High-street look on the red carpet

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Everyone else is dripping in designer.

Creations ranging from downright stunning to downright weird rustle to your left and right.

They cost an eye-watering, mascara-streaking amount; as much as a second-hand car, some of them.

And there you are, on the red carpet, at the most glamorous event on the planet, bravely trying to work up a bit of H&M. Oh Dior, oh Dior.

It sounds like one of those dreams that wake you up in a heart-pounding, sweaty panic with your nightie all stuck to you.

The mares of your nights which psychiatrists diagnose as anxiety-fuelled, indicative of your fear of not being good enough and possibly rooted in childhood (ie you didn’t proceed through the Janet and John books as fast as everyone else).

Only, this was no Cinderella moment.

All hail Helen Hunt, the actress who COULD have gone to the ball in Balenciaga. Or vamped it up in Valentino.

But she was Prada than the rest; on Oscars night, she purposefully pitched chainstore rags against designer riches – to make a statement about something other than style.

OK, so her Academy Awards frock HAD been adorned with $70,000 dollars’ worth of diamond embellishment – presumably she’s a fan of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. And it could have done with a damned good iron.

But her navy fake satin strapless, something any prom-going 16-year-old might plead with her mum to splash out on, was the green option.

It was from H&M’s eco-friendly range and probably cost what Anne Hathaway, the actress who pipped her to the Best Supporting Actress gong, should have spent on nipple plasters.

Helen looked dandy. It was a masterclass – as good as it gets – in cheap-as-chips chic. But what I loved the most about her frock choice was how gleefully Helen ’fessed up to it.

How many times have I done exactly that?

Not gone to the Oscars, obviously. I mean, rocked up in something that cost next to nothing, drawn a complement, got verbal diarrhoea and bragged: “It was a bargain – cost me £12.99 at TK Maxx...” Or “Bought it in 1982, fished it out of the loft, let out the side seams and was hot to trot!”

Most women I know do the same. A colleague strutted into the office last week and announced her frock was from a jumble sale before she’d even hung her coat up.

Though it’s not purely a female trait. Boy, I’m proud to say, is of the same ilk. eBay? It’s his second home.

We who grew up hard-up have bargain-hunter written through to the core and are the absolute antithesis of the label snob.

The fact that we cannot silently bask in admiration has nothing to do with faux modesty.

Far from not being able to take a compliment, we want the even bigger one we ruddy-well deserve.

In our eyes, working up an outfit on the cheap shows far more nous than spending a week’s wages on one teeny little top deemed hot because it’s embossed with a V and an L.

Or should that be the other way around?