Vera Wang. Okay, we admit it—Vera Wang’s line for Kohl’s (Simply Vera) has under-whelmed us to a certain degree. It’s the inconsistency that bothers us, but on the upside a reasonable amount of the items boast Wang’s take on modern classics and her feminine sensibilities (but we’ll skip the cheesy long sleeve logo tees, thanks). The prices, too, can be a little inflated, but like the MICHAEL Michael Kors line at Macy’s, the lines seems to be “on sale” more often than not.
Marc Bouwer. Marc Bouwer is known in high-fashion circles for his bold, flowing, glamazon dresses, but in the budget world? M by Marc Bouwer —exclusively for QVC (it’s not just for your grandma anymore—well, not completely), features a collection of apparel including tops, pants, coats, and dresses. Many of the pieces feature his hallmark draping, but not the high-end prices. Still, we wouldn’t probably bother to spend $60 on an embellished knit top (budget? not so much), but if you’re selective, a Bouwer-designed dress for, say, under $50 make it worth including here.
Kenneth Cole. Kenneth Cole Reaction—best known for coats, footwear, and handbags, but also including a selection of apparel—is well-regarded for both men and women. The line actually has it’s own retail outlets, but as for other sources, we find apparel selections at Dillard’s and Nordstrom, while coats and accessories are available through Macy’s, Piperlime, Endless.com, and Bluefly.com, among others. While the Reaction line could be accused of lacking any real fashion inspiration (the line doesn’t exactly set off the kinds of style fireworks we crave) it’s a good source for the kind of solid, wear-for-years foundation pieces you can build on.