Monday, January 16, 2012

Un-"Accessible Style"

We've all heard the term "accessible style" in recent years thanks to the fashion choices of several powerful women. The catch phrase "accessible style" has been used to describe clothing that is easy to obtain and is reasonably priced for average American woman. While I applaud celebrities and extremely influential women for wearing pieces that are not $1,000+ each, I don't believe it's fair to market a majority of these styles as "accessible."

A couple of the pieces that Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama were praised for wearing (pictured above) are $375 (Diane von Furstenburg green silk dress) and $189 (Talbot's floral dress) respectively. If you read this blog, you are well aware I am frugal, far too frugal to pay hundreds of dollars for any one item and I am willing to bet I am far from the only one. The median household income in the United States is $46,326 - not exactly the kind of income that can afford a closet full of Diane von Furstenburg, Talbots or even J. Crew.

Olivia Wilde and First Lady, Michelle Obama in J. Crew

Yes, I said J. Crew, the company many have dubbed the epitome of "accessible style." I have honestly not set foot into a J. Crew in about two years. I realize that is a personal preference, but to me, even most sale items are not budget conscious.  Magazines also try to show inexpensive options and have sections with "deals" in them that make me, a middle class fashionista, cringe. If I do see something with a less than $50 price tag it is usually a hat, gloves or some other accessory and then I pout.

So in my opinion, What does constitute accessible style? I believe there are so many options no matter your age that ring in a lot cheaper, and are just as stylish as items from pricier lines. Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe offer trendy items and inexpensive prices for the younger set. H&M has become extremely popular with fashionable ladies and celebrities alike with their fashion forward clothing and reasonable pricing. I am also a fan of Target partnering with designers to give the average American the taste of high priced designers at a price that many can afford. I am happy to see these brands rising up and becoming more popular because they are catering more to average Americans like me.

Nikki Hilton and Katie Holmes in H&M


 This is my plea to the media: Show actual affordable options (i.e more pieces that are $50 and under) that will appeal to the average American without making them feel like they have to max out a credit card to stay on trend.  I commit to always keep this blog about affordable fashion. I may not always show styles that appeal to you, but hopefully I will give you ideas to make choices that will save you money. Hopefully the shift toward actual affordable items will continue to happen, because all women have the right to be fashionable on any budget.

What do you consider to be "accessible style"?



57 comments:

  1. so true! Lovely post kassi :)
    love
    megha
    http://meghafashionista.blogspot.com

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  2. This. Yes. I have been so put off lately by the fashion industry lately. Regardless of whether or not I could actually afford a Rebecca Minkoff handbag or not (and for the record, our salaries are higher than the average household and I can't), I would still prefer to shop for more modest brands and troll thrift stores. As much as I love clothes, I somehow detest consumerism - to the point where I no longer buy Christmas presents. Reading high-end style blogs makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth. I get that these chicks have lots of money...but I still can't help being turned off by the excessive nature of thousand-dollar, red-soled shoes when so many people struggle to put food on the table. OK, that might have been a rant too.

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    1. totally agree - actually I couldn't have said it better myself.

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  3. Kassi this is a great post! And let me tell you why...I've also been wondering the same regarding what exactly is "accessible," style. Is it style that we can all afford, style that we can actually purchase, or is style that we can all actually wear? 3 very different ways to assess whether something is accessible. Every week, I try to do bargain day where each piece I am wearing is under $50, shoes and handbags are excluded... I tend to think of accessible as affordable. And I agree with you, while J.Crew is very popular, I do find that their sale prices are not that great. I seriously think I can find better deals if I look hard enough. You can find a lot of great things at F21, H&M, Charlotte Russe if you know what to look for.

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  4. This is such a fabulous post - you're so right about the flawed nature of the media depiction of "accessible." Most of it just simply isn't.

    Courtney ~ http://sartorialsidelines.com

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  5. love this POST! and so well said..thats why i love recycling clothes and thrifting!!
    xx

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  6. I'm really glad you posted about this. I agree that the media has a distorted view as to what the average woman can afford in terms of stocking her closet with the latest fashions. It's definitely not "accessible" in my view, but I guess for some women it is. I love shopping at Marshalls, TJMaxx, and Ross (especially their sale racks) because I CAN find fashions that are "accessible" and fashionable---even some of the same brands and styles as featured in magazines and on TV!

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  7. J Crew gets more awesome. I do like the fact that royalty and political heavy weights are dressing more down-to-earth these days.

    www.thegirlieblog.com

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  8. Everything can be accessible... if you know where to look or how to sew! =D

    Love & Lollies... Jessa

    Confessions of the Cupcake Countessa

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  9. This post is great. If 375$ for a dress is considered as "accessible" by media, how they would describe my lovely 45$ coat???

