Any savvy shopper will tell you that, next to Seventh Avenue, Westport is the hub of high-end fashion as hip, trendy retailers line Main Street and the Post Road.

However, as the latest addition to the town's business community proves, beautiful, contemporary designer clothing could also be affordable.

Second Time Around, a family-owned retail chain based in Massachusetts, celeberated its grand opening in August by having celebrity spokesperson Alex McCord, a cast member of the hit reality television series "Real Housewives of New York City," preside over a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Director of Creative Operations for Second Time Around, McCord oversees marketing and promotional services for the retail stores, located along the eastern seaboard and, most recently, in Philadelphia.

"What I really like about Second Time Around is that each store is a little different because its inventory is based on the needs of that community," she said. "In the Westport store, for example, there is a lot of Diane Von Furstenberg clothing available and also a wonderful footwear section. We have some really great boots in stock there, too."

Although McCord is undoubtedly the store's celebrity face, it is store manager Betsy McGuire that local shoppers are likely to meet when they step through the doors of Westport's Second Time Around. McGuire pointed out that all of the clothing and shoes are organized by size, style and color.

"There is no digging around in a box to find what you need here," she noted. "If you come in and say you are looking for size medium jeans by a certain designer, we will know exactly where to take you."

McGuire said that the Westport store boasts a great selection of Donna Karan, BCBG, Laundry and Ralph Lauren essentials. There is also a rack filled with stunning pieces from high-end names, such as Prada and Burberry.

Resembling a chic boutique, Second Time Around is spacious and well lit.

"We're proud of our large changing rooms," added McGuire. "Children who accompany their mothers into the store will have lots of space to run around."

Although the majority of customers are 40- to 60-year-old women, McGuire said Second Time Around also caters to high school and college age students. There is a special section in the store's rear where young people could find heavily discounted off-season attire.

"This is where we keep our secret treasures," McGuire said, smiling. (By the way, she is dressed cleverly with a basic short black skirt with a layered look on top. She admitted that one of the perks of working at Second Time Around is the opportunity to see great pieces as they are consigned each day.)

The store's current inventory contains an assortment of high-quality skirts, dresses, sweaters, coats, footwear and accessories. The back room also contains coasts and other winter attire that doesn't quite measure up to those found in the front of the store. "There are still many great seasonal items, as well as off-season clothing," McGuire noted. "For example, if you want a great pair of jeans for $15, this is where you would look."

Women who are planning to attend special parties and other formal events in the upcoming weeks might want to check out Second Time Around's special holiday section.

As shoppers browse through the merchandise, they shouldn't be surprised to find sales tickets still attached to many items, though. McGuire explained that some consignors are happy to be able to bring clothing that has never been worn to Second Time Around.

With attention focused today on "being green," Second Time Around encourages its consignors to de-clutter their personal environment and recycle their new and gently used clothing. McCord cites a recent study which revealed that Americans throw away 68 pounds of textiles each year. In addition, a great deal of energy, time and money is spent constantly reproducing new garments. Second Time Around gives people a way to share clothing in a unique way.

McCord explained that consignors could choose to be paid in cash or receive store credit when their clothing is sold. "They could also elect to donate what they earn to a charitable organization," she added.

McGuire said that she is pleased to be part of the Westport store's daily operation. "It's a happy place to be in," she said. "The people who bring in their clothing are happy because they are finally cleaning out their closets and making a little money along the way. The shoppers are happy because they are finding some really great clothing at affordable prices. And, our staff is happy because of all these positive feelings being generated around us."

McCord agreed. "This is the right idea at the right time," she said. "Given the turns the economy has taken recently, the expansion of designer resale is good for both the economy and environmental climate."

Founded by Dotty Casler, and now operated by her son, Jeffrey, Second Time Around's flagship store is in Newton Highlands, Mass.

"People love Second Time Around because it's a wonderful way to constantly re-invent their wardrobe," McCord said. "This is the place to go for people who want to have a great look but can't afford to pay retail prices for Prada or Gucci."

Second Time Around is located at 135 Post Road E., Westport. For more information, call (203) 557-3733 or visit www.secondtimearound.net