Category Archives: Cheap Thrills

5 Cheap, Chic Ways to Take Your Wardrobe From Summer to Fall

If you’re challenged by your budget and looking for work, Fall shopping probably isn’t on the top of your list (that would be rent, BTW).  However, that doesn’t mean you can’t jump in on the excitement emanating from the pages of your September/October fashion mag issues. I mean, football season’s in gear, temperatures are on the decline and school is in session. We’ve got places to go, people to see, new jobs to start and jobs to interview for. And we need to look good!

Here are five easy, inexpensive things I’m doing this season to maximize my own wardrobe without spending a lot. Some of these tips you’ve definitely heard before, but I’ll reiterate them anyway. It’s always good to have a reminder!

  1. Layers.Take a shift dress and put a long-sleeved t-shirt or turtleneck underneath. Got a great tailored jacket? Throw it on top! If you’re worried about being cold, layer t-shirts under lighter weight sweaters from summer. Wrap a cute cotton scarf around your neck. If you don’t already have a stash of unfaded, unpilled t-shirts, head to Target or H&M for solid solutions. I also have a slew of button down blouses that are so boring on their own (which is why I never wear them). To give them new life, I’m trying to combine them with v-neck sweaters and cardigans or jackets I already have.
  2. Tights. Now here’s a cheap solution…and it’s totally on trend right now. Snap up some basic black opaque tights along with a pair with ribbing or a fun herringbone. Bust out into the color spectrum, too. Tights can be worn under lighter weight dresses, with open toe shoes (within reason), shorter skirts, etc. I find tights all the time at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. Target has a great selection, too.
  3. Skinny jeans. Not all of you will be with me on this, but a pair of dark-wash skinny jeans is one of the most versatile things you’ll have for the season. Old Navy and H&M both had terrific selections. Here’s the trick, though: Keep them plain. No trendy rips or embellishments. You can wear dark skinny jeans with flats, heels and boots as well as with jackets, t-shirts and oversized sweaters — basically 1/2 of your wardrobe. They can be casual or dressy. If you’ve just landed a job and your office has casual Fridays or casual everydays, these jeans will be your best friend.
  4. Alterations. If last year’s Fall pants, skirts, dresses and jackets aren’t fitting like you like or look out of date, take them to a tailor. Nip the waist; shorten a long dress; make a skirt out of a dress; create bracelet sleeves on a jacket; change the buttons. I even took five too-big belts to a shoe repair shop yesterday. They’re shortening them for $5 each!
  5. Good belt. Speaking of belts…you’d be surprised how one nice belt can beautifully cinch jackets and dresses, giving them a whole new look. Hit your local outlet’s Off Fifth or Filene’s Basement for an inexpensive, yet quality selection. Note: I never find good belts at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s. Loehmann’s also has a pretty slim offering.

I hope my plan of action for fall is helpful to you! Another thing to remember is to always be on the look out for styles that make you say “wow” or smile. Anything that evokes happiness when you see it. Below are some great online resources for inspiration. Often, I find unique looks that I’ve got the clothes for but never thought to put together. I also comb more carefully through my fashion and design magazines, tearing out things I think are beautiful, new color combinations and outfit ideas. Totally makes my magazine addiction worth it!

Got any favorite fashion sites you’d like to share? I know there are a ton, so I’d love to hear from you!

Three Tips for Going “Back to School” the Miss Pink Slip Way

As I drove to work yesterday morning, yellow school buwelcome_back_to_school_chalkboardses were again lurching down Atlanta’s roadways, reminding me that kids are heading back to school and the hallowed halls of learning.

When I got laid off, I thought for an entire 10 seconds that maybe I’d go back to school…maybe try for an MBA or go full-force for an MFA. Alas, it was just a fleeting idea. I returned to reality quickly when I realized that would mean student loan debt on top of the credit card bills I was already paying down. 