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  10. Excellent Post Kassi! I love the designs from stores like Anthropologie, J.Crew, Garnet Hill, Nordstrom and Talbots, but I don't love their prices. HAHAHA To buy a complete seasonal wardrobe from them doesn't work for my budget. They also have very few sales and the ones they do have can be less than 25% which doesn't help. I usually buy 1-2 pieces from them, and ask myself if I really LOVE the item before buying it. I usually match the above items with fabulous designs from Target, Loft, Kohls, Old Navy, Gap and Macy's (these stores constantly have fab sales). No matter how much money you have, you should be a smart shopper. It's important to buy things you love, but make sure you're doing it for yourself and not others. Also make sure it doesn't put you in the poor house. HaHa I love bloggers who talk high end and low end. Do I have some Dior nail polish? Yes. Do I have some Wet N Wild nail polish? Yes. I'm a pleasant mix of it all. Keep it balanced.

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  11. I totally agree with you that sometimes the media blows "cheap" purchases in the mid hundreds out of proportion and think that real women on real budgets could afford such a thing. However, I do think that "accessible" can just be a look that you could see and imitate using items at a lesser cost. Great post!

    xo Gillie

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  12. I agree, 100%! Especially being 15, I know that now and when I'm older, $375, even worn by a princess, is not close to accessible. it's like this with alannah hill, $200 for a cardigan or $600 for a dress which could be replicated for $50. It's ridiculous. but I suppose if you have the money, you have the complete right to buy it.

    http://meggymoo0.blogspot.com

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  13. The post is great Kassi ..I totally agree with ur views..Just the other day I was goin thru a post Worst dressed at Golden Globe and I was wondering that these celebs spend so much money on being labelled this :P and we could put forth so much a better performance sans the heavy budget :D and $375 is so not accessible :P
    Followin u now ..Keep in touch
    Ruhie

    http://emoruhi.blogspot.com/

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  14. I totally agree!!! It's very disheartening and just reiterates how out of touch the media and some celebrities really are with the "real world"- ultimately it pushes people further apart when we should be bringing everyone together during these difficult times! Thanks Kassi- really appreciate this post! Xo

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  15. Amen honey!
    The media have a lot to answer for. No wonder credit card debit is such an enormous issue!

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  16. well, as you said, I think accessible style is H&M, forever 21, zara, and perhaps gap - well and of course everyone can buy jcrew or a bit more expensive stuff in outlets. But personally, I wouldn't spend 50 dollar for a tshirt - just because it's "only" a tshirt.
    I'd rather spend more for shoes or things that "last" - but not for trendy items.
    xxx Anita

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  17. Love the last two outfits from h&m!

    xdirtylittlesecret.blogspot.com

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  18. Great to read that enough celebrities wearing HM too!There are indeed enough great clothes on TopShop, HM , NewLook etcetera.


    ==========
    From http://www.checkmyfashion.com/

    An Online Wardrobe for worldwide Fashion Lovers

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  19. I enjoyed this post because you tackled a fashion issue that is very rife but not discussed very much. I totally agree with you! Well said.

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  20. You are spot on! I would NEVER spend that kind of money on clothes... Not to mention there are so many cute and affordable items for $30 to $40, there is certainly no need to break the bank!

    XO
    www.pearlsandpaws.blogspot.com

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  21. Olivia Wilde is amazing!^^ Love Michele Obama's first dress!<3

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  22. Totally agree with you! Accessible style...anything below $50

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  23. SO true!! They may think its accessible but it really isn't. I don't shop at J Crew either even though I would love to...usually if an item is more than $30 I won't even look at it (but then sometimes I splurge and pay $400 for on stinking pair of shoes.... XD)
    I'm not a Forever 21 or Charlotte Russe fan but I do love H&M and Target :D
    http://www.closet-fashionista.com/

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  24. It makes me laugh when in the Cosmo fashion section the featured deals are $50 bracelets. I mean seriously?! I think with Michelle or Kate their clothes are not necessarily accessible but their styles are since it's easier to find a nice structure dress than Chanel coat. Last year I started buying high end clothing on eBay for extremely cheap. I like Charlotte Russe but I find their items are low quality

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  25. Totally agree. I often wonder who actually buys everything in fashion magazines, because I feel like 75% of the population or more is in our shoes. More power to you for pushing budget conscious fashion!

    peace&love, Jill
    Favor the Brave

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  26. Amen, sista. Seriously, I completely agree. I hate when someone calls something "affordable" because how do they know what I can afford? I do love J.Crew, but even their outlets are overpriced. I usually wait until things go on super sale online before buying anything.

