Sunday, October 20, 2013

This fall, keep it simple.

Fall is finally here. After some unusually warm weather here in Chicago, the seasons have changed. With that change comes scarves, sweaters, and light jackets. Cider, pumpkins, apples, and Halloween here I come. This outfit features a scarf from Old Navy $9.00 on sale, a hand me down jacket (free), and a white sweater ($9.00) originally from the Gap purchased from ORT resale shop in Highland Park, IL . My jeans were from Crossroads Trading Co. in Chicago, IL. The skinny jeans are originally from Gap but I purchased them for $7.00. I paired these elements with some flats, but a pair of boots would have worked well too. New fall clothing does not have to be complicated or expensive. Pair a basic sweater with jeans and a unique necklace/scarf. Have a jacket that you can wear every single day. By wearing basic solids/neutrals, you can change up one outfit to look different each time you wear it by rotating bolder accessories (such as this scarf), rather than having a bunch of prints and zany colors that do not match too many of your clothing items. This fall, keep it simple.  Total Outfit Price: $25.00 (with shoes $45.00). 


Saturday, August 31, 2013

What should it really cost?

When I say deals, I mean real deals. Not sort of cheap. Very cheap. With clothes being manufactured with poorer quality, the hefty price tag really is not necessary. Everything gets marked down. In fact, now I'm starting to believe that sales are not once in a while, but always. The following stores traditionally have a very large clearance section and offer discounts off sale merchandise as well.

Loft always has things on sale. Constantly. Each week it is common to see a 30%, 40%, 50%, and even 60% off already on sale items. They offer a 20% discount off full price merchandise for students, so do not forget your ID. This is the type of store where I would recommend a regular scan of the sale section, particularly for items that you may need for work. Recently, I found a pair of cropped black slacks, and one pair of oatmeal colored pants, each for $4.99. You need to go in store to find those kinds of deals. That's right. Brand new basics. Also, the Loft tends to have items that are machine washable which is great for those of us with a very small dry cleaning budget.

Carsons is another store that has things at extreme discount. Their yellow dot clearance indicates items that are up to 75% off. This is especially promising for shoes. Carson's also sends out regular coupons for 20% off.

Lord and Taylor is another store to check into. Online the clearance does not look that spectacular and the items still seem expensive. But go to the store and look. You may find some great deals. I had a sales woman give me an extra 20% off once just because I was wearing her favorite color.

Thrift stores...need I say more. Some of my favorite places.

But sometimes, digging a little in your closet and pulling out something you haven't worn in a while can give you that same new outfit feeling all over again. Like this dress ($7.00) from Urban Outfitters on sale paired with a vintage necklace ($4.00) from an antique shop.

Total Outfit Price: $11.00.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Marriage Season Winding Down

Salvation Army Thrift: Marriage Season Winding Down

Check this post out. This is a great description of how to dress for wedding season without breaking the bank, for those of you attending many at this time. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dress yourself, not somebody else

I wanted to take a minute to talk a little bit about style, fashion, and how it is portrayed within our culture. Often, high fashion is portrayed as something for people of high socioeconomic class. Many times, it is. New, brand name, this season, designer clothing is expensive. Check out Rag and BoneFree People, Alice and Olivia, or just about anything on Shop Bop. A lot of great new fashion is not financially available to everyone.  I do not think it is supposed to be. However, sometimes you need to take yourself out of elitism and realize that the things you wear should be representations of you, not what a few people think is the next big thing. After all, being debt free is more attractive than designer clothing.

