Posts Tagged: budget

Try This Thursday: Target brings a fashion insiders’ boutique to your neighborhood

By IN Find Clothes You'll Love, Try This Thursdays

Try This Thursdays: A weekly series bringing you something new to try in your working mom style life, like an item to wear or buy, a specific outfit combination to discover in your wardrobe, or even a thing to do.First Target brought designer clothing to the masses with very affordable collaboration collections. Then they expanded with The Shops at Target, curated offerings selling mass-market versions of items from boutiques around the country.

The current Target Shop is Kirna Zabête (French for “no, you can’t afford it”), a boutique beloved of NYC fashion insiders. If you’re a regular reader of Lucky or any other “here’s where to shop in New York” pieces, you’ll recognize the name.

If you’re looking to mix a bit of edge into your wardrobe, here’s a chance to try it out without breaking the bank.

Here are some of my favorites: a multicolor floral trench coat for $60, a pleated sleeveless maxidress for $50, and a bright red faux patent envelope clutch for $30. (And this is what I picked up: a mermaid hem shirt-dress for $45.)

You should probably hurry, though; the Shop opened on Sept. 9 and is only available for a “limited time.”

Try this today: Browse the online Kirna Zabête Shop at Target and look for inspiration–and maybe you’ll find something to buy, too.

[Looking to break out of your style rut? Tired of wearing the same things over and over? Wish shopping could be fun again? You can get your style mojo back. My new self-guided course will show you how. Sign up for my email newsletter to be the first to hear when it launches and get special access to the sneak preview sale.]

More Fabulous Fridays: Your budget wardrobe doesn’t have to look cheap

By IN Find Clothes You'll Love, More Fabulous Fridays

More Fabulous Fridays: Wrap up your work week with a style treatFinding clothing bargains is easy; from everyday discount sites to online flash sales to outlet malls, it’s almost a challenge to pay full price.

The real challenge is spending less without looking like you did.

J of J’s Everyday Fashion has some great tips on doing just that in her post, “How to Not Look Cheap.” As she says, “there is a huge difference in dressing cheap, and dressing on a budget.”

(Her readers have several good tips in the comments section, too.)

For more on J, here’s her Style Spotlight profile.

Brag time: When it comes to spending less and getting more, what’s your biggest triumph?

When to save and when to splurge on your wardrobe

By IN Advice, Find Your Style

When to save and when to splurge

One of the most challenging steps in any wardrobe overhaul process–other than weeding out the clothes that don’t need to be there, of course–is going shopping to buy the pieces you truly need.

Part of that process is establishing a budget ahead of time (assuming you aren’t an oil heiress or a lottery winner).

So if you need 10 things and you have $500 to spend, that’s $50 each, right?

Not so fast, tiger. The trickiest part of all shopping calculus is knowing what is actually worth spending a little extra on because not all garments are created equally.

Here are some examples of when to save and when to splurge when you’re shopping.


  • Anything super trendy. This year, think neon. If it will look clearly dated in a year or two, why spend a lot on it now? This is why God invented H&M.
  • T-shirts. Yes, you can find $100 T-shirts woven by angels from the finest Corinthian cotton hand-dyed by unicorns, and perhaps they will feel a little better or drape a little nicer, but the incremental difference in quality is almost never borne out by the exponential difference in cost.
  • Anything otherwise loose-fitting or utilitarian. Yes, your basic weekend khaki pants should fit you properly, but you can find such a thing in any Gap or Old Navy for $50 or less. Ditto for a simple knit circle skirt, sundress, basic bootcut jeans, woven tops … you get the idea.


  • Suits and blazers. You will only buy a few of these in your lifetime and you will want them to last. This means impeccable tailoring, and quality lining and fabrics. They are truly investments; treat them as such.
  • Work shoes. Whether pumps, slingbacks or even flats, the shoes you wear to work over and over (perhaps with the aforementioned suit or blazer) should fit you well and be made to last. This doesn’t necessarily mean Louboutins, but it does mean leather. Get your fun and funky shoes at Payless (see “anything super trendy,” above).
  • Classic handbag. Ditto. Own at least one in a simple, classic design and make sure it’s made well and of leather. Keep in mind that these can often be found on eBay or at consignment stores; if they’re well cared for, they will last as long as a new purchase. In fact, that’s the point.
  • A really great pair of jeans. You might be able to find them at a mass-market mall brand; if so, good for you. But if finding a pair of fantastic-fitting, solidly made, quality denim jeans means stepping up to a premium brand, then consider it a worthy splurge. A great pair of dark wash boot cuts will last you for ages.

