Sunday, November 30, 2008

Savvy Sexy Outfit of the Day $19

Today's outfit is the same outfit as a couple weeks back but with maroon cords instead of camel colored cords. I actually think it looks better with the maroon.

The Breakdown.
Arden B. sweater ($5 thrift store), American Eagle maroon cords ($5 thrift store), off white tank ($4 Rave), Nine West brushed gold pumps ($5 Kohl's) and my favorite purse, a Coach patent red leather Gallery Tote (Birthday Gift!). Grand Total: $19

Last time I feature this ensemble I didn't get a back shot. This time I just had to show the sassy scoop-neck back. See there is a way to be sexy-mama without looking like a hoochie-mama!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

How I Spent My Thanksgiving Vacation

Ah, Thanksgiving; the preparation of the feast, the tidying of the house for guests, the smell of deadly cleaners wafting through the house...

I'm not sure why exactly this weekend turned into a cleaning-fest, maybe it was because I had a willing accomplice in my Beloved or maybe because there's a certain element in my life that feels out of control so I scurry around to make sure at least my home is order so I have some measure of sanity (can anyone out there relate?). Who knows, but for whatever reason we spent Thursday morning cleaning out the refrigerator, the pantry and the rest of the kitchen cabinets, Friday steam-cleaning the stairs and upstairs carpet and "rejuvenating" the wood floors in our foyer and steam-cleaning the second set of stairs on Saturday.

May I remind you that this was AFTER we had a house full of guests. No, we couldn't have done that BEFORE we had guests because, uh, we would have impressed our friends and family so much they would have felt uncomfortable at the blinding beauty of the stairs & wood floors. Yeah. That's it. I will say one thing, regardless of arguments of whether Saturday or Sunday is technically the Sabbath, we will be RESTING on Sunday!

As much as I jest, I have to say that the end result has been quite amazing. As I walk around our clean-floor home I am reminded again that a little savvyness (is that even a word?) applied to home maintenance can go a long way.

Carpet steam cleaner.

On this front we were lucky that our neighbor bought one from Costco recently for $189. With three kids, two dogs, two cats and two adults in their home, it has become a huge money saver for them. Before buying this gem I would estimate that she had her carpets cleaned about 3-4 times a year at about $200 a pop using a coupon. Now for the price of one cleaning she (and the rest of us neighbors) can steam clean anytime she wants!

Admittedly I don't know how using a steam cleaner can wear a carpet over time or if it destroys any warranties, but for those of us who live in homes with builder's grade carpet over 10 years old and have young children, the idea of spending just $189 for a carpet cleaner sure beats out spending THOUSANDS on new carpet. We moved into this house 5 years ago as the second owners and had always assumed we would get new carpet after the youngest Superstar was finished potty training. Now almost two years after that glorious occasion with the economy (and our budget) looking the way it does, it doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon. For you renters out there, it's also a great way to keep apartment/rental grade carpet looking good too!

The steam cleaner of today is a far cry from the ones you rent from the grocery store and they are so easy to use. Pull off the tank, fill with hot water and a bit of cleaning solution and voila, clean carpets. When finished, the carpet is still a little damp and takes about 1-2 hours to fully dry. We sent the Superstars to a neighbors house to play and everyone was happy. The stairs were the worst and as you can see, they cleaned up pretty well!

Remember, this is 10 year old carpet and the owners before us had 4 kids and a dog, but I think it will last us another 2-3 years if we're savvy!

Rejuvenating the Floor

You've seen the commercial on TV. Just apply this product and your floors will look brand new! I admit even as I was skeptical about the product there was a part of me that really just wanted to try it. When my friend said he used it in a house they were selling I knew that I had to give it a shot.
Remember the builder's grade carpet? Well, we have builder's grade engineered plank wood floors in the foyer. Soon after moving in we ripped out all the carpet downstairs and replaced it with wood floors matching what was in the foyer.

Even though it was the same floor, there were obvious wear-and-tear differences. In an attempt to off-set those difference we added some floor rugs to help hide the wear and to keep it from wearing even more. All-in-all it's worked pretty well, but as of late, it has looked pretty sorry.

So we went and bought a bottle of Rejuvenate at the home improvement store. I would tell you which one, but I can't remember since we bought it TWO YEARS AGO. I mean, c'mon, you have a free hour or two and you want to...Rejuvenate the floors? Yeah, right.
I don't know if I am the only one who does this, but sometimes I make things a whole lot more complicated and difficult in my mind and then just psyche myself up NOT to do a task. This was one of those times. Turns out it was totally easy - from start to finish it took about 1 hour.

First I used Bruce's Clean 'n' Strip which says it helps clean up wax build-up. I don't use wax on my floors, but I figured it would cut through any junk on them. Unfortunately the stuff was TOXIC. I used latex gloves and a dust mask and opened up the windows and it was still heady stuff. In fact, when I was finished, I rinsed out the cloth only to find that the cleaner dissolved the latex glove! EEK!

Then because of said glove-melting I was afraid that some chemical in the Bruce's would combine with the Rejuvenate and cause a noxious gas that would kill me so I washed the floors again with Murphy's Wood Soap. Thankfully that seemed to cut down the smell as well.

