Even if you're not made of money, your clothes can be

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Even as many shoppers are finding their wallets sadly empty, the fashion world seems to have freshly rediscovered the wonders of money.

Although consumers seem less likely to spend cash at the store, couture houses are making it clear that they can always wear it on their backs.

The grande-dame of financial fashion is probably Lizzy Gardiner. When she was designing the clothes for "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," one of her ideas was to make a dress out of discarded American Express cards. The credit company, unfortunately, wasn't interested in connecting itself with an edgy film about Australian drag queens.

However, when Gardiner's designs were nominated for an Oscar, Amex decided that a credit-card-clad Oscar winner might be the perfect showcase for their company. They sent Gardiner 300 invalid cards, all printed with her name.

The dress, which used 254 of the cards, has entered into the realm of Oscar legend, alongside Bjork's gigantic swan dress and the feathered Wicked Witch gown that Cher wore in 1986. A few years later, when Gardiner auctioned the frock on behalf of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, it raised $12,650.

While Gardiner's collection of gold cards was amazing, for those more impressed by cash, the gold dress crafted by students at Tokyo's Bunka Fashion College might be the ultimate in fiscal fashion.

Featuring 325 Australian gold coins, it was valued at roughly $275,000 in 2008. With the recession driving up the price of gold, however, it has undoubtedly gone up in the ensuing year.

For those who are looking to economize, Monopoly money makes a fine fashion statement. For budding fashion designers, a few Park Places and Boardwalks -- along with a lot of contact paper -- can make a monocle-popping garment that will set racecars (and thimbles) running.

And, of course, there's always good old fashioned greenbacks. The Credit Letter features a dress fashioned out of British pound notes. Combining a certain can-can flair with the unnerving possibility of precipitation, the dress is both attractive and useful for paying for cabs. On the other hand, in the wrong crowd, it could quickly transform into a minidress -- or even a bikini.

In the end, though, the buck stops with Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, whose 2008 couture collection featured a dress that looked like a $1 bill, with Barack Obama's face replacing that of George Washington. While likely to draw uncomfortable comparisons to Alice in Wonderland's Queen of hearts, the frock's layered iconography makes it a promising target for inflation-based jokes -- or at least a few smart comments about American celebrity culture.

Admittedly, some of us are less inclined to wear our wallets on our sleeves, which makes Credit Card Finder's offers a variety of uses for old cards.

From light switches to bracelets to hologram-enhanced pendants, the opportunities are endless. Best of all, when your Visa card is on your wrist, it's less likely to be scanning through a store's cash register.
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Those Plastic Cards
Although consumers seem less likely to spend cash at the store, couture houses are making it clear that they can always wear it on their backs. Check out this gallery for more news on credit cards.
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Watching Your Plastic

    In this photo taken on Wednesday, July 1, 2009, fisherman Pralhad Dandekar, 58, displays his temporary identity card issued by a fishermen society that allows him to work while waiting for a state-issued identity card which became compulsory for all fishermen on the open seas after the November terror attack on Mumbai, in Mumbai, India. India has a huge identity problem: too many people like Dandekar struggle to definitively establish who they are. The rich can flash passports, driver's licenses, and credit cards, but the poor rely on a jumble of electricity bills, ration cards, voting cards, and letters from local officials _ none of which is foolproof. That has made it harder for them to get jobs, open bank accounts and establish property rights, stymieing their ability to participate in, and in turn fuel, India's growth. It has also increased the potential for graft in India's massive social subsidy programs. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

    AP

    In this photo taken on Wednesday, July 1,2009, fisherman Shiv Kumar Chinna Coundar, 38, displays his temporary identity card issued by a fishermen society that allows him to work while waiting for a state-issued identity card which became compulsory for all fishermen on the open seas after the November terror attack on Mumbai, in Mumbai, India. India has a huge identity problem: too many people like Dandekar struggle to definitively establish who they are. The rich can flash passports, driver's licenses, and credit cards, but the poor rely on a jumble of electricity bills, ration cards, voting cards, and letters from local officials _ none of which is foolproof. That has made it harder for them to get jobs, open bank accounts and establish property rights, stymieing their ability to participate in, and in turn fuel, India's growth. It has also increased the potential for graft in India's massive social subsidy programs. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