Someone thought this was great. It certainly is creative, and probably does represent this lady. That doesn't mean you should wear it.
photo credit: <a href="">Urban Woodswalker</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

So, while you are keeping this is mind. Dress your body for your body. If skinny jeans don't make you feel skinny, do not force it. Feel like a clown in bright purple pants even though you've seen other people in them? I don't blame you. Feel like you are drowning in a pool of fabric in a maxi dress? It's okay to dress for a petite body and lose the long flowing dress. Do you wish you were a size 6 when you are a size 12? Don't wear the size 6 even if you can fit it over you. Wear clothes true to size. Wearing something too small or too big doesn't look good. Embrace your size, large or small. Focus on your health, not your size or weight. A healthy lifestyle is more important than dress measurements. On the same note, a well fitting dress will make you feel better than the number on the label. Does shopping at juniors stores and only fitting into a large or extra large size when you are usually a small or medium make you feel bad? Stop going there. Chances are, those clothes are not made for you anyways. Everything doesn't work for everyone. Focus on what works for you. This woman above did and you can just see that confidence. 

Different versions of the same thing.

Today's outfit is pretty much the same as the outfit discussed earlier in the Red, White, and Blue post. The shirt and necklace are the same, together costing $4.25. The cardigan was purchased from Salvation Army for around $4.00. The jeans are Levis and were probably bought around $30.00. So, for what I traditionally feature here, this would be a more expensive outfit. However, I am trying to illustrate that you can re-wear the same essential pieces with minor changes and have something that looks entirely different. Here I wear the same polka dot shirt and necklace, and simply change the pants and add a cardigan (Zara). Suddenly a summer outfit (a little red, white, and blue) turns into one appropriate for fall, or an unusually cold day in July. That's Chicago for you. Summer one day, fall the next.

Total Outfit Price: $38.25

Sunday, July 28, 2013


It's difficult to prioritize. With the different stresses of work, life, friends, family, kids, etc. prioritization and organization may not be at the top of the list. But, it can make you feel a lot better. Prioritize what you need, or will often use, rather than what you want. Functional style is a lot better than a closet full of once were trends.

Key Wardrobe Essentials and Basics to look your best (that you do not have to spend a lot on)

Pearl or faux-pearl necklace: easy, classes up any outfit immediately. The one pictured was a gift in high school that I still have.

Neutral Pants: cropped (summer), skinny ( to wear with boots) , and trouser (classic).
I've featured these skinny black pants in several outfits on this blog. They are originally from the Limited, and I found them at the Salvation Army thrift store. 

These neutral oatmeal pants go with almost anything. They are a traditional bootcut. These pants were purchased new from the Loft on a 60% off day so they were bought around $5.00 brand new. I simply do not believe in full price. 

Black Pencil Skirt: goes with everything  

This is also from the loft. And again from the price tag you can see that it was not very expensive. Now all I need are a few interviews...

The little black dress.
Cliche yes. But this dress has accompanied me to work, been worn casually, made an appearance at a funeral, and been worn to fancier events. Definitely versatile. Add a scarf and its more casual. Add pearls or fancy jewelry and you are dressed to impress. This dress is a basic sheath dress from H&M that was around $30-$40.  

Traditional Long Sleeve Blouse
It looks professional, and is machine washable. This was purchased at ORT resale shop for around $6.00 and was originally from JCrew. 

Patterned blouse and cardigan
This blouse is silk, comfortable and was bought for about $3.00. It is important to wear a tank of some sort if you are at any risk of sweating under a silk top because the fabric will absorb sweat and stink.  The cardigan has been around for a while and is from the Loft (one of my favorite stores for discounted basics). This combination can work for spring and summer. A patterned blouse adds interest while a cardigan can make it wearable in colder temperatures. 

Add some of these things together, and you have a professional, easily changeable outfit with versatile pieces. 