After the floor was dry I put a microfiber cloth on my Swiffer, poured a little bit of Rejuvenate on the floor and slowly spread it across like painting (once you cover the surface, move on, don't rub it in). It was the fastest and easiest part of the job. The best part is that the floors look AWESOME. If I remember right the Rejuvenate was maybe $15, the Bruce's floor cleaner $5 and the Murphy's was $1.50 so for less than $20 my floors look almost as good as the newer ones. You can see in the before picture some of the scratches on the wood, and it seems the wood looks darker in the second. And can you see the reflection of the front door in the floor????

So there you have it, what I did during my Thanksgiving vacation,
because nothing says Thanksgiving like updating wood floors and steam-cleaning carpets! Can't imagine what we'll be able to accomplish during Christmas vacation...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Savvy Hippie Outfit of the Day - $75

Sorry for the lack of blogging! My next blog "How I Spent My Thanksgiving Vacation" will explain exactly why I've been a little remiss. Just think "latex gloves, knee pads and a dust mask." Oh yeah, it

I wore this little outfit to express some of the things that I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving...friends, love, peace. The only things missing are "a good glass of red wine" and "a fresh cup of espresso" and oh yeah, "kids that always obey me the first time I ask them to do something."


Today's outfit is thanks to the thrift store, Parisian's, eBay and for love 21. I was being kind of hippie cool today with this great stretch black embroidered jacket that I bought at the thrift store for $6. With a little stretch in the cord like material it fits nicely to show off curves. I put two $2.50 tanks from for love 21 (I saw them layered on the store mannequin and thought it looked great) under it for a pop of color. My $13 dollar Banana Republic jeans from eBay in a dark even wash, Ann Marino wedges $8 from Parisians and my lovely tobacco colored Coach hobo from eBay at $43 completes the look. You can tell I felt a little sassy, no? Grand Total: $75

Oh, and as a little "I told you so" and because I really do love you all I've added a picture where I didn't let the tanks do their divide-and-conquer trick (per my stylist Clinton Kelly) so you can see for yourself that my butt DOES look a bigger without this handy little trick. And since not every shirt, sweater, coat, etc. will be long enough, it's worth investing in some tank tops that will allow you to use this trick. With places like Rave and for love 21, it's easy to stock up on with out spending a lot of money. I mean, what's $2.50 to make your butt look smaller?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Savvy Outfit of the Day $36 - Michael Kors Purse

Today's outfit comes to you from the thrift store and Parisians. Since it's getting cooler around here layering is the perfect way to stay warm outside and cool inside. I've been experimenting with different color combinations lately and found that I am using these maroon color cords much more than I thought I would.

The Breakdown.
Limited Jeans jacket ($5 thrift store), Old Navy white cotton gauze hoody ($4 thrift store), white tank top ($4 Rave), maroon American Eagle cords ($5 thrift store), multicolor scarf (FREE clothes exchange at Plato's Closet), Ann Marino black leather wedge ($8 Parisian's end of season sale), Michael Kors Hutton black leather hobo ($10 thrift store). Grand total: $36

A word about cords. To me, cords are like jeans. They comes in a variety of colors, and they are great wash and wear items. Khakis may be great for some people, but unless they have a touch of stretch in them to keep them from wrinkling I won't wear them because I am NOT an iron-er. My husband was in the military for a short stint and is definitely the better iron-er in the family. Truth is I don't particularly like to iron and can think of oh, about one million things I'd rather do than iron.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Meeting with my Stylist...Clinton Kelly!

Yes, that's right. My stylist Clinton Kelly was in town today and I got a chance to "catch up with him" the other 300 women that showed up at Macy's.

I saw Clinton last year and as before, he did not disappoint. He is as engaging and endearing in person as he is on the show and even cuter.

Clinton initially talked about his top 4 tips and here they are, a good reminder to all of us of What TO Wear.

1. Get a professional bra fitting - this one step will make your clothes look better. Ideally "the girls" should be in-between your shoulders and your elbows. Most forms used by designers follow the tween-shoulders-and-elbows proportion so clothes will most likely fit better if yours do too.

2. Shapewear is your friend - most of the women fitted on the show will be fitted with shapewear. It's a great way to hide underwear lines and bulges.

3. Tailoring is for everyone, not just men. Men just assume that they will have to get tailoring done when they buy a suit, and yet we women think it should fit off the rack. Whether it's shortening or lengthening pant or skirt hems, Clinton says that almost all the clothes on the show are tailored.

4. You gotta try on LOTS of clothes. Clinton says that they really do shop from store open to store close for two days for the What Not to Wear make-over person. With two full days of shopping they are happy if they come away with 7 full outfits. Did you catch that? SEVEN outfits for two whole days of shopping. So his sympathy for someone who tries on two pairs of pants and calls it quits is NIL.

As hard as it looks on television Clinton swears it's actually harder than what's shown. Every minute you see on TV takes about 1 hour worth of filming. So a 45 minute show has been edited down from 45 HOURS of filming. Still, in the midst of all the hard work, Clinton says it's rewarding to hear back from people who have been on the show of the promotions, raises and finding the love of their lives that have happened subsequent from their makeover.

He said a few of the trends this season are purple, short or modified trench coats and plaid. I was inspired enough to even buy a purple shirt, on clearance of course. Right now is a GREAT time to shop in department stores as they are getting rid of the last of the Fall items and looking toward Winter so if you're going out to shop, remember to Shop Savvy!

