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Buy All That You Can Buy

Attention, militant fashionistas: You can be on target with this season's combat-ready look without cluster-bombing your budget.

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From Louis Vuitton to Christian Dior to Max Mara, the spring collections reveal an industrial-size military complex -- and we're certainly not going to fight it. With "S&B" strategy, you can become a sartorial sharpshooter with minimal financial damage. We went looking for a few good pieces in the city's Army-Navy surplus stores and found that the real deal (in moderation) can look just as combat-chic as fashion's front line.

At Kaufman's, we enlisted owner Jim Korn to help us wade through the store's thick inventory. Along with an engaging lesson in military history, we got a battle-dress-uniform shirt ($20 used, $35 new), a leather-strapped backpack from the Austrian Army circa 1976 ($40), and a floppy jungle hat ($13). Next we hit Iceberg, where a refreshing air of peace and organization prevails -- arm yourself with sturdy, roomy nylon helmet bags ($30) if you need something in which to carry your life and more. Uncle Sam's wins the medal of honor for cutest tops (about $30, pictured), canvas bags from the forties ($12), and beat-up leather belts ($5). You'll find a smaller selection at M*A*S*H, but good basics: The boys' camo T-shirts (about $8) pass muster for quality and fit, as does the camo skirt ($15, pictured). For used camouflage pants (about $25) and jumbo canvas duffels (about $30), make Trader Inc. your target.

Kaufman's Army & Navy, 319 W. 42nd St. (212-757-5670); Iceberg Army-Navy of SoHo, 455 Broadway, near Canal St. (212-226-8454); Uncle Sam's Army Navy Outfitters, 37 W. 8th St. (212-674-2222); M*A*S*H Army & Navy, 721 Eighth Ave., near 45th St. (212-765-1500); Trader Inc., 385 Canal St. (212-925-6634).

Picks of the Week
Lamontage is cutting prices on its handmade rugs in half. A range of sizes are available, from four-by-six-foot ($350-$750) to thirteen-by-eighteen-foot (was about $16,000, now $4,700). 210 Eleventh Ave., near 24th St., seventh fl. (212-989-2732); M.C., V., personal checks; Thurs.-Fri. 9-6, Sat. noon-6; 5/3-5/5.

Tote Le Monde's sample sale features cute straw bags for summer, as well as leather totes -- all at about 60 percent off retail, from $30 to $175. 50 W. 29th St., No. 12E (212-951-7140); cash only; Wed.-Thurs. 11-7, Fri. 9-3; 5/2-5/4.

H. Stern is offering customers a chance to exchange their old, unwanted, and even broken gold for 20 percent above market value, redeemable on any item in the store. 645 Fifth Avenue (212-655-3916); A.E., M.C., V.; Wed.-Fri. 10-5:30; 5/2-5/4.

Erik Stewart's women's cotton sweaters -- cables, V-necks, cardigans, and more -- are 50 percent off retail ($20-$100). 1441 Broadway, near 41st St., 34th fl. (212-944-9096); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 9-5; 4/30-5/9.

Check out the spring 2001 issue of New York Shops, our guide to the city's best stores, including a six-month roundup of "Sales & Bargains." On sale at newsstands now. To order a copy, call 800-496-7833 ($4.99 plus $2 shipping and handling).


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