Long out of print, it now sells for ridiculous amounts at Amazon. I wish I could find it again, not because it's worth so much cash, but because the lessons it taught me are still creative and exciting. This book was the real deal.
Thanks to the blogs Notes to a Mouse and Mrs. Gorman, I can re-visit this treasure trove. From my favorite chapter on "Classics":
Sometimes Cheap Chic boils down to spending much more than you feel you can afford on the kind of classic, quality clothes we talk about in this chapter. We think it saves money in the long run. . . . There are still certain things you shouldn't fudge on no matter how cheaply you dress: the very best boots, a sturdy bag, a glorious jacket or shirt. You can't afford cheap boots that will last a year and then crack across the sole. If you had loads of money you could; but since you don't, spend your money where it shows the most.This defined my fashion philosophy. Looking back, I see that it was exactly in line with what my blue-collar parents taught me: buy the best you can afford and only buy what you need, then take excellent care of what you have. They also lived by a folk saying (Scandinavian, I think): "Poor people can't afford cheap shoes". I remember my father polishing his sturdy black leather work shoes to a beautiful gloss every Sunday night. I often do the same: on Sunday nights I get the urge to clean and polish my shoes, de-fuzz sweaters, and repair anything that needs a few stitches. It's very satisfying.
My favorite style muse in Cheap Chic was Ingeborg Day and her "Cost-per-Wear" system. An enthusiastic student, I studied her style carefully and tried to emulate it as best I could:
|Top photo from Style Bubble, bottom photo from Mrs. Gorman|
Find the clothes that suit you best, that make you feel comfortable, confident, sexy, good looking and happy ... and then hang onto them like old friends ... Nobody knows better than you what you should wear or how you should look. (quote via Last-Year Girl, who has another nice post about CC.)
Why some brilliant publisher doesn't re-issue this, I don't know. I can only hope and wait.