Posts Tagged ‘Fashion’

What Would You Buy?: An Ultimate Work Wardrobe

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Amy,

I recently discovered your website and have really enjoyed it! I am also an Aldi fan and am trying hard to live within my means. I have a problem I was hoping you could help me with. I am returning to work very soon and after years as a stay-at-home Mom, suddenly find myself without any decent clothes to wear to a job. Faded blue jeans and old t-shirts have worked okay at home but they aren’t work-appropriate!

Whenever you post a picture on your site you always look so pulled-together. Can you help? I am going to be working in a business casual environment – even a well-fitting pair of boot-cut dark wash blue jeans would probably work on Fridays. Other than that – where do I start? I have about $250-$300 to put towards new clothes. Any suggestions??? Maybe even some websites that could help?

Congratulations on paying off your debt and cutting up those cards!!! Your party must have been so much fun!

Thanks,
L.

Well, it has been about four years since I have been out in the trenches of the working world, but I will do my best to answer this question. If you are a working woman of the world and have had good success shopping anywhere, please let our sweet reader know so she can do some hunting.

Since this is an office-casual environment, I think it will be a lot easier to tackle than the more formal office wear. Here are some of my suggestions for a great work wardrobe.

Bottoms-

Apostrophe Essential Pant- I have actually worn these and they are an amazing fit! They are a lightweight material that doesn’t attract pet hair or look wrinkly after being worn all day. They also look seamless, with no distracting pockets or details that seem to draw your eye towards the problem areas. The material is lightweight and these could be worn through all of the seasons. They have these in black & gray- both are great choices for work. I just really love these pants and they are a steal at only $24.98 each!

Tops-

apt. 9 Herringbone Blazer- This blazer is great for summer and you could transition it into the fall with the addition of a long sleeve t-shirt. This would look great with a pair of black slacks and a cute camisole or even could be paired with a pair of jeans and ballet flats to dress it down. I wear this style of blazer a lot and I just love how versatile it is! They have a similar style available in black as well (which could pair nicely with a gray pair of trousers or jeans) Currently on sale for $29.99.

Xhiliration Dolman Sleeve Top- This would be a great addition to a work wardrobe too. I love the style of this top because the sleeves make it dressy enough for work or you could wear this on the weekend with a pair of cute sneakers. I love the Kelly Green & the Black for basic pieces.

These are just a few examples of great items that would work. For a starter work wardrobe, I would recommend:

1. Two or three basic pairs of flat-front trousers (black, gray, khaki)
2. Two or three camisoles for layering (white, off-white, and black- Target offers these at affordable prices in the lingerie section of the store)
3. A short sleeve blazer (could be a basic color or a fun print that would work with neutrals)
4. Two or three long-sleeve or short-sleeve basic shirts for layering (I love the Old Navy or Mossimo brand for these) that could be layered under blouses and jackets. Pick your sleeve length based on the season.
5. One or two blouses (You could keep these basic in black, white, or pink and use hair and jewelry accessories to switch these up or you could go with fun prints and and use a basic black blazer to tone down for a different look. Look for the cap-sleeved shirts, as they are popular right now and make a blouse look a little more girly)
6. One pair of dark-wash jean,for the office casual environment. I love jeans from The Limited, Old Navy, or Gap.
7. A pair of basic black ballet flats, black heels (to dress up your jeans), and one pair of fun shoes (fun print or an unexpected color)
8. A nice neutral handbag

When I was trying to help my husband with his work wardrobe, I would actually look in his closet and piece together things that he didn’t put together. This can be fun to do with your spouse, if they have an eye for what looks good, or a good friend. Invite someone into your closet and have them look at what you have and your new pieces and have them come up with ideas for things that could work together too. Sometimes it takes a new pair of eyes to see all of the possibilities

Finally, if you are really short on cash, ask if you can raid your friend’s closets to help you until you get those first couple of paychecks. My best friend and I exchange clothes often for special events and occasions and it has saved me more money than I can begin to tell you. My wardrobe has great pieces and her wardrobe has great pieces. Together, we create an ultimate wardrobe that makes life events like these a little easier.

Sound Off: What are some places that you would recommend shopping for a work wardrobe? Are there any basic pieces that you would add to my list?

