Monday, February 28, 2011

Arm Candy

When it comes to accessories, I tend to lean towards more simple, understated pieces. However, after seeing the stacks of bangles that flooded the spring runways, I am inspired to give this trend a try. Here are some examples:
The key is to mix colors, textures and shapes so it looks decadent, but effortless.  My budget-friendly picks for the season:
Target Natural Horn & Brass Bangle Bracelet - $19.99 
Daisy Fuentes Bronze Tone Bangle Bracelets - $15.60
GirlPROPS Gold Pyramid Stud Bangles - $3.99 

Forever 21 Enamel Bangle Set - $6.80
Forever 21 Charming Bracelet Set - $6.80
Forever 21 Pressed & Rhinestone Bangles - $13.80


Friday, February 25, 2011

Color Combinations ~ Part 1

It was the 90’s and my fashion tastes were just developing. Unfortunately, that was the time that everyone was doing the matchy-matchy thing. You know, the shoes have to match the skirt/pants and the purse has to match the shoes. So, for years that is what I stuck to. But thanks to vigorous magazine reading and repeated episodes of What Not to Wear, I’ve learned the importance of using a pop of color to add interest and polish.

This is the first in a new series about how to combine different colors in your outfits.  This post will be showing you options based on the "complementary color scheme" (fashion 101).  As you will see below, the key is to pick one item that will be your bright accent color for the outfit.  The pieces I've chosen are to serve as examples - so you can look in your closet and try this with items you already have.
Navy & Yellow

Why it works: A nautical striped top is casual & classic with crisp khaki shorts, gold accessories echo the warmth of the yellow bag, leather & cork wedges add richness and texture. (you could also add a fedora to this, if you're a hat kinda' girl)
Purple & Turquoise

Why it works: Big, bright turquoise earrings bring the focus to your face, feminine ruffles on top are balanced out by straight slender white jeans, gold sandals add shine and give it a relaxed vibe.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Look for Less ~ Statement Necklace

I am a jewelry fanatic, so it was easy for me to jump on the bandwagon with this trend. Thanks to the wonders of eBay, I have been slowly expanding my jewelry collection over the last couple years. And while I have several layered and twisted chain necklaces, I didn’t have the bib-style gems that really demand attention.

I had seen many that I loved in stores and magazines…but, again, the goal was to find one for the best deal possible that still met my criteria. It had to be simple, classy and clean looking PLUS be versatile enough to wear with several different outfits. Some examples of styles that I liked:
Of course, I always seem to stumble upon these items when I’m not looking for them - and this was no exception. I had taken my kids to the mall to play in the toy store and we just happened to park outside the Macy’s entrance. So, we’re walking through the store and this caught my eye (on the clearance rack)!

Macy’s Tiered Drop Statement Necklace – retail $24.99; bought for $8.00

Details I love: faceted drops catch and reflect light, peach-toned glass is ideal for spring, pewter strands make it not so precious.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Flawless Manicure

I used to be that girl…you know, the one with the ridiculously long, hideous fake nails.  I spent an absurd amount of money every 2 weeks to go to the salon and have them done.  Thankfully, times have changed and so has my sensibility.  I have now embraced the beauty of my real nails and am pleased to have a more natural look.  Through the years, I’ve learned how to care for them and have found the products that work best.  Here are my steps for creating a long-lasting manicure in the comfort of your own home:
Step 1 – Prep & Shape
Starting with clean dry nails, use an orange stick to push cuticles back gently and evenly.  File and shape so all nails are the same length. (I believe length to be a matter of preference.  Just remember if you are doing a very bright or dark color, it’s best to stick with a short, “squoval” shape to keep it chic and modern.)  Buff nails so they are smooth and free of ridges.
Step 2 – Protect
Using base coat, apply a thin layer across the top of your nail, the white part, horizontally. (This adds extra protection to the tip, which is the weakest part and most likely to break.)  Let dry for 1 minute and then apply base coat over the entire nail.
Step 3 – Color
Apply one even coat of nail polish, getting as close to the cuticle as possible without touching it.  Also make sure you do a swipe under the tip of your nail so no white is showing.  Let dry for 2 minutes and then apply a second coat of color.  Let dry for 3 minutes before applying top coat.  As a general rule, you shouldn’t try to use your nails for anything for at least 30 minutes.  Even after that they can still “dent”, so be careful.
Step 4 – Correct
Using q-tips or a nail corrector pen, clean up any areas of polish on your fingers or cuticles.  Once polish is completely dry, you can apply some oil to moisturize your cuticles.
Products I swear by:

