Category Archives: cheap thrills

sale spy: mastering the mid-season sales

{Editor’s Note: Every year, mid-October rolls around, the fall sales begin, and I’m in a retail panic. Friends & Family is always first…should I go for it, or wait for the first round of markdowns? Is it too soon to be thinking about holiday buys? But this year, I have a secret weapon: SMC’s own Sale Spy, here to lend her expertise to the best sale season of the year!}

Sale Spy’s picks: Painted Ikat dress, Anthropologie, $80 from $158 / Woven silk pencil skirt, Valentino, $239 from $795 / Sandwashed silk tee, J.Crew, $35 from $110

Roxanna K.K. ~ Friends, it’s my favourite time of year: the mid-season sales! (wait – do I say that every sale season? Well, I heartily mean it every sale season. I am always envisioning the unlimited sale possibilities…)

Anyway, I really do love mid-season sales. Now, for a sale devotee, you’d think I’d go crazy for the hard-core post end-of-season sales in January and February, and while I do love finding some crazy bargains at that time, the October/November sales offer so much more possibility. Here’s why:

The selection. At this point, stores have only gone through 1 or 2 rotations of fall merchandise (they typically change every 6-8 weeks,) so there are still plenty of sizes and colours in stock.

The season. You can actually buy something now and wear it from tomorrow to the end of the season. No hoarding clothes for next year or trying to squeeze in the last few wears before the season ends, as I am wont to do after end-of-season season clearance sales.

The trends. This is most important in my book. At the beginning of fall, there are so many trends to shop but you have no idea which will actually last through the season and beyond. At the mid-season sales, you’ve had a chance to see what sticks, and can now pick it up for a significant discount. For example, it’s worth splurging on silk blouses, leather details and colour with a capital C (especially fall staples like oxblood and mustard). However, neon, crazy prints and peplums, while still around, won’t have the same lifespan.

Some tips on shopping these sales:

+ Hang on to those receipts! Many big name stores will reduce merchandise initially and then have an additional markdown on sale merchandise a few weeks later. I get the merchandise at the first markdown for the best selection, but I will then get a price adjustment or buy it again if it is further reduced, returning the original item. This year alone I have saved hundreds of dollars this way (don’t ask how much I’ve spent!)

+ If you had your heart set on specific mid-priced items that are now on sale, go ahead and buy them instead of waiting for them to be reduced further (a lot of merchandise disappears from now until Christmas.) On the other hand, if there are more expensive pieces you have in mind but haven’t found exactly the right one yet, hold off buying them at these sales. There will still be two more rotations of merchandise and much steeper discounts heading into Thanksgiving and Christmas.

+ Investment items like jewelry, bags and fragrances may go on sale closer to the holiday season because they are good gift-giving items, so hold off on these for now as well.

Good luck, and happy sale-hunting!

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on the cheap: peplum potential

{Editor’s Note: I’m the first to admit, I’m a serious skeptic on this one. But Kristina’s making a pretty convincing argument for the peplum. Read what she has to say, and see if you aren’t at least a little bit tempted to try this trend by the time she’s done…especially since every one of her finds is under $75!}

Kristina ~ Before I even start (and before you start telling me that I’m crazy), please hear me out. It can be a wonderful thing to bring attention your hips. Yes it can! And the latest peplum trend does just that.

I’ll admit that peplums can be scary to attempt, especially with the array of options out there. Peplum skirts and dresses are everywhere, but I’ve found that a peplum top is the easiest and most flattering for a range of body types. Worn correctly, a peplum top will give you that coveted hourglass figure by adding volume to your hips and thus narrowing the waist in comparison. Relativity, ladies! For girls with boyish figures, a peplum top creates a fantastic illusion; and for curvy girls, a peplum can balance out your proportions and enhance the curves that are already there. A peplum is also a great way to conceal a bit of a tummy.

If you’re willing to give it a try, start with black. It’s always slimming, but paired with a pencil skirt, you’ll have a seriously sleek silhouette. If you want to toughen up the look, choose a skirt with a bit of leather detailing and some studded heels!

