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The Skin Trade

Hide in plain sight: This season, you must have black leather -- and these budget picks will satisfy your inner (and outer) animal.

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You're desperate by now to pick up something leather to blend in with the fashion crowd -- a motorcycle jacket à la Gucci, a Calvin Klein-esque trench, or at least a pair of skinny, hip-hugging pants like the ones from just about every high-end designer in town. Cheap skin (that doesn't feel like beef jerky) isn't easy to find -- or at least, it wasn't. But now there are plenty of budget-priced essentials for you to road-test.

The trench: Best when lean and cut to knee-length or longer. The better deals are I.N.C's matte, super-skinny four-button style ($299 at Macy's), Gap's slightly roomier, shiny five-button version ($250), and Lord & Taylor's matte four-button coat with a chic covered placket ($290; also, check the rest of Lord & Taylor's store-label leather line -- everything's sharp, and most of it's well under $300).

The motocross jacket: Best when slightly cropped, in thin, seamed leather to eliminate bulk. Try Steve Madden's shiny, burgundy leather one ($190 at Bloomingdale's); or, for a find that's really brand-new, check out Esprit's black version -- it's expected to arrive at Macy's and Bloomingdale's early next week ($198).

The bootleg pant: Best when they sit low on the hips, hug through the thighs, and end with a subtle flare. Chances are, you'll need to try on a few for that perfect fit. Good starts: Gap shiny-finish five-pocket jean ($175), Express's matte version ($140), or XOXO's ultra-skinny bootleg pant ($200 at Macy's). If your body screams for bottoms with a longer rise, check out Original Leather's rugged, greasy-looking jeans ($249).

The skirt: Best when it rides low (so there's none of that tummy bulge when you sit), and when it comes at least to the knee. For soft, matte, and A-line, try New Frontier's black 25-inch style ($192). If you prefer shiny, check out Banana Republic's mid-calf skirt with whipstitched seams ($248). And if you're scared of packing too many trends, try on Siena Studio's classic, tab-front pencil skirt in soft black leather ($179 at Saks Fifth Avenue).

Macy's Herald Square (212-695-4400); Gap (for store information, call 800-gap-style); Lord & Taylor, Fifth Ave. at 38th St. (212-391-3344); Bloomingdale's, Lexington Ave. at 59th St. (212-705-2000); Express (for store information, visit www.express.style.com); Original Leather, 171 W. 4th St. (212-675-2303); New Frontier, 230 Columbus Ave., near 71st St. (212-873-7444); Banana Republic (for store information, call 888-br-style). Saks Fifth Avenue, Fifth Avenue at 49th Street (212-753-4000).

Picks of the Week

Delman, Studio Delman, Nina, and Nina New York shoes are at least half off at the company's fall sample sale. The classic-shaped, pretty-colored loafers, ballet flats, and mules are usually available only at stores like Bergdorf Goodman. At the showroom this week, they're all $65-$85. 730 Fifth Ave. at 57th St., eighth floor (399-2323); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 10-7; 10/27-10/29, 11/1-11/3.

Han Feng's colorful, Eastern-influenced fall clothes are sold at stores like Henri Bendel and Takashimaya. At her showroom sale, you can pick up
samples and leftover stock at 50-75 percent off. Prices are from $30 for
a smocked blue taffeta scarf to $150 for a layered, charcoal wool skirt to $400 for an iridescent orange quilted velvet coat. Sizes S-L. 333 W. 39th
St., 12th floor (212-695-9509); cash only; Wed.-Thurs. 8-7, Fri. 8-4; 10/27-10/29.

Dana Buchman's fall sample and stock sale has tons of easy, wearable clothes for the office or weekends at huge discounts (both from the main collection and the lower-priced Dana B & Karen line). Jackets, dresses, and blazers are $70; pants are $50; skirts, shells, and sweaters are $40; and handbags are $25-$50. 560 Seventh Ave., at 40th St., second-floor auditorium (212-744-2660); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Thurs. 9-6:30, Fri. till 5; 10/25-10/29.

Kenneth Jay Lane is having his first-ever showroom sale. You know the stuff (elaborate, high-end costume jewelry that looks like the real thing) -- and that it's usually only to be found in stores like Saks and Bloomingdale's. Here, prices are all more than half off: Earrings are $15-$50, necklaces are $30-$300, and bracelets are $12-$100. 20 W. 37th St., ninth floor (212-868-1780); M.C., V.; Tues.-Fri. 11-3; 10/26-10/29.

The D&D Building and New York Design Center are teaming up for a furniture-and-home-decor sale in which approximately 50 vendors will take 50 to 85 percent off their wares. Manufacturers include Stark Carpet, Mittman, Brueton, Nicoletti Italia, and Maslow. A Nicoletti three-piece leather sectional is $1,800; a Brueton wool sofa is $1,400. Donations at the door benefit the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club. Gramercy Armory, 68 Lexington Ave., at 26th St. (for information, call 212-753-7920); A.E., M.C., V.; Thurs. 3-8, Fri.-Sun. 10-7; 10/28-10/31.

ALWAYS A DEAL
Sparkle Plenty

To get just a smidgen of Halloween spirit without looking like a trick-or-treater, invest $6.99 in a set of essential cosmetics from Fun Fierce NYC. You'll get glittery false eyelashes, nail polish, and lip gloss -- just wild enough to get you into that costumes-only Halloween cocktail party. And, you don't have to toss the lot of it come November 1: The polish and the lip goop will look okay right through the holiday season (though we don't recommend showing up at work with the eyelashes). Available at Bloomingdale's.


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