Chic But Cheap

You may be tightening your purse strings, but name-brand purses and designer images are still in demand. For those who can't afford high end retail, you may want help from the "Poor Little Rich Girls."

"We never seemed to be able to afford the things we quite wanted. They were always a little bit out of our reach," said Lacey Brenly of

Brenly and two of her friends recently created the Web site. The girls, who live in three different city neighborhoods, scope out high-end designer clothes, good quality food and top notch entertainment. It's all on a budget.

"So, we keep our eyes out for places in our own neighborhoods, and then kind of regroup and swap ideas and different sales we found," Brenly said.

The women post all of their deals, tips and information, along with coupons and discounts with partner restaurants and stores. One of them is Beta Boutique in Bucktown.

"Even people who don't feel like they are going to lose their jobs or they might have a 401K that's tanked, they really feel the pressure, and they feel as though they can't spend the money they spent a year ago," said Beta Boutique's Janice Moskoff.

Moskoff acquires new, name-brand, sample clothing from designers and other boutiques. She then sells them at 40-90 percent off the retail price.

"Originally, $183 especially with the holidays coming up," she said referring to one item in the store. "We are selling it for $5."

Beta Boutique also stocks men's shirts.

For the business man, there are designer suits for under $300 at A and G Clothing in the Merchandise Mart.

Shopper Lucy Morales has her own way to save. She signs up for e mail alerts for sales at the big retail stores.

"And they have designer shoes for half off…or a $500 shoe might be $150- $200 shoe," Morales said.

And if you aren't picky about having brand new, "Seventy bucks for [a] Coach [handbag] probably retails for close to $500," said Morales.

There are several high-end , designer consignment shops in the city, like Buy Popular Demand in Lincoln Park.

It's where Tracy Reeves-Fletcher shops.

"Coach is one of those things that it's nice to look at, but not everyone can afford," she said.

Even the traditionally high-end shoppers on Michigan Avenue may be making adjustments to their spending habits. Consignment retailers say that people who used to strictly bring their clothes into sell are now buying designer consignment deals for themselves.

"They have to look real good, but they will find real nice things and good buys," said Buy Popular Demand's Rita Code.

As for entertainment, there's a five-dollar first run movie night at some Kerasotes Theatres, by signing up on the Web site.

And there are dozens of food and drink deals under five bucks on certain nights of the week. Sopo in West Lakeview has $2 burger nights on Monday.

"Might as well look around and find the cheapest beer you can find out there and spend two dollars instead of four," Sopo manager Therese Cozzi.

The Poor Little Rich girls agree, they say their concept has struck a cord in tough times.

"In the past, it seemed that excess and indulgence was something that people were looking for and aspiring to, but I think the trend is shifting the other way," Brenly said. "It's trendy to be smarter about your money."


High-end, designer consignment:

Men's deals, suits and leather jackets:

$5 Movies

$2 Burgers

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