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!