Savvy Outfit of the Day $74

Today's outfit of the day should be a familiar color scheme. I wore something like this earlier this month. I just love this green with denim blue.

Hats have also become a new item in my wardrobe. I cut my hair 10 inches in October and have been having fun trying new things. Hats are a wonderful thing when you don't have time to wash your hair.

The Breakdown.
Old Navy, TJMaxx, Rave, eBay and the thrift store put together today's outfit. Green Old Navy sweater (on sale $8), white tank ($4 Rave), B.Laguna jeans (TJ Maxx $15), brown cable knit hat ($8 For Love 21), Coach signature hobo ($43 eBay), bronze Anne Klein heels ($4 thrift store). Grand Total: $70

A note on my Rave tank tops. If you notice, I have it sticking out in one picture and not in the other, oops! A funny thing about that. I initially took a picture from behind without the tank peeking out and ended up proving Clinton (my What Not to Wear stylist) absolutely right. It's a little trick called "Divide and Conquer" - divide your butt with a jacket, shirt, etc. and it makes your butt look SMALLER!

Now, admittedly, I don't have a large butt and yet it sure looked better with it divided. I would show you the picture where it wasn't divided by the tank so you could see for yourself but I hit "delete" on the camera and it disappeared...bum-mer...ha, ha, ha! Get it BUM-mer. Ok! Moving on...

The other thing I noticed, however, is that I look taller & longer in the picture without the divide by tank top, which shows me that I need to find a longer sweater so that I can divide & conquer the butt and still look long and lean.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bialetti Bliss: Savvy Stove Top Espresso

Ahhh the warm rich smell of fresh brewed espresso...even my kids love the smell. Thankfully they don't like the taste. Yes, I let them try it, crossing my fingers the entire time that they wouldn't like it and start bugging me about it for them, but I digress.

Whether it's a daily fix at Starbucks or a counter top high-tech espresso machine, good espresso can be a very expensive habit, but being the savvy sort of coffee-loving chick I am, I found a delightful product called a Bialetti, introduced to me last year by a dear friend.

What was new to me is something the Italians have been using for years. I believe it was invented in the 30's by a gentleman (Bialetti!) who figured you could use the same technology from washing machines for a stove-top espresso maker. He was right, and today it is used by thousands of Italians and has thankfully made it's way to America.

At about $20 this delightful invention will provide you with a wonderful rich dark brew that's about as close to espresso as you can get without buying one of those thousand dollar machines. Or you could get lucky and find one of these, like I did, for $3 at the thrift store!

Here's a quick how-to. It's so easy and tasty that my husband even likes making it!

Now you are ready to sit down and enjoy a great cup of espresso, or at least as close as you're going to get without going to Starbucks or buying one of those expensive machines!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Savvy Classic Outfit of the Day - $41

Today's outfit is brought to you by the thrift store, eBay and Rave. Red Luxe wrap shirt ($5 thrift store), white tank (Rave $4), Banana Republic Jeans ($12 eBay), Steve Madden Patent Leather kitten heels ($4 thrift store), Scarlett Blake leather purse ($7 thrift store), ICE wool jacket ($9 thrift store) for a grand total of $41.

Here's one of the wrap shirts I bought thanks to the advice from my stylists. I love the way it's form fitting without looking hoochie-mama tight. The folds over the stomach also hide a multitude of sins, and it's cotton too so it's very comfortable and kid-friendly.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why do I love buying on eBay? Let me count the ways.

I don't even know where to begin when it comes to my love affair with eBay. At first I was curious, "I wonder how much this item sells for on eBay?" Then it turned into "I wonder what all they sell on eBay." Now it's "Let me check eBay before I check anywhere else." And I'm not kidding!

Thrift stores are great to pop into to see what's there. if you're lucky, you'll find the name brand you like in your size. It's hit or miss. With eBay you can type in the name brand, size and condition and decide how much you want to spend.

Of course you've seen some of the great Coach purses that I have bought, and that is not even touching the surface when it comes to Coach or ANY brand name of purse from no-name vinyl bags to Louis Vuitton - it's ALL there. But that's not all that's there.

Here's a brief list of the things I have recently bought on eBay (including shipping) and an estimate on the savings.

1. 5 Pack refill for my Oral-B toothbrush - $21 at Walmart - $8 eBay
2. Hardback Book - The Zen of Fish - $16 at Borders - $8 eBay
3. Laser Printer Cartridge - $50 Staples - $28 eBay
4. Sonlight Homeschool Curriculum - $600 from their site - $100 on eBay
5. Banana Republic Jeans - $80 at the store - $14 on eBay
6. Set of 10 Magic Treehouse Books - $45 retail - $9 on eBay

The thing I love best about eBay (next to saving money of course) is that it comes straight to my door. I don't have to leave the house to shop for it. It comes to me!

I especially love using eBay for one-of-a-kind birthday and Christmas gifts. I recently bought a brand-new with TAGS, gorgeous, supple leather high-end purse that retailed for about $130 for just $20, including shipping. Talk about a stunning much so I almost didn't give as a gift!

Here are just a few eBay basics if you're thinking of checking it out.

eBay Basics

1. Payment Options. Each seller is different in what kind of payment they will accept. MOST will allow you to use PayPal, a system devised and owned by eBay to handle monetary transactions. It is safe and it also provides you a guarantee if the seller is not trustworthy and an item is not as described or doesn't get to you (to a degree, if a seller has delivery confirmation and can "prove" the item was sent through the post office transactions, it's your lost, but in over 500 transactions I have never had that happen). PayPal will refund your money if you are in the right.

