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The Real Price of Fashion

Bill McCuddy, Bridgehampton resident, entertainment reporter and former SNL writer, reveals his sartorial sanctuary.

TV personality Bill McCuddy in front of his favorite retail spot, the ARF in Sagaponack

Back off, Joan Rivers. Leave me alone, Tim Gunn.

I have a fashion confession.

I shop at a very exclusive Hamptons enclave. Some may not approve, even though many of the biggest names end up there.

Yep, it’s the ARF Thrift and Treasure Shop in Sagaponack. Don’t laugh. OK, go ahead. But I have a Barneys suede shirt in camel that I think originally sold for around 1,000 bucks. I paid $50. A dress shirt with South American polo club badges on it gets admiring glances (at least, I think they’re admiring), and it was $15. My wife—a fashion stylist by trade and the brains of the McCuddy household—nailed a Chanel jacket there for less than $200.

Now, animal activists I bump into like Missy Hargraves and Beth Ostrosky Stern will applaud my helping an animal shelter. Thanks, Ladies. Happy to do it. But that’s not my motive. The stuff just looks cool.

And it has character. Let me clear something up right here: A lot of people think character is something you have to work for, but I’m proud to say it can be bought. Cashmere J.Crew sweater, perfect shape: $20. Armani linen shorts, mint condition: $15. Turnbull and Asser Egyptian cotton dress shirt: $8. All freshly cleaned, pressed and on a hanger. No early-Saturday-morning neon cardboard tag sales for me—there, you have to actually look at the guy who wore your new Beretta vest. That’s too close to the Seinfeld episode where Jerry spots his dry cleaner wearing his jacket to the movies.

My screenwriting buddy Jimmy was going to London for some awards show. Needed a tux. Guess where I sent him? Perfect fit and under $100. By the way, he had his choice of three. Who knows where a tux in the Hamptons has been? Yes, probably a maître d’—but at a very expensive restaurant. Maybe a Kardashian threw up on it. (OK, bad character example.)

My friend Dan is a banking big shot, drives a Ferrari and swears by the clearance rack at T.J.Maxx. “Get over there right now,” he ordered me the other day. “Ralph Lauren golf pants in your size: $15.”

I passed. Give me the clothing that’s already been to the Hampton Classic, Puffy’s party or poolside at The Maidstone. I didn’t get there, but at least my blazer dropped by.

That’s what I like about the Hamptons. The latest fashions are all here. Then they come to ARF. It’s discreet, and even anonymous, unless you find a swanky name tag sewn in. I haven’t yet, but there’s hope—Steve Kroft looks like he’s my size.