Corrosion of Conformity

Fashionistas Comb Sale Racks, Trash

Once you've gathered wardrobe essentials, collect the artilleries of the chic: cheap and trendy playwear, professional habit, and accessories. Head to Canal Jean Co. (504 Broadway, 226-1130), Zara International (580 Broadway, 343-1725), or the Dome Boutique (708 Broadway, 477-4181) for party frocks and boy denim. Anthropologie (85 Fifth Avenue, 627-5885) is more posh, but clothes look boutique funky at a fraction of the price. Transform tailored separates into a power broker's interview suit at Club Monaco (121 Prince Street, 533-8930), then gloss up basics on Canal Street. Impostor Fendi handbags ($20) and Swiss Army watches ($13) are dead ringers for originals. Jewelry at the Soho flea market (corner of Spring and Wooster streets) and Claire's Accessories (755 Broadway, 353-3980) can look estate lavish and won't fall apart. Meanwhile, rock-star leather belts go for $2 on the corner of Broadway and Houston. And don't dismiss underwear. At Kmart on Astor Place (770 Broadway, 673-1540), a three-pack of boxer shorts is $9, cotton panties are just $1.99 a pair, and bras start at $5.99. Finally, in a pinch, just remember The Official Preppy Handbook counsels, "If you can dress . . . so much the better. You give the impression of being much in demand." —Nita Rao

illustration: Mark Todd

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