Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Champagne taste on a Pabst budget

A smart and chic guide to holiday e-shopping

Like most college students my age, I have currently found myself in the awkward financial situation where my part time job can afford me a bit of luxe, but unfortunately cannot sustain the impact of numerous pricey Christmas gifts for my family and boyfriend.
90% of the time I never pay full price for anything, whether it be weekly groceries or a new Marc Jacobs bag. This is because I cannot click "purchase" without knowing full out that what I am about to spend my hard earned money on, is not available cheaper someplace else. You may consider me a cheapskate or a bit OCD, but I like to think of it as a part of the "smart shopping sense" that has been engraved into my soul since childhood, by my frugal-to-a-fault mother. 
For the next two weeks or so, I know I will be bombarded with a myriad of emails titled something along the lines of, SALE SALE SALE from all my favorite online shopping haunts. I also know that both the lure of these supposed amazing deals, paired with the guilt I will be feeling about purchasing the perfect holiday gifts for my family will begin eating away at my strong will (and wallet), thus I will indeed be buying something(s) in the near future. 
To cope with the eustress and regular old stress this time of year's shopping almost always brings forth, I have set aside a few ground rules and gift ideas that will hopefully keep this Christmas budget friendly and bountiful at the same time. 

1) Technology is your friend (and foe). If your find yourself ogling over, let's say, a Kate Spade iphone case for your sister at Bloomingdales, don't hesitate to use Google's shopping engine to see if there is a better deal available someplace else. Once in a while, third party coupon sites offer valid discount codes but these primarily are not the most reliable. ShopStyle.com is my favorite site to do designer shopping comparisons on. This site is basically the holy grail for finding specific designer items at the cheapest price possible, but from reputable stores only. Reputable is key, because while Amazon and Ebay may claim to have that same Kate Spade phone case for $5, most of the time if you read into the buyer comments, you will see that many come from disappointed shoppers who seriously doubt the legitimacy of their item. No one wants a knock-off under the tree!

2) Get the most bang for your buck. You cannot go wrong with gift sets. For two reasons; one-gift sets make the recipient feel like they have received multiple gifts from you (bonus points!), and two-because gift sets contain multiple items, there is a better chance that at least one of those items will be to the liking of the recipient. The major down side to gifts like these, however, are that they sometimes can be a huge rip off. To avoid this, I suggest inquiring about the value and general user satisfaction of the individual products before buying. Also, when it comes to the ever popular cosmetics set, always check out the size of the products first, to make sure you are not paying out the nose for sample sized cosmetics. The set I am thinking will be a great gift to my fashionable friend is this gift set from Sephora.com that offers three very wearable Stila cosmetic staples, as well as a basically identical full-sized clutch from designer CC SKYE. The clutch is sold out all over the web and retails for upwards of $175. So paying $50 for the clutch makes the Stila makeup seem like an amazing added bonus. 

3) Make it add up, for you that is. These days, to get consumers in and buying, many large retailers have begun to use point programs or purchase based coupon incentives as a part of their holiday marketing strategies. These programs allow you to receive a little bonus yourself for making the purchases you probably planned on making any ways. Sephora has its own point program, called Beauty Insider that allows members to rack up points for every purchase that can eventually be traded in for a pretty decent present for yourself. Sephora offers this all year long. For the holiday season, Saks Fifth Avenue is offering a program where for every $250 — $499 purchase, you can receive a $25 Saks gift card. You can earn up to $400 in Saks gift cards. All you have to do is enter the code "DEC2012" at checkout with qualifying purchase. These are just a few of the many offers out there right now that do not require a store credit card to be taken advantage of. This way, you get a little something in return for all your hard shopping work and research!

Don't let holiday shopping get the best of you, with these tips in mind, you can now shower your loved ones in luxurious gifts without landing your self on the naughty list for doing so. 
Happy Holidays! 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Thanks, IFB!

This week, my latest blog post "Ode to Nordstrom" was chosen as Independent Fashion Blogger's top 20 "Links ala mode". Check out these other amazing posts.

A New Way of Thinking

Edited By Taylor Davies I called this round up “A New Way of Thinking” because I truly read some remarkable blog posts this week. More than personal style and shopping guides (though I love and included some of those, too), there were heart-felt truths about our community’s lives, as well as success stories that really inspire. After spending some time reading a few of the below posts, I am feeling and thinking differently about a few things – from Nordstrom to online shopping to our obsession with shoes and perceptions of Asian fashion. And that’s just the beginning. Take a moment to really appriciate this week’s round up, it’s worth it. Thank you so much to all of our brave and creative contributors!


