Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cheap Chic Lives!

I was a teen living in Baton Rouge in 1975 when my California aunt sent me this just-published book, Cheap Chic by Caterine Milinaire and Carol Troy. The unique personal expression of style showed me a world that I had just begun to dream about and crave. And here I found the writing and photographs of actual people living the life. I devoured it. This book has stayed with me for over thirty years. And while some of the specific styles are dated, the general sentiments and style advice are current and inspiring.

Lasting tips like this: “If you look closely at a women with a strong individual style, you will discover there is almost always something in her outfit that costs a lot. Perhaps it’s a five-year-old-pair of French boots or a simple, solid-gold chain around her wrist. Whatever it is, that one touch makes her look ten times better.”

And I’ve often quoted the “CPW” factor, or Cost Per Wear developed by Ingeborg Day, interviewed in the book. If you divide the price of something by the number of times worn, you have your Cost Per Wear Factor. If a blouse costs $200, but you wear it 200 times, it’s only a dollar each wearing. But if you buy something on sale for $20 it sounds cheap, but if you only wear it twice, it costs $10 each wearing, not so cheap in comparison. It’s a good way to keep your eye on quality and not just the seemingly good deal. 

There are so many other great ideas in this book I could go on and on. Maybe I’ll save those for future entries.

In the meantime, a quick net search shows that this book is out of print, but some copies are available but pricey. I think it’s time for a reprint and a new edition!


  1. I haven't thought of this book for a long time. Thanks, Lesa, for reminding us that style isn't about money.
    Love your blog!

  2. The books that introduced me to the whole idea of fashion (not to mention sex) when I was a teen were the novels of Judith Krantz. I remember vividly Billie's outfits in Scruples and Daisy's "high-low:" look in Princess Daisy. Did you ever read those?
    I love this blog. Congratulations. Keep it going!

  3. So true! I have jackets that cost me a fortune when I bought them and are now so old that I'm afraid to have them dry cleaned. I love to pair one of them with bargain slacks or jeans from Marshall's, and now that longer skirts are "in" for fall I can hardly wait to find one to wear with my jackets.