1) OPI Nail Envy Matte – I use this as my base coat
2) Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat
3) Boots Cuticle Oil
5) Studio Basics Dual Tip Paddle/Point Q-Tips  - dip the pointed ends in remover to clean up mistakes
Other tips
  • If you are using a flat color, you may notice it looking dull after a few days.  I always add another thin layer of topcoat, usually around day 3, to gloss it up again.
  • If you use hairspray in the morning, wet fingers and use a washcloth to rub over each nail – this removes the dulling residue that hairspray leaves behind.
  • There are supplements I take, for nutritional reasons, that seem to make my nails grow stronger and longer – NatureMade Prenatal vitamins (though I’m not pregnant, the iron helps) & Triple Omega 3-6-9.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Scarf Style

When scarves first became so popular, I didn't jump to try them. But, I finally decided to give this style a chance – and now I love to wrap one on to add a splash of color or an unexpected print to a more simple outfit. As you can see below, scarves aren’t just for fall & winter anymore. Spring is the perfect time to try this trend!

My penny-pincher picks:

Joe Boxer Floral Print Scarf - $7.40
TrendsBlue Ruffled Scarf - $7.99
Forever 21 Crinkled Woven Scarf - $9.80
Old Navy Ditsy Print Scarf - $10.00


Monday, February 21, 2011

Outlet Mall Adventure

Knowing there was a big President's Day sale this weekend, I decided to make the 1-hour trek to the outlet mall to see what deals I could find. I arrived at 10am when they opened and didn't leave until 5:30pm...looking through all those clearance racks takes time!  (Not to mention the fact that it was blizzard-like conditions for the entire day.)

While most of the items were clothes & shoes for my kids, I was still able to sneak in a couple purchases for myself. I had some money to spend that I'd earned from eBay sales - and I only went over a little.  What I bought:

1) LOFT Button-down Shirt - retail $39.50, paid $7.33
*Will be so cute with white shorts, a coral print scarf and sandals.

2) Banana Republic Slub Striped Tee - retail $34.99, paid $8.18
*A great mix of colors makes this more interesting than a solid tee.

3) Calvin Klein Skinny-fit Khakis - retail $69, paid $13.80
*The fit on these is amazing and I can roll up the cuffs for spring.

4) BCBG Max Azria Silk Blouse - retail $128, paid $19
*Paired with a skirt, this will be perfect for a date night with my hubby.

5) Nine West Leather Platform Sandals - retail $69, paid $14.99
*Versatile sandal for the summer months & surprisingly comfortable.

If you live near an outlet mall, it is really worth getting on their mailing list or finding them on Facebook so you are notified of sales. The key is to go at the end of a season/beginning of a new season as I did, because markdowns will be greater. Not sure of locations near you? Check out this website:


Friday, February 18, 2011

That Dewy Glow

We all know that too much shine can be a bad thing when it comes to your makeup…but it is important to have your face looking dewy and fresh. If skin is too matte, makeup can look dull and caked on. I also believe that glowing skin takes at least a few years off. J

There is no better example of this than Jennifer Lopez. I know for a fact that her makeup artists use highlighter on her skin (in addition to bronzer). See how it helps sculpt her cheekbones and makes her skin look luminescent all over?
I have found the best way to achieve the perfect glow is to use a liquid highlighter. This was a recent discovery of mine, but one that has been transformative. Every time I am doing my makeup, this is my final step.

It helps to start with a lightweight, oil-free foundation and translucent or mineral-based powder. Once you have applied and set your makeup, dab a small amount of liquid highlighter and blend into the following places:

* just above cupid's bow of the lips
* temples
* bridge of the nose
* brow bones
* cheekbones
* inner corners of the eyes
Products in every price range:
1) Benefit High Beam - $24.00
2) Boots No7 High Lights Illuminating Lotion - $12.99
3) e.l.f Shimmering Facial Whip - $1.00


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Look for Less ~ Cargo Jacket

Every season when new trends emerge, I usually pick a few that I want to try out. I base my decisions mostly on what appeals to me, what will work for my body type and what fits my lifestyle. Then, I make a list of those items and try to find options that are in line with my budget. Sometimes, it can take a while to find a good deal, so having patience and a commitment to frugality is key.
I have been loving the cargo/utility jackets that I’ve seen countless celebrities wearing lately. They seem so versatile, almost like a jean jacket – they can add edge to an otherwise girly outfit or bring a military-inspired style to your usual weekend uniform. Some examples:

I finally found one with great details at an affordable price! (It helps that I was able to use Kohl's cash to lessen my out-of-pocket expense.) I know it is something I’ll be wearing all spring/summer and it’s a piece that can carry me into the fall.