Some sellers only accept checks, money orders and other's bank transfers. I would not advise bank transfers. My preference is PayPal because they have an accountability system that protects the buyer and the seller. It's just safer.

2. Be wise. Check a seller's "feedback" it's the little number and percentage that is shown by their seller name. Find out if the person has a good history of follow through and accurate item descriptions. If someone is selling a Coach purse at a too-good-to-be-true price and has no feedback, be wary. Though PayPal will most likely refund your purchase if it proves to be a bad seller, it takes time and your money is tied up for a week to two weeks.

3. Do your research when buying. How do you know if something is a good price? Click on "Advanced Search" next to the search box and you will be taken to a screen that allows you click "completed listings" which will show you how many and how much that item has sold for in the past few weeks.

4. Buy it Now. This option, a tab in search results, will see what you can buy immediately without having to bid. I use this often if I need something right away or don't think I will get a better deal by bidding. You still can get deals this way, although my best deals have always been by auction.

5. Best Offer. This option allows you to offer a reasonable price for an item, giving the seller the chance to accept or decline.

6. Know your product. Before you buy, make sure you are getting what you're want. If it's a Coach purse, do some research to make sure you are not paying top dollar for a knock-off. eBay does not permit the selling to knock-offs because of copyright infringement but it doesn't stop people from selling them. eBay has a discussion board that will allow you to ask others for their opinion on the authenticity of a bag.

7. Don't get caught up in the bidding process and go overboard. eBay is fun, but it's just like any other type of shopping. It's easy to get caught up in the thrill of the hunt or a good deal. If you plan on bidding on an auction, set a limit. For me, I will wait till the end of an auction before I bid, and if you can't sit, wait and watch for the end, there are actual services that will bid for you.

You are bidding real money so don't bid what you can't afford, and according to eBay policies, your bid is a contract. Of course they will not file a suit on you if you do not pay, but they can suspend your eBay privileges and keep you from bidding at all.

If you haven't tried eBay yet, give it a shot. It's a great way to Shop Savvy!

Savvy Outfit of the Day - $75 (Coach Bag/Frye Boots)

I love when the seasons change here in Music City - especially when it means the cooler temperatures of the fall. Having grown up in California I've become a bit of a coat/jacket addict. It really is my stylists' fault (Stacie & Clinton) because they regularly remind me that jackets are a good layering technique that flatters my particular figure.

Today's outfit is brought to you by Belk's, Rave, shoe outlet, Plato's Closet, eBay and the thrift store. Red Camel denim skirt ($7 Belk's sale), brown tank top ($4 Rave), Orange Old Navy corduroy jacket ($6 thrift store), multi-color knit scarf (FREE due to exchanged clothes), Frye lace-up boots (shoe outlet $15) and my signature Coach hobo ($43 eBay).

Speaking of great deals on new girlfriend Melissa called me yesterday to tell me about the shoes she bought for $.01. Yes, you read right, A PENNY! Bless her heart, she even sent me a picture to rub it in show me how cute they are.

Savvy shopper that she is, she used her two $10 coupons at DSW and found these beautiful Franco Sarto peep-toe patent leather shoes with cork wedge detail. Truth is, even at $20 this shoes are a great deal.

SEE I'm not the only one out there who knows how to shop Savvy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tips to Shop Savvy at the Mall & Retail Stores

I have to say that since I find such great deals on brand name clothing at the thrift store I have a hard time paying full price for anything so the mall isn't the first place I go for clothing or accessories, but that's not to say that great deals can't be found. With a little Savvy shopping you can great discounts on clothing, body care products, home accessories and more.

Timing is everything.
The best time to shop is always at the end of the season right before the store changes for the next season. Granted the selection isn't always that great but when you are saving anywhere from 50-75% off retail it's worth looking.

My husband started a new job in February and went from khaki-casual to dress pants and shirts, sometimes suits. While I have bought dress pants and suit jackets for my husband at the thrift store, we took a chance and headed to the mall. We ended up with 10 pairs of Kenneth Cole flat front dress pants for $110 from Macy's for my husband. Between the WAY after Christmas sale and a store coupon we got the pants that normally cost $65 a pair for just $11 each.

Try new departments and new brand names
Most of us have different departments, stores or brand names that we gravitate toward, savvy mall shopping is the time to branch out and try something new. If your style is Bohemian Chic and the idea of sifting through the "traditional" clothing from Ralph Lauren or walking the aisles of a store like Coldwater Creek gives you the heebie-jeebies, do it anyway! Even in the most conservative lines there will be a few pieces in each season that are a little more trendy or you might be able to find a great basic pant/skirt that you can add your funkiness to and make it your own.

If your style is Classic Conservative and think that the misses/juniors department or a store like Wet Seal/Forever 21/Rave is too trendy, look anyway. I have found the best plain t-shirts, tank tops and accessories in departments/stores like these, and for much less.

Don't be afraid to ask for a discount.
Shirt missing a button? A seam loose here or there? Ask for a discount.
Most sales associates have the power to grant at least 10-20% off. A missing button is an easy fix, even if you don't sew. If there is no extra button, you'll have to decide if buying more will be worth the effort or the cost. Seams are a little more work, but if you can sew, it may be an easy fix. Most stores will even honor a return if you get home and decide that it's not worth the effort.

