Saturday, January 31, 2009

Savvy Outfit of the Day - $48 Steve Madden & Winter White

Today's outfit of the day is variation of something I wore a couple weeks back. Yes, I do wear my clothes more than once! I went to a 'hood party that night and though it was just at a neighbor's house down the street, I wanted to dress up a little more than jeans without being over-the-top.

The Breakdown:
Old Navy puff & fur coat (thrift store $15/ARP $40), Banana Republic argyle sweater ($6 thrift store/ARP $70), turquoise tank ($3 For Love 21/ARP $3), winter white American Eagle cords ($5 thrift store/ARP $40), Steve Madden white leather boots ($7 thrift store/ARP $100 ), cashmere pashmina ($6 hospital sale/ARP $10), MAXXimum leather & suede purse ($6 thrift store/ARP $75).

Grand Total: $48
Approximate Retail Price: $338
Savvy Savings: $290

I LOVE the Steve Madden boots! Using What Not to Wear rules and continuing the white of of the cords to the point of the boots, helps to make my legs look longer, and what woman doesn't want to have longer looking legs? And even though white can be a rough color to wear with children running around, the cord material is more resilient and I love the fact that I don't have to iron it. Really, worse case scenario is if the pants get stained, and then I only spent $5 on it so I didn't waste my money. I've had these pants for over a year now and they're still going strong!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Savvy Outfit of the Day - $27 Rafe Retro & a mini Rant

Today's outfit is another one of those questionable What Not to Wear moments. Can one wear a full length sweater and have it NOT look like a robe? I think maybe, just maybe.

I found this gem at a thrift store for $10 and I've gotten so many compliments. Of course after watching enough WNTW I know that's not always a sure sign that you've hit a home run. Although I will say that one woman hung out of her car to compliment me as I was walking with the Superstars in a parking lot! The jacket is by Kenji Natural, which I had never heard of before, but it fits well and it sure is cozy (I did NOT say "comfortable").

The Breakdown.
Kenji Natural full length sweater jacket ($10 thrift store/ARP $40), black Banana Republic wool turtleneck ($4 thrift store/ARP $50), winter white American Eagle cords ($5 thrift store/ARP $40), black Nine West leather boots ($8 thrift store/ARP $150), Rafe for Target black "patent leather" purse (trade with a friend/ARP $50).

Grand Total: $27
Approximate Retail Price: $330
Savvy Savings: $303

I'm not sure this is What TO Wear, but what good is the freedom savvy shopping brings if you can't try something new without breaking the bank? I felt good wearing this. And well, at 40 I've finally decided that there's a small part of me (growing bigger every day) that just doesn't care what other people think.

Of course I don't mean that in a bad way, but if the 30's taught me anything, it's that no matter how "decently" I think I dress for a stay-at-home mom who sometimes stays in her PJs all day long, there will be someone out there who does it better...and for less money. Conversely there will be someone who spends more money and feels superior for it because it's new, improved, more stylish or more eco-friendly and you know what? It's ok!

In life there will always be someone who is prettier, richer, smarter, funnier, thinner, or all around more together than I am, but
no one has it all together and no matter what strong points we think we can boast in, there's another area of our life that is sorely in need of work. We're ALL that way. It's part of being human. It's what makes us U-nique and sometimes U-nusual, but overall it's about being U, flaws and all (sorry, kinda cheesy but I like the alliteration).

So to quote Ms. Frizzle in The Magic School Bus (can you tell I have an elementary school child?) "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!" And even as that statement makes me cringe (I'm German and we're tidy, organized people!) I get it, and there's a lot of freedom in that statement. I hope you see that too.

Savvy Consignment Store Score - Betsey Johnson

Oh how I love Plato's Closet. It's the place I bring the clothes I no longer wear and they give me money (if it's not too "old" or "dated"). I always look around while they check out my clothes to see if there's any savvy shopping bargains, and today there was!

Behold, my new Betsey Johnson charm bracelet watch. Now, I do have several nice watches. As you can guess, I find them at the thrift store and sometimes on clearance in retails stores. I thought this would make a nice little addition to my collection. Considering it retailed for $150 and I got it for a mere $9 ($14 with a 40% off coupon for bringing clothes in) I think this counts as a SCORE!

The watch was too big for my wrist and needed links taken out. Anyone who has done that before knows it costs about $10. Having bought several watches at thrift stores before, I had invested $10 last year and bought a watch repair kit on eBay. In it I have all the tools to take out links and, ha, ha, change out batteries! I was able to take out the links I needed no problem at all. I've also used it for sunglasses, toys, and other teeny things.

Unfortunately the battery was also rundown, and I didn't think I would be able to take the backing off this watch without scratching it (some backs are easier to take off than others), so I scrolled down through the "coupon" section of our local coupon site (for my Savvy Nashville Suburban Friends check it out here) and printed up a coupon for a $4.99 battery change; that's battery and labor so I didn't have to take the time to figure out what size battery it needed and where to get one.

Anyway, $15 later I am the owner of a cute, working Betsey Johnson watch! Of course, TECHNICALLY I spent only $5 since I traded in clothes and didn't spend a single dime of my own money!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Savvy Outfit of the Day - $41 Green Goes Brown!

Today's outfit was really fun for me. I love the browns of this vintage jacket I found over 10 years ago when I was still single. I bought it at a thrift store (of course!) and it came with matching pants. Talk about a sort of zoot suit look! I love the jacket and I'm always excited when I can find a new outfit to wear with it.

The Breakdown.
American Eagle khaki cords ($5 thrift store/ARP $40), New York & Company geometric gauze print shirt ($4 thrift store/ARP $30), Ann Taylor Sweater ($4 thrift store/ARP $40), bronze Gianni Bini boots ($6 thrift store/ARP $75), Banana Republic suede & leather hobo ($10 thrift store/ARP $200), vintage wool long striped coat ($12 thrift store/ARP $40).

Grand Total: $42
Approximate Retail Price: $425
Savvy Savings: $383

So Green goes Brown - what does it all mean? Well, what's more green than recycling? Everything in today's outfit is from the thrift store - woo-hoo! Who knew green could look so good?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Attention Target Shoppers!

