Category Archives: Dear CheapChica

Dear CheapChica

It’s a new year and it’s about time I update my look. The only problem is I don’t know how to go about doing it. Im a college student on a budget and when I do have money to go shopping I never know what to buy. I’m petite with a baby face and I need a new wardrobe that will help keep me look polished but not over done. It’s all so overwhelming…any help would be greatly appreciated!

Dear College Co-ed,

I know how frustrating shopping can be when you feel like you need everything, but don’t know even know exactly what everything is!  If you’re feeling like you need a total wardrobe overhaul, the best advice I can give you is to go back to basics…literally.  I mean start with core items that you can add onto, little by little, to build your dream closet.

As a college student, you probably don’t have use for a lot of work clothes so it’s important-for anyone in your situation– to identify what needs your clothes will have fill.  Do you have a bustling social life or do you stay in most nights?  Do you value comfort over style or are you a total fashionista?  Asking yourself simple questions like these will help you make good decisions about what clothes you actually need to buy.  This will not only make your shopping trip more efficient, but it will keep you from over-spending on items that don’t fit into your lifestyle.

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Dillards $28 and $38

So now for the good stuff…the clothes!!  I would suggest you start with two pairs of jeans…a skinny or straight leg and then a trouser cut with a wider leg both in medium to dark washes.  Since you’re still in school, you can easily wear jeans on a daily basis and even wear them out at night just by pairing them with a dressier top.  Having these two essential pieces in your wardrobe arsenal will provide you with the perfect foundation to create many looks.

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Urban Outfitters $59.99 and $54.99

Next, you mention that you want to appear more polished and in my opinion, there’s not better way to accomplish that than by adding a blazer or fitted jacket to any outfit.  Jackets are a great layering piece and they help you instantly achieve that perfectly styled look that you see in so many fashion magazines.  And while you may think that a nice jacket will cost you a pretty penny, here are some great options- all priced under $60- that will help you feel more put together.  Also keep in mind that jacket’s don’t have to be paired with pants…they look equally, if not better, worn over dresses or with a flirty skirt!

Alloy $42.50

Alloy $42.50

Finally, every woman needs dresses that are versatile enough to wear to class, on a date or to a cocktail party.  The easiest way to transform the look of this dress, or any look for that matter, is by incorporating fun accessories.  Pair your dress with high heels and a collar necklace for a more formal occasion or add a printed scarf and brightly colored flats for a casual but chic day outfit .  Shoes, belts and jewelry will allow you to manipulate the overall effect of any outfit and with resources like Forever 21 and H&M, you can achieve this on student’s budget!

Over time, you will want to incorporate certain pieces based on the season and more importantly, on your personal style, but I hope this gives you a good start to building your new wardrobe and updating your look for the New Year!

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Dear CheapChica

I love dressing up, but most of the dressy dresses I have found are either sleeveless or strapless.  I like having my shoulders covered (short sleeves are fine).  Most of the time, I’ll cover my shoulders and arms by wearing wraps or cardigans.  This works fine, but the wraps/cardigans not only cover my arms, but they also cover the beauty and detail of the dresses I’m wearing.  Any suggestions on some pretty dresses that come with some type of sleeve?
Thanks,

Ali

Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention…I had never noticed the lack of dresses with sleeves!!

55614877-012I for one, love the idea of a sleeve on a cocktail dress.  I think it gives the dress a very vintage and ladylike quality about it, especially if you opt for a bracelet sleeve.  Another way to cover your shoulders without feeling too exposed is to try a sheer sleeve.  This way you get the coverage you’re looking for, but the lace allows some of your skin to show through to make the look sexier and more age-appropriate.  This dress is one of the prettiest dresses I’ve seen in quite a while and I love the gorgeous lace they used to accent the cap sleeve!  

picture-218Now if you’re looking for something dressy with even longer sleeves, be sure to balance it out by picking a dress in a shorter length, since you’ll be covering up most of your upper half.  With so much fabric it’s important that the fit and cut of the dress is sleek, so you don’t look like you’re drowning in fabric, or worse, dumpy!  I love the metallic material of this grey dress and becasue its’ done in a neutral shadee, you can really have fun with your accessories… and don’t forget to play up that gorgeous neckline.

And if you happen to fall in love with a strapless dress again, cover up with a cropped jacket or a tuxedo blazer that has some pretty detailing instead of a plain cardigan!   

Note:  These items are “tunics”, but I saw them in person and they are long enough to style as a dress…unless you’re 5’7″ and up!