Coupons, coupons, coupons (if you don't have one, ask).
Stores like Macy's and Kohl's will periodically send or print in the newspaper $10 off of a $25 purchase or a percentage off purchase. While it won't always work on final clearance items or special buys, it's worth checking. Just read the fine print. If you didn't bring a coupon, ask the associate if there is a coupon or special running and if there is, most will one out of their little drawer and help you out.

You can also sign up for a mailing list for free. Bath & Bodyworks and Victoria's Secret send out FREE coupons periodically through the year. Sometimes it's "with any purchase" and if so, I buy the cheapest thing I can find and use.

A recent trip to
the mall resulted in a free pair of underwear from VS, a free tube of Cashmere Hand Lotion and a free Peppermint Body Scrub from B&B (I did buy a $3.50 scented oil for our oil burner, but it was something I actually needed). I basically got $24 worth of items for free. These items are great to keep for stocking stuffers or teacher's gifts...well, not the underwear unless you're really, really close friends!

As a note, I don't have a credit card with either store. I'm not a big fan of getting a store credit card for just "10% off your first purchase" and an occasional coupon unless you're the type of person that frequents the store often and pays off the bill immediately. Savvy shopping means not getting into debt but making do with what you have - stylishly, of course!

Shop the Sale Racks and make note of Markdown Days
The first place I make a bee-line for in any store is the sale rack. If it's got a "take an additional % off" I sometimes run...not really...well, sometimes. I did find out through some internet searches that most Targets mark down children's clothing on Tuesday. If there is a particular piece of clothing I've got my eye on, I will wait till Tuesday to check if it's been marked-down. Last year I bought several pairs of Target's Yes jeans (regularly $24) for $3.24 a piece. Sales associates won't always share that information, but there are lots of bloggers out there who make it their mission to know what day items are marked down and are willing to share.

Price Adjustment
Did you know that some retailers will give you money back on a previous purchase? The rule of price adjustment rings true at several retailers. Gap, The Children's Place and many others will allow you one price adjustment usually within 1-2 weeks of purchase. All you need to do is bring in the receipt to the cashier. One of my friends recently told me how she had bought her twin boys matching costumes from the Gap. The next week when at the mall she noticed that they were 75% off. She presented the receipt to the cashier and received a credit on her card for the difference.

Patience and Realistic Consideration.
I'm not saying that you need to have patience to walk around trying on clothes for hours, though that will definitely help! I'm saying that most items we want will eventually go on sale, it's a matter of waiting it out. Granted that means that they may run out of the item, but then the question becomes "How badly do I need this item?" (notice I didn't write "How badly do I WANT this item?").

The truth is that for the most part we here in the western world have A LOT. I would venture to say that many of us have clothes in the closet that we rarely wear. Savvy shopping means self-examining and realistically thinking through what we already have and our shopping habits from the past. Am I someone who is a impulse buyer? If so, is this one of those "type" of things that I have bought before and not used?

If you go to the mall you will most likely find something you want to buy and find a good enough reason to justify buying it. Sometimes those reasons are indeed valid! I'm willing to spending a little extra on a wardrobe staple that I will wear for years versus a trendy/cute item for just a season or two. Weigh your reasoning and walk away if there's any doubt.
I have found in my life that no single piece of clothing is worth breaking the budget.

Outfit of the day $23

Remember how in my thrift store shopping tips I said it's good to try on new things? The shirt in today's outfit is a perfect example of that. I've never been to an Arden B. store and this isn't the type of sweater I would pull out from racks, but when I tried it on it seemed to fit so well that I couldn't resist for just $4. Now it's one of my favorites because it's just a little different than the norm.

The Breakdown
Today's outfit is brought to you by the thrift store, Banana Republic, Kohl's and my friend, Jenn. The knit shirt is Arden B. ($4 thrift store), tank top (Rave $4), khaki cords (Banana Republic sale $11), leather brushed gold Nine West shoes ($5 Kohl's sale) and my patent leather red Coach from my friend, Jenn!

If you notice, the pants and shoes are both brand new from the store. I think the cords from Banana Republic were originally $78 and I got them for $11. The Nine West shoes were originally $50 and had literally gone to 90% off and I've actually been quite surprised how neutral they are and how often I end up wearing them. So for those of you who don't care for thrift store shopping and prefer the mall, there are definitely deals to be had. Tomorrow's post will be a few tips for how shop the mall.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Savvy Rock Chic[k] Outfit of the Day - $22

I told you that I use to be cool...I mean, in the music industry. Here's a throw-back to my music industry days. I was being "cool Mom" today, not that the Superstars would think that's different than any other day [cough] but still, it makes me feel fly...ah, ha, ha. Yeah, that's me. Fly Girl.


Today's outfit is compliments of Plato's Closet, the thrift store, the Dollar Tree and my friend Jenn. Yes, the same Jenn that got me those cool Liv crochet surfer boots for my birthday. This purse was a birthday gift too. Well, sorta. We were going through her boxes of purses so I could help her start selling some of them on eBay and she must have been feeling REALLY generous that day because she told me I could pick one out...for my birthday.

