In a city brimming with high fashion and expensive finds, it’s easy to feel pressured to buy something that is usually unaffordable for the average college student. However, instead of worrying about how to pay off that $500 dollar jacket from Bloomingdale’s, look to lower-cost stores and boutiques to find runway-inspired designs. With minimal effort and a splash of creativity, even a Valentino look can be made on a college budget.
Inspired by the artwork and era of Vermeer, Valentino’s Fall/Winter 2013 RTW collection highlights the refined sensuality of otherwise proper and modest clothing. While sticking to a palette of blacks, whites, reds, and blues, head designers Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri excel with structured black dresses that seamlessly blend into detailed pattern and beadwork that possesses a vintage Dutch flair that is both elegant and understated.
In the opening look for the show, Valentino exhibited a simple black dress with a minor A-line shape that features a white embroidered collar inspired by 17th century Flemish menswear. Tied together with a white leather hand clutch and velvet T-strap Mary Jane heels, there is an underlying drama that flows through the look and gives the impression of private school girl meets Wednesday Addams. The simple side braid, black headband, and nude makeup streamline the entire look while classic red nail polish adds a pinch of adolescent rebellion.
In order to bring this particular ensemble from the showroom to the classroom, a long-sleeved little black dress is essential. ASOS’s swing dress for $53 comes close to the real thing, with a crocheted collar and cuff detail. Also a short-sleeved version from River Island (£35, riverisland.com) can easily be accented with a $48 black wool cape from Forever 21 to bring the look back to the runway.
To recreate Valentino’s velvet pumps takes slightly more effort but reaps a large reward in total savings. Look for plain white socks that come up right above the ankle to imitate the color of the velvet on Valentino’s pumps. For those looking for added comfort, Charlotte Russe offers a suede wedge version of the classic T-strap heel for $33. Additionally, for anyone looking for more adventurous spin on the classic look, the retailer also offers a wine suede strappy pump for the same price.
The last piece of the look, a white leather hand clutch, brings the look together and adds functionality for a Friday night dinner out on the town. Forever 21 features a cream-colored faux leather clutch for $17, which complements the simplicity of the rest of the outfit. For a bag that mimics the detail and essence of the original, 6pm.com offers a $65 white textured envelope clutch with black seam detail by BCBGMaxAzria.
Regardless of the store or style, a Vogue-approved ensemble is possible on any budget. Just remember to do a bit of early research and experiment with different interpretations of the same look. Fashion is, in essence, all about the individual, and adding an original touch is always in season.
Gianna Collier-Pitts is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.