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  27. I absolutely 100% agree with you! I rarely ever spend more than 25 or 30 dollars for a dress and wouldn't think of spending $50 on just a pair of gloves or a scarf. Not only and I uber frugal, but I have kids and school and a 401k to sock away money in. lol So, yeah, I love this post! =)

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  28. Just found this blog. Interesting article and also interesting comments. The situation is the same worldwide (crises), it's not only in US. Maybe it's time to do like our grand-mothers: buy a piece of fabric, thread and needles and make our own clothes!! I'm (almost not) kidding. It wouldn't be such a bad thing after all, working with our hand and creating things is a very healthy occupation and it doesn't cost a lot of money.
    The strangest thing about fashion is that everybody wants the same things and in the same time wants to be unique!!

    .........................................
    http://virtual-makeup-artist.com/
    .........................................

    (Sorry, English is not my first language).

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    1. "The strangest thing about fashion is that everybody wants the same things and in the same time wants to be unique!!" - indeed, that is quite a paradox. I guess putting on a trendy item or two is the easiest way to look fashionable/stylish? I really admire original people who manage to look stylish and different at the same time.

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  29. I agree with you on accessible style, Forever 21 and H & M are definitely more affordable brands. In terms of quality, I guess J crew probably wins. I would probably choose style and price over quality. Having said that, thrifting is affordable and has good quality clothing so thrifting is still the best option for me!

    mongs
    mythriftycloset.blogspot.com

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  30. love katie holmes h&m ensmble!! she looks gorgeous! you're right accessible style should be below $50-60!! xx

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  31. I agree. A lot of what we see isn't affordable for most. And these designers have their heads screwed on wrong if they think I will part with my money to buy this stuff (even if I had the money). I like Target and over here I go to Topshop or H&M and places like that that are more affordable for me. The term needs to be re-defined properly, so people know what they are buying into!! Great post!! x

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  32. Love this post! I pesonally feel that affordable fashion is different for everyone...but that the media would probably experience a warm response if they focused more on styles that are more reasonable for the everyday consumer. I have no shame in hitting up F21 or H&M...and I love how certain designers are "getting it" with collaboration lines for stores such as Target and Sears...

    XO - Marion

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  33. Your blog is always so wonderful !!!:))
    I loved this post !!!;)

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  34. Accessible = a lot cheaper than the things I often want to buy :-(

    Sucks!

    http://www.oddandchic.com

    xxx

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  35. Excellent post, Kassi. I have a slightly different perspective on what's accessible and affordable. I believe that even average people can reconcile their budgets with brands they didn't think were affordable. Take J. Crew - I know that many regular priced items are far too expensive for me ($80 for a stinking cardigan?!? Really?!?) so I wait for end of season sales :) I recently scored a sweater for only $25 - a much more reasonable price point. I also shop on eBay, where DVF, J. Crew, and the like are at rock bottom prices. I buy new items only (I don't buy used items without inspecting them first) but those less squeamish than me can score amazing deals on designer stuff. Media, shoe people that nothing is as expensive as it seems.

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  36. This is very true ;) That is why i love flash sale sites like Ideeli and Rue La La...Designer pieces at wallet friendly prices.

    XX,
    Miranda

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  37. I totally agree with you, I would love to see more accessible (a.k.a. low-price) items on celebs. That would be great in so many ways :) But what I really came here for, is to let you know that I gave you an award in my blog ;) xoxo ♥

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  38. i totally agree with you. paying for anything with triple digits or more is not "accessible" even if it's a major difference for a designer.

    http://weezngmonkeys.blogspot.com

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  39. Right on point my friend! I just recently shopped at J.Crew & each item was on sale with an additional discount code - but browsing through their catalog had me sad because I knew I wouldn't spend $130 on ballet flats when I could get them at Target for $20!

    http://www.theprettyfactor.blogspot.com

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  40. agreed - $375, for example, is hardly accessible for me!

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  41. Great post! I was thinking about this today while my sister and I were deciding whether it was worth our time to bother stopping by J Crew. We decided against going because even the stuff on the sale racks is still a bit for us. Even though I love their clothing, all of the J Crew I own comes from a second hand store.

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  42. I couldn't have said it better myself! I think anything over $50 should not be labeled as "assessable" or "cheap." I hate looking at magazine that promise affordable stuff and it's like $180 for a t-shirt. $180 for a t-shirt- are you kidding me and then to say affordable?! Crazy.