My girlfriend, Shannon, just sent this blog link to me. It's called Attention Target Shoppers and this lovely lady has made it her mission to let us other savvy shoppers when the big markdowns and sales are going on at Target. Remember when I said that Target will eventually mark down their overstocked Christmas toys to 75% but I wasn't sure when? She's the go-to lady on that. If you love Target (and their sales) as much as I do, you'll need to bookmark this blog...and mine of course!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Superstars' Savvy Outfits of the Day - $15 & $11 Gymboree & Gap

So I figure after all this time it's only fair to give the Superstars their due when it comes to children's savvy fashion. They had a great time posing (as you can tell from the hand on the hips thing going on...guess they have been watching Mom even when they don't listen to her).

When it comes to savvy savings on children's clothes, it's amazingly easy. Since I got to a thrift store usually 3-4 times a month I always stop at the children's section to do a quick-through. At Goodwill the children's clothing from baby to 2 years is $1.99 and from 2 years to about 4/5 (sometimes 6X depending on who's doing the tagging) is just $2.49. Then after that 6x/7 and up to adults is $3.49 a piece. Shoes for the little ones are usually $1.99 to $3.99 sometimes higher if they realize it's a good brand name or if it's boots. Older kids run $$2.99 to maybe $5.99.

The Superstars are on the low side of the growth curve and so I've not had to worry about them outgrowing things too quickly but even if they did, for just $10-$20 for a full outfit (shirt, pants, shoes and sometimes jacket) it's not going to break the bank. Yes, shoes & underwear are always bought if!?

Superstar #1 Breakdown
Cherokee black cotton jacket (Target $3.50), Cherokee raspberry polka-dot shirt/dress ($3 Target), black tights ($3 Walmart), Hello Kitty purse ($2 thrift store), black patent leather Gap loafers ($3 thrift store). Grand Total: $14.50

Superstar #2 Breakdown
Gymboree cord jacket ($2.50 thrift store), Children's Place cord skirt ($2.50 thrift store), Cherokee long sleeve shirt (part of 2 piece $1.75 outfit at Target so let's say $1.40), brown tights ($3 K-Mart with coupon), black Circo shoes (Target $3.50). Grand Total: $10.90

As a note although I do respect the idea of quality made clothes, I'm not sure there is anything so different between a $40 shirt from a Gymboree store and a $7 shirt from Target that's going to really "pay-off" in the long run. Goodness when kids are young you are lucky if they wear it for one whole year, even luckier if it fits the next kid(s) in line! That said, if you have the money then by all means, do it! Me, personally, I would just rather take the extra $30 I save and go out for lunch or a movie with the Superstars.

Really, they don't care when they are young and if you make too much of it when they are young, they are going to remember and push for it when they are teenagers. Been to an Abercrombie youth store lately? My goodness, the prices are more than what I would spend for myself!

Anyway, do check your local thrift store or consignment store and always remember to cruise the sale racks at your local Target, Walmart and even mall stores. You never know what you might find!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Savvy Outfit of the Day - $47 Raspberry & Tignanello

There's nothing like a bright coat to chase away the winter grays...I told you it was pretty stunning, didn't I? I never would have bought a raspberry colored coat as my main coat, but I found this brand new with tags coat at the thrift store for just $15 I couldn't refuse. Isn't the inside lining gorgeous?

The rest of this outfit is pretty boring, but then all I did was run around a bit today so the coat stayed on the whole time; of course we couldn't have the outfit steal any attention away from the coat now could we? Wouldn't you know at my first stop a woman commented on how beautiful it was. No, I didn't tell her it was from the thrift store! I only tell you, my close friends such need-to-know details like that!

The Breakdown.
Raspberry Koret coat ($15 thrift store), black v-neck The Limited sweater ($3 thrift store), white lace edged tank ($4 Rave), Banana Republic jeans ($10 eBay), black patent leather Bandolino kitten heel pumps ($8 brand new at TJ Maxx), Tignanello black leather purse ($7 thrift store - I saw it at Macy's in the fall for $90!).
Grand Total: $47

So take it from me and my raspberry coat, be daring today and if you happen to be out looking for clothes, try on something daring and different from the things to which you normally gravitate, you never know what you might find.

Shop Savvy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Savvy Outfit of the Day - $31 J Crew Cool

Ever have one of those days when you just want to sit in the house all day long in your PJs? Yeah, I had one of those yesterday, but I had to get some eBay items I sold into the mail so I pulled together this outfit that reflected my mood...gray, oh, with a hint of red of course because I'm still alive and kicking, by golly!

The Breakdown
No Boundaries graphite graphic T ($10 Walmart/ARP $10), American Eagle Cream cords ($5 thrift store/ARP $40), lace tank top ($4 Rave/ARP $4), David Aaron suede kitten heels ($4 thrift store/ARP $50 David Aaron is owned by Steve Madden), JCrew thinsulate gray wool coat ($8 thrift store/ARP $150 ), Johnstons of Elgin scarf (a gift from my Tante in Germany over 10 years ago), red patent leather Coach gallery tote (a birthday present from a dear friend).

Grand Total: $31
Approximate Retail Cost: $254
(not including the Coach or scarf since they were gifts)
Savvy Savings: $223

I found this top when I was shopping at Walmart for household items. I thought it was pretty cute for just a casual top, and at $10, not a bad price either. It reminds me a little of Juicy Couture and some of those more trendy looking brands (I use to be in the music industry so it's ok if I go funky now and again). Like Clinton Kelly says, just keep the trend to one part of the outfit if you're a little "older" so that you don't look like you are trying too hard. At 40, I don't want to look like I'm trying too hard but I'm not ready for Golden Girls polyester!

Cream colored pants and a classic like this JCrew coat keep this from looking too casual. It would be easy to change the purse for a black purse and change the scarf to red and have a different outwear look. The gray coat is very versatile and although rather neutral in and of itself, great to pair with pink, red, blue, etc., and well, $8 for JCrew coat can't be beat.

