alex mccord real housewife new york city black jacket fashion week

Alex McCord in a belted Nina Ricci jacket and Dolce & Gabbana pants. Photo: Courtesy Alex McCord

When StyleList heard "The Real Housewives of New York City" star Alex McCord landed a new job with Second Time Around, a chain of high-end consignment shops, we confess that we were chagrined.

The former visual merchandiser may be the most notorious power shopper to emerge from Bravo's reality franchise -- and those ladies can shop!

So it was hard for us to imagine McCord wearing second-time around anything, let alone going on such thrifty retail excursions.

With season three of the hit series now under way, we caught up with McCord, who regaled us with descriptions of the consigned couture she recently wore to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York.

Her enthusiasm convinced us that her fashion aspirations are as authentic as the gently used Christian Lacroix dress she wore to a recent event.

StyleList: It's hard to picture you shopping secondhand.
Alex McCord: Well, you know, every housewife -- including this one -- loves a good deal, especially in this economy.

SL: What's the appeal of consignment?
AM: It makes you less afraid to make bold choices. Say you buy an amazing leopard-print dress. You wear it more than once and people are going to remember it. Even if it's a great dress, it's going to sit in your closet after you've worn it a few times.

With a great consignment store, you have a place for it to go. You can sell it and recoup some of your investment. On the other end, you can be the lucky lady who buys that great dress that may have been worn only once or twice.

SL: Do you wear Second Time Around fashions on the show this season?
AM: I do! And I also have to tell you, this is the first season you are going to see me working. The first two seasons, my old employer didn't want cameras around, so we filmed after hours. But I am going to be working and wearing clothes I've picked from the stores. [There are now several STA stores in New York City.]

SL: Where do you wear them?
AM: Oh, everywhere. I wore a lot of things from the store at Fashion Week. If I wasn't dressed by the designer, then I pulled from the stores. I am going to be blogging about some of that on our Web site.

SL: What's the most exciting item you've found?
AM: Without a doubt, a lime green satin Christian Lacroix dress I wore to the opening of our Lexington Avenue store. Amazing! I also got a great Etro jacket I wore to Fashion Week.

SL: Did you get the other Housewives to consignment shop with you?
I am not sure if anyone bought anything, but they've consigned things. They appreciate it for all the reasons I do: It's green, it's economical, it's a wonderful way to give great clothes a second life.

SL: Has this job changed your retail habits or are you still going on those $2,000 shopping sprees with your husband, Simon van Kempen?
AM: [Laughs] When was that? I'm not sure what you are talking about.

SL: Simon bought those pink loafers. You bought piles of stuff. I never forgot that episode.
AM: Oh, yes, we were in the Hamptons. I think, actually, we spent a lot more than two thousand that day, but let me say something about shopping with him:

We love clothes and accessories. When you see us shop, you have to look at what the motive is behind it. We are a busy couple, and we don't have a lot of time together. We love to shop, so it is a nice way we spend time together. For us, it's about bonding, and we could do it in a discount store.

SL: We're dying to know: Is there a Housewife from another town -- say, Atlanta, Orange County, or New Jersey -- you would like to take to one of your stores for a makeover?
AM: I think that would be presumptuous of me. I don't want to be in the business of telling them how they should dress.

Good for you for not taking the bait! It's not the typical 'Real Housewife' reaction I expected.
AM: I will say that when I walk through the store, I see things all of them would look good in. Some of them actually come to mind, and I think, "This would look good on her or her." I would be thrilled to make some of them over, but I don't want to say more than that. I think that could sound mean spirited.

SL: Where do you shop for your little boys?
AM: They are big fans of Small Paul by Paul Frank, but for everyday things like jeans, I do the Gap and H&M. The jeans are great, and the knees wear out just as fast in the expensive things as they do in their Gap jeans. I don't see the point of breaking the bank on things they are going to destroy.

SL: Bethenny Frankel is pregnant. As a mom who's into clothes, did you give her advice on maternity fashions?
AM: I'm not sure what made the show, so that's one where I have to say, "Watch and see what happens."

Catch "The Real Housewives of New York City" on Bravo Thursdays at 10/9 C.

Also, read what Camila Alves, star of another Bravo hit, "Shear Genius," reveals about partner Matthew McConaughey and her no-sex rule.