Still, I feel like I’m always in need of continuing education. I’ve been wanting to learn more about art, photography and writing – all subjects that can be covered outside those ivy-covered walls. So I’ve decided to go back to school the Miss Pink Slip way. How? It’s pretty simple:

  • Books – I have spent $$$ on books over the years and have dozens of volumes on art, writing, history, etc. Many of them have barely been cracked. It’s time for me to put them to use…by actually reading them! If you don’t own books on topics you want to study, by all means get yourself to the library and find anything you want for free
  • Online courses– Almost anything you want to study is available online in some format. Whether it’s an e-learning feature on your local college’s Web site, Wikipedia or YouTube, just surf the ‘net. You can find information on anything from the history of the Peloponnesian War to the rules of rugby to how to dice an onion. Some Web sites I’m checking out for courses include learnthat.com (free), Mediabistro(paid) and Better Photo (paid).  Look up “online classes”, your desired topic and go
  • Community classes – Pour over your city’s free weekly (such as Atlanta’s Creative Loafing) to discover free or minimal cost events and courses. Attend Toastmasters or a local business mixer. Check out museums, churches and universities. Most colleges offer continuing studies programs each semester. For a fee, you can immerse yourself in the worlds of art, business, film, history, tennis and anything else you can imagine

Whether you have money to dedicate or not a dime to your name, you can continue learning and bettering yourself. And if you’re searching for a job, any of these activities can only help expand your perspective, enrich your network and open up new avenues for your life.

I’m excited about going “back to school”–how about you? Got any other helpful sites you’d like to share?

Today’s Cheap Thrill: Domino Magazine, Revisited

domino_village_3565This morning, I was looking for some past issues of Domino for a work project, and I had forgotten that I’d saved about three years’ worth of the now-defunct, yet brilliant and sorely missed style/design publication.

As I thumbed through a couple of the issues (November 2005 and September 2006, to be exact), I began oohing and ahhhing over the unexpected color combinations, the decor tips, the clutter cures, the chic makeovers and meticulously culled accessories. It was as if I was reading those issues for the first time.

Then, it came to me. Without spending any money on additional home magazines (yeah, that’s you, Elle Decor and House Beautiful), I was not only recycling old issues, I was also enjoying them as much as I had when I pulled them out of the mailbox back in 2005! It was all new to me.

How fabulous! I know now that I have oodles of hours ahead of free entertainment and education, thanks to some old, stowaway magazines and timeless editing.

I still spit on Conde Nast for removing this thing of beauty from our world.

Do you re-read old magazines? Are you as much of a magazine whore as I am?

Tipsy Tuesday: Time to Go Green(‘s)

greensIf you’re in Atlanta, great wine deals are to be had at Green’s Discount Beverage Stores. Two locations: Buford Hwy and Ponce De Leon Ave.

Each time I go to Green’s I find well-culled selections of inexpensive red and white wines, many under $8. Furthermore, the staff makes informed choices, and ratings and descriptions are clearly displayed with a lot of the bottles.

I think I’m going to head to Green’s after work. Last time I was there, I scored a fabulous bottle of Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc. It was a true delight at about $8. Cupcake Wine

Please allow me to be a girly girl for a minute: Of course, I love the fact that the vineyard is called Cupcake Vineyards (cupcakes are my oh-so-favorite treat, even before the trend shot out of control). Also, the label on it is too cute with its delicate, French country blue and yellow detail. And, it’s a deal! Just as exciting as finding a flirty Shoshanna or Nanette Lepore frock at Loehmann’s for $50!

I digress. Get thee to Green’s:

2614 Buford Hwy. NE
Atlanta, GA  30324

737 Ponce De Leon Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30306

Recession Denim: Nothing Comes Between Me and My J. Crew Skinny Jeans

brooke_shields_1Brooke Shields made herself a fashion icon when she uttered the famous line, “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins.”  But, would she feel the same in today’s economic climate? Would it be more like, “Nothing comes between me and my Gap low-rise boot cut stretch?”