Cute Jewelry Holder & Jewelry Cleaner Recipes

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

I like to keep a little dish by my sink to put my jewelry in while I am doing the dishes. I also love to thrift shop so I put my love for thrift and my little dish together and came up with this cute little idea.

I use a thrifted candle holder to put my jewels in. They look so pretty and, if the edge has a nice lip on it, it is a safe way to keep your jewels out of harms way. It also makes your jewelry a pretty display while you are scrubbing your little heart out and cursing your family for not helping you… or praying- whatever you happen to do while washing the dishes.

And, if you so choose, you could also be cleaning your jewelry while scrubbing your heart (as you curse your family or pray).

Here are two handy little recipes to keep tucked away for that special day!

Homemade Silver Jewelry Cleaner:

In a bowl, place strips of aluminum foil in and place your silver jewelry on top of them. Cover the silver with boiling water and then add three tablespoons of baking soda and soak for ten minutes. Mix remaining hot water and a drop of liquid soap into another glass bowl. Place your silver in the soapy water and wash. Rinse with clean water and polish dry your pieces with a soft cotton cloth. Please take care, some solutions that are great for some metals and stones may damage others.

(Side Note- I use this solution for cleaning all my silver jewelry and have never had any problems. This works like a dream!)

Homemade Gold Jewelry Cleaner:

Fill a small bowl with warm water and a drop of liquid dish soap. Allow this to soak for approximately ten minutes. Proceed to brush the pieces with an eyebrow brush (or a similar substation such as a toothbrush) while they are being soaked. Then you should transfer the gold jewelry to a strainer and then proceed to rinsing it off with warm water. Finish by drying with a soft cotton cloth.

Staying Fashionable Through Ebates

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

I have had an obsession with Ebates for a long time and lemme tell you that I am doing the happy dance every single time I get my check from them. Each person I refer, I get a $5 referral fee and, in turn, the person who signs up also gets a $5 credit into their account. I won’t go on and on about it (you can read my experience here if you are interested or just sign up for one of your own accounts- amy@momadvice.com for the referral id), but I have been really happy with the program. This is one of the rare times where I really appreciate the referral programs because it is truly rewarding for me.

A few days ago, I got an email letting me know that another big fat check was on its way. This is my fun money that I get to spend on stuff I want, but don’t necessarily need (To date, I have received almost $250 with the company!) . As soon as that check hit the mailbox, it was deposited and spent within two days. Yup, that is how I roll!

What does a girl like me spend her fun money on? SHOES! Oh yeah! And a new SPRING COAT! Neither were necessarily needed, but they really make me happy.


I found this coat at Forever 21. I am not impressed with the quality of the clothes usually, but I inspected this coat throughly before purchasing it. You can usually tell if a company backs the work that they do up with a good return policy. They don’t take returns- they will only exchange the merchandise with the tags still on it and they will never ever refund your money. Just to make sure I didn’t miss this, the girl circled the return policy on the receipt. This is a red flag to me about companies, so just a warning…check your loot before you leave that store, otherwise you are stuck with it. I will be discussing this option more next week when I share tips for being fashionable in our Baby Steps series.


This coat covers my less-than-desirable assets, as it hits about mid-thigh. It has an empire waist, but doesn’t balloon like a maternity top. The arms are the cutest part about it as it they flare out a bit. I also love the cute lining (not that anyone sees the lining), but I adore details like that.

A company that gets an A++ for great quality is Payless Shoes and their styles out for spring are super cute. If it has been awhile since you have been in there, it is worth the trip. They carry a line of American Eagle shoes that are so cute, I can hardly stand it. Try and go when they have their buy-one-get one sales and you can come out with some amazing deals.
I needed to replace my black flats from last year and I loved this style with a little side buckle. They are almost identical to my flats last year, but I couldn’t resist another pair. They go good with everything and they are super comfy too.

These shoes are the cutest shoes ever. Red flats, cute ribbon, suede toe…what’s not to love? They make me so happy and are my one pair of fun shoes for spring….oh, and they match my coat too! Gotta love that!

These are my “Sporty Spice” shoes. My husband says they look like the first pair, but CLEARLY these are entirely different, and only resemble the first pair because they are the same color. These are my momma-had-a-hard-day-and-is-running-children-everywhere shoes. They have a rubber heel on the bottom and offer great momma-had-a-hard-day support.