In summary, the more well-fitted, tailored and work worthy the piece, the greater the importance of investing in an item of quality.

Think of it this way: what are the pieces you could imagine handing on to future generations? Those are the ones to spend on.

Your turn

  • If you could only splurge on one item, what should it be?
  • What’s your favorite investment piece? How much did you spend?
  • What did you spend a lot on–only to regret it later?

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(Want to get more shopping tips and fun insider stuff? Join The Style List. It’s like a secret club in your email inbox! And when you join, you’ll get my free email series, 7 Days to Better Shopping. It’s my gift to you!)

Get the most out of sample sale shopping

By IN Advice, Find Your Style

Save even more at sample sale sites with these tips [dollar bill detail]

Save even more at sample sale sites with these tips.

Who doesn’t love shopping at the sample sale sites? From Rue La La to Swirl, there are daily bargains to be had on designers well-known and up-and-coming.


The discounts themselves, however, aren’t the only way to save when sample sale shopping. Savvy buyers can stretch their discount dollars even further by following a few tips.

Here’s how to get the most out of sample sale shopping

  • Have a plan. It’s all too easy to leap at a good bargain, especially one that’s time-limited. But it’s not a deal if you wind up buying something you didn’t really need. Have a plan for what you need to add to your wardrobe, whether by garment or even designer, then wait to buy when they’re available. Then you’ll really feel like you’ve made a good deal.
  • Know your measurements. Most sites only offer store credit, not exchanges, and some sales are final. The only way to have an idea whether something will fit you is to have your measurements ready and compare them to what’s listed in the item’s description. Measure, too, your favorite shirt and jeans so you know what shirt length and pants rise you prefer.
  • Act fast. Every site has a method of notifying you in advance when sales are beginning, and most have weekly emails that list that week’s upcoming sales. Pay attention and add to your calendar those that contain the items you’re looking for (see “Have a plan,” above). Then shop the minute the sale starts; it’s the only way to get the item you want in the size you need. Wait too long and you could be out of luck.

(Here’s more about getting a bargain while shopping, at sample sale sites and elsewhere.)

Let’s dish

  • These are my tips for getting the most out of shopping at sample sale sites. What are yours?
  • What’s your favorite sale site? Rue La La? Gilt? Ideeli? Swirl?
  • What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten online?

Share the love

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[Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Packmatt]

3 best beauty products under $5

By IN Advice, Find Your Style

Johnson's Baby Oil is one of the 3 best beauty products under $5

Johnson's Baby Oil: Makeup remover, moisturizer and $5 beauty product

While it is certainly possible to spend exorbitant sums of money on beauty products (Creme de la Mer, anyone?), it’s also not required.

In fact, there are three hard-working beauty products under $5 each that have been found in women’s bathroom cabinets since your grandmother was a girl.

The best part? They’re effective, too. And with such a tiny price tag, it costs very little to give them a test run.

3 Best Beauty Products Under $5

  1. Cold cream. Over 100 years old, the classic Pond’s cold cream formula can be used as an eye and face makeup remover, and even works as a heavy-duty moisturizer. Want to save even more? Look for a generic version under your local drugstore’s label. $4.49 for 3.5 oz.
  2. Witch hazel. Often found in the first aid aisle because it can be used for soothing bites and scrapes, all-natural witch hazel is also a mild astringent that makes an effective facial toner. Less harsh than alcohol-containing toners and astringents, and without the laundry list of chemical ingredients, it’s also much less expensive, especially if you purchase a generic brand. Most drugstores have a version, as does Target’s Up & Up brand. $4.49 for 16 oz.
  3. Baby oil. Another product that is not always found in the beauty aisle, baby oil is also natural, mild and effective as a body moisturizer. Use it for yourself just as you would for a baby–apply to just-washed skin to lock in moisture. It also works as a mild eye makeup remover. (And those are just the beauty uses; apparently it can remove paint and sticker glue, too.) $3.74 for 20 oz.