USA Today ran a great story on the state of designer jeans in today’s paper. Until recently, the recession hasn’t dramatically impacted sales of premium denim. Now, however, uber-pricey brands aren’t seeing growth while companies such as Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler are still experiencing rising sales.

From the article: “The superpremium jean business has dropped off tremendously because the inspirational shoppers aren’t going up that high, and luxury customers aren’t buying two or three pairs anymore.” 

It has always suprised me that women fork out $100+ for jeans, but I guess when you employ the cost-per-wear formula, that results in “value” for many who wear the pants off of their J Brands and True Religions.

I love my jeans, but you do NOT have to spend $200 on denim to look like a star. I own a few pairs of Joe’s Jeans, J Brand and AG, but I buy them at Filene’s or Nordstrom Rack, where the options may be from last year, but they’re also still in style and have a price tag of anywhere from $39 to $99 – much less than retail denim-shopping-jeans-2-large-new-23443864costs. I also supplement my denim wardrobe with less expensive, yet no less fashionable, pairs of jeans from J. Crew, Old Navy and others. H&M, Uniqlo and even Target have incredibly reasonable options, too. All of these pairs still have high-end lycra technology and come in great washes and cuts.

Believe me. Less pricey jeans look just as stylish as their premium counterparts when they have a good fit and are paired with a cute top, cut-appropriate shoes and darling accessories.

Have you quit buying expensive jeans during the recession? What are your favorite cost-conscious options?

Can Cable TV Be My BFF? Why You Should Make Friends with Your On-Demand Provider

cable-tv-indiaI am approaching a weekend that I need to fill with some fun activity, but alas–my wallet is feeling a little light. Enter my friends at Comcast.

My cable bill isn’t cheap–but it got a bit less expensive when I removed HBO, IFC, LMN and several more of the acronymed “extras” I weeded out when I became unemployed. Even now that I’ve got a job, I haven’t added those programs back, but there are still so many pieces of added value I can enjoy compliments of my cable provider’s on-demand service. I point these out to you because there’s so much content available and many people don’t even know they have access to it. I also point it out because it’s what I’m going to be doing this weekend. Don’t tell me how pitiful I am. I already know. 🙂

  • Free movies– some classic, some straight from FX or Lifetime, some downright lame (yeah, no need to see Judge Reinhold’s masterpiece “Vice Versa”)…but they’re free!
  • Sports and fitness– yoga, pilates, strength training? It’s there! And it’s free. And there’s no thin b*tch in a class staring at your fat ass
  • Repeats of top TV series – catch up on “Mad Men”, “The Office” and many others. Some cost .99 an episode, but that’s still cheap
  • Pay-Per-View– still less expensive than going to your local theater. I haven’t seen “Confessions of a Shopaholic” yet, so I think I’m tuning in this weekend. I love Isla Fisher

If you don’t have cable, there’s always www.hulu.com!

Have you explored the wonders of cable? Am I way behind the times? What else is free and easy out there?

Easiest Way to Jump Start Your Job Search. Period.

Alarm_clock_at_7_AM_croppedI just posted this little bit of advice on Twitter (find me @mspinkslip_blog), but thought I’d share it with all of you.

While meeting someone for breakfast this morning on the Westside of Atlanta, I realized having an early morning appointment to get up for really is the key to jump starting the day. This especially applies for those seeking work and those who are taking time to explore other avenues to earn a living.

When I was searching for jobs, I found that my most productive days were when I had someone to meet, say, at Starbucks for coffee at 8:30 a.m. or breakfast at Highland Bakery at 8:00 a.m. I had a plan; I had a commitment to be somewhere. There was no lying around in bed until 10 a.m. watching Hoda and Kathie Lee while I mentally reviewed all the thicoffeengs I had to do and people I needed to contact. Too much time and too easy to procrastinate.

Getting up and engaging in early morning conversation is a terrific way to jog your brain, raise those endorphins and give you that little push you need to get out there and make things happen.

So, if you need a quick, easy way to get going, schedule your meetings in the mornings and get started early!