All these were free thanks to Ebates and my big fat check. I thank them for keeping me fashionable and keeping me on budget.

Day 27: Save on Clothing

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

There are so many great ways that you can save on your clothing and there is no reason in the world that you should ever have to pay full price for anything. I have gotten some of the best clothing for my children and most of it has been purchased secondhand. I would also say that ninety percent of my own clothing is bought from our local Goodwill store. Rarely would I ever pay more than five dollars for an item and I still maintain my snobbery towards the name brands that I love. Here are some easy ways that you can save on your clothes:

1. If you shop used, ask if they offer half off days or any special discounts. Most stores offer a deal, at least one day of the week, and those are the best times to shop. I always try and come as soon as the store opens for special discount days because you will have the most to choose from when making your selections.

2. You can be a brand name snob, but just because it is a certain brand doesn’t mean you should necessarily buy it. This is something that I had really struggled with in the beginning because I was focusing too much on the label name, rather than if I truly liked the item itself. A beautiful Ann Taylor dress that is not your color or style is better left at the store instead of taking up space in your closet.

3. Know your brands when you go to a store and know them well. I loved Meredith’s post on recognizing name brands because many of the brands that she has referred to were not ones that I was familiar with. Read the fashion magazines (from the library, of course!) and familiarize yourself with the quality labels. It is not only good for you to do this for your own wardrobe, but if something is not your size/style, but you know it is worth a lot, you could sell it to the highest bidder on an auction site.

4. Try and hold the items up in good lighting and really look at them. I do an armpit check, hem checks, underarm stain checks, seam checks and take an overall look at the item to make sure there are no rips or tears. Make sure you really look at the item closely before buying it. It has always been such a disappointment to me to bring home something that I am really crazy about and find out exactly why it had been donated in the first place.

5. Try on sizes that aren’t necessarily your size because many times they have been donated because the item was shrunk in the wash. I might try on sizes that are two up from my normal size and find something that fits me absolutely perfectly.

6. If you are petite, you can check in the girl’s sizes (sizes 14 & 16). I am really short and I have found a 16 in girls fits me perfectly lengthwise. Items with elastic waists, like jog pants, can be bought in these smaller sizes for petite adult women. The bonus, of course, is that the children’s clothing is cheaper than the adult clothing so I can get the item for even less money than I would have paid in the adult sizes.

7. Finding clothing can be time consuming so make sure that you have a good block of time to work with, especially if you are hunting for something in particular. I think thrifting gets easier as you get in the groove of doing this. Well-trained eyes seem to gravitate towards the good items and I have found items start to jump out at me a little easier because I know where to look and how to navigate the stores quickly.

8. Know that it is fine to leave with nothing in your hands. I think this is one of the hardest things for me because I want a good deal so bad. There are days that I spend a half hour in the store and come up with nothing. I know there are other days though where ten items jump out at me at once so I look forward to those days and understand that there are dry times too. Patience and waiting are difficult, but you will be glad you waited when that item finally appears!

Potential Monthly Savings: $30 or more

Sound: Off: What are your tips for saving on clothing?

Day 8: Open Your Own Beauty Shop

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about ways that you can save in the beauty department. Every family is different, but for me it has always been about keeping us all cute, with as little maintenance as possible, for the least amount of money. This might sound funny, but I don’t really know of another way to explain it.

I don’t have bangs and I don’t have a cute layered haircut. Instead, I have no bangs (no routine cutting of bangs) and I keep my hair a little longer so I can go longer between cuts. I don’t highlight my hair because it so dark and the color moves so quickly that I look rather trashy after just a few weeks time. I instead do an all over color that I purchase from the drugstore and hope for the best.

My hair is not trendy, but I opt for a classic haircut that requires little maintenance on our part. It is a choice that I made for financial reasons and, with two rowdy kids, I don’t get to enjoy sitting in the hairdresser’s chair as much as I used to. We are too busy and I have little time without the kids being with me during the weekdays.