I tried to tell her NO because she had gotten me so much stuff already but she just wouldn't hear it. And well, you know, I didn't want to offend her so I HAD to take one...I mean, that's what friends are for, right? This GORGEOUS Coach red patent leather Gallery Tote & matching embossed Skinny Mini just stole my heart and I have been in love with it ever since.

The breakdown.
Love Rocks thermal shirt (FREE from Plato's Closet - I traded in some old clothes!), A. Byer cropped pin-stripe jacket ($8 Parisians' end of season sale), Metro 7 jeans ($4 thrift store), black suede Pelle Moda kitten heel boots ($9 thrift store), crochet red chenille scarf ($1 at Dollar Tree) and my lovely patent leather Coach purse (FREE). Grand total: $22

So I am really going to post more articles on things OTHER THAN clothes, but I do have to get dressed everyday if I want to get out of the house in something other than my bunny slippers & PJ's and I might as well snap a shot and send it out there.

In the meantime, I've been working on an article on how to save money by tinting your windows, a do-it-yourself home improvement project we just finished recently. It's a great way to make horrible builder's-grade windows more energy efficient.

I'm also planning to write some tips on eBay. I've both bought and sold a ton on eBay and it's a GREAT Savvy Suburban Supermom tip. Till then, keep shopping savvy and letting me know about it. Fellow blog-a-holic kristen just told me about her successful savvy thrift store shopping bonanza this week and I'm thinking I might just have to hold a contest to see who can come up with the best thrift store find!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Savvy Outfit of the Day $63 - Fall is in the air

Ahhh, there's nothing like the start of Fall! The trees are ablaze with yellows, orange & crimson red. It's beautiful! To celebrate the fall I have started bringing out my boots.

Today's outfit is compliments of the thrift store and my favorite shoe outlet store. The red peacoat jacket is Bromleigh ($8 thrift store I bought this back when I was a single woman in my 20's), the jeans are Mudd ($5 thrift store), a brown long sleeve Old Navy shirt ($3 thrift store) and my FABULOUS faux lace-up boots from Frye ($15 shoe outlet!) and the purse is my Lucky Brand Vintage Leather ($24 thrift store) and a cute crochet hat for $9 for a grand total of $64.

Today we went to see Madagascar 2 with the Superstars and laughed hysterically. I can't help it. I LOVE the penguins. They are so "clever" as Superstar #1 says. I'm thinking they're a little psychotic, but I'm not sure how to explain that to her so clever will do just fine for now.

Hope y'all are taking time to check out thrift stores out there. I'm telling you, it's goldmine of fun fashion.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Savvy Outfit of the Day $50 - Beach Style

Today's outfit was a shout out to my California days. When the weather is like it was today (70's in the day & a cool 50 degrees at night) it reminds me of fall and football in southern California and bonfires on the beach.

Thanks to Belk's, Target, Rave and my girlfriend Jenn (who gave me these totally comfy and machine-washable boots as a birthday gift) for helping me with this look. Mossimo purple sweater (Target $14), Red Camel denim skirt (Belk's on sale $7), off-white tank top (Rave $4), LIVs crochet boots (FREE - woo-hoo!) and a Lucky Vintage Leather purse ($24 thrift store).

I'm not a "trendy" person in the sense that I pour over the latest fashion magazine to see "What's Hot" and "What's Not" when it comes to what to wear. I prefer classic, clean lines and gravitate to solid color-matchings. It's easier that way! I do however, like to change out the shoes and purse to give each outfit it's own little flair - like today's outfit.

I could have also paired this look with a smaller, under-the-arm purse and a little pair of wedges or even ballet flats for a more conservative look. Truth is that I just missed California and the beach. The last time I wore these crochet boots I was walking the sands in Rosemary Beach with my Beloved. I can hear the waves and taste the salt air even now as I type....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Savvy Outfit of the Day $29

Today's outfit is brought to you by Belks, Target and the thrift store. The pants are Hydraulic straight-leg light denim trousers ($12 Belk's on sale), Mossimo black sweater shirt ($5 Target on sale), Nine West kitten heel shoes with buckle ($4 thrift store) and the purse is Scarlett Blake ($8 thrift store) for a grand total of $29.

I did have to hem the pants but it was a simple job, otherwise I would have had to add another $8 to the total. I also had to glue the front of the sweater for no other reason than it kept buckling out by the buttons and showing everyone my bra! With a little bit of fabric glue I no longer button this shirt up, but pull it over like a sweater. Fabric glue is a great way to help those who have this problem from time to time and it's machine washable. All in all today's look was a comfortable outfit that was update on the classic "jeans & sweater" look.

I toyed with the idea of adding a red purse to this look for a pop of color, even red shoes would have worked, but I was feeling a little more low-key today so I went with black.

Savvy Thrift Store Clothes Shopping Tips

Here are just a few basic tips when thrift store shopping. Actually, come to think about it I would say most of these tips are great for any type of shopping, whether it's a TJ Maxx or the end-of-the-season sale at Nordies!

Don't buy it just because it's a great deal.

"A pair of Armani/BCBG/Free People/Banana Republic/fill-in-the-blank pants for only $5!!!! Oh wait, it's a size 0. Maybe if I don't ever eat again work out, I might be able to fit into these...someday..." STEP AWAY FROM THE PANTS. Unless you've got a great friend that is a size 0 and doesn't mind you thrifting for her, those pants are only going to sit unused in your closet/drawer mocking you. Believe me, I have heard them do that. Size 0 pants are just that way.

