At What Cost Comparisons of Designer and Mass-Market Clothes Help Consumers Navigate Subtleties beyond Just the Bottom Line

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Available at Emporio Armani Boutiques nationwide.

Fabric: Rust and white glen plaid (100 percent wool), made in Italy.

Lining: Fully lined.

Seams: Machine-stitched, good detail.

Buttons: Faux horn.

Description: An elegant four-button coat, worn with cotton velvet rose ($125).

Review: Pure, unadulterated class. The red is not too bright, and the inverted "v" is new. The quality is immaculate. Its cheaper counterpart is good, but Armani will win this fight every time.

Price: $615


Available from J. Crew.

Fabric: Corduroy (100 percent cotton), made in Hong Kong.

Lining: Full; shell is cotton, sleeves are acetate.

Seams: Machine-stitched.

Buttons: Faux horn.

Description: A more casual shirt-collar blazer with patch pockets.

Review: The look is chic and the drape is first-class. But the jacket can't really compare with its designer counterpart. The attention to detail is not there, though the look alone makes it a great buy for the price. Best for a more casual wardrobe.

Price: $88


Dolce & Gabbana, available at Louis, Boston.

Fabric: 100 percent silk, made in Italy.

Seams: Machine-stitched, finished, beautiful detail around collar and lapel.

Buttons: Large fabric-covered plastic.

Description: Wide, split lapel, floral print, silk charmeuse blouse.

Review: The cost can be attributed to subtle details like seams and workmanship, but the average consumer wouldn't notice the difference from the mainstream version. It does offer a look that could only be found at Dolce & Gabbana, but the cost is restrictive.

Price: $475


From Banana Republic, Natick, Mass.

Fabric: 100 percent silk, made in China.

Seams: Machine-stitched, finished.

Buttons: Mother-of-pearl.

Description: Silver, shiny, thick silk charmeuse blouse.

Review: Gives its designer counterpart a run for the money in features, but the style is more traditional and the fabric is not quite as soft. But, at $400 less, it is a beautiful version of a popular new style of blouse - one that has elegance, sheen, and the comfort and casualness of silk.

Price: $78


Available at Emporio Armani Boutiques nationwide.

Review: A leather belt is a leather belt. Compared with the mainstream counterpart, this belt offers nothing different, but wearing it adds class to your outfit. …


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