I am applying the same principles to our daughter’s hair. We are currently in the ugly stage of long bangs, but I know that all of the hard work and pretty clips that I have made to cover up the in-between stages will pay off and we will be enjoying the same low maintenance haircuts for her. When she is a teenager, the story might be a little bit different, but we have many years to go before that time.

As for the boys in our family, I invested in a pair of clippers from the drugstore and I am planning to invest in a good pair of scissors from our local beauty supply store. With these investments, I am able to pay for them after just two haircuts and we will have many years of haircutting out of them.

I admit that the first time I cut my husband’s hair that it took forever and I was sweating it out the entire time. If I messed up my son’s hair, it would not be as stressful because he is a child and hair grows quickly. My husband, on the other hand, is a professional working at a job where I want him to look good and feel good about himself. To mess up his hair would have been a travesty for me and for him.

We did survive the first haircut and I have never looked back. The benefit of learning to do this yourself is that it is convenient and you can always have your spouse looking sharp. Reunions, weddings, and special occasions happen and he can always look good because I can give him a great hair cut myself.

I highly recommend, if you cut your husbands hair, to talk to him like his hairdresser would. I cover my husband up with the cape and then I say things like, “Wow, I heard your wife was a total witch this week. I am so sorry to hear that.” It just makes it a little more fun and takes away some of that nervousness in the beginning.

If you aren’t brave enough to do the cutting yourself, there are other options out there that can save you money. Beauty schools, for example, offer very inexpensive beauty services because they are schooling their students on learning how to do haircuts and beauty treatments. Similarly, some of the more elite salons require their own additional training and can offer beauty services to their clients for a fraction of the price. You can score really great deals on colorings, waxing, haircuts, and facial services.

If you chose this option though, make sure to give yourself plenty of time for the appointment. These folks are in training so they are not going to move at the quick speed that your regular hairdresser works. They will need their supervisors to check the cuts as they are being made and this usually takes quite some time because the supervisor is monitoring many stylists, not just your own personal haircut. There are great savings in the waiting and it can be a great way to get a more professional haircut without the big price tag.

Just because you aren’t going to a salon doesn’t mean you have to give up the good life. Here are some other things that I do to save money in the beauty department, but provide the pampering pleasure I deserve:
I make my own brown sugar scrub and use this once a week. It works just as good as the pricey exfoliates, but costs pennies. In this recipe, I have subbed extra virgin olive oil for the almond oil (just because we already have it). I have also added lavender essential oils to make it smell more soothing.
I soak my feet weekly and have a little container of all the goodies I need to do a pedicure. In my container are Wet & Wild nail polishes (purchased for about a buck each), a base coat, a top coat, a file, a pumice stone, a small nail brush, and foot lotion. Almost everything can be bought at the dollar store. You can soak your feet in a dish tub or you could soak them in a an appliance made for these occasions. I add 1/2 cup Epsom salts to the water and 1-2 teaspoons of the lavender essentials to soak them in. I try and do this every Friday as my weekly treat to myself.
Make your own hand scrubs to treat yourself after doing the dinner dishes. I usually just drizzle a little olive oil on my hands and add a teaspoon of salt. Scrub gently for a minute or so and then give your hands a rinse and pat dry. When I get a chance though, I am planning to try out this recipe because it sounds wonderful. If it turns out, it would make a great Christmas or birthday gift in a pretty tin.
I try to do a mask once a week on my face. I have plenty of masks leftover from my beauty store junkie days, but this recipe sounds like a keeper for when I run out.
You can deep condition your hair weekly. I use the Suave hot oil treatments on my hair or you can try making your own deep conditioner.
The important thing to remember is that just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean that you have to give up these great things in life. I can pretend to be a lady of leisure who enjoys a weekly pampering, but I don’t have the credit card statements that go along with it.
You are worth it and your wallet is worth the savings!

Potential Monthly Savings:
$60 or more

Related Readings:
Sound Off: What are some beauty treatments you have tried at home?

Bitten: A Cheap Mom’s Dream

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Unfortunately, Sarah Jessica Parker and her PR crew have not emailed me yet, but I am doing a free plug for this awesome clothing line.

I had mentioned that I was excited to actually see the new Bitten line from Sarah Jessica Parker (carried at Steve & Barry’s). I had been meaning to head over there, but it is on the other side of town and life had gotten in the way.