Be realistic about "little" fixes.

I sew. It's one of the savvy skills I learned when nesting with my second child. I can hem pants. Well, not the lined ones or ones that need invisible hems, but jeans and khakis I can do. If a pair of pants does not fit into those two categories then I have to decide whether it's worth the $8 it's going to cost me to get them tailored. As for everything else, it's a case-by-case basis. Button missing - I can do. Seam a little loose - usually an easy fix. Tiny rip in a lining - I'll try if the price is right. Anything bigger and it's usually a pass.

Sometimes, however, the tailoring cost is justifiable. For example, one year I found a gorgeous new-with-tags formal gown and it cost me only $20...until I factored in the $45 for the tailoring. Now I needed the gown for a black tie, $250 a plate benefit that a friend of ours invited us to attend so it was definitely called for given the circumstance, but I wouldn't have dreamed about spending that on a day-to-day dress. Truth is, I would have kept shopping for another dress, but we were invited a week before the event and I just did not have time (or a large budget) to shop for a formal I would only wear once. Believe me, $65 is A LOT for me, but I was able to donate the dress to a local organization that used the dress for high school students who can't afford a dress for prom, thus the $65 became a tax write-off as well! Oh, and the dress must have looked good, my friend and I ended up in the local "society" magazine's photo spread!

When in doubt, don't get it.

Sounds harsh, doesn't it? It doesn't if you end up with piles of clothing you are not using. If you're hesitant about it before buying it, you'll be hesitant before wearing it...if you wear it at all. The ideal situation is being excited to pull the thing out of the closet because you look so good and feel so good wearing it!

Check carefully for stains and rips.
Check even the new-with-tag items you find. Sometimes they are returns from stores or just a manufacturer's error. Either way, it's best to find any flaws before you buy it because most thrift stores do not issue cash for returns. They just offer store credit.

Try it on.
I know this is where I may lose some of you. I have a friend who NEVER tries on clothes and well, the result is a bunch of clothes in her closet with tags and a to-do list that always has "return X,Y,Z" on it. Being a Savvy Suburban Supermom means saving time AND money. But there is hope, the more you try clothes on, the more you will hone a sense of what works for your body and what doesn't and you'll find that you actually do less trying on.

Take chances.
You'll know when you've found something that really works when a) you get unsolicited compliments from other women or b) people keep asking you if you've lost weight. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But I promise, watch What Not to Wear and you will see that almost every single person on there ends up looking AT LEAST 5-10 pounds lighter than when they first got there.

Up until two years ago I never wore faux wrap shirts even though Stacie & Clinton recommend them for most body types, mine in particular. I wasn't even sure I liked them. Come to find out after trying it on at the thrift store and spending just $5 for one, I got TONS of compliments, including one from my husband when he got home from work. THAT alone was worth the hassle of trying it on in the first place. A thrift store is a great way to try new styles at a price that won't break the bank if it doesn't work. If money is really an issue and you have a Goodwill store nearby, try their Monday Bag Sale: that's where you get 10 items of the featured tag color for $5. That's $.50 a piece. This is a great way to not only find things for yourself, but your kids, your husband, your friends, your extended get the picture.

Be patient.

Being patient is probably the number one piece of advice I would offer. Most people will go to a thrift store once, maybe twice, and write the experience off as a failure if they don't walk away with a great bargain. They will say that I have some sort of special bargain radar that they are not equipped with, but I say, "Poppycock!" Ok, maybe not that, but nonsense! Anyone can find a great deal at the thrift store, it just takes a little time and patience. The payoff is definitely worth it!

Final word.
If there is anything that thrift store shopping has taught me is that it's all just "stuff". Yes, I know there is a quantifiable difference in quality between a leather Coach handbag and a pleather XOXO bag and the amount someone will pay for them - but the chance that they will both end up in thrift store somewhere at some point is HIGHLY likely. I've found Prada, Gucci as well as Coach, Free People and Abercrombie & Fitch, Armani, etc. so there are people out there donating them and fairly regularly!

One woman's "so last season" is another woman's "OMG, look what I just found!" but the truth is that today's great discovery usually gives way to a newer and greater discovery in a relatively short amount of time, regardless of whether it came from a high-end department store or a thrift store. There are very few women I know that will regularly carry the same bag for 10 years, much less 1 or 2 - even the women who own Louis Vuitton's that WILL last long enough to pass them down to their daughters. Fashion changes, styles change and WE change.

That's what I love best about Savvy Shopping. I have the freedom to change my style whether it's because of preference OR weight and not feel guilty about it. We all already do it to varying degrees, whether we are trying to figure out what our style is or what our 'end weight' is going to be. That being the case, we might as well do it with a bit of savvy shopping. Don't wait until you reach your ideal weight or find "who" you are stylistically in order to buy clothes that look good on you NOW. It will eventually change anyway. Take a little time and little money and find some great clothes. You will be happier for it. I know I am.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Super Tuesday Savvy Outfit of the Day $35 & Kate Spade to boot!

So, what does one wear on Super Tuesday? Red, white and blue? Too obvious. A shirt with my candidate's face? Uh, no. How about pink! 'Cause nothing screams politics like a hot pink eyelet jacket, right? Anyway!

