Cheap Chic: The 40th Anniversary Edition

I’ve written a lot on this blog about the book Cheap Chic, and how it was the book that introduced me to vintage clothing.  That was in 1975.  I was in college, and I found the newly released book at the library.  No one else got a chance to read it because I hoarded that book for the next two years until I bought my own copy.  I still have it, and I still pull it out from time to time to reread parts of it.

When the book was released forty years ago, I’d never seen anything like it.  Most fashion books that I’d been exposed to were advice books for teens, and all were terribly out of date for the late Sixties and early Seventies.  But Cheap Chic was relevant to me, a very young woman in the mid Seventies.  At that time fashion rules were being broken, with the young (and not-so-young) taking up the wearing of everything from antique underwear to the uniforms of the working class.

To me the biggest value in Cheap Chic today is that it is a good document of how many people in the Seventies were dressing.  To completely understand the attitudes toward dressing in that decade, you really must read this book.

But what about the “hundreds of money saving hints to create your own look”?  To be honest, much of the content is still relevant, while some of it is now old hat.  Still, it is hard not to be inspired by the content, even though a lot of it is a bit quirky.   Or maybe we can be inspired because it is quirky.  At any rate, the writing is honest and sincere, and very 1970s.

It used to be that to get a copy of Cheap Chic, you had to search for a used copy, but as of yesterday the book is back in print.  And the good news is that the publicist for the book has sent a copy to me to offer as a give-away to readers of The Vintage Traveler.  All you have to do to put your name in the hat for the book is to leave a comment on this thread.  I’ll be taking names until Sunday, September 6 at noon, EDT.

And to encourage participation, here’s a little taste of the contents.

Cheap Chic, by Caterine Milinaire and Carol Troy, 1975

51 Comments

Filed under Currently Reading

51 responses to “Cheap Chic: The 40th Anniversary Edition

  1. What a great resource, now and then! I would love to re-read this as my copy (or was it the library’s) has long since disappeared.

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  2. Would love to have this book! My college years were in the 70’s–should bring back a lot of memories.

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  3. Ultrawoman

    Great book! I don’t remember if I read this book or not. It was probably a library copy.

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  4. Thanks, Lizzie, for thinking of us always! I’d love a copy too, so I’m throwing my hat in the ring!
    Jill

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  5. That looks like a fun book! Those page glimpses have really whet my appetite!

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  6. I own the first edition and the second.Love them.

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  7. Mary Boehm

    Hi, this book looks like great fun. I remember the 70s when I was in college. My father was a bit indulgent so I got cacharel and Anne Klein from Saks and I. Magnins.
    I still think of a wonderful evening dress that I purchased for the Bachelors Club Burial Dance in San Diego. It had a silk voile bodice with a long scalloped skirt ending at the ankle which was made of silk twill in the same pink/orange floral pattern. The bodice had fitted sleeves of the voile that belled out at the elbow. The sleeves, which were also scalloped, were lined with the silk twill. Great dress! I donated it to the Costume collection at the San Diego History Center.
    Keep my name in the pot. I would love to read the book now.

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  8. OOOHHHH…this looks like something I definitely need on my bedside table for reading NOW!!! the teaser pics you posted are killing me!! 🙂
    Andi (Raleigh Vintage)

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  9. I’ve always wanted to read this! I’m keen on 1960s fashion and nostalgia, so this looks amazing!

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  10. Susan C.

    I used to have a copy of this! Until a roommate took it with her when she moved. It definitely influenced my attitude and style, with both its advice and the writing. What a blast from the past! I’d love another copy, so please throw my name in the hat!

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  11. poppysvintageclothing

    I used to have a copy of it as well….loved it! Please throw my name in too, Lizzie.

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  12. Diana coleman

    It’s never too late! Please enter my name….

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  13. Vivian Varela

    what a great find! I graduated from high school in 1972 but never came across the book. It would be a great addition to my library.

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  14. Leigh Ann

    Enter me too, please! Thanks.

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  15. Looks fascinating – how did I miss it then?? Toss me into the pot as well, Lizzie… and Thank You!

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  16. Christine Devoe

    This would be great to see; so many good memories of the clothing my grandmother made for me with simplicity and butterick patterns in the 1970s. I think my 17 year old daughter would get a kick out of it too. She loves vintage style.

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  17. I am always ready to relive the ’70s, Lizzie! It is one of my favorite decades for fashion, so I would love the chance to win the book!

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  18. Jane C

    What great images, and nice layout. Please add my name to the hat.

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  19. paul

    thanks for all you share. Please enter my name..I just love reading your post!

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  20. erinfromiowa

    After reading it cover to cover I would pass it along to my youngest daughter. She is an artist with a fashion style of her own. Thank you for the chance to win.

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  21. Kerry

    It looks like a treasure, I love the mix of costume with personal style

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  22. I just picked this up this evening! The photos are amazing (Bill Cunningham in drag!). I had heard all about this from Jet Set Sewing and decided I’d buy it in a real bookstore, and now I’m crawling up to bed with it. There were many books a lot like this one in the late 70’s, but I didn’t realize how many of them were just copies of this book. The days where you could pick up some sweet vintage for cheap are loooooong over, though.