Total Outfit Price: $17.00

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bring it on home

 Your home is an important part of your style; it's a backdrop to your life and influences your mood. Your home is something you can style cheaply as well as your wardrobe. The photos included in this post include some of the things that have been fashioned or found for my home. The above picture is an art display over my couch. The large frame was purchased for $10.00 from Ikea and was in their "slightly damaged" section. The slightly smaller ones I had around from some old art projects. Inside of the frames are pieces of building/maintenance plans from 1943 for streets in Chicago including Willow Rd., State St., Cicero Ave., and Howard St. I bought these plans for $5.00 at an antique market. The woman I purchased them from said that they were found in her friend's basement when she purchased a house. I like having a piece of history displayed in a modern way in my living room. I think this could be done easily with personal artwork, maps, old posters, etc. Art $15.00
Chairs $20.00
The furniture pieces featured here are the greatest chairs known to man. They are the epitome of comfort and style. They are brown leather modern chairs. Each chair was $10.00 on Craigslist. I placed a sheepskin rug over each of them. My point in showing these things to you is that you can get nice, stylish furniture and decor without breaking the bank, and that I also like scrabble. I plan to sit on these chairs for as long as possible. What are your best home finds? Any creative projects in your home?

Chevron it


I'm trying to channel my inner Audrey Hepburn here. All items are from Salvation Army down to the shoes. Unfortunately, the turquoise necklace I'm wearing does not show up well in these photos. The top is from a brand called Gianni with which I am unfamiliar. I'm pretty sure this top came right from the 70s and turned up just in time for the return of this chevron trend. It was $3.25 and I wear it all the time. The pants were $5.25, originally from the The Limited. The shoes were an amazing find. I am pretty sure they are brand new based on there being pretty much no wear or tear on them and that they smell like new leather rather than feet. I know...the idea of second hand shoes is pretty questionable, but these seem like they've never touched anyone's feet. Why someone would buy a pair of Cole Haan shoes and donate them nearly new is beyond me. But, because of that I got them from $8.99 and can break them in myself. It looks like these shoes are on sale at Neiman Marcus if you want them for yourself at $60.00.  Or there are lots for sale on Ebay. What is your best recent find? Comment below.

Total Price: $17.49 including shoes

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Free Haircuts? A Review of Salon Apprentice

I needed a haircut. I had not had a haircut in months. However, I did not really have the $50.00 or so to shell out. So, I looked to Salon Apprentice. This website has stylists and students looking to give free salon services as part of furthering their education or certifications. This past Monday I set up an appointment with a stylist at Art and Science Salon in Wicker Park in Chicago. Haircuts there start at $53.00 for the least experienced stylists at this salon. I will say the set up was easy. I sent an email two days in advance and I had an appointment. Many are looking for specific times during the week such as Monday when many salons are closed for training. I received a long layered haircut free of charge aside from a tip. It took the stylist two hours to do, because he checked everything he did. I do not think I have ever had a more even haircut. Now, I was definitely antsy after two hours of sitting in this chair worrying about parking tickets, but because the haircut was being evaluated, the stylist took his time and did everything with care and precision. So, I have a pretty great haircut for a fraction of the cost that was done with extreme attention to detail. To anyone considering this, I recommend it without hesitation. The stylists are trained professionals doing continuing education or seeking more advanced certification. They are not students who have never done a cut before. Also, if they do not get a hair model. They have to cut a weird fake head of hair. They shouldn't have to do that...

A little red, white, and blue.

Red, white and blue. Being born on the fourth of July, this is one of my favorite color combinations. This top was purchased from Salvation Army for $3.50. It was originally from Banana Republic. The bottoms were also from Salvation Army, at a price of $5.25 and also originally from Banana Republic. The necklace was from a garage sale and cost $1.00. The belt came attached to a dress. The shoes are black flats (not included in total price) with a patent toe purchased from Payless, buy one get one half off for $25.00. I also have a nude pair.

Total Outfit Cost: $9.75

This outfit is easy to put together and is appropriate for almost any situation while still being fun. When I first bought this shirt and it was way to big. However, with some minor sewing machine alterations I was able to bring it in. I never knew how to do this but it is actually pretty easy. Put the shirt on, pinch the fabric to where it should be. Measure. Turn inside out. Mark where you want it brought in using the measurement you took on each side, for example 1 inch. Pin or draw straight line. Sew along those lines on both sides using a sewing machine or by hand. Done. You have a shirt that fits.