So, a red purse. Who would have thought a red purse could be so versatile. I wear it all the time! The funny thing is that this comes from a woman who
never really carried a purse regularly till after I had Superstar #1 at the tender age of 33 (Yeah, I hear you gasping out there). I told you I was a tomboy growing up! Seriously, I'm thinking back and not a single purse stands out in my mind. I don't even remember what I did, though I vaguely remember using a wallet and sometimes stuffing money and my license into my back pocket.

Once kids, and all their STUFF came along, that chapter of my life shut rather soundly and yet another wonderful world opened up to me. The world of purses! It started out when I decided somewhere around the second child that A) I didn't need to carry around SO much stuff, a couple diapers & wipes would do and B) if this stage of carrying extra stuff was going to last for a couple years, why not carry the extra stuff in just a purse?

Thankfully the thrift store was my "laboratory" which allowed me to try different purses without breaking the bank. With the help of eBay (and the selling off of purses that didn't work as well for me), I was able to slowly start a collection of purses that were not only useful but FUN. I like how I can "dress up" an outfit like this one, with a pop of color. Any number of black leather purses would have been fine with this outfit, but the red is a nice surprise that stands out a little more and I love it.

On a side note, I do have several different wallets as well, but I find that changing over from one purse to another is enough changing for me. I do occasionally swap one out when the clash between purse and wallet is too much, but for the most part I'm not organized enough to do so on a regular basis.

Changing purses is easy. I generally have but a few things to switch over: wallet (a gorgeous Kate Landry electric blue patent leather wallet I got at Dillard's last year for $8), make-up bag (a cute studded Coach wristlet I found at the thrift store for $6 last summer), cell phone, and MP3 player. Sure I may collect a few things along the way or throw in the antibacterial wipes for the Superstars when the purse is big enough to do so, but for the most part, that's it. Changing purses has been a great way to keep me organized as well.

One last note for the day, another great thing about savvy shopping is that I've gotten a chance to try things I wouldn't ordinarily try. For instance, the bright blue Kate Landry wallet. Had it not been $8 I would not have bought it. It's now my favorite. I get tons of compliments on it from teenager cashiers on up to people as old as me and older (ha, ha, ha), and it's easy to clean, a definite plus in my world with Superstars!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thrfit Store Score - Michael Kors & Timberland

So the Superstars and I decided to make a quick stop at the thrift store and boy did I score a couple of great finds - a gorgeous pair of Michael Kors black suede & leather pumps for $3.99. I have a pencil skirt that I can't wait to wear with it...when it gets warmer around here. BRRRRR - it's COLD in Music City. Judging by the Zappo's $379 original price tag of the Alison pumps from Michael's "Michael Kors" line (as opposed to MICHAEL by Michael Kors and KORS by Michael Kors...anyone else confused?), I think I scored a pretty sweet deal!

Of course I could wear the yummy Timberland Monogram Wedge Boots that I found last week for just $8 since it IS so cold. Originally $150 these boots look brand new as well.

The Superstars found a Magic Treehouse book, a new Swan Lake coloring book and two readers today so we all went home happy campers for less than $10 (not counting last week's Timberlands :)

Repeat after me, "Oh how I love Savvy Shopping!"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Savvy Outfit of the Day - $47 Pretty in Pink Coach

I didn't start wearing pink until sometime after Superstar #2 was born. It's not that I had anything against the color, I just grew up as a tomboy so I guess I never really embraced my feminine side. I was more at home in sweats & t-shirts running from soccer practice to volleyball practice and then to the football training room (I used to help tape up the players and help with injury recovery/physical therapy on the side). Not to say that I didn't have more feminine friends. I did, and some of them wore big ole bows in their hair that matched our uniforms. I just didn't.

ANYWAY - all that to say, I am falling in love with moderation. I love using it as an accent color like in this outfit where, yes, I am wearing jeans. But per What Not to Wear rules, they are a nice dark even wash and look dressy even though they are "just jeans".

The Breakdown.
B. Laguna jeans (Macy's sale $15), white tank (Rave $4), white cotton Old Navy long sleeve ($4 thrift store, new), Ann Marino black leather wedge ($8 Parisians), Pink Signature Coach clip purse ($10 thrift store), pink cashmere scarf ($6 hospital sale).
Grand Total: $47

You know, I did find a pink Coach signature hat at a local thrift store (for $15) so I could have worn that as well, but it felt a little over-the-top and too matchy-matchy for my taste so here it is, sans hat. It's easy to see that with just a change in accessory color I could have a whole new outfit, but it would have to be bright in order to have the same impact, wearing black or brown accessories would be a little boring. Yellow, orange, green or red would be other good colors to pop this outfit.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Savvy Outfit of the Day - $59 Casual Coach Style

Yeah! No jeans today. Today's casual outfit is inspired by my beautiful neighbor who is a NIA (no-impact aerobics), yoga and strip-fit instructor. She has the cutest casual outfits that are comfortable to boot!

The Breakdown.
Yoga Mossimo pants ($4 Target sale), black lace tank ($4 Rave), Joan & David ballet flats ($4 thrift store), Coach signature hobo purse ($43 eBay), Michael Stars blue top ($4 thrift store). Grand Total: $59

I can't tell you how much I love yoga pants. I can wear them to work out at the gym and then if I have to run somewhere in a hurry and don't have to shower there, I can throw a simple top over it and I look a step above presentable!

Yoga pants were a God-send when I was pregnant and that period after the baby when the pre-pregnancy clothes still don't fit. As long as you wash them in cold water and hang dry them, they will stay nice and dark and will always look better than sweats...especially those velour track suit sweats. But then that's just me! As much as I think some of Juicy Couture's clothing and accessories are cool, you will NEVER catch me in a pair of pants that read "JUICY" on the butt.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Superstar Savvy Decorating Tips for Kids' Rooms - Part I

Today I thought I would share how I used savvy savings to decorate the Superstars' rooms. I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that some of it was decorated with thrift store finds. Since this post turned out to be pretty long I thought I would break it into Part I and Part II. Today's half will focus on Superstar #1's room which we did for about $600 total.

