Category Archives: Shopping: The New Deal

Interview Wardrobe Ideas for Spring 2010

I am dying for Spring to get here. So the other day, I visited one of my favorite bargain sites, Chadwicks.com, to see if they had any fun, inexpensive dresses to kick off the season. I ended up ordering four.

Many times, Chadwicks has really cheesy clothes, but every now and then I pick up something adorable that gets positive feedback and is well-made. I also never see anyone else wearing it. So I thought about you job hunters. With warm weather finally upon us, I know you’re itching for something new to put into the interview rotation. Chadwicks has several cute dresses I think are appropriate for at least an informational or initial meeting.

They’re also having a fabulous “Dress & Suit Event” and are offering 20 percent off dresses and suits until March 25. $4.99 ships everything. The promotion code is CHDRESSUP.

Check it out!
www.chadwicks.com

Photo: Chadwicks.com

A Quick P.S. on Quality Over Quantity

glam_pleather_pantsI felt it important to add a little P.S. to my last post: You have to think about quality of fabrics and leather when purchasing anything new or purging what you have.

It’s said over and over again that we should invest in quality over quantity, but frankly, not all of us can afford a London Fog or Burberry trench, a pair of sleek Stuart Weitzman pumps or a two-ply cashmere sweater. That said, you can find good fabrics for less. You just have to be conscious of it when you shop. If you look through your closet, I’ll bet half the things you throw away are things you bought on a whim. 🙂

I’ve stopped picking up anything that may be cute-as-can-be but looks cheap up close or has potential for pilling, ragged hems and misshapen lines. Also, anything that has too much embellishment. This is very apparent in trendier pieces, so be judicious. It happens to me all the time at TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Forever 21 and even Loehmann’s. I get seduced by a bright color, print or a style, then I look up close and the material is god awful. I think I put back every top I pulled last visit to TJ Maxx. It happens often with polyester/rayon blend tops and acrylic sweaters. They’re cute on the shelf, but after a few wearings, they can look really bad. They don’t hold their shape and pill like mad.

Discounting quality can especially spell disaster when it comes to shoes and handbags. Make sure leather actually looks like leather and that heels are fashionable. Synthetic material (e.g., pleather, fake wooden or cork heels) is a dead giveaway every time. Quality shoes can be found at most off-price stores (Ross is a very rare bet) and at one of my recent faves, Nine West. Search online for good deals on bags. Believe me, Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo are not requirements for looking good.

So, be conscious of quality and keep it simple. If you have a bunch of cheap-looking fabric crap in your closet, get rid of it! No matter how cute the print or good the memory behind its purchase. This is imperative for job seekers or those just starting work. Your image is definitely important. Happy styling!

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!

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?

My Name Is Miss Pink Slip, and I’m a Shopaholic

confessionsIn order to save a few bucks on Saturday night, I stayed home and watched a movie on Comcast Pay-Per-View – the frothy, silly, yet somewhat entertaining “Confessions of a Shopaholic” with “Wedding Crashers” cutie Isla Fisher (fabulous hair) and my new favorite heartthrob, Hugh Dancy.

I related to the lead character’s pulse race upon having Henri Bendel’s iconic brown-and-white striped shopping bag looped around her arm. As she passes the mannequins whispering sweet nothings to her on Fifth and Madison Aves. As she drinks to be brave enough to open her bills. As she ultimately sells all of her belongings to pay off her credit card debt. No, I haven’t sold my clothes. I’ve just shopped in that SoHo warehouse where they set her sale. Actually, it’s a church reception hall in NYC where craftsmen sell jewelry, clothing and handbags. I recognized the address on the fake flyer in the film. That was the scariest realization of all.

I’ve known this for a while. I knew it pre-, pre-, pre-recession and pre-layoff. But, seeing it satirized on screen, it became real for me. I, Miss Pink Slip, am a shopaholic.

