Norma Kamali

Norma Kamali: A Fashion Icon and Leader in Recession Chic

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Pictured: Timeless Style, Designer Norma Kamali making Chic Cheap with Walmart

Today’s The New York Times Style section has a piece on designer Norma Kamali. It’s a great piece, and for those of you who haven’t read it, you might want to check it out. In the course of a long career, Ms. Kamali has managed to consistently produce beautiful and comfortable clothing during both economic ups and downs. I was so glad to see her on the cover of the Style section today! She is a designer who is offering consumers less expensive, but still fashionable, clothing choices. And with Walmart behind her, her collection is considerably lower priced than her budget fashion competitors.

As my readers know, I am a fan of her Recessionista priced clothing collection at Walmart. Recently, I was asked to put together a list of chic and cheap places to find fashion bargains for a TV show here in LA. One of my top picks was of course Ms. Kamali’s collection for Walmart. I had never really considered buying a piece of clothing at Walmart until Norma’s designs hit their racks. I really enjoyed reading about how she puts together the Walmart collection in the NYT today and how she is a stickler for fit. “I struggle with fit,” she said of working with the suppliers of her Walmart line. “I thought those people were, like, going to put a hit out on me because I was so relentless.”

Well, thanks Norma for being so relentless. It shows and consumers appreciate the value. I was in the Canoga Park, CA Walmart recently reviewing the Walmart collection, and I was amazed at the quality of the garments for the price. The current collection includes a sleeveless, Grecian style blue dress that is quite simply amazing for $20.00. See the pictures below. The gathering and draping of this dress is designed to flatter, and be sexy, yet discreet.

Pictured: A Royal Blue NK for Walmart Dress (photo by The Recessionista)

Pictured: Walmart’s stock photo of the dress does not do the blue color justice

This simple little dress demonstrates quite clearly what Caroline Rennolds Milbank, a fashion historian, said of Ms. Kamali in The New York Times article, “She puts as much design effort into something made with sweatshirt material as she has with matte jersey.” Another example of this statement is the V-Neck Long Sleeve Jersey Dress. This is another $20.00 wardrobe staple that you can take from a day at the office to a night out. Once again I love the dress in the Royal Blue color. Below are my pictures of it on the store racks, vs the Walmart photo.

Pictured above and below: The NK Walmart V-Neck Long Sleeved Dress

And finally, perhaps the most important news to come out about the Recessionista Chic of the NK Walmart collection: They are making a low-priced version of her amazing swimsuit. When I first reviewed the line back in 2008, I bemoaned the fact that there was no low-priced version of her classic swimsuits offered. But, my budget fashion dreams have been answered. Coming in June, Walmart will be offering a fabuless NK swimsuit. Here’s the picture, drum roll please:

Pictured: The Norma Kamali for Walmart Swimsuit arrives in stores in June

So I have to join the The New York Times in their assessment of Norma Kamali as a designer for her times. Her styles have always mirrored the state of the economy. And in the current economy, she is showing all of us new ways to stay fashionable with her low-priced line. When I was in college, I saved and scrimped for months to buy one of her dresses for several hundred dollars. Who knew that years later, I’d be able to breeze into a Walmart and pick up one of her great garments for only $20.00? Thank you Norma for making fashion so affordable and economically accessible.


Since 2008, Mary Hall has been the author of The Recessionista Blog, which is read by thousands of regular readers in over 160 countries. An internationally recognized expert on the art of the living the good life for less, she has been a commentator on local, national, and international radio and TV shows. Her advice has been featured in over 2,000 media outlets, including The New York Times, Reuters, Life & Style magazine, ABC News, NBC News and now The Huffington Post, among many others.