    SPONSOR: Shopbop Coupon: Deux Lux, Gucci Sunglasses, Penfield, Versace Bags, Ferragamo Flats, LemLem, Bag Sale, Shop 30, 40 , 50 Our Designer Sample Sales If you would like to submit your link for next week’s Links à la Mode, please register first, then post your links HERE where you see “Links a la mode next week’s date (official).” The HTML code for this week will be found in the Links a la Mode widget on the right side of the blog, and will be published later today. ~ Jennine

Friday, November 30, 2012

Ode to Nordstrom

For any fashionista, the beloved department store, Nordstrom, is an obvious go-to. From its legendary semi-annual sales to its extensive selection of gorgeous garb within pretty much any price range, Nordstrom is basically heaven in a shopping mall. What you may not know, however, is that Nordstrom is perhaps the only main stream department store that will sell customers two different sized shoes (at least a size and a half difference) for no extra charge. 
This probably does not mean much to the average shoe shopper, but for someone who has to suffer the constant annoyance of having two different sized feet, this is a god send. I was born with a severely clubbed foot. During my childhood, I under went three major surgeries, and wore a host of special casts and braces to correct it. Today, the only remnants of my problem are three aging scares that have become barely noticeable. I can walk and run, limp free, with perfect ease. The handicap that my parents once feared would hamper my standard of living, is nothing now but a distant memory. 

Photos courtesy of Flickr creative commons.
Currently, the most consequential issue associated with my clubbed foot, is the fact that it is a whopping four sizes smaller than its opposite. This makes shopping for shoes an absolute and utter bitch. I am a college student who is not made of money, so I can no where near afford to have shoes custom made for me. Every time I attempt to sneak two different sized shoes into the box at a store, the cashier always catches me and all I can do is laugh helplessly and claim,"Oh, I didn't even notice. Oops!" I had just become accustomed to either buying two different sized shoes or suffering in ill fitting flats.
When a family friend recommended my mother take me to Nordstrom, it was like a whole new chapter of my life had been unveiled. For the first time ever, I was able to purchase two different sized shoes, no questions asked with no added cost. This simple store policy has allowed me to feel , well normal. Up until Nordstrom, the thought of trying on and buying shoes was the equivalent of that nervous feeling people get before they visit the doctor. This is not the feeling shoes should conjure up in the heart of any girl.
So thank you, Nordstrom, for allowing me access to trendy shoes for both my feet and for making it a little easier to be born with a handicap. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Birthday to me

Here is a brief photo spread of my 21st Birthday experiences and my very fashionable friends, enjoy!

Romper by Zara
Watch by Michael Kors

Monday, October 22, 2012

Not summer, but not exactly fall

I know I am constantly complaining about school, but I one hundred percent blame my lack of posts on the overload of essays I have had to write lately. I have zero time for anything not political science or anthropology related and my job as head graphic designer at the school paper has really taken a toll on my free time. This saturday, I finally carved out some "fun time" and headed downtown for a yummy dinner with my girlfriends (post cocktail hour, of course).

It is now that unfortunate, funny in between summer and fall time here in Florida. This means putting an outfit together that has the essence of autumn, but is still warm weather friendly. There is a fine line during this time of year when it comes to fashion. You cannot exactly break out the boots and pants just yet, but sundresses and sandals are beginning to become a bit too passe.  
My go-to look for this seasonal enigma is always a light sweater paired with a darker color scheme. Whether it be a sweater top, such as the one worn here, or a light cardigan, at least you won't be looking spring-break-ready as the months begin to transition into winter. It is also important that no matter how hot it gets, you do not dare to wear pastels. That would be like wearing a Christmas sweater  in the summer, just because you are chilly. It IS fall after all, whether it feels like it or not; so if you must wear a tank top, at least make it a black one. Now, I maybe suffering with what-to-wear conundrums at the moment, but when December rolls in and all you northerners are forced to cover up your gorgeous ensembles with winter coats, I will be prancing around in a light jacket and scarf. I'll take my awkward Florida October weather over that any day!

Top by BCBGeneration
Shorts by BCBG Max Azria
Wedges by Simply Vera Wang
Bag by Rebecca Minkoff
"Bestie" bracelet by BCBGeneration
Watch by MICHAEL Michael Kors

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Field of dreams

Mid-term week has finally come to a head. Despite the constant stress of papers, exams and an overwhelming class schedule, I have finally managed to take some time out for myself. Post Starbucks visit, my roommate and I decided to talk a refreshing walk around town and ended up finding ourselves in this gorgeous little park. 
If you are accustomed to browsing my posts, you will know how dear rompers are to my heart. Living in Florida, no matter what the season (sans maybe December through February) I pretty much live in these simple yet terrific one pieces. Obviously October is no exception.
One could easily have just slipped into a college tee and shorts while bumming around town, but when pieces like this romper make chic so attainable, why would anyone choose to compromise?