SUPERSTAR #1's Bedroom

We decorated Superstar #1's room when she turned 2 and we had to transition her out of the crib to make room for Superstar #2. She turns 7 in a couple months and outside of a change in the dresser (from a free one to a bought one) it's lasted almost 5 years now. I like the fact that you really can't tell how old/young the child is that lives here. A few changes and we could make this a guest room very easily.

Furniture Breakdown - $483
The bed was the most expensive item in this room, but we bought it through a buying club we belong to called Direct Buy and ended up with a $1200 day bed for $450. IKEA has a comparable bed that we considered (not quite as sturdy, but looks very similar for $400) but the IKEA version has pull-out drawers whereas the one we bought has a pull out bed which is perfect for both sleepovers or if we have lots of guests in the house and the Superstars have to bunk together. I don't see us replacing it any time soon.

The chest of drawers was a purchase from the thrift store last year. It was $15 and brown. I brought it home and painted it with white semi-gloss, put the old knobs back on and voila! The bedside wicker table was $8 at the thrift store. The matching trash can was from...a trash pile left on the side of the road. I sanitized it and sprayed it with another coat of spray paint ($1 a can at Walmart) and it's perfect. The toy chest was from IKEA, bare wood, for $10. I painted it and that's where all the extra stuffed animals are stored.

Bedding & Curtain Breakdown - $70
($85 for the option to change out when she wants)
All that cute kid's bedding can be EXPENSIVE! We found that IKEA was the cheapest, well made items that looked really good. We timed our trips to IKEA as part of a family vacation to visit the family in California or St. Louis (then drove up to Chicago). I envy all you out there who have an IKEA nearby.

The duvet cover & pillow case was a set and cost $20. Each European pillow with sham was less than $10 a piece. The duvet itself was around $20 (hypo-allergenic). The sheer cotton window panels were $20 ($10 a set and I needed 2 sets for the 3 panels). The matching fabric fringe at the top of each panel was the pillow case from the duvet set taken apart and sewn on by me. The hardware to hang the curtains was $10 at IKEA.

The red standard pillowcase was bought during our 2007 Christmas trip to California to see my folks. We bought both girls a matching duvet/pillow set on sale for $15 a set. Superstar #1 had been wanting to update her room and so we bought one for her so she could switch back and forth as she wanted. It's as easy as pulling it out of the linen closet when we pull the dirty ones off. Isn't it amazing what a change it is, just for $15? When everything else is pretty basic, you can change the whole look of a room for very little money. I think blue, greens & reds would be another great color combination in this room, so that if we had a boy, it would work just as well without painting.

Art, Accessories & Lighting - $42
Last but not least the art and accessories. We bought the "M" & "B" letters at TJMaxx for $4 a piece. The butterfly was from my mom but I have seen them for less than $5 a piece at various places from Target to Party City. They're seasonal so you can't always find them but they sure are cute.

The rug was $16 at IKEA, a little surprise that my husband brought home from a work trip to California. I LOVE the pop of color it brings to the room and how it keeps the room from becoming too girly/fru-fru. It also hides the permanent ink spot that was there when we bought the house.

The wicker mirror over the drawers is actually mine from when I was a child. It was one of the things my Mom & Dad let me have as I went to college (it was brown back then, $1 can of spray paint changed that). There's a good chance that one of the girls will take it with them to college someday. The tall mirror behind her door was a curbside find. Actually a friend of mine was leaving town and had a pile on the front porch she was throwing away. It was dark brown and now it's white.

My husband and I bought the hanging star lamp with a gift card we received for our wedding over 10 years ago. It was originally bronze, a reminder of the huge star lanterns that hung up in the restaurant in Playa del Carmen where we had a wonderful dinner one night during our honeymoon and hung up in the living room for a long time. When Superstar #1 was born we painted it white and it has been hers ever since. It was a great "night light" back then for her as a baby and she still uses it now. The main light in her room was a horrible builder's grade see-through glass globe (BLECH!). I found a nondescript white flushlamp for $12 at Lowe's.

The ballerina picture over the night stand was a $5 buy at TJMaxx. The lamp, was another friend's "we're throwing all this out if you want any of it", and the fairy hook that she can hang her bathrobe & pajamas on was .99 new at the thrift store. I wanted to put it behind the door, but she wouldn't have that. Thank goodness the robe matches her room. You laugh, but it would catch my eye and bug me every time I entered the room!

One Last Word...
So that's it for Superstar #1's room. I hope you all know that as I share these things it's not to say "this is how you should decorate your room" because I know that we all have different tastes and styles. I definitely don't share it with you because I feel like I am on the cutting edge of decorating.

I just wanted to share that with a little time, creativity and patience, you can have a room that looks pulled together without a lot of cost. I have friends that LOVE Pottery Barn and surf Craigslist and eBay looking for the set they want and save a ton of money doing it, but I've never been beholden to any particular look so I'm fine mixing and matching. It's more eclectic and more organic in the sense that it's not so "matchy-matchy". It's also more forgiving with experiments where you can add and take away pieces as the children grow, without changing or throwing off the whole room's look.

I don't have any examples of it here, but garage sales are also GREAT places to find accessories and sometimes incredible deals on furniture. I remember my girlfriend buying a gorgeous hand painted Bassett armoire for her daughter's room for just $75. Another girlfriend bought a boy's car bed for $50. The deals are there it's just a seasonal thing around here. We don't have as many of them around when the weather is freezing.

Tomorrow's post - Superstar #2's room. It's kind of in transition at this point, having been thrown together rather haphazardly over the last 2 years. It's the second child thing. I was too busy to put as much thought into it and without another child on the way, it was easier to let some things slide. Bless her heart, we just got rid of her changing table/dresser this summer.