Rib Peplum Top, Topshop, $48 / Faux-Leather Pencil Skirt, Kohls, $35 / Black Studded Sandals, Sears, $25

To keep your look on the playful and girly side, pair your peplum with skinny jeans and a pair of fun polka dot flats. As for the skinnies, I have a secret: the Love Jeans from Victoria’s Secret are hands-down my favorite jeans! They come in multiple hem lengths, are true to size, and fit like a glove for a pear-shaped girl like me. (Word of warning: they’ll shrink almost two inches when you wash them, so definitely opt for a longer length!)

To style these, add a bold statement necklace, some simple gold bangles, and a bag in a perfect-for-fall color. Peplum perfection!

Sidewalk Skimmer, Madewell, $98 / VS Love Skinny Jean, Victoria’s Secret, $69 / Anna & Ava Neon Geo Frontal Necklace, Dillards, $35 / Gold Bangle Set, J. Crew, $29 / Liquorish Doctor Bag, ASOS, $61

What do you think? Will you be trying the peplum trend?

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on the cheap: the classic french girl

{Editor’s Note: A hearty welcome to Kristina, who joins us as our resident bargain shopper! Kristina’s going down into the trenches to find the best steals and deals on the www and put together ensembles that prove great style is possible at every price. So happy to have her on the team!}

Kristina ~ White House Black Market’s claim that their City Pants adjust to fit any body shape made me dubious at best. I have what is known as a “pear shape”, and finding pants that fit in the waist without cutting off the circulation in my rear and thighs can be a major challenge. Now add in the fact that I’m 5’2”, and shopping for pants becomes nearly impossible. Imagine my delight when I found that these come in three different hem lengths! Let the challenge begin…

The Red City Pant, White House Black Market, $78

I have found that WHBM is fairly generous with their sizing and I typically wear a size smaller with them than I would with other stores. Sure enough, one size smaller fit me perfectly through the rear and waist! Cue fitting room happy dance! Unfortunately, even the short length hit at the tops of my feet instead of at my ankle, so I will still have to have them tailored to achieve that perfect ankle-skimming length, but hems are a much easier fix than taking in the waist.

To style these, I’d pair them with a classic striped tee (loving the gold hardware on this boatneck from J.Crew!), some leopard flats, and a bag with a pop of contrasting color – red doesn’t always have to steal the show. Layer on the classic trench you already have in your closet (or snag this super steal from Target) and you’re ready for fall as well.

Merona Belted Long Trench, Target, $25 / Painter Boatneck Tee, J.Crew, $45
Legacy Leather Mini Saddlebag
, Coach, $158 / Speakup Leopard Flats, Nine West, $79

What are your favorite tricks for styling red pants? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

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friday finds

Is there anything better than a summer Friday? I’m awfully excited about this week’s list of finds, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

I spent some time at Tiffany & Co last week checking out some top-secret goods you’re going to love…and managed to fall head over heels for these sunnies. The truth is that I’ve been coveting a pair of their sunglasses since they launched, but they were maybe a smidge too blingy. But these? Perfection…right down to the Tiffany blue flecks in the tortoiseshell.

Tiffany Locks sunglasses, $430

Too soon for fall? Never! For the first time since she branched into apparel, I find myself coveting a look from Rebecca Minkoff. Check out the drape on this shearling-lined trench…so, so versatile. And the dress (which, I’ll admit, I’d wear as a tunic) has one of those prints I’ll dream about.

Henry coat ($798) and Wednesday Dress ($368); both, Rebecca Minkoff

After those splurges, I owe you some steals, don’t you think? Spotted this spotted tunic (surely they aren’t serious about it being a dress) at Forever 21, of all places. Sure, it’s polyester, but it’s $20, and looks a lot like my Tucker tunics. Worth the gamble, I think.

Polka-dot dress/tunic, Forever 21, $20

I got the loveliest-smelling hand soap in the mail yesterday! It’s Neroli & Clementine by Mor, and it is heaven. The packaging is a little ’80s Asian, but I’m willing to call it kitschy and forgive them if it means I get to have this light, sweet/tart citrus fragrance in my life.