Today's outfit is a little departure for me. Those who have known me for a long time know that I grew up a tomboy in a surf town in Southern California. Shorts and sweatshirts were my outfits of choice, usually by outfitters like Rip Curl, Op, Quicksilver, Billabong or O'Neill. I didn't really explore my feminine side until I became a sorority girl at Pepperdine University. Even then the change was slow.

I don't think I really embraced my feminine side until I had girls. That's when pink entered my wardrobe. This from the woman who asked that people DIDN'T buy pink for my first born daughter. I registered for every color BUT pink.

Anyway, on to the good stuff. The jacket is by Style & Company (Macy's sale $12 - regularly $79!), white tank top (Rave $4), Metro 7 jeans ($4 thrift store), Bandolino black leather pumps ($5 at thrift store, TJMaxx sticker still on bottom when I bought it) and a gorgeous Kate Spade purse for $10 at the thrift store. Grand total: $35

Metro 7 jeans can be found at Walmart. Yes, Walmart. Shhhhh - don't tell anyone. I sure won't!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Savvy Outfit of the Day $62

Today's outfit is courtesy of Belk's, eBay and the thrift store. Miss Chievous red striped hoodie ($6 Belks), Route 66 long denim skirt ($4.29 thrift store), Nine West camel colored leather boots ($9.99 thrift store) and the piece de resistance my yummy, oh-so-soft Banana Republic leather purse ($41 eBay).

A word about this outfit. So, uh, yeah, Miss Chievous. I didn't even know the brand existed. I found it in what would probably be classified as the Junior/Young Miss section, but the zip-up form-fitting hoodie looked cute on the hanger and for $6 I was willing to give it a try. Low and behold, it turned out to be kind of cute!

Route 66 for those who might not know the brand name is found at Kmart, someplace I don't usually frequent for my clothes but paired with grown-up boots & a stylin' purse, the outfit is nice and kid-friendly - and I'd like to think, more expensive looking than just $62.

As a Mom I want to be practical. I don't want to throw money away on something that my kids (or my own clumsy self) could ruin in just one meal. But I want to look nice. I want to look like I'm "together" even when I don't feel it. I want to be comfortable. I want my husband to think I look cute!

Now take out whether or not you have kids or a husband and doesn't it sound like what every woman wants? Great style for less? The "luxury" of changing your style without throwing out all your clothes and charging up the credit card? Sounds like a dream, but it's not, Savvy Shopping is for every woman, not just a suburban Supermom.

Savvy shopping can apply to high schoolers, college students, single women, married women without children, workplace Supermoms, anyone who wants to look good but doesn't or can't spend a lot of money. It can apply to the Superwoman who likes the bohemian look or the one who needs to dress for the board room.

Both the skirt and boots came from the thriftstore. I chose to go with the denim long skirt and heeled camel boot look, but for the same price a high school girl might choose a short little A&F skirt and Emus (a brand comparable to Uggs that I did find for $10 at the thriftstore). The college student might get a Free People bohemian skirt and a pair of leather slouch boots. The workplace Supermom might choose the Ann Taylor skirt and a pair of Ferragamo pumps (and yes, I found those too at a thriftstore, brand-new too I might add for $4). I'm sure you'll see them in one of my Savvy Outfits of the Day.

That single fact changed the way I dressed. I could spend $4.29 on a pair of Ann Taylor pants OR $4.29 on a pair of sweats/yoga pants. I know which I would look better in, it's just that in the past I wouldn't spend the extra money because in the "real world" it would cost $40 for a casual pair of Ann Taylor pants and just $20 at Target for a pair of yoga pants. It's not that I didn't think I was worth the extra $20 I just couldn't justify it.

Nice clothes seemed like a luxury that I wasn't willing to pay for when the extra $20 could be another pair of yoga pants or maybe lunch out with the kids. I know that isn't the case for everyone, but it was for me. Savvy shopping is what I finally found that allowed me to reconcile my desire to look nice and to be wise with my money.

I think that's one of the main things a savvy shopper needs to keep in mind, is that it doesn't matter WHERE it comes from. If it looks good and fits well, no one needs to know that you spent next-to-nothing...or what the brand name is.

Halloween Tip...for next year!

We all know that Halloween items are always 50-75% off the day after Halloween. Or at least I thought so. A last minute run to Kroger for candy (yes, I had TOTALLY forgotten to get candy) landed me the deal of the day. ALL the candy was 75% off at 3pm the day of Halloween.

My $10 bags of Hershey goodness were only $2.50 each - I bought 2. The Hershey's snack bite bags, only $.75; combined with the $1.00 off 3 bags coupon I found lying on top of the bags I got 3 for just $1.25.

THEN when I didn't think it could get any better, upon checking out the machine spit out a "Thanks for choosing Hershey's, here's $5 off your purchase" making my Halloween candy total just $1.25 and I got the GOOD STUFF, the candy children fight over and adults take out of unsuspecting toddler's bags for their own stash. NOT that I would ever do that...I've just HEARD that some moms & dads do that...

Combine all the with the nifty Black Widow spider punch bowl I bought last year at Kroger for $1 (normall $19.99 since it's a punch bowl set complete with ladle & cups) we were ready for a night of fun Savvy Suburban style!

Of course we had SO much candy left over I sent Hubby to work with a ziploc bag full for their "candy jar". Just think, if I hadn't been so greedy and bought less, I could have gotten my candy for FREE! Does anyone know if candy freezes well?