    AP

    In this photo taken on Wednesday, July 1, 2009, fisherman Pralhad Dandekar, 58, displays his temporary identity card issued by a fishermen society that allows him to work while waiting for a state-issued identity card which became compulsory for all fishermen on the open seas after the November terror attack on Mumbai, in Mumbai, India. India has a huge identity problem: too many people like Dandekar struggle to definitively establish who they are. The rich can flash passports, driver's licenses, and credit cards, but the poor rely on a jumble of electricity bills, ration cards, voting cards, and letters from local officials _ none of which is foolproof. That has made it harder for them to get jobs, open bank accounts and establish property rights, stymieing their ability to participate in, and in turn fuel, India's growth. It has also increased the potential for graft in India's massive social subsidy programs. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

    AP

    MIAMI - MAY 20: Marlene Woofter signs her credit card receipt as cashier Yera Dominguez charges the credit card for items at Lorenzo's Italian Market on May 20, 2009 in Miami, Florida. Larry Woofter stands to the left. Members of Congress today passed a bill placing new restrictions on companies that issues credit. The vote follows the Senate passage of the bill, which now heads for President Obama's promised signature. The bill will curb sudden interest rate increases and hidden fees, requiring card companies to tell customers of rate increases 45 days in advance. It will also make it harder for people aged below 21 to be issued credit cards. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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    MIAMI - MAY 20: Yera Dominguez charges the credit card of Reynaldo Rodriguez as he pays for items at Lorenzo's Italian Market on May 20, 2009 in Miami, Florida. Members of Congress today passed a bill placing new restrictions on companies that issues credit. The vote follows the Senate passage of the bill, which now heads for President Obama's promised signature. The bill will curb sudden interest rate increases and hidden fees, requiring card companies to tell customers of rate increases 45 days in advance. It will also make it harder for people aged below 21 to be issued credit cards. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    Getty Images

    MIAMI - MAY 20: Yera Dominguez receives a credit card from a customer for payment at Lorenzo's Italian Market on May 20, 2009 in Miami, Florida. Members of Congress today passed a bill placing new restrictions on companies that issues credit. The vote follows the Senate passage of the bill, which now heads for President Obama's promised signature. The bill will curb sudden interest rate increases and hidden fees, requiring card companies to tell customers of rate increases 45 days in advance. It will also make it harder for people aged below 21 to be issued credit cards. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    Getty Images

    MIAMI - MAY 20: Yera Dominguez receives a credit card from a customer for payment at Lorenzo's Italian Market on May 20, 2009 in Miami, Florida. Members of Congress today passed a bill placing new restrictions on companies that issues credit. The vote follows the Senate passage of the bill, which now heads for President Obama's promised signature. The bill will curb sudden interest rate increases and hidden fees, requiring card companies to tell customers of rate increases 45 days in advance. It will also make it harder for people aged below 21 to be issued credit cards. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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    MIAMI - MAY 20: Yera Dominguez counts out change from a transaction at Lorenzo's Italian Market on May 20, 2009 in Miami, Florida. Members of Congress today passed a bill placing new restrictions on companies that issues credit. The vote follows the Senate passage of the bill, which now heads for President Obama's promised signature. The bill will curb sudden interest rate increases and hidden fees, requiring card companies to tell customers of rate increases 45 days in advance. It will also make it harder for people aged below 21 to be issued credit cards. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    Getty Images

    MIAMI - MAY 20: Alain Filiz shows off some of his credit cards as he pays for items at Lorenzo's Italian Market on May 20, 2009 in Miami, Florida. Members of Congress today passed a bill placing new restrictions on companies that issues credit. The vote follows the Senate passage of the bill, which now heads for President Obama's promised signature. The bill will curb sudden interest rate increases and hidden fees, requiring card companies to tell customers of rate increases 45 days in advance. It will also make it harder for people aged below 21 to be issued credit cards. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    Getty Images

    MIAMI - MAY 20: Yera Dominguez uses a credit card reader to charge a credit card from a customer for payment at Lorenzo's Italian Market on May 20, 2009 in Miami, Florida. Members of Congress today passed a bill placing new restrictions on companies that issues credit. The vote follows the Senate passage of the bill, which now heads for President Obama's promised signature. The bill will curb sudden interest rate increases and hidden fees, requiring card companies to tell customers of rate increases 45 days in advance. It will also make it harder for people aged below 21 to be issued credit cards. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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