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Dear CheapChica

I’m studying abroad in Spain next semester (!!!) and I’ll be arriving in the rainy season, so I need some sort of raincoat…but I want to look cute! Any suggestions??

Thanks!

Steph

Delia's $79.50

Delia's $79.50

I am so excited for you! I spent a semester in Madrid and it’s one of my favorite places in the world…the people, the marcha, the food and of course, the entire southern coast! You’re going to have an amazing time and I’m totally jealous!

Like you mentioned, it does rain most of January-March, but it’s also pretty cold so you’ll not only need a waterproof raincoat, but you’ll also need one that’s warm or that you can layer under. When it comes to raincoats, I always stick to the basics. Look for a double breasted style in classic colors like Navy or Khaki and one with classic details, like these cute gold buttons. I usually prefer a trench coat with a tie, but this military style raincoat has a great slim cut so it should fit you really nicely.

Newport News $89.00

Newport News $89.00

The Madrilenos are incredibly stylish and tend to dress up much more than we do in the States, so you may want to consider a raincoat in a dressier material…this way it can do double duty for both day and night. And while I don’t suggest something in Satin, I do recommend a water-resistant material with a nice sheen that will make your entire outfit feel chic…even if you’re just wearing jeans and a tee underneath!

You can’t go wrong with either one of these styles and since they’re both under $100, take your savings and buy yourself a cafe con leche and some churros! Safe travels!

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Scarlette (Shoe) Fever

picture-22A good friend of mine recently asked for help in finding  a beautiful pair of red high heels that she can wear in the summer….simple enough I thought, until she showed me the inspiration.  She had picked two of the most gorgeous pair of shoes, red or not, that I’ve seen in a while…one from shoe-God, Christian Louboutin and another from Charlotte Olympia.  Both pairs oozed style, sophistication and were able to capture the right kind of sexiness that is often lost with red high heels.

Red shoes can be really tricky…they can come off looking trashy and cheap even when they cost a fortune.  So here are some tips when shopping for a red shoe:

picture-331. Look for a slender heel: Anything with a heavy heel or a platform will just make you look like a stripper so avoid them at all costs!

2. Keep the shine to a minimum: Patent can work, but it has to be the right type of shoe, like a D’orsay or a peep toe style.

3. Elegant fabrics go a long way: Look for satin, like this T-strap, to make the shoe look sophisticated and chic.

After looking around online, I was able to find a lot of BAD choices and the GOOD ones were few and far between…especially on a CheapChica budget…but there are some winners out there as long as you know what to look for!

Style Links (T to B): Satin Peep Toe $89.95, Satin T-Strap $98.40, Corsage Sling Back $30

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Dear CheapChica

My ex and I recently broke up, and I have not seen him in a month and a half.  Before we broke up I got him tickets to see a show in NYC…so on Wednesday we are going together because even though I’m still mad I just won’t let him go with his friend…it was my idea. So I need a killer outfit to wear when I see him.  I’m a size 12 so it has be cute, sophisticated and fit and I want to wear a skirt and boots…something I know he will love. Any ideas?

Thanks,

NYC Bound

Dear NYC,

I totally understand where you’re coming from and know how difficult it can be seeing an ex for the first time after a break-up.  The goal here is to look amazing, but not like you’re trying because we all know you don’t care…

picture-23I think a skirt and boots combo is a great place to start!  For you outfit, I chose clothes that were soft and romantic…think chiffon and pastel colors.  You also mentioned that you were a size 12- so I opted for this beautiful pleated sweater skirt in Ivory instead of a pencil skirt which can come off too tight, too severe and possibly too work-ish.  The lilac (a gorgeous color on anyone) top with the rosette details helps make the outfit feel very feminine and sexy without putting it all out there. 😉

Although it’s winter and you might be tempted to stay in a darker color palette, by choosing these lighter colors you’re outfit stands out from the crowd and says “I’m fun and confident”…always key when seeing an ex.  Not to mention, you’re going to see a show and the outfit should reflect that!

Since I did go girl-y and soft on the clothes, I did something a little more severe and edgy for your accessories….studded belt, chain link bag, etc.  I also added an amazing pair of knee high boots-these were a little pricey, but every woman should already have these in their closet…I mean is anything sexier than a pair of black knee-high boots??

Good luck, have fun and remember…you broke up with him for a reason!

