CHEAP CHIC: A Book Review

Kelly Kim

3.5 Stars

December 22, 2015

(cosmic string lights do not come with the book ^_^)


Seventies fashion was known for its fit, flare, and flamboyancy. From New York to Tokyo, the fashion scene was booming with unique creativity. In 1975, the first edition of Cheap Chic by Caterine Milinaire and Carol Troy was published. It was the perfect style guide for women of the seventies. Forty years later and with a foreword by Tim Gunn, it is back!

"Each country and each province within that country has a set of traditions and clothes which by now take a trained eye to spot, since the whole world is becoming increasingly Westernized."
-Caterine Milinaire and Carol Troy, excerpt from Cheap Chic


I'm not going to lie. I've never heard of Cheap Chic before. I may not be Anna Dello Russo but I do consider myself fashion forward, or at least knowledgeable. Like my other fashion books, I was expecting something a little more coffee table-ish. This is a good thing because the book really impressed me with the details and historical background. Not only did it touch on seventies style, but Milinaire and Troy included the trends of the 20s, 30s, and so on. I was pleasantly surprised that they also covered fashions from all over the world. A lot of these "style guides" seem to only focus on American (specifically New York) and European fashion. However, I would say that the authors do generalize the type of trends within each place. Is there really such thing as an "African" trend, considering Africa is a diverse continent with not only one culture? Although, one can argue that is was published in the freakin' seventies!

"Fashion as a dictatorship of the elite is dead."
-Caterine Milinaire and Carol Troy, excerpt from Cheap Chic

"I love, too, that there is no suggestion in this book that we embrace thrift by creating a crafternoon of crap."
Tim Gunn, excerpt from Cheap Chic


Keeping in mind that this book was published in 1975, I admire how unconventional it must have been back then. It didn't just cater to Vogue subscribers but to a whole generation. When picking up this book, the average reader won't be intimidated. Milinaire and Troy write about everyday attire and tips for women on budgets. The first thing that they cover is denim. I find this to be a smart move since everybody has at least own pair of jeans. They are the most accessible clothing item and no one can feel excluded, considering fashion is so elitist. In addition, thrifting, sportwear, work attire, and T-shirts are 

He has a strangely confident shyness, as if his slight smile is about to be captured by a flashbulb."
-Caterine Milinaire and Carol Troy on Yves St. Laurent, excerpt from Cheap Chic

"Another gift of Cheap Chic is that it introduces into the vocabulary of younger people some of the great icons of fashion."
-Tim Gunn, excerpt from Cheap Chic


Despite the book title, Cheap Chic still maintains its high fashion quality. People like Yves St. Laurent, Diana Vreeland, and Jean-Paul Goude are profiled in the book. Cher, Marlene Dietrich, and James Dean are some of the celebrity style icons featured in the book. Cheap Chic does an excellent job by showing readers how to look stylish on a budget.

Cheap Chic does a great job of exploring seventies style. It is extremely articulate and helpful. As of now, I would only recommend this book to anybody who is interested in fashion and the history of it. This book is very useful, however, your average present day college student isn't going to refer to Cheap Chic for style advice. I would love to see a modern and updated version of Cheap Chic! All in all, the book is a great tool for fashionistas interested in the seventies.

*this book was received for free via Blogging For Books