OOTD – Sunday in Red

Today I could not decide what to wear. I started out in a black dress with my new City Chic Bow Shoulder Cardi, which ended up being the only item that remained constant in my outfit. Five outfits later I ended up in jeggings and a black v-neck tee, a variation of my college uniform of jeans and a black tee. (Please ignore the awkward face and coloring in the photo, I’m still working on my technique and not making silly faces.)

 

I have awkward feet.

Cardi – City Chic (about $15 and no longer available); Tee – Old Navy; Jeggings – Old Navy ($10); Shoes – Merona from Target ($6); Necklace – Made by Me

I used to be an anti-skinny jeans activist, well not really, but close enough.  I was adamant that I would never wear them because of the awful “ice cream cone” effect they would give my shape.  But when I found these Old Navy jeggings on sale for $10 at my local store, I decided to go for it and I fell in love.  I love the way they make my legs look as I peer down at them from my vantage point and more importantly, I love the way they feel.  Still, I was afraid to wear them out in public for quite a while, especially in the company of those who had heard me railing against skinny jeans in the past.  Luckily for me, my friends have either forgot those rants or are extremely gracious (I’m betting its the latter) and didn’t mention my previous comments.  I wore this outfit out today for lunch with the family at Cosi and then sitting around the house to watch VCU (my brothers alma mater) beat out Kansas and make its way into the final four, yay!

This Bow Shoulder Cardi was one of my first purchases from City Chic. I bought it during their crazy 60% off sale and I actually googled “City Chic Coupon” and found another 10% off code as well. I ended up getting this cardi (no longer available), the pink puff sleeves top, pipping pin up dress (no longer available) and chiffon bow dress (no longer available), all for under $70 with free shipping. It was a great deal and I love all of the pieces I picked up.  This cardigan is especially my favorite. I’ve been wearing it around the house all week (which is why there is dog hair on it in the pictures, oops) and then finally out today. The quality of fabric is amazing, it’s thick enough to be substantial in this almost-but-not-quite spring weather DC has been having (we actually got some snow last night), but the 3/4 sleeves and open front design make it practical to wear even into the hotter weather.  I can’t wait to pair this with my pipping pin up dress later this year.

Did you notice I’ve worn the same shoes for both of my OOTDs so far? Its a rather accurate portrayal of how much I wear these shoes, they are so comfortable and I love their vintage style.

OOTD – New Dresses Need to be Worn

Today was my off day and I spent it browsing through used books at my favorite used book store Mckays and washing copious amounts of laundry.  Considering my tasks for the day were cleaning and book buying I was a tad overdressed but my new dress was begging to be worn.

Me wearing my new Lane Bryant Knit Denim Dress

My vespa bag, which was haggled for in Rome

I changed my jewelry before heading to the store.

Dress – Lane Bryant ($25); Heels – Merona from Target ($6); Bag – Vespa (25 euros); Necklace – Lia Sophia

I actually changed quite a few things about this look before heading out, most importantly, I took off the tights because it was a beautiful 71 degrees in Virginia today and I didn’t need them.  Secondly, I changed my jewelry, which is why I included the last shot (even with me making such a funny face.)  The original necklace (which you can see in the first photo) I made for a friend and was “test wearing” it to see how it would work.  Sadly, it needs more glue before it can be worn for any serious length of time. I have to say that even though I might have looked a bit dress for used bookstore shopping, it felt great. This dress is light and breezy and not too short so I could still scrunch down to peer at the lowest shelves modestly.

Thanks for bearing with me on my first outfit post.  Hopefully as these continue I will make fewer silly faces and find a more interesting location than my back porch.  Thanks to Bot for taking the photos!

Know When to Strike!

When shopping on a budget, its hard to know when to strike. When you should pick up those shoes, that dress and hold on to it for dear life as you flee to the check outline, not thinking twice. Normally, I’m a striker, which is to say that I am not much for the “walk around the store and think” method of shopping and this has gotten me into a lot of trouble.  Lately with my reduced shopping budget I’ve had to consider the time to “strike” more and more.  I have yet to develop a system or even a set of guidelines really, but I’ll present you with two examples, one when I should have struck right away and another when waiting was key.