Style Links: Rosette Top $21.99, Skirt $14.99, Belt $30.00, Handbag $44.00, Boots $179.99, Ribbon Bangles $15.50

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Dear CheapChica

I’m 25, I work for a commercial art school in downtown Chicago in a sales position.  In a recent review with my boss, my boss coolly remarked, “you really should consider not looking so much… like our students.”  She went on to remark that while my wardrobe was cute, I didn’t represent $90K education and prestige.  And I ought to invest in some pant suits.  I shuddered at the thought so how can I maintain my individuality while playing the part of the professional?

Thanks,

Britt

Dear Britt,

I too shudder at the thought of a “pant suit”, but the good news is there are a lot of ways to dress professionally that will have you looking like one of the women on Lip Stick Jungle and not Pam from The Office…but the key is to find looks that are well-tailored, colorful and uniquely you.

My favorite trick is to mix classic pieces with more modern pieces.  Take for example this traditional pencil skirt.  If you wear it with a plain white button-down shirt you’d probably end up feeling pretty dowdy and unoriginal, but by pairing it with a pattern in a bold color, in this case florals, you instantly add visual interest and an element of surprise.

Since I chose a camisole, I added the cardigan to make it more work appropriate, but just take off the cardi when you’re leaving the office and voila…you have a great dinner/drinks outfit without ever having to change.  I also threw in those amazing pair of violet pumps just to keep you feeling young (you’re only 25!) and sexy.

My next outfit is a take on the dreaded “pant suit”.  If you think about it, a pant suit really just means a jacket and a pair of pants…no one ever said they had to match!  I like the idea of taking a basic pair of black trousers-try men’s wear inspired and wide legged- and adding a cropped tweed jacket instead of just a plain blazer.  The pattern on the tweed breaks up the black and the cropped length makes it more youthful.

I chose this navy tank because it mimics the ruffle details on the jacket and it also adds a pop of color.  For accessories, since you mentioned being a little “urban-punkish”, I added a great pair of snake earings that will help you feel more like yourself… but I did throw in the most classic piece of jewelry, a pearl bracelet to balance it all out.  Make sure you pair this outfit with a over-sized black bag-try something in mock croc or snake!  Lastly, every career woman needs a fabulous pair of black peep toe pumps.  These have interesting detail on the heel and I’m pretty sure they’ll work with almost everything in your closet!

You can find pieces like this everywhere, but I suggest you start at H&M becausee they have a fantastic “career” section, but they also have fashion forward styles that you can easily mix in.  Old Navy, Forever 21, and Macy’s also have a nice selection of career clothes and don’t rule out any store just because it’s not Ann Taylor.  I hope this helps you on your journey to navigating the corporate world while retaining your individual style!

Note:  Every item in the pictures retails below $49.99!  Email me if you would like more details.

Update:  I had a lot of requests for the links so here they are!

Top Outfit: Cami $24.50, Skirt $19.80, Cardigan $26.50, Bracelet $6.99, Shoes $49.99

Bottom Outfit: Top $17.99, Jacket $32.80,Pants $22.80, Earings $6.00, Handbag $46.99, Shoes $49.99

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Dear CheapChica

I need a comfortable yet stylish shoe. I’m a little hippy so I’d love a higher heel to make me look more slender. I take the train into center city Philly so I need something that is work appropriate and comfortable enough for me to walk my daughter to the school bus and then the train.

Any ideas?  Thanks a million.

Jazzy

Dear Jazzy,

You hit my sweet spot, SHOES!  And you’re a heels girl…I love that!!!  For some reason it’s really had to find fabulous shoes that are comfortable at a reasonable price.  My mom swears by Ferragamo’s, but we all aren’t blessed with her budget so we’ll have to make do with these from Easy Spirit.

Easy Spirit "Lauree" $79.00

Easy Spirit "Lauree" $79

I must admit that the notion of comfortable shoes made me think of ugly, orthopedic, grandma-looking ones, but brands like Easy Spirit and Aerosoles are taking it up a notch and meeting the need for a shoe that’s easy on the toes and eyes.  Some of these companies are even enlisting the help of hip designers, like Tara Subkoff, to help revamp their collection to appeal to a more fashionable woman.

Easy Spirit "Input" $49.99

Easy Spirit "Input" $49.99

I was a little sticker shocked (I hate spending more than $50) at some of these, but I guess there’s a premium on cute shoes that don’t hurt!  By incorporating patent and faux-snake details, which we saw all over the runways, these heels have all of the appeal of designer brands.

Both have a 2.5″ heel, a rubber sole which is a must in the city, and they are professional enough to pair with your work clothes but also fun enough to wear out to dinner or on a date.  BTW, they are also availabe in other colors like Chocolate, Bordeaux and Eggplant!!

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