Neroli & Clementine body products, Mor, starting at $10

And last, of course, my Pinterest pick for the week. My new favorite way to save magazine clips is to use the Pinterest app to snap a quick pic of them. Be gone, cluttery inspiration board which I have nowhere to hang! Maybe this amazeballs Miu Miu jacquard jacket will materialize in its place.

via Elle, June 2012

Oh, and! While we’re talking Pinterest, you must check out Picnic, a genius new Pinterest tool that launched this week. Picnic lets you shop pins or find similar images. Things it’s great at: tracking down that polka dot tee someone pinned from a dead link; tracking down a decent substitute for that vintage YSL necklace your style icon pinned; finding more wedding bouquets like the one your BFF pinned. It’s also perfect for tracking down the source of a photo online, so you can credit things properly. Hallelujah! Install it, use it, love it.

That’s it for me, friends. If you’re in Portland this weekend, you might want to stop by Mercantile and check out their Lafayette 148 trunk show, by the way. I was pleasantly surprised by the direction they’ve taken this season. Very mod-chic, with loads of staples you’ll wear to threads.

Have a fantastic weekend!


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friday finds

Is there anything better than a summer weekend? Especially one in which the sun is actually rumored to be making an appearance? I think not. I’m going to do my darnedest to take this weekend off, friends…I suggest you do the same!

I’m sick to death of seeing the same old LemLem scarves everywhere on the web…it’s time for some bright stripes, don’t you think? Plus, it’s been much too long since I showed you a little Epicé eye candy.

Striped linen scarf, Epice, $217

As I’ve mentioned, I’m right in the middle of a home redesign, which means a whole new world of shopping opportunities! This week, my interior designer has me searching for garden stools to use as side tables. I’d forgotten all about Jamali Garden until I started hunting…wouldn’t these be an amazing indoor option?

Ivory Garden Stool, $90

I have the worst time finding shorts to get excited about. They’re never flattering, and they’re either too short, too long or too tight. But, like Goldilocks before me, I may have finally found a pair that’s just right. Bonus…they’re on sale, plus an additional 30% off, so they’re basically free.

Flower canvas shorts, Talbots, $25(ish)

A friend of mine just got back from Disneyland, and just hearing about her trip has me wistful for a ride on the Matterhorn. I’m a Minnie Mouse girl from way back, so when I spied Minnie’s new collection from OPI, I absolutely had to get it. My favorite? I’m All Ears, obviously.

OPI Minnie Mouse Collection, $8 ea, for stores or Rush for my UK friends!

And last but not least, this week’s Pinterest Pick. I don’t often think of Drew Barrymore as glamorous, or as someone that could carry off a color like chartreuse. But here she is, doing both…and it’s flawless. This photo is a great reminder to actually try those colors you’re afraid of, don’t you think?

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

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cheap thrill: the perfect caftan

Summer is about the only time of year during which I open myself up to “cheap” pieces. Those espadrilles that will inevitably wind up speckled with cherry Slurpee stains, the tank tops that lose their shape from all that sun and sweat, and the sundress you’ll be wearing so often, the very sight of it will hurt your eyes come September – none of them warrant splurges. Instead, I’m perpetually on the hunt for the pieces I’ll use and abuse for the next three months, then be perfectly content to send off to greener pastures, or pleasantly surprised if they manage to survive.

Over the weekend, I popped into Cost Plus World Market in search of patio furniture for my new digs. Instead, I found the cutest little section of summer apparel! Who knew? Loads of pitch-perfect tunics, maxidresses and sarongs, all in actual cotton (no polyester that I saw), so they’ll be as light and airy as you’re hoping. I nabbed this adorable kaftan, took it home, and…friends, it’s pretty fantastic for $20.

One size really does fit all, the waist cinches in at just the right spot, and it’s long enough to be worn solo (it hits right above my knee). Sure, I might not win a sexpot award, but all that draping is actually pretty flattering. It’s going to be just the thing for those sweltering summer days when I don’t want a thing touching me…and it would make a dream cover-up for your next poolside vacation. All of their apparel is 20% off this week, so head in (plus, you get a free subscription to Martha Stewart Living with a $30 purchase). But you’ll have to beat me there – I’m off to buy one in another color.

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friday finds

It’s Friday and it’s a holiday weekend…is there anything better? I’m off to spend a few days with my family, so forgive me if I take a little extra time off next week. For now, I’ll leave you with enough goodies to keep you sated until I’m back.