Romper by Rachel Rachel Roy
Bag by Marc by Marc Jacobs
Watch by Michael Kors
Bracelet by BCBGeneration
Shoes by Elle

Friday, September 21, 2012

So Inspired by Rebecca Minkoff's Spring 2013 Collection

When I think of effortless cool-girl-chic, I think Rebecca Minkoff. Her bags are absolutely to die for (I cannot live without my MAC mini, as seen in around half of my posts), but her spring 2013 collection is a gorgeous synthesis of casual and feminine. Very much inspired, I decided to channel a few of her looks and come up with one of my own. 

I played off the striking blue tones used in the collection, along with the long top and short shorts silhouette. Also, being captivated by the mixture of casual and polished pieces, I decided to mimic the second look pictured by adding a striped pull over to a pair of silk scalloped shorts for a similar effect. I tossed in a chain detail bag to top it all off and ta-da, my own Rebecca Minkoff spring 2013 inspired  ensemble.

Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs
Sweater by Rachel Rachel Roy
Shorts by Francesca's Collections
Bag by Michael Kors
Watch by Michael Kors
Shoes by Sam Edelman

Monday, September 17, 2012

Paint it plum

  Happy Monday! As much as today happens to me my least favorite day of the week, it did come with a pleasent little surprise in my mail box this morning... my three new favorite nail polish shades from Zoya's Fall 2012 New York Fashion Week collection! 
  Every year, before I even start to make my usual fall purchases (new sweaters, new boots and some type of trendy piece of jewlery) I always stock up on the hottest nail colors for fall. It is an obsession I don't plan on giving up any time soon considering it costs me very little money to keep up with. 
  This fall, saturated shades of plum seem to be the crown jewel of the hip nail scene. I purchased a set of three shades, all with red and purple undertones. I will always be a sucker for black nails during the cooler months, but I have no problem trying out these new yummy dark plums and sensual reds for this up and coming season.

(From left to right) Rehkafor sale here, Toni for sale here, and Monica for sale here

The colors come out much darker than they appear in the bottle, but I love them all the less.
I used Toni & Monica for my manicure today.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Nicole does it again

The gorgeous Ms. Richie has nailed every fashion related field she has touched within the past few years. Her jewelry line, House of Harlow 1960, has provided boho staples at an affordable price, while Winter Kate, her upscale clothing line, has made us all salivate with its printed frocks reminiscent of a more glamorous 70's time period. Basically, we all want a little bit of Nicole in our wardrobes.
Macy's contemporary department, cleverly named Impulse, has just launched Nicole's new and more affordable line. It is filled with saturated hues and edgy faux leather details. In a nutshell, I'd call it a smart mix of boho and biker chick chic. The pieces range from around $40 to $140 and will look undoubtably amazing incorporated into any fall ensemble. I can't wait to see what else Nicole has in store for us.

Buy it HERE

Monday, September 10, 2012

One dress, 24 hours

There is nothing better than owning a dress that can take you from class to the club with nothing more than a swift change of shoes. Being a college student, some days I barely have time to make even the quickest of outfit changes. Having a few perfect day to night dresses in my closet not only makes sense for times sake, but for my wallet's well being to boot. Here is how one Bebe dress does the trick,

Time for class

Bebe dress, Gap sweater, Alexander McQueen scarf, Marc by Marc Jacobs watch
and Michael Kors loafers.
While this little number has the obvious propensity to scream sex appeal, it can just as easily be toned down to be more classy chic. Adding a black cardigan (or blazer) keeps skin baring to a minimum, while the scarf helps to keep attention off how form fitting the dress really is. The mixture of contrasting patterns between the scarf and dress also lend their way to a more day time appropriate look. Lastly, adding a pair of loafers creates a more business casual feel that will separate the outfit even further from appearing overly "girls night out". 

Night on the town

Rebecca Minkoff bag, Forever 21 necklace, Simply Vera by Vera Wang wedges
Break out the Pino and toss the cardigan, its time to go out. Transitioning this dress from day to night is as simple as 1 2 3. Replace your scarf with a bright statement necklace for a little sparkle. Add your favorite sultry heels or wedges to take it up a notch and you are ready to go.