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Spring brings new designer goods to Sears and Target

Isn't it great to live in a democracy?

We the people have access to school systems, hospitals, clean water. And now we have access to something far more important than functional brains or bodies free of infection.

Fashion!

Once a rich man's game, high-end fashion has become increasingly egalitarian, readily available and an easy toss into our shopping carts at arm's length from the toothpaste aisle.

We have Isaac Mizrahi to thank, who designed a hugely popular line for Target from 2002 to 2008. The frenzy led dozens of other designers to create specialty items for affordable stores. People on budgets, it turns out, also want to look amazing.

Kohl's has Vera Wang. JC Penney has Charlotte Ronson, Nicole Miller and the new MNG by Mango, a line with breezy European flair. Payless has shoe collections from Project Runway alum Christian Siriano, Michelle Obama fave Isabel Toledo and girly queen Lela Rose. Or we can go to Etsy.com and make customized couture for one another.

That would be great enough. But riding the springtime dawn of warmth and flowers, March has wrought a fresh infusion of discounted style. Macy's, which has teamed with designers Kinder Aggugini and Karl Lagerfeld before, just announced an upcoming collaboration with Sienna Miller's go-to designer, Matthew Williamson. Prices will start at $50.

Then there's Sears. You probably only go into Sears as a last resort for fashion, when you can't find what you need anywhere else. It's the land of tool belts and Maytag appliances and family photos in the portrait studio.

But this month, Sears welcomed UK Style, a highly anticipated line from designer brand French Connection United Kingdom. You may recall the pithy, double entendre shirts that were huge 10 years ago, the abbreviation for French Connection United Kingdom (FCUK) inserted into naughty catch phrases. Your high school English teacher might have passed out after seeing one.

There's none of that here. Everything is soft, pretty and mildly funky. You could pack this stuff for a vacation abroad and never utter the word "Sears." Celebrities like Nicky Hilton and Jaime King wore the goods at recent red-carpet launch party in Hollywood.

There's a handkerchief hem tank top for $12.90. A striped boat-neck shirt for $14.90. A black cowl-neck dress for $29.90. A soft yellow cardigan for $21.90.

A cinched jumpsuit-slash-Ghostbusters uniform for $48.90 provides brief terror, but UK Style recovers with a metallic gold jacket for $59.50. A tad pricey, but everything at Sears finds its way to the sale rack to die.

Not to be outdone, Target is stocked.

For the past five years, the retail giant has featured a rotation of new designers in its GO International program. To celebrate the birthday, it launched the Go International Designer Collective, featuring 34 dresses by designers who have collaborated with Target. Greatest hits, if you will.

The designs mostly sell for around $40. There's a silk lace number from Behnaz Sarafpour. A peach slip dress from Rodarte. A striped tunic from Libertine. A navy tuxedo dress from Richard Chai. A pink polka-dot dress from Zac Posen.

The dresses will be in stores through April 10. A quick perusal of a Target in St. Petersburg turned up a pretty healthy supply still intact. In the folds, you'll have to sort through Target's cheaper mainstay brands like Xhilaration and Merona.

But then again, that is the whole point.

Get more fashion smarts from the Deal Divas at tampabay.com/blogs/divas.

Spring brings new designer goods to Sears and Target 03/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2011 5:59pm]

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