Superstar Savvy Decorating Tips for Kids' Rooms - Part II

Yesterday I shared what went into decorating Superstar #1's room and today it's time for Superstar #2. As I mentioned yesterday, it's in a bit in a transition. Even as I take the pictures I realize what a large blank wall she has by her bed and since I never found anything I really liked, it stayed that way. Due to this and great deals, this room came together for a Grand Total of $183.

We've been talking about changing the room up a bit by buying a new "bed". Right now her headboard is a piece of plywood with padding and Dora fabric which we got for free, against which a pop-up trundle bed is pushed. We're not sure what we're going to do and yet, it's not a priority so we're not really in any hurry. I do, however, look forward to getting rid of the Dora stuff!

Superstar's #2 Room

Superstar #2's room is a perfect example of what I think the two most important aspects of savvy savings in general are: 1) be patient and 2) be willing to compromise. Although I am someone who really thrives with order or at least the appearance thereof, I am willing to leave empty spaces and wait until I find what I want at the price I want it. I also don't really go into decorating thinking I HAVE to have a certain item. The room kind of evolves as it goes. There's a lot less stress that way as well. Kids for the most part, don't care as much as we do about such things.

I admit, I am not a theme kind of person. I didn't want a Disney Princess Room or a Dora room, but I found several Dora items for so cheap or free that I've "embraced it" for this season (from 2 to 4 years old) because I knew that it wouldn't be that way forever AND because I knew I could recoup the cost by selling off the Dora's things when we made the change. The point being that it was what made itself available at the time for a price I was willing to pay, and my daughter loved it. She's the one who has recently said she is ready to change things, so we'll see what makes itself available as we start to look!

Furniture Breakdown - $52
The bed was actually the least expensive part of this room. We got the headboard for free from a friend of ours whose daughter loved Dora too. The bedframe itself is a pop-up trundle from a thrift store where it was $17, but with a frequent buyer card discount ($10 off for your 10th purchase of $10 or more) it was just $7.

The Dora cubby holder was a surprise find at Big Lots for $15. It use to hold board books (before we did the built-ins for the bonus room) and now we use it to hold various extra animals & dress up clothes or whatever little bits of stuff that doesn't need to be all over the floor.

The dresser was a thrift store find for $20. It too was dark brown but after a couple coats of white semi-gloss paint it and $10 worth of hardware (I had the single knobs on hand and bought 6 cup pulls on eBay for $1.39 each) I have a great dresser that Superstar #2 can reach all the drawers and pick out/put away all her clothes herself.

The hamper was a thrift store find for $5. It was already white so no painting required there. The Dora sofa was a $5 thrift store find. The cover is removable so we sanitized and then washed everything before we used it. It folds out to a bed and she's actually had a "sleep over" in her sister's room using it.

Bedding & Curtains Breakdown - $63
The duvet cover is the same as Superstar #1's "alternative" set. It was $15 for the cover and pillowcase at IKEA. The duvet itself was $20 at IKEA. The bedskirt was $2 at the thrift store. The two shams match her sisters but are flipped over to showcase the pink polka dot side (versus the red/green/pink gingham showcased in her sister's room). With the pillow insert they were about $10 a piece.

The curtains are my favorite and part of what we'll use to build on as we move forward. They were given to me by my friend. They are Pottery Barn and I love them. They were, however, a little too short for my taste. I always hang my curtains nearer to the ceiling in order to give the appearance of a taller room. My friend also gave me the little "cafe curtains" that matched in pink gingham, and I just sewed them onto the bottom in order to give it the height I wanted. The wood rod & hardware was $8 at Big Lots.

Art, Accessories & Lighting - $57
The three pictures above the dresser wasn't really a planned thing. I bought them at the 90% off after Valentines day sale at Target for a total of $8. Having said that, I like the pop of color they bring which helps to tie in the red in the duvet covers. They are fun and simple pieces that can not only be used in her room, but should we changed things around in her sister's room, matches that color scheme as well. The Dora lamp was a gift from Nana & Pappy and with the little twist switch on the cord, something she can turn on and off very easily.

The three pictures in her hang-out corner (formerly the reading corner) and the one on the left of the curtains were Dollar Tree frames (4 at $1 each) then I used a yard of $1 a yard fabric from Walmart to create a pink polka dot mat showcasing some fun 8x10 pictures of the Superstars. The little fairy that holds her bathrobe & pajamas matches her sisters and came from the thrift store for $1.

Whereas Superstar #1 has a star lamp, Superstar #2 has a chandelier in her room. I bought it at Target on sale for $20 and just added the beaded lampshades which I found at Lowe's for $4 a piece. We put the light on a dimmer ($8 extra) and it adds a special touch to her room that I know she'll still love when she's older. Who knows, the Superstars may decide to switch their lamps too at some point.

Final Words
I hope if anything these last two days have been encouraging, whether it's to say "We did a WHOLE lot better than that for our kids rooms" or just to say "Hey, it's ok not to have it all together!" Work with what you've got, change things out from other rooms, dig in the attic and see what might work if you just add a coat of paint.

Other places to check that are great for savvy savings for decorating kid's rooms:

People are constantly listing furniture, and there are always a bunch of kid's items. Sometimes they even give things away for FREE! I've seen twin bed frames for less than $20. You can make a custom headboard with just a board from Lowe's, padding from Jo-ann's and your choice of fabric (and a staple gun). I did one for our Master Bedroom that I'll share in another post soon.

Garage Sales
Granted it's a little cold outside, but some people are still having them. There are definite deals to be had at garage sales. Get there early though since furniture is usually the first to go. Garage sales are also great for getting artwork for cheap as well as those little extras like bins, baskets, hampers, and lamps.

Consignment Stores
The stores near our house always have furniture of some sort and they always have artwork. Sometimes it's new and you still pay a premium, othertimes they have odds and ends, like bookcases that are still cheaper than running to Target and getting the Closetmaid version.

Consigment Sales
Like the consignment store you are buying a used item, usually. Items tend to be priced less than consignment stores since it's only an event lasting a couple days. This is another great place to find artwork, bedding and furniture. If you sell at the consignment sale you'll get first dibs by being able to buy the day before the sale opens to the public.