Fast forward to my last mom’s group meeting, when one of the gal’s walks in looking like a true fashionista with the cutest shoes, jean capris and a cute tank. I told her how cute she looked and she says two words, that makes me head on the other side of town the very next day: Cheap & Bitten.

I headed there and got myself some of the cutest clothes. I got four shirts, a pair of ballet flats, and a pair of jeans for a little less than sixty bucks. While it is more than I typically spend over at my local Goodwill, the pieces could be used with the things I already had in my closet and I had gotten some money from a recent sale of my hair bows.

Here are the positives AND the negatives of this line of clothes. Note: Keep in mind that I am not all that fashionable. I am just a mom who likes to look a little bit current, but am also very traditional in my style choices:

Positives:

- It is cheap as heck! The clothing is cheaper than Old Navy and even cheaper than H&M; (which we don’t have in our area, but I have shopped the Ft Wayne, IN location). The shoe prices rival Payless Shoes too!

- They carry a broad range of sizes, all the way up to size 22. More importantly, they carry jeans for the petite girl. I have a long torso and really short legs. It is nearly impossible for me to get a pair of pants that do not require altering. They did carry the shorter lengths though and they also carried long lengths for you leggy gals (whom I secretly envy!)

- The store was clean and nice in our area. I am sure they maintain the same type of store all over, but I was actually really impressed with the style of the store and the staff at our location. It reminded me a lot of The Gap (but more affordable).

Negatives:

- I did not realize until I got the jeans home, and bought the size that fit justright (and I know you know what I am talking about when I say justright) and discovered that the jeans were made from 98% cotton. That was a big bummer, as I realized that I will have to care very well for these or have to forfeit them to the thrift store.

- The clothes are made about as good as any other deep discount line. I saw some strings coming loose on the sides of the seam of the jeans. The shirts seem to be better made than the pair of jeans I purchased, but you can tell that you are getting what you pay for. I have high hopes that these will last me until the clothing is no longer trendy, and I would feel comfortable donating them if I got a year or two out of them, due to the low cost of the clothing line.

There you have it! Hope this helps in making another fashion decision!

Sound Off: What brands are you willing to splurge for? If someone gave you a huge gift card (with no strings attached, of course!) what store would you pick?

Related Readings:

The Fashion Savvy Shopper
How to Be a Budget Fashionista
Me Time

Thrifty Treasures: Vera Bradley Purse

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

A long awaited purse…Vera Bradley. Every single time I see one of these, I want it. The patterns are so beautiful! Unfortunately, they cost a mint. I have been watching them on Ebay, but the prices were still a little too high for my taste.

Lucky for me, someone donated their purse to Goodwill and I was able to snatch it up for $8. It is about $6 more than I usually spend for a purse, but is definitely worth it! This one is such a pretty spring color.

My mother-in-law can make bags that look just like these, but has had a hard time finding the fabric. Anyone making bags like these that have a good resource for fabrics? I know she would appreciate the input!

Too Cool for School Momma Tees

Monday, June 25th, 2007

With a tag line like, “Motherhood doesn’t define us. We define it” what is not to love? PeaceLoveMom is a great t-shirt company that offers fun phrases of motherhood on their t-shirts, which have made them a popular choice among the celebrity mommies.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a mad obsession for funny t-shirts. Among my favorite in my collection are my Martha is My Homegirl (with Martha Stewart surrounded by pretty spoons), my Drop It Like It’s Hot (with a waitress holding a heavy tray), & my Hip Hop You Don’t Stop (with a bouncing kangaroo) shirt. The funnier the t-shirt, the better.

PeaceLoveMom has great trendy mommy t-shirts that are still tasteful, but show that you have a witty and fun personality. The offer a variety of choices that express motherhood in a fun way.