Monday, July 1, 2013

T-shirt and shorts

Today's outfit is a dressed up version of a t-shirt and shorts. This pair of denim cutoff black shorts is $12.80 from Forever 21. The top is a lime green tee with a unique square neckline and a zipper back detail not shown here. It was $10.00 from Target. The silk floral scarf was $2.00 from a thrift store. The black and white earrings were $1 from a flea market. The vintage look sunglasses are from Dollar General ($1.00). Sometimes I think the greatest outfits are ones with that take minimal effort. Minimal clothing items and a couple easy accessories should be all it takes. Anything else is too much work. If you cannot get ready within the hour it takes before you start your day, you probably are going to be late. Thanks for reading...Style me Cheap.

Total Cost of Outfit: $26

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cotton Wood

Today I am reviewing a recent impulse purchase Body Treats Cotton Wood Body Splash from h&m. I am always looking for a new scent and often I find that perfumes are very expensive and over time their scents fade or change. I recently found a scent called Dyptique that was unisex and $88 that I had a mild obsession with, but I cannot justify buying scented alcohol for that much money. So, I prefer body splash. It's a little bit more affordable, hopefully lasts, and allows me to get sick of whatever I bought without feeling too guilty.

I was initially attracted by the packaging and name of this scent. Cotton wood made me think it would be a little more musky and less floral, which it is. This scent smells high end and unique despite the low price tag. It is light, sensual, and appealing. It feels like summer nights.

Body treats just sounds kind of gross. I would have chosen a name something like Serendipity, Occassion, or Recontrer. Body treats sounds like I'm slathered in sugar. I find that lots of perfume, particularly cheap perfume smells like an 8th grade girl at her first dance.  The other issue with lesser quality perfumes or body splashes is that they come in seriously unattractive packaging. I know this shouldn't matter, but it does. Sometimes the experience of a particular fragrance is not just the scent itself, but how you feel putting it on. The packaging plays a role in that. This product in particular lends itself greatly to your dresser or sink top. It has mint green packaging with a white label and grey lettering. It looks and smells like quite a bit more than $5.95. They also offer a body scrub in the same scent. 

Thanks for reading. Style me cheap...

Friday, June 28, 2013

Little things add up

There will always be a girlfriend who will ask if you want to go for the over-ritualized trip to Starbucks for coffee. Or, if they are of the hipster variety of friend they will ask you to go Intelligentsia or some other unknown coffee house that specializes in fair trade coffee, beards, and overpriced drinks. These coffee houses have that atmosphere that gives you that feeling to ask, "Did you just move in?". I have a weakness for Starbucks lattes as I'm sure many caffeine fueled women such as myself have adapted. Often, the stifling price of $5.45 for my grande caramel soy makes me wonder why there isn't any Kahlua in it. However, if you do in fact have to go someplace as glamorous as Starbucks I recently discovered a wonderful way to ditch the way too expensive drink.

Iced coffee.

 I know, some of us still long for the summer-time iced latte beverage and iced coffee does not fit the bill. That is what I thought too. I walked in on a sweltering day in June for a welcomed coffee treat. The decorative chalkboard read, "try caramel iced coffee today". Well, I did. Caramel iced coffee with soy; and it tasted exactly like my latte. Its price was $2.45. No more lattes, ever.

photo credit: <a href="">el patojo</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

For all those beauty addicts

Some of us have a freak addiction to spa services. I am not one of those people. I do not get my nails, hair, skin, whatever they do at those places done regularly. So naturally, when I am going I am astounded by the prices that people will pay to have hair ripped out, skin picked at, and muscles rubbed down by strangers. But, to each his own.

I have found a few better ways to seek out some of these services, since I refuse to pay what seems to be a usual going rate when I'm am no one's regular. Unfortunately, a lot of these are only available in major cities.

Salon Apprentice
From the east to west coast, this website provides free and discounted salon services to you provided you are willing to take the risk to allow a student or junior stylist to provide those services. Often, they are under supervision. It may take them a bit longer to get the job done, but it will save you some money. Free haircuts or highlights. not bad.