These are just a few of the ideas on where to build a savvy kids room with style. More than anything, have fun with it - It's a kids room!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Savvy Outfit of the Day - $63 Lucky Brand & Frye Boot Cool

Wow, you all are a tough crowd! Too many jeans lately?

Sigh. You're right. I've really just been in a jean mood. It's been cold and gray outside and I've been very, very lazy. In fact, there have been some days when I have stayed in my PJs before heading out well AFTER noon. You ever have days like that?

How about if I kick it up a notch? Would it help if I went out in a jeans SKIRT? I mean, it technically a "jean skirt", but it's a skirt so that's gotta merit some brownie points, right?

The Breakdown.
Flirty Blues denim skirt ($4 thrift store), lace brown tank top ($4 Rave), brown tights ($4 Walmart), Old Navy cord jacket ($6 thrift store), red cashmere pashmina ($6 hospital sale), Lucky Brand vintage inspired purse ($24 thrift store), Frye lace up boots ($15 shoe outlet). Grand Total: $63

So my dear Savvy Friends, I promise I will try to do better and wear my cords and other non-jean pants again. I will try!!!!

Superstar Savvy Savings for Children's Clothing

I've spent a lot of time chronicling adult clothing, now it's time to give the Superstars their due. As you might have guessed, the majority of their clothing comes from the thrift store. While I have shopped consignment stores, consignment sales, eBay, and retail and outlet stores, time and again I consistently find the best and the cheapest items at the thrift store. BUT that doesn't mean that deals can't be found elsewhere. The key to my savvy shopping for kids is to realize that I don't "have" to have any particular clothing so bad that it's worth paying a premium.


PROS: Organized retail store atmosphere where you don't have to dig for gently used children's items for a fraction of retail. You can "trade-up".
CONS: Not as good a deal as thrift store.

Consignment stores are great places to find gently used and some new children's items: clothing, toys, books, children's furniture, hair ribbons, jewelry and even maternity clothes. Parents bring in their clothing and the store will either sell it for them or buy the clothes and then turn around and sell it. Some stores will even sell local handmade items such as bows, smocked items, bibs, personalized diaper bags, etc.

I occasionally shop consignment stores but I mainly use them to sell off the Superstars' clothes after they have outgrown them and there are no local consignment sales (see below) for a while. I usually make at least what I spent for the clothes since I buy things so cheap, but either way I find I get more bang for my buck by going to the thrift store. Jeans at consignment stores generally run from $5-$15. Jeans at the thrift store for kids up to pre-teens are $2.50 - $3.50.


PROS: Greater percentage of profit than consignment stores. Great assortment of furniture and larger baby items for cheap. If you sell items at the sale you get to shop before the public. The profits made by the organization holding the sale usually gets the other portion of the profits (goes to a good cause).
CONS: Seasonal. More work on your part, and although you can get some deals, since the other mom's prices the items, they can be more expensive than buying those items on sale at retail (and definitely more than thrifting).

Better than consignment stores are consignment sales, and if you live somewhere like I do, they are regular seasonal occurrences. We even have a website that keeps track of all the consignment sales in Tennessee.

Like consignment stores someone else does the work of selling your clothes by providing you space and an "audience" for a percentage of the sales. Most of the sales I have participated in gave me 70% of the profit, while they kept 30%. The best sales I've been a part of are churches, who in turn use the money they make for things like youth programs, international and national mission work and even for building playgrounds.

You can sell pretty much buy and sell any child's item at these types of sales. It's a great way to get rid of unused clothing, shoes, duplicate birthday toys, bikes, books, high chairs, computer games, etc. The last sale I made $150 and the church that held the sale made $35,000 for a playground.


Precision shopping from the comfort of your home.
CONS: Not as great a bargain as thrift or sometimes even retail sales. You need eBay/PayPal account. You can't examine the item you are buying. May not be returnable (depends on seller's policy, although if the seller was misleading, PayPal offers a process by which you can get your money back).

Children's clothes on eBay can be a bargain, especially if you are looking for a particular item or a particular name brand. I have resorted to eBay when I was looking for a character piece of clothing for the Superstars birthday. Other than that I am not beholden to any particular brand name so I'm pretty content with what I buy at the thrift store.

That said, I was able to buy a Dora bathing suit for my youngest last season (which she wanted and needed) for less than $10 and it was delivered straight to my door. Mommy ROCKS!

DISCOUNT RETAIL STORES (TJMaxx, Marshall's, Ross, Nordstrom's Rack, etc.)

PROS: Retail store atmosphere. Return Policy.
CONS: Average prices are generally more than thrift or consignment. Not always a good selection of the size you need. Quality isn't always the greatest.

With the advent of discount stores like TJMaxx, Ross and Marshall's, there are tons of places to buy brand name clothing at discounted prices. Marshall's has a particularly good shoe department for children and I have seen Merrells and Stride Rite shoes for at least half retail prices. I also regularly find Ralph Lauren clothing at these stores for less than $20, still more than what I generally pay since I have found tons of Ralph Lauren at the thrift store (including new with tags) but it's a great place to buy gifts for showers, birthdays, Christmas, etc. when the recipient may not be as thrilled with a thrift store purchase as I am.

The great thing about these places and that they too have end of the season sales where their prices get even lower. I recently went to a shower where I spent just $2 for a beautiful pink Ralph Lauren pique cotton onesie and $2 for a two pieces cotton summer dress & bloomers that I gave as a gift.


PROS: Retail store atmosphere. Quality name brands at better than retail prices. Return Policy.
CONS: Average prices still more than thrfit store or consignment. Not as readily available, even in larger cities.

Outlet stores are also a good source of children's clothes especially if you favor a particular name brand; Ralph Lauren, Carter's, Children's Place, Gymboree, etc. but for me it means making a trip somewhere, even in a larger city like Nashville. And if I want to do that I have to do it during the week with the Superstars or on the weekends when Dad can watch them, since he hates shopping.