The Nude Shoes

 

Merona Nude Wedges from Target

I fell in love with these Nude Merona wedges the moment I saw them a few months ago at Target. They were $29.99 and it was around Christmas so I had passed on them choosing instead to get a pair of $5 super-on-sale black heels.  After that day I was in agony, I wanted the shoes so badly. Every time I assembled an outfit I imagined how perfectly they would have look with it. Every time I saw someone else sporting nude pumps I cursed myself for waiting. I searched every Target in the area and they were no where to be found. Resigned to my fate, I started shopping for other nude shoes and decided I should get these Ellen Tracy pumps in Tan patent (to be fair I still think getting these is a great idea.)  My mind was made up but I still couldn’t “pull the trigger” even when the Vanna peep-toes were on sale for 30% off, so I put “Nude Heels” on my “To Buy” list and moved on with my life.  That is when my luck changed! While visiting my in-laws in Charlottesville, I happened to visit their local Target and magically they had the Merona wedges in my size. I threw them in my basket and skipped to the check outline to buy them.  I’m so happy that I found them and so in love with them now, I can’t imagine not owning them.  I probably should have struck right away and purchased them when I first saw the shoes but, would I have felt the same if I hadn’t gone through the anxiety of thinking I would never have them?

The Denim Knit Tunic

Lane Bryant Denim Knit Tunic

This Lane Bryant Denim Knit Tunic looks fantastic on me.  I tried in on in January when I was suit shopping and I fell in love. It is so soft and drapes so nicely and since I am only 5’4″ it is dress length on me instead of a tunic.  My mom, who was with  me when I was shopping, was speechless and agreed that I NEEDED to have it.  But my mission was an interview suit and that was already costing me a pretty penny so the dress was returned to its rack and I walked out with my suit sans dress.  Still, the dress stayed in the back of my mind.  I didn’t obsess over it like the wedges, but I checked LB’s website weekly to see if it had gone on sale and low and behold two weeks ago it dropped from $69.99 to $49.99 and I knew it was my time to strike.  Due to work and life craziness though, I hadn’t managed to get to my local Lane Bryant to buy it.  Luckily for me, this week my lucky stars seemed to shine extra bright on me and I received a $25 Lane Bryant coupon in the mail. I knew it was definitely time to strike and I scored this beautiful dress for $25 plus tax!  (You’ll see me in this dress soon in an outfit post.)

So the decision to strike, to purchase is a difficult one to make. It’s hard to know if the lack of purchase will haunt you and leave you scouring your local stores or if your triumph will be so much sweeter at a lower price point. What I have been working on to ease this anxiety is my “To Buy” list.  I update it when I see a garment, shoe or trend that I really want to try.  That way, when I am tempted to impulse buy, I have a whole list of items to weight my frivolous purchase against.  Do I really want this t-shirt more than I want a pair of nice oxford shoes or a pair to trouser jeans? The answer is usually no.

Breaking My Own Rules

Remember that time when I told you that FIT was the most important thing in buying a new item of clothing? Yea, that last post I wrote, well I broke it last week.  I really, really wanted a pair of oxfords because they are beautiful and I really want to rock them with my skinny jeans and dresses this summer.  So I bought the above oxford boots at Forever21 for $15 and they were on clearance and in my size.  For some reason I didn’t try them on and well, they don’t fit my feet.

Now I am out $15 of my fashion budget this year and have nonreturnable shoes that don’t fit me. Luckily for me, they kind of fit my mom (the above model)  so I don’t feel like they are a complete waste.  The missing fifteen dollars from my budget I miss already. Let my pain be your lesson, always try on the shoes!

Wardrobe Building

Building a wardrobe on a budget can be a difficult task.  While I mainly try to keep my wardrobe purchases to $30 or below, I make an exception for wardrobe essentials.  If you are shopping for something you will wear at least once (maybe 4 or 5 times) a week, you want to make sure that you love it.

No matter where you hunt for these items you need to focus on these two things:

1.Fit – It doesn’t matter if those pants are right on trend, or extremely cheap, if they don’t fit correctly you will not wear them.  This is probably one of my worst fashion mistakes.  Those fifteen dollar dark red pointy flats that were so beautiful in the store but still pinched my toes, well I bought them anyway and do I wear them?  Of course not.  There they sit in my closet and occasionally I ponder wearing them, but then I remember my pinched toes and in the closet they remain.  Perhaps you’ll shrug and think, well its only fifteen dollars but when you add that to the $25 jacket that doesn’t quite fit but you couldn’t return it because it was on clearance and that $30 shirt that you loved until you realized that it shows too much cleavage to be worn.  When it all adds up you could have had $70 to buy a really great pair of shoes.

2. Fabric Quality – Last season I spent a ton of gift card funds on beautiful jeans that fit amazingly but were made from really thin cotton.  I loved them so much that I wore them multiple times a week, but unsurprisingly they fell apart rather quickly.  It doesn’t matter what price you are paying for an item, it needs to be a good quality.  That $20 skirt is not a bargain if the fabric has pulls in it already or if the hem is flimsy.

I am a firm believer that wardrobe essentials are worth spending extra precious dollars on because you will wear them again and again.  So consider these things carefully when you purchase- don’t be fooled by inexpensive items, because one day they might be sitting in your closet with their price tag still on.