvis, marked down from $416 to $334, with an extra 20% taken off at purchase, for a final price of $268. (Thanks to Lee Rosenthal, Privilege commentor, for the info.)
A little creativity, a lot of persistence, and some help from our friends (by which, yes, I mean Beladora’s New Year discount code and you guys), puts Grande Dame-inspired shopping in the bag. Sorry. Just couldn’t resist. Cue raucous but controlled laughter – gin in hand, Wheat Thins on a scratched silver platter, and poached chicken and white wine for dinner. Good table topic, “Why does Chardonnay taste like butter?”
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