When the Superstars were younger I use to shop the end-of-the-season sale at Children's Place Outlet where everything I bought was under $5.00, most pieces were $1.99 and $2.99. My youngest is STILL wearing some of these items and will next summer. When she is finished with them I will probably end up consigning them at one of the sales and making back what I paid (if not more) 4 years and 2 kids after buying them. Woo-hoo, that's how I like to ROLL....


PROS: Consistently the cheapest way to buy kid's clothes.
CONS: Going through racks of clothes that are only separated by large year gaps. Usually worn, rarely new.

Of course you know that this is my favorite of all places to buy kid's clothing. I guess I'm of the mentality if the thrift store is good enough for mom it's good enough for the kids, and really, they aren't as gentle on their clothes as I am. It just never made much sense to me to buy expensive clothes for the kids when A) the outgrow them so quickly and B) they can tear them up in just one play date or 5 minutes outside.

Of course I am spoiled, I live in an area where people donate Gucci and Prada, so the kids clothes selection can be great. I have bought tons of clothes that were new with tags including: TEA, Rare Edition, Ralph Lauren, Strasburg, Gymboree, Gap, and tons of fancy boutique brand names with smocking and lace (not too many since I'm not that fancy).

Even though some of the clothes can have stains (and I have bought items that I was able to get the stains out) there are just as many that are barely worn. Kids can grow like weeds and it's not uncommon for them to wear something a couple times before they've outgrown it, especially if they are going through a growth spurt. Sometimes the Superstars have skipped over certain sizes in a growth spurt.

Thrifting is hands down the best way to find cheap clothes for me. I don't mind the digging to get the great deals. Just last week I bought Superstar #1 a Kangol youth hat in soft fuzzy gray for $1.50. I can't tell you how many compliments she's gotten in it.


Cheap and sometimes FREE. Shopping from your computer.
CONS: Meeting up to get it from someone you don't know. You don't know till you meet them whether or not the clothes are in good wearable condition. First come, first serve.

Craigslist is like the ultimate 24/7 garage sale. I have friends who swear by it when it comes to children's clothing. Just today I went online and saw a woman advertising 10 pieces of Gymboree clothing most brand new with tags on them for $15, so you definitely can get deals. Like the thrift store it's limited to what people are listing. You may not find the size or the brand names or condition you want for the price you are willing to pay.

The only reason why I don't use Craigslist as often is because the best deals aren't always nearby in the sizes I need. That said, when it is, the deals are great because people are just happy to get rid of it and get some money for it rather than giving it the thrift store...which of course, I am always happy when they do.


PROS: Excellent name brand quality in a retail atmostphere. Usually great customer service and a return policy. End of season sales can mean thrift store prices for brand new name brand items.
CONS: Most expensive of all options.

It's a huge category, but I lump the likes of Target, Kohl's, Macy's, Nordstrom, Gymboree, Jack & Janie, and all the Mom & Pop boutique stores into this category because they are what I like to call "full retail" stores. Their stores are the first line after the clothing leaves the manufacturer. Although I rarely pay full retail I still scan the sale racks of major department stores and mall stores and even boutiques during prime sale times - i.e. end of the season. It's then that you can snag up terrific deals anywhere from 30% to 90% off.

Like my recent trip to Target that netted me $70 of clothes for $14 which is about 80% off retail. Even the boutique store down the road runs 70% off sales at the end of the season when you can get high-end smocked items for those who like to dress their children fancier or just for fancy occasions. Since I buy all those at the thrift store when y'all are done with them, I'm thankful you donate them when you're done!


Children outgrow clothes so quickly that it never made much sense to me to spend a lot of money for it. As for "well-made", yes, I don't want my kids to wear something a couple times and have it ripping at the seams, but I just can't see spending $50 on a child's piece of clothing that will last MAYBE a year, more if you can pass it to a younger sibling. Of course I want the Superstars to look presentable, but reality is that all it takes is one meal and not only may "presentable" be out the window, but so might the outfit depending on the damage done.

As I always say, "If a 2-year-old looks messy or is wearing mismatched clothes, she's TWO. She has an excuse. It's harder to explain when it's the 22, 32 or 42 year mother who looks that way." I'm beginning to think some Moms wear their mismatched or ill-fitted clothes as a sort of badge-of-honor, an outward sign of the inherent difficulties of martyrdom...I mean, motherhood. At the same time, others may use their perfect appearance as an outward sign that they have it all together. Neither choice is to be commended or more highly regarded.

Ultimately it's about finding balance in your own life where both you and your children are taken care of and feel good about yourselves. Alas, it's much easier for children than Moms, but our children learn those kind of things from us and we are laying the groundwork for what kind of adult they will be someday.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

RUN Don't Walk to Target....

I had something to return to Target. I timed it to be there today, Tuesday, in particular since that's the day they mark down children's clothing. Imagine my surprise to find that all the Clearance clothing (hanging up) was an additional 30% - not only children's but adults as well. Apparently they are overstocked for the Christmas season and they are trying to get it all moved out before the Spring items go into stores. Not every Target in the US is doing it, so call ahead if you're not sure if your Target is like ours and has a lot of overstock. If they do, get on over there NOW!

I got $70.49 worth of children's clothing for $13.59. The Superstars love wearing matching outfits from time to time so I got two sets of matching shirts, one sweater and two dresses - seven pieces of clothing total. That's even better than the thrift store - and brand new to boot. Talk about Savvy Savings!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Savvy Outfit of the Day- $35 Cashmere & Kate Spade

Can you tell I'm in love with argyle these days? I found this beautiful Banana Republic argyle sweater last week at the thrift store and had to buy it because of the color. A couple of red carpets ago I remember noticing several dark haired celebrities wearing this lovely shade of blue and thinking, "I could wear that color!"

This sweater lends itself to several combination due to the different blues in the pattern. I pulled from one of those blues (the turquoise) and used a cashmere pashmina that I had found last year at the thrift store for this outfit, but I've already paired this sweater with a blue tank and off-white cords for the next time I wear it.

The Breakdown.

