Fridays Under $40: Cheap and Chic

Posted on: July 31st, 2020 at 5:15 am by

Photo: Sara Graham

In our new Friday column, “Fridays Under $40,” Boogie contributor Sara Graham hits the streets to find cheap eats and affordable things to do during these weird times.

Reason #23,081 to live in New York City: New Yorkers have the best sense of personal style. Where else can you see an octogenarian in mixed prints and a shower cap sharing the sidewalk with a Gen Z neo-raver wearing stuffed animals as accessories? These days, I’m lucky if I change out of the sweatshorts I work in all day (with a fancy shirt on for Zoom), so I thought it was high time for some fashion inspiration.

Museums are closed, but viewing exhibitions online has its merits—there’s no dealing with snail-paced tourists or long lines. Now you can just log on to a museum’s website to see what’s on view while you eat peanut butter out of a jar in the AC. Brilliant.

I checked out the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum site for Willi Smith: Street Couture, a survey of the NYC-based designer’s work, who found inspiration in street style. Considered the most commercially successful Black American designer of the 20th century, his line WilliWear was synonymous with egalitarian, adaptable pieces and the avant-garde of 1980s downtown. Peruse the collection of illustrations, photos, publications and plenty of screen-printed T-shirts, dusters and berets to inspire your Fall 2020 look. After all, everything old is chic again.

Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design website

Total Cost: Free
Exhibit on view March 13 through Oct. 25, 2020


Photo: Sara Graham

Speaking of old things, I decided to stroll up to Rivington Street to see if any vintage stores were open—but first I grabbed a bite to eat. Caribbean neighborhood gem, El Castillo de Jagua has outdoor seating and an order window that puts safety first (a sign reminds you to wear a mask and illustrates how COVID-19 is transmitted) and they serve everything in takeout containers and plasticware if you dine al fresco. I kept it simple and had a cheese pastelillo ($2.00) and a small order of black beans ($1.50). Their milkshakes and mofongo also comes highly recommended, but it was noon when I was there, so I kept it light.

El Castillo De Jagua, 113 Rivington Street
Total Cost: $3.79
Hours: 8 AM – 8 PM Daily; Closed Sunday


Photo: Sara Graham

As I made my way east on Rivington, it became clear that no pandemic will keep folks from their Supermoon pastries as I saw a socially distanced line stretch around the block. I was headed towards David Owens Vintage, a haven for designer vintage at incredible prices. Plus, they buy on consignment if you have treasures you’re hoping to part with for cash. Owens, the amiable shop owner, told me he’s currently running a sale on lightweight summer dresses ($25), designer blazers (I spotted an Armani for $45), silk European pajama tops ($25) and broken-in novelty T-shirts ($10-$45). Yes, please.

Photo: Sara Graham

After debating the pros and cons of owning a white Victorian-inspired blouse (bound to get spaghetti sauce on it! so great with high-waisted jeans!) and falling in love with a fringed leather jacket, I left with a ’70s work shirt that’ll look great on Zoom. Happy hunting.

David Owens Vintage, 161 Rivington Street

Total Cost: $27.81
Hours: 11 am – 7 pm

Total cost of walkabout: $31.60
Costs recorded do not include tip, so tip generously. Wear a mask.

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