The company sent two of the cutest shirts to add to my collection. I now have a “Happy Mom” t-shirt, which THE Cindy Crawford has been seen wearing around town & a “Carpool Candy” tank. Their shirts are made out of the softest cotton, making it a quick favorite in your wardrobe, and the sizing is made for women and not teens. That means no post-baby body hanging out the sides of your jeans and we love that!
Not only is the sizing spot on, but the phrases are too. They let people know that you are not just another mom thankyouverymuch, but that you are a super fun and super cool mom so TAKE THAT. You might be driving around in your minivan, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be too cool for school.
PeaceLoveMom has generously offered our customers free shipping utilizing the promo code, “momadvice” on any order that you place.
Thanks so much to PeaceLoveMom for giving us an opportunity to review their products and to add such fun t-shirts to add to my collection!
Want to see your name in lights? Email me at amy@momadvice.com and tell me about your company. We would love to try and review your product for our growing readership!

Check it Out: How to Be a Budget Fashionista

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007


I was browsing around the beauty & fashion section in our library, when I saw this book and had to read it! I am a girl who is on a tight budget, but who also enjoys keeping up with fashion news and trends, and I wanted to know how I could do that without breaking the bank. How to Be a Budget Fashionista by Kathryn Finney is such a fantastic book and I recommend it to every woman! I have several people in mind already that I would like to give this to for a Christmas gift. I am sure you know people in your life who NEED this book to stop spending ridiculous amounts of money on clothes…money that they don’t have to spend in the first place.

This book is a great basic guide book for showing you that you truly can be fashionable without spending an arm and a leg to do it. The author was actually a woman who fell into the trap of spending more money than she earned on buying clothing. She wanted to stay fashionable, but found herself swimming in a sea of debt and buyer’s remorse.

Pulling herself up by her brand-name boots, she decided to pull herself out of the trap and figure out how she could look good for less. She learned ways that she could still look good without spending a mint to do it.

In the book, Ms. Finney offers great suggestions for basic items you can look for to make a good basic wardrobe. She discloses great department and superstore brands that you can hunt for, to substitute for the expensive stuff, and shares her bargaining secrets for getting the looks you crave for less.

The thing that I absolutely loved about this book was that she ENCOURAGES thrift shopping for items and gives a listing of details to look for when shopping and brand names that you can keep your eye out for. Many of her own favorite pieces were items she found when doing her thrifting, so she actually lives by the principles she shares with her readers.

I devoured this book in one sitting and passed it on to a friend. She devoured it too and we got to chat a lot about the things we enjoyed from her list. Not only that, but we patted ourselves on the back for being so fashionably conscious that we had some of the listed as must-haves!

I couldn’t get enough of this book, so I was pleased to see that Kathryn maintains a site and forum where she shares more fashion tips & deals with her readers. If you like to listen to Podcasts, she also does interviews with the big names in fashion on how to look good for less!

Sound Off: My dear fashionistas, what is your favorite piece in your wardrobe and where did you purchase it?

The Fashion Savvy Shopper

Monday, May 21st, 2007


While I have been rarely catching Oprah these days, I always read the description on my TiVo of each episode and then usually delete anything that doesn’t catch my eye. When it comes to episodes on saving or making money, I am always a sucker for those, I try to never miss anything on these topics.

I was not disappointed with this past Friday’s episode where a new line of clothing from Sarah Jessica Parker is set to come out on June 7th. If you still have it taped, it is worth it to watch! Her tag line is,”Fashion is Not a Luxury” and she has embraced that with a line of clothing from Steve & Barry’s that she is calling Bitten. These clothes are never over twenty dollars and include shoes, bags, suits, jackets, blazers & other fashionable gear, many never ever at the twenty dollar mark (even in the discount stores).

I can’t say whether or not the clothing is of good quality, but she is raving about it, so we will have to take her word on that one! The clothing line looks like it has tons of great basics, that will pair well with each other and as separates. While some critics have said the line is boring, I love a good basic line that will go with everything.

Among other honorable mentions in the episode were the line of basketball shoes (priced at $14.99 or less) & Target’s new line of Isaac Mizrahi wedding dresses under $100.

I love to shop for clothing at Goodwill and like to keep up on the latest trends and lines of clothing that are in fashion. Meredith, over at Like Merchant Ships, has a great post with a bunch of library recommendations for a thrift shopper that wants to score the big names in fashion.

My favorite online resources for fashion advice are The Frugal Fashionista & The Space Between My Peers. Add these ladies to your blog reading list- I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Do you have a brand of inexpensive clothing you could recommend or do you have a store that is your go-to for clothing? What is the best deal you have ever gotten on a piece of clothing?