Banana Republic argyle sweater ($6 thrift store), off-white tank top ($4 Rave), Express X2 Jeans ($4 thrift store), cashmere pashmina ($1.50 thrift store), Kate Spade black leather handbag ($10 thrift store) and the only retail store item bought, Ann Marino black leather wedge ($8 Parisians). Grand Total: $33.50

One of the things you may have noticed is my recent use of scarves & pashminas. These are great ways to add pops of color and keep warm on those in-between days that we seem to have a lot of here in Music City during the winter. I love it because it's like having a warm blanket wrapped around you and well, they are quite stylish. They are also a rather cheap accessory, especially when found at the thrift store. Goodwill tends to mark them at $1.50-1.99 so finding a cashmere one in this gorgeous blue just made my day and I actually look for ways to wear it.

Next up on the savvy savings calendar is a blog on children's savvy clothing savings...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

SUPER Savvy Outfit of the Day - $17

Today's outfit is brought to you by the thrift store, Big Lots, Plato's Closet and Parisian's. Yup, Big Lots. Did you know they sell clothes?

As for the sweater, I LOVE it. The black and white graphic print is classic and adds a bit of fun to "just jeans." The bright red of the purse is the perfect POP of color needed to keep this outfit from being too monochromatic.

The Breakdown.
i.e sweater (thrift store $6), Jockey lace-edged tank top ($3 Big Lots), Ann Marino black leather wedge (Parisian's $8), Buffalo Bitton jeans (Plato's Closet - free with exchange of old clothes), Coach red patent leather Gallery Tote (free, birthday gift), The Limited scarf/shawl (free birthday gift).
Grand Total: $17

Woo-hoo! I think this is my lowest total to date! Of course, it all hinges on the gifts, but hey, that still counts!

So Big Lots, yeah, they do have clothes. I can't say I've ever bought any jeans or shirts there, but I have bought things like this Jockey for Her lace edged tank-top, Gold Toe socks for the family, cotton pajamas, and even Jockey work out bras! I recently found some high-end Joseph Abboud men's boxers for $4 a pair (they normally run for $20 a pair). As a note, they carry some very cute babies' clothing, usually Carters and Target brand overstocks. GREAT for baby showers.

That's the great thing about Big Lots is that they make a business of selling overstocked items for major retail stores, so it's another link in the chain of moving clothes and creating less waste. If it doesn't sell at Big Lots the items will most likely end up at a salvage store for their next stop.

Hmm, looking at this picture I realize that I need to hem the jeans just a tad bit, they bunch a bit on the bottom...oops!

One Woman's Trash(can) is Another Woman's Treasure

I never set out to buy stainless steel trashcans. It's not that I don't think they're cool. My kitchen has stainless steel appliances so I do gravitate to that style, but our trash can is under the sink so I don't really need one that looks nice. And well, they are so expensive, and for what? TRASH.

But now, thanks to the thrift store, I have not just one but three stainless steel trashcans; not one of them was over $10 and not one of them is in my kitchen.

I've got one in my bonus room near the computer where I work. I've got another in the laundry room, which is off the garage (great for throwing dryer lint and whatever may have been in their pockets) and another in my garage that we use on the deck during the summer when we have neighborhood parties and use for all the trash that the Superstars seem to want to accumulate in the van.

I LOVE my trashcans and would not have so many if I hadn't found them so cheap. You never know what you can find at your local thrift store so stop by TODAY!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Savvy Outfit of the Day - $77 Stylin' in Argyle

I don't have much yellow in my wardrobe. I'm half-Japanese and that means I have a more olive/yellow skin-tone, so wearing the color can make me look sallow and sickly. Still, although this color alone on me may not be ideal, if paired with a dark overcoat, it becomes a nice pop of color and a way for me to enjoy a color that I really do love. And well, argyle is so "in" right now too. Argyle was really "in" during the 80's when I was in high school. It came after the rainbow sweater phase...

The Breakdown.
Merona argyle sweater (thrift store $6/ARP $25), X2 Express Jeans ($4 thrift store/ARP $60), white tank ($2.50 For Love 21/ARP $3), Gianni Bini bronze boots ($6 thrift store/ARP $100), Banana Republic leather purse ($41 eBay/ARP $200), Style & Co. brown wool coat ($17 Macy's sale/ARP $130).

Grand Total: $77
Approximate Retail Price: $518
Savvy Savings: $441

Wow, I'm always surprised when my Grand Total is that high! Of course, it's because $41 of it is a purse and $17 is the jacket, but considering that the purse retailed for about $200 and the jacket was originally $130, I think it's safe to say that $76.50 is MUCH better than $300+...and that's just using retail for those two items. Add the other items at retail and the total would be over $500.

If that's not savvy shopping then I don't know what is!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Savvy Outfit of the Day $58 - Free People Funky

Today's outfit may not follow the What Not to Wear rules. I'm not totally sure. In one way the bold print of this shirt really may walk into a room before I do and while it is not the most slimming I absolutely love the colors.

I purposefully kept the accessories low key so that it didn't look like a modified version of the Golden Girls (big and bold). Free People is one of those brands that I like because it pays attention to colors and textures in less-than-traditional ways without being too Bohemian, though I'm sure just a change of accessories could make this more "boho".

The Breakdown.

The lovely Free People sweater ($6 brand new at the thrift store), The Limited Drew Jeans ($5 TJ Maxx), Giani Bernini bronze boots ($6 thrift store), and my favorite Banana Republic leather purse ($41 eBay). Grand Total: $58

Again with the bronze color for shoes...I love it! The boots worn with dark blue jeans don't "jump" out at you so it really reads as a neutral, and the pointed toe with a bit of a heel keeps the outfit from screaming HIPPIE! Though looking at the pictures, it looks like these jeans are almost tapered. They are most assuredly NOT! However, I almost think a wider trouser leg might have worked a bit better in keeping the overall balance of the outfit. I'll have to try that, as you know this will not be the last time I wear this sweater.

So I'm sorry Clinton Kelly if this was a flagrant violation of The Rules. I just can't help but love this shirt. I hope you can forgive me. At least I didn't say I was wearing it because it was so "comfortable"...