Now, I’m not a shopaholic in the film’s over-the-top sense. I own no Louboutins (although, I greatly covet them), and the only couture I’ve seen up close was at the Met last weekend at “The Model as Muse” exhibit.  That said, I’m best friends with the trinity: TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Loehmann’s. Half-price books at the Strand and on Amazon.com make me smile more than, well, Hugh Dancy. I have so much sh*t in my closet it’s unreal….and I have unreal debt to match.

So what’s a girl to do? Well, I’m trying to make a wholehearted effort to curtail the shopping. I’ve got to get a life and pay off the cards. And no, I’m not telling you how much there is to pay off. I’m keeping that little bit of denial for myself. Plus, I don’t want all you ever-so-helpful “credit counselors” stalking me.

Can I do it? Ha! As I’m typing this, my sister just emailed me a 30% off coupon for Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic. The demons are already upon me!

Any tips? I pray I’m not beyond hope.

5 Cheap But Classy Hostess Gifts; Yes, Good Manners Still Apply to the Jobless

imgCATMSY2OSometime over the summer (hopefully this weekend over July 4th!), I hope you’ll get some invites to a friend’s beach house or a family member’s lake cabin. You may be unemployed, but you still need a vacation. In fact, you probably need a getaway more than anyone! But you can’t go empty-handed. Good manners still apply to the jobless, and I have five inexpensive host/hostess gift ideas that will be memorable and easy on the pocketbook:

  1. Embroidered tea towel – always fun and decorative. Found at most gift and home stores, many sell for around $20. Find out your host’s favorite color or room hue to make it more personal
  2. Personalized cocktail napkins or coasters – Useful and thoughtful. Can be demurely designed, monogrammed or sporting witticisms. Depends on how well you know your guest! Gift stores like Swoozies have great selections
  3. Exquisite truffles or other treats – You can purchase a small, but luxurious box of truffles that will make any host swoon. Yes, Godiva, Vosges and other high-end chocolatiers have selections for about $20. Whole Foods also has great sweet treats
  4. Monogrammed soaps, carving boards or party cups – No advance preparation required! Go for a single monogram — many gift stores have entire alphabets available. Very simple, but tasteful. 
  5. An armful of simple blooms like tulips or a bottle of wine – Many experts advise against both: Blooms require your host to find a vase; your gift of wine may make the host think they have to serve it. However, both options are easily accessible, affordable and will look SO much better than empty hands

Simple rule to remember: You’ve got a free place to stay and are often mooching free food and drink, so you can spend a few bucks to thank the person who’s providing you an oasis.

Another simple rule to live by: Buy the best you can afford. Even if it’s small and costs 10-20 bucks, if it’s exquisite, your host will be blown away by your refined taste, attention to detail and thoughtfulness.

Need Free Fashion Advice? All You Need is a Little TLC

top-wntw-662x355I am a proud “What Not to Wear” addict, and I have to tell you: I’ve learned so much about fashion, what clothing is appropriate and how it should fit by watching the ever-styled Stacy London and Clinton Kelly (along with hair guru Nick Arrojo and makeup maiden Carmindy). I swear–I think this show is on all the time. So, don’t let me hear you say you look like crap and don’t get out of your yoga pants because you can’t afford a fashion consultant.

Along with overhauling one clueless “trashionista” (oh–I think I just made that word up. Love it!), Stacy, Clinton, Nick and Carmindy share great tips that you can take with you next time you’re at the mall or in your own closet. Whether you’re 100 lbs. or tipping the scales at 200, they know exactly what to do to transform you into a tasteful, tailored and tremendously turned out woman whom anyone would want representing their company.

In addition to the ubiquitous show airings, you can check out the Web site: http://tlc.discovery.com/fansites/whatnottowear. It’s a wealth of information…all free of charge. No fees. No by the hour rates. 

So change the channel, girl! A little tip: I like to go run at the gym around 6 p.m. ET on weeknights because there’s always a great WNTW re-run. Nothing better than cute, tailored frocks to make you go faster on the dreaded treadmill.  Friday nights, you can catch two or three episodes!