So save yourself some cash–and go a little green while you’re at it. All three can be had for less than $20, and aren’t nearly as full of artificial or chemical ingredients (if at all) as their pricier cousins.

Your Turn

  • What are your favorite inexpensive beauty products?
  • Do you use any of these 3? Which ones do you like best?
  • And how do you use baby oil? 🙂

Why (and when) it’s okay to buy cheap shoes

By IN Advice, Find Your Style

Strappy silver sandal from Payless

Cute, silver, strappy ... and cheap. What's not to love?

Let us now praise inexpensive shoes.

Yes, we’d all love to have a closet exclusively full of Louboutins and Manolos, but we cannot all be Carrie Bradshaw (though Mariah and J. Lo surely try, not to mention Miss SJP Herself).

And while I’d be the first to tell you that you should invest as much as you can afford in quality, classic shoes that you can wear over and over again, I’m here today to proclaim that there is a time and a place for cheap shoes, too. To Nordstrom’s yin there is Payless’s yang.

Fun and/or trendy shoes

Every season it seems there is at least one style that is so of-the-moment and trendy that it’s clear it won’t survive much beyond that season. So why invest a lot of money in a shoe that you’ll be reluctant to wear just a few months down the road? By all means, be trendy–in your cheap trendy shoes!

“Tryout” shoes

You’ve decided you need a new pair of a particular kind of shoe you’ve never owned before, but you’re not exactly sure what you want–or perhaps you’re not sure how much wear you’d get out of this style. Try out these shoes with a cheap pair. If you determine they’ll have a long lifespan, then you can spend the time looking for a better quality pair that you’ll keep.

I recently bought a pair of silver strappy shoes at Payless for just this reason; at $15 on sale, if I never wear them again, I’m still ahead of the game. (Bonus: matching silver evening bag on sale for $10!)

Why not? shoes

A close cousin to Fun and Trendy, this is a for-the-heck-of-it-purchase. Because it’s the first day of summer. Because you want a pair of purple shoes. Because you’re feeling down. Because you’re feeling up. Because you got a raise. Because you have a blind date.

Why not get that pair of shoes? When they’re cheap enough, you don’t have to rationalize or justify; any reason will do.

Your Turn

These are a few of my reasons for buying inexpensive shoes. What are yours? What are your favorite places to buy shoes without spending a bundle?

How to justify buying that Louis Vuitton handbag

By IN Advice, Find Your Style

For many — if not most — women, the prospect of spending upwards of $100 or $200 on a handbag seems like an unaffordable extravagance. And for many years, I was one of those women.

Yet if you rethink the calculus of a handbag’s cost, you’ll find that a so-called luxury item is perhaps not such a luxury after all.

Longchamp Planetes Tote

Longchamp Planetes Tote

Think of it this way: How many handbags do you currently own? 5? 10? And approximately how much did you pay for them? Odds are, they were $30 or $40 … or more. Even a Nine West satchel on sale is $50.

Multiply the number of bags by the average cost — let’s say 7 bags at $35 each — and you’ve easily spent over $200. That puts you in the territory of, say, a Longchamp nylon and leather tote.

And yet at the per-bag price, odds are you have machine-stitched, non-leather goods by a mass-market or no-name manufacturer.

Consider how much longer you should be able to own a good handbag and the per-use cost is even lower.

In the end, the snob factor of brand name aside, the difference in quality from the lower to the higher price point is appreciable. The well-made bag is an investment and it should be constructed to last as such.

Here are a few tips:

  • Buy the highest quality bag you can afford in a classic style; after all, you’re planning to carry it for many years to come. Remember you don’t always have to pay full retail (ssh! don’t tell the designers!). Sites like Overstock, Bluefly and Ideeli often have top names at less than top price.
  • Take good care of it. Designer bags come with cloth bags for storage, and leather bags should be periodically cleaned and moisturized.
  • If you’re not sure what brand or style of bag, try renting one first. A perfect starting place is Bag, Borrow Or Steal (made famous in the “Sex and the City” movie).

So if you do your math right, and treat your accessories well, you can justify buying that new Louis Vuitton handbag after all!