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  43. Great post! I Completely agree with you about the media hyping celeb style as accessible style. I too would not pay 100's of dollars on a dress or bag. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and commenting :) I'm now following you too.
    Happy Blogging <3
    A
    http://fashion-opolis.blogspot.com/

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  44. I do agree with you, because I am in the same situation than you. But don't you think it would be better to save money and then buy something fabulous than buy a lot of cheap crap? Changing my attitude towards fast fashion is what I am trying to do right now. I buy basics (eco-friendly basics are not that expensive) that can be mixed together so my outfits look different every day, thrift and then when I saved enough I buy something really beautiful that I will cherish for years. Because I hate to think that all the cheap things that I could splurge on are this cheap because they were made in conditions that violate basic labor and human rights.

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    1. you definitely have a point here, the uglier side of cheap clothing is definitely something to take into account, too. I consider thrifting a great alternative.

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  45. Great post...celebrities are anything but "accessible"

    http://woodstockwardrobe.com/

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  46. You're very right. While I don't mind spending money on clothes (and let's face it, I wish I could live in J. Crew), what annoys me is fashion blogs I cannot relate to. I guess I have no expectation to relate to celebrities - they make more than I do, therefore their clothes probably won't be accessible to me - though it's very nice that Michelle Obama and the Duchess wear such reasonably priced (for them, I suppose!) pieces. But the fashion bloggers that I love who come across as representing the everyday girl yet wear very high-end designers simply turn me off. I don't care that they have a bigger clothing budget; I simply cannot relate to owning Louboutins and DVF dresses.

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  47. Amen! Thanks for posting this!! Came in via the IFB Links a la Mode.

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  48. Absolutely! Though apparently it really depends on what one is used to. I briefly had two roommates a while ago, by no means super-rich but definitely upper middle class, who thought that 120 euros for a pair of ballet flats was a bargain, whereas I, a second-generation academic with a thrifted/inherited wardrobe, spent 50 euros on a pair of discounted lace-up boots last week and they're the most expensive item I've bought in the past two years! the problem with truly affordable clothing, on the other hand, is that as soon as it doesn't originate from a thrift-store it's often not very high-quality or ethically produced. I don't blame the consumers who can't afford anything else - it's a matter of privilege or sheer luck to be able to buy ethical long-lasting clothing - but it's a problem worth considering...

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  49. I agree with poet. The problem with accessible clothing is that it is produced in distressing circumstances and with highly polluting effects. F21 is able to sell cheap clothing because they pay the women sewing their clothes next to nothing. A lot of the work is done by subcontractors who often employ children and who refuse to pay even minimum wage, let alone guard the safety guidelines needed in these kinds of workplaces. Causing horrible stories such as this: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/15/world/asia/15bangladesh.html
    True, not everyone has the means to buy ethical clothing. Far from it, even. But so many of us - myself included, mind you - spend a lot of money on a lot of cheap items. I'm determined to buy less and spend more. I would like these women to do the same. Maybe their clothing shouldn't be accessible. After all, they can afford to spend money on garments produced in correct ccircumstances.

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  50. This is such a great post-it really got me thinking! I completely agree with what you are saying about "accessible" style being inaccessible to the average American, however this is my conundrum: when you purchase something from Forever 21, H&M, you are paying for the quality of the garment you are purchasing. You don't buy something with the expectation that it will last more than one season, let alone more than one wash. While I think they are excellent for trendy items that you will wear once and then never look at again-I do believe in investing in key pieces that will stand the test of time (this is not a necessary correlation with price). I also think that there are some really great deals out there. I have gotten a couple of DVF dresses/tops for 60+% off and while that will not compete with H&M I have worn them for years. Also, during the post-Christmas sales at J.Crew, I was able to get a cashmere sweater and shorts for $29 and $13, respectively. Also, try taking something back to Forever 21 for having a hole in it or falling apart, but J.Crew, Club Monaco or DVF will stand behind their brand-for the most part. So, I still love H&M and Forever, but I find that if I am shopping there I spend just as much money as I would saving up and buying a more expensive piece-so I prefer to mix and match.

    http://champagnecocktailscashmeredreams.blogspot.com

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  51. I totally agree. I am not a US citizen but, living on a budget is wrold wide spread reality. An I think media should be more sensitive on this matter, especially when women buying magazines (and financing them) are not able to afford what they see printed. We would very much like to, but the reality is different. Its almost as they are saying "you are trendy and stylish only with a price". Thank god so many vintage lovers prove differently.

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Thank you so much for stopping by! Your comments always make me giddy like a school girl on a sugar high. Leave your link so I can creep on you. The good kind of creeping. Not the kind where I hang your pictures in my room or anything. (awkward shuffle)

Fashionably yours,

Kassi

Pronounced KC (like the Sunshine Band)