First up, a winner for that wildly popular kate spade new york contest! You ladies love your bedding, that’s for sure. I’m always so thrilled when one of our giveaways is a hit like this, so thanks for that. Our winner is lucky number 7, Emily, who won with her Twitter entry @emma621. Congratulations, Emily!

Now, on to more pressing business. Like jewelry. Pretty, delicate, utterly-perfect-for-spring jewelry, to be precise. Amy Wing’s spring collection has me in palpitations, and not just because she’s a dear friend (and because her stunning lookbook was styled by our inimitable Trends Columnist). Particularly this Tiny Blossom lariat, which I’m envisioning as the perfect finishing touch for everything I want to wear all summer.

You may very well fall over when I show you this next find. It’s from Payless Shoes (I nearly fell over just typing that). But hey, even the bargain bins get it right sometimes, and this sweet strappy sandal is spot-on for summer. I love the grosgrain detail, the color-blocking, the woven wicker edging on the wedge (and a very reasonable 2″ wedge it is, by the way). In short, a very excellent summer shoe…for $39.

Remember those Athena Procopiou scarves with which I’ve been utterly obsessed this spring? Well, guess who has two thumbs and found one for half off? Yep…this guy! Best of all, I didn’t snag the only one for myself…get thee to Anthropologie stat, and nab yourself this beautiful thing, which is even more bold, bright and statement-making in person.

I’ve been seriously tempted by these Tribeca pants at StyleMint for the last few weeks, but was convinced I couldn’t pull them off as anything other than sweats. Then, I went to the hairdresser yesterday, and my stylist was wearing the cutest version of sweats ever: a black version of these pants, a cropped, elbow-length sweatshirt, and black suede ankle booties. Her hair was in a perfectly messy side braid, and the whole thing was so fantastic, I was distracted into getting my hair chopped about 3 inches shorter than I was expecting. If you’re feeling brave, this just may be worth a try.

Last but not least, I thought I’d start showing you my favorite thing I’ve pinned on Pinterest each week. Are you pinning yet? I’m itching to bust out a certain perfect black pencil skirt I bought last month, but it’s been too cold. This look might just be the solution!

{via Models Off Duty}

Have a fantastic holiday weekend, friends…don’t forget to splurge on a frosted sugar cookie (or two)!

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sponsored: shine at kohl’s

{Editor’s Note: The following content is sponsored by Kohl’s, and you can read all about the gory details at the end. That said, the content is 100% my opinion, which I’m never shy about sharing.}

Welcome to part two of my Kohl’s shopping adventure! To catch you up from last time, Kohl’s challenged me to pick out an outfit from their spring collections that worked with two of spring’s hottest trends. I am many things, but I’m never one to back down from a shopping challenge. You’ve already heard all about my efforts to embrace bold color, but this time, we’re talking shine! Paillettes, sequins or beads, sparkle is big right now. Sadly, while I admire the dickens out of the look on others, it’s a tricky style for me. Blame my casual lifestyle, but I just feel a little ridiculous walking my dogs in a sequined miniskirt.

Fortunately, there was no shortage of shine to choose from at Kohl’s. With new partnerships with Jennifer Lopez and Rock & Republic, it was actual work to avoid shine in many cases. Naturally, I ran from the rhinestones at breakneck pace, and headed to my safe zone: Chaps.

Sure enough, I found exactly what I was after: a nautical sweater in navy with silver metallic stripes. Just right! To keep the focus on the shine, I added a pair of white straight-leg jeans – a crazy flattering pair, in fact. I’m a huge fan of not spending a ton on white jeans…they’ll only break your heart.

To finish it off (and take the edge off the Nantucket vibe I was rocking thus far), I added a bold, chunky necklace from Simply Vera Vera Wang – pearls, rhinestones and chains, thank you! – to increase my shine factor, and my own silver ballet flats. The final look was still more Upper East Side than hip downtown club, but that’s much more my style. And the whole look was well under $100. Pretty impressive!

My next (and final) Kohl’s installment will be all about wearing white…even if you’re not a supermodel. Don’t miss it!

Disclosure: Bloggers received a gift card on behalf of Kohl’s via Glam Media to complete the trend look. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kohl’s. All trademarks and service marks are owned or licensed by Kohl’s Illinois, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc.
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