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  23. Dani

    Submitting my name too! Thanks!

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  24. Karen M.

    I’ve never heard of this book before, but I will definitely look for a copy, now! Thanks for the introduction!

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  25. Karol H

    Looks amazing! Just got back from Nashville — Nudie Suit heaven plus his sewing machine!

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  26. oldschoolsewing

    I would love to have my name placed in the hat. Thanks a bunch!

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  27. Sarah B Guest Perry

    Had a copy back in the late 70’s. Thanks for the memory=

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  28. How cool! I’m in. This looks like a good read.

    Thanks, Lizzie!

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  29. kherbaugh

    This is one I never had in my library. My first fashion book was a history of designers. I would love this for my collection.

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  30. Tammy

    I was in junior high when this book came out. I checked it out of our school library and our town library, more times than I can remember. To me it was the cornerstone of my aesthetic.

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  31. I’ve read this book many times, and recently got a copy through inter library loan. The chapter I read the most was on how a young student built her wardrobe for $100 a year (not a day or a month.) Inspiring!

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  32. I had just graduated from college and started my career in fashion. I did not read the book then- Now I can read the book! As you pointed out … a recollection of the era-the decade-was a regional / professional experience.

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  33. Throwing my name in the hat for a lucky chance to get a copy of this excellent book. Many thanks!

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  34. Lindsay Henderson

    I’ve never heard of this book but it looks like a must read! The page layout reminds me of The Preppy Handbook from the 80s.

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  35. I would absolutely LOVE a copy of this book. I was also a college students in the 1970’s and remember so well my grandmother opening an old trunk in her storage room and showing me the “teddies” and gown she wore on her honeymoon!

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  36. Maria

    Hi Lizzie, i been an avid vintage collector since the 70s till know. i have never heard of this book, but would love a copy for reference. Trow my name in!

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  37. Dee

    This looks like a fun book, but I can see lots of other people could use it more than me, so don’t put me on the list. 🙂

    I just wanted to comment because your post reminded me so much of a vintage clothing book that I used to check out from the library when I was in my early teens. I always loved old clothes (old things in general!) and history, so vintage was a natural fit for me. It’s funny to see your post and think how the library was usually my first stop in any quest for information. Especially after just yesterday reading a post from a vintage blogger who said her own journey into wearing vintage was first inspired by seeing other vintage blogs! It’s interesting that a few years difference in age, and spending formative years without access to the internet, can make such a difference in what influences people and how they form their ideas.

    Anyway, long comment, but I just enjoy what you write about so much, and usually find a lot to think about.

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    • Carla

      ooooh….what a great “book end” this volume would be in contrast with my 70’s Vogue magazines! Thanks for the memory of the days when I tried to emulate that Rosie Vela boho-chic (definitely on the cheap!)

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  38. I had this book and read it over & over for style ideas and to encourage myself to dress outside the department store box. This plus Our Bodies, Ourselves were sort of a set for being “new women.” Would love the new edition.

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  39. Ruth

    I can’t believe I’ve never seen this book before! (And I grew up in the 70’s, too.) Even if I don’t get it this way, I’ll have to buy it for my girls.

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  40. I just found your blog and am reading voraciously. I’m a vintage scarf collector- it’s been kind of lackluster until lately. My obsession has taken hold, and you are teaching me a lot about vintage.

    As a woman who is also vintage, having graduated high school in 1976, I am sure this book will not only bring back fond memories, but teach me things too. Thanks!

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  41. Carrie

    So exciting! I’ve been wanting to own a copy of this book!

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  42. Great find! Any book of hints with YSL in it must be wonderful!

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  43. Adrianne Gronnert

    This looks like a great book. I love reading your blog. I am also a lover of vintage border print fabrics and found your blog when researching Tin Horn Holiday, which I found in a cream colored background. Thank You for all of your interesting posts.

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  44. QueensGirl

    These excerpts are so much fun to read. I especially like the passage about the woman who’s a PA on the Cher show! Imagine the abundance of 40s and 50s vintage clothing at that time.

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  45. A winner has been drawn, and it is Karen at Small Earth Vintage! I’ll be in touch, Karen, and congratulations.

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  46. I just saw this at the bookstore. What a treasure!

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  47. Old Hat Vintage, Cindy

    Our stories about that book are quite similar! It was my first vintage clothing book as well, along with Harriet Love’s Vintage Chic and the Yestermorrow Clothes Book. I was in high school, shopping the rummage sales and thrifts and checking out every fashion book in the library. There was also a Seventeen magazine article around that time about vintage clothes. They are all the base of my now quite extensive (over run hoarded) library! The formative years! I would pore over the pictures and be so excited to find similar pieces at the thrift stores. Ahh, to be able to go back in time to those shopping trips (with my knowledge now!)

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