This website is one of the better I've seen, and gets rave reviews from some of my friends. Want a Brazilian wax for $25 or teeth whitening for $60 and have reviews of the service from hundreds of users before you go? This is where to find it. Lifebooker has services in many major cities nationwide.

Other places also offer deals for Spa and Salon Services, but I have not found them to be as great as the aforementioned two.

Living Social

photo credit: <a href="">pumpkincat210</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

The Bigger Importance of Thrifting

I have an affinity for thrift stores. Most people think the idea of buying used pants from a warehouse full of mostly unattractive clothing that smells like mothballs is pretty much disgusting in every way possible. There isn't any cute wallpaper, sometimes no changing rooms, and on occasion certain clothes have stains that are indecipherable. But, there are a lot of upsides if you take the time to scan all the racks. Thrift stores are generally made up of donated merchandise, and often proceeds are donated towards a good cause or charity. Now, people have their own political beliefs and opinions regarding a lot of these organizations, namely Goodwill and Salvation Army but any way you slice it, they probably are running programs designed to help those in need, which is more than you can say about the Gap. So your shopping can indirectly help someone else rather than a corporation. That's pretty cool.

You also are more likely to find inexpensive, unique items that are of higher quality than you could get at some more "bargain" oriented stores. If you spend enough time in thrift stores you begin to learn what brands are indeed quality items. JcrewBanana Republic, among other brands are seen pretty consistently in thrift stores. These clothes are also pretty ancient and still in fantastic condition. Often, you can find silk blouses, leather jackets, etc. for a fraction of what you could get them for new. If you look in some nicer neighborhoods, thrift stores will have more higher end merchandise, which means greater steals for you!

Be Green. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Just because somebody grew out of that sweater doesn't mean that it isn't still usable and wouldn't fit you. Clothes do not need to end up in landfills, nor do we need to expend more energy to create something new when it already exists. I can't wait until designers start adopting up cycled fashions, reusing old clothing fabrics and reshaping them into new pieces. Also, trends recycle. Meaning that those high wasted shorts and basket weave sandals you are looking for might just turn up where you weren't expecting them.

photo credit: <a href="">Anikaviro</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Simple chic

And begin the awkward selfies here. 

Today's outfit is trying to emphasize bringing in trends in small and inexpensive ways. For example, I am a sucker for this mint color that everybody keeps wearing everywhere. In this outfit I paired a red vintage necklace that I paid $1 for at a local garage sale with a top that was $4.00 on sale from Forever 21. Regularly it's $5.80. Click the link to see other available colors. For those of you fabric snobs, it's 95% cotton, 5% spandex. The earrings are a mint jade color in a pearl shape. They were bought at a flea market for $1.    The pants were purchased from Salvation Army in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago for $5.00. They were originally from The Limited. The turtle shell fake bans were $1 from Dollar Tree. The shoes were approximately $15 from a boutique in Madison, WI on sale. Clearly these were for my college graduation and are too tall to be worn anywhere unless I am being carried. Because the clothes and accessories are so basic, they are easy to incorporate into other outfits as this mint color trend eventually will melt away.

Total outfit price including shoes and accessories under $30.

Dress to Impress

I am not a fashion icon, fashionista, credit card maxer, or up on trends. I was a little late on the uptake of style, queen of hand me downs. I still am. I hate high heels. I wear the same shoes almost every day. My nails are generally polished with a side of chips. But there is something about getting a little dressed up that makes me feel great. Seeing as I just received my Masters in Social Work and am receiving my income from sporadic babysitting and selling used books on, I do not have the money to be a big shopper. I have found, that your style is a representation of who you are and who you want to be.  The minute I slip into pajamas for the whole day is a day I spend loathing myself for my un-employment and boredom. I put on some big girl pants do my hair and makeup and I am ready to take on the day and know that good things will be headed in my direction. In this blog I plan to share the tricks that I have uncovered to keep you feeling your best. Even as a fervent supporter of social workers, I think that this hobby/habit is cheaper than therapy. me cheap.

photo credit: <a href="">Steve took it</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>