covert couture
n. High-quality, custom-made fashions designed to look like off-the-rack clothing.

Example Citation:
A regular bespoke suit can cost about $5,000, already out of the range of most of us. But with every minor mogul and hip-hop artist sporting designer suits and haute branded merchandise, such items are losing the cachet of exclusivity.

Or as author James B. Twitchell suggests in his new book, Living It Up: Our Love Affair with Luxury (Columbia University Press): "The one characteristic of modern luxe is its profound oxymoronic nature: If everyone can have it, is it still luxury?"

So the obsessive luxe-seekers are drawn to the covert couture of a gentlemanly tailored suit. Just about no one will be able to tell immediately that they have spent someone's annual take-home pay on the ensemble. Only the smug look on their face may give it away.
—Tralee Pearce, "Introducing the trophy suit," The Globe and Mail, February 1, 2003

Earliest Citation:
It's simple. First, choose an off-the-rack handbag or pair of shoes. Then have the manufacturer make you a customized version of it (for an outlandish amount of money). The finished item may not look so very different from the store-bought version, but it's secretly special. This is covert couture — personalized luxe that does not scream a designer's name.
—Lynn Hirschberg, "Covert Couture," The New York Times, December 15, 2002

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