You can actually get a lot for $38.
Sartorially-speaking, less than two Jacksons gets a great summer dress that you actually transforms into several dresses in one.
The dress is called Le Sac, and you'll find this versatile piece at American Apparel. It comes in solid colors and a black strap that runs through essentially a halter top shape. But with enough imagination (and the pictured instruction postcard that comes with it), you can create at least five different dresses you would not be embarrassed to wear -- the Braided halter, the Architectural mini, the Grecian, the Gathered mini or any of several variations that might look completely at home on a Narciso Rodriguez runway. Really.
You can get even more creative with the basic dress if you buy straps separately in fun colors and patterns to further customize your look. You can buy them at American Apparel stores or in lower priced three packs online.
For those of you with champagne tastes and beer money, head over to J Crew and scoop up its Lanvin-esque Silk Sirrah dress, especially in navy, for $148. Toss the belt it comes with, add a great piece of chunky jewelry, and you're on your way.
And those of you who might have coveted Riccardo Tisci's Givenchy Fall 2008 collection, you'll recognize his influence everywhere in the chain jewelry and appliques everywhere in the mall this fall. Let's just say you might want to start at Express and pile on the chain necklaces.
For a more sophisticated look, let Mr. Tisci's influential ruffles be your inspiration.
With a little research and due diligence, nobody has to know you're rocking low-cost fashion.
To view more of Tom Kolovos' work, log on to the TheBestDressedList.com/tv and the NBC Chicago Street Team blog.