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How Campaigning Women Can Keep Their Couture Without the Cost Criticism

The bastions for designer bargain hunters have only multiplied. Nordstrom Rack (where I usually find those Dior glasses, and buy boots off-season), Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's Outlet (love the additional half-off redlines), and Barney's New York Outlet, in addition to Off 5th, all have those brands to be craved. Loehmanns is another don't-miss, especially for their back room of high-end designers -- I once snagged a $1,600 Dolce & Gabbana handbag, by combining red-tag discounts and opening a discount-card account, for $105. The ultimate is a Loehmanns clearance center -- when one opened and closed near me, I got Manolo Blahniks (Mary Janes, retail $650) for $60, a Missoni scarf that retailed at $545 for $45, Chloe sweaters, Moschino leather and cashmere gloves, and more.

If I became as wealthy as the Obamas, Romneys or Gingriches tomorrow, I wouldn't start paying full price. I've learned too much about how to shop the game to ever go back at this point, and would still feel the thrill of finding rock-bottom-priced couture.

And that's my advice to Michelle and Ann: Don't try to counter the criticism by pretending that you're suddenly a J.C. Penney aficionado. Nobody buys it.

But they would be smart to be seen shopping at the aforementioned outlets, to brag about their discount finds and share with other American women how they can find couture on a budget, as well.

It would also display a personal sense of fiscal conservatism to which voters can relate -- even though you might have the money to throw at a personal shopper on Rodeo Drive, you choose to spend it wisely and stretch each dollar as far as possible when filling up that closet from high-end retailers' clearance racks.