If you’ve ever paid a visit to H&M, you know the Swedish retail giant specializes in two things: trendy clothes and (amazingly) low prices. Don’t be tempted. If you’re approaching 50 or older, that cute jersey dress for $12.95 or those skinny jeans for $29.99 will only make you look as though you’re trying too hard.
Instead, check out H&M’s more grown-up sister brand COS, which launched a U.S.-based e-commerce site earlier this year and just opened its first U.S. brick-and-mortar store in downtown Manhattan. A cult favorite of fashion-minded Americans who travel in Europe, COS is known for updating classic pieces with minimalist design and a contemporary silhouette. Prices are higher than at H&M—a raw-cut wool coat, for example, goes for $250—but they’re still a bargain, especially for a look that might easily be mistaken for Céline or Stella McCartney. COS already has a large international following, and for good reason. The name is an acronym for Collection of Style, but what it really stands for is sophisticated clothes and accessories that combine style with value. —Lola Ehrlich