Candie’s Cargo Jacket in Major Flirt – retail $58.00; bought for $26.00

Details I love: drawstring waist for a figure-flattering shape, slightly puffed shoulders give it a feminine feel, brass buttons & flap pockets add interest.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Coral Craze

As if seeing it all over the stores isn’t hint enough, Pantone (the color people) announced 16-1439 Coral Rose as one of the BIGGEST fashion colors for Spring 2011. And, I have to say, I couldn’t be more thrilled.  It seems to be universally flattering, no matter what your complexion and it’s such a cheery shade – like an instant mood lifter!  So, in the spirit of things, I have come up with a few budget-friendly items (all under $30) that will add a pop of color to any outfit and help you feel perfectly on trend for the season.

1) Revlon Colorburst Lipstick Coral - $8.99
2) Kohl’s Apt. 9 Coral Chandelier Earrings - $11.20
3) Essie California Coral - $8.00 
4) Old Navy Lightweight Polka-Dot Scarf - $12.50
5) Elite Quais De Seine Coral Clutch - $29.00


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tip from the Runways ~ Cinch It

One of the biggest trends seen across the spring runways was belts. Skinny, bold, wrapped, obi…you name it, it was displayed. I have just recently become a fan of belts and LOVE the way they can transform a top, sweater or dress into something different. I also love how they create an hourglass silhouette, even for those who weren’t blessed with curves. And yet, for some reason, it is still a neglected accessory. Here are a few examples to encourage you to give belts a try: I personally love the open-drape cardigans that have become so popular lately. But, I am not a fan of the way they hide my shape. This is a perfect example of how a belt can fix that problem, while adding an interesting detail to her outfit. If you like this, try: New York & Company Skinny Snakeskin Pattern Belt - $13.96
Here is another option, particularly appropriate for spring. You know when the season first begins and you’re so excited to wear all your sleeveless tops, and lightweight dresses…but the weather isn’t exactly cooperating yet? The first thing I always think of is to throw a cardigan on for an extra layer of warmth. See how she styled her simple sheath dress above with a cardigan AND belt? This way, her waist is accentuated & defined - and the whole look is pulled together. This same idea will work for the billowy silk tank + cardigan combination and longer length tunics over leggings. If you like this, try: The Limited Textured Belt - $12.99

So, the next time you're out and about, take a walk through the belt aisle - I have found some great options at Target, Kohl's and TJ Maxx! It is all about finding some that look expensive, even if they aren't real leather. The key is subtle details and rich-looking texture.

Tips to remember:
If you are belting a bulkier piece like a sweater, jacket or blazer, you should use a skinnier version. But, if you are layering the belt over a thinner fabric such as a silk blouse or cotton dress, you can choose any width you prefer.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Beauty Reviews

One of the advantages to growing older (and there are very few) is getting to experience and benefit from technological advances in health and beauty products.  Here’s some that I have tried and been impressed with:

Spray this into your wet hair, blow it dry and it looks like you had it professionally done at the salon.  Not only will it be glossy and swingy, but it promises to stay that way for 3 full days!  Trust me, once you try it, you’ll be a believer.  (Bonus: follow the link above and there’s a $2 off coupon)

    This leave-in treatment actually binds split ends back together to give you that freshly trimmed look.  While it won’t cure split ends forever (you still have to get your haircut at some point), it may make those trips to the salon fewer and farther between.  Plus, it smells AMAZING!

3) Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm - $7.99
A sheer tinted lip balm plus SPF 20 – with an exclusive ion2complex that improves your lips’ texture and restores that natural rosiness you had as a kid…even after you take it off!  Comes in 6 different shades and has a sweet melon scent that makes you want to keep reapplying.

I am a HUGE fan of using primer under my foundation – it makes everything go on so much more smoothly.  The reason why I love this one is because you can wear it alone on days when you don’t feel like getting all dolled up.  It instantly minimizes pores and absorbs shine, leaving your skin incredibly soft.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

I Heart Beauty

With Valentine's Day nearing, I thought I would post a few beauty finds that are just perfect to get you in the mood for celebrating!  And all of them are easy on the wallet, so you can feel good about primping.

1)  Physician’s Formula Happy Booster Glow & Mood Boosting Blush - $11.99
Not only is the design adorable, but this blush has light reflecting pearls for extra radiance AND it has natural plant extracts with the sweet scent of violet.  So, you will be perfectly flushed and you will smell amazing!

The only lipstain that I have found with staying power and moisturizers.  Apply one layer for a perfect light pink or deepen the shade with several coats.  Guaranteed to stay put through several smooches!

3)  Essie Lovie Dovie - $8.00
A creamy bubblegum pink that is so fun and festive…perfect for spring and unexpected, since most people think red for Valentine’s Day!


Friday, February 11, 2011

Weekend Deals

One of the stores I am quite fond of is J. Crew.  They have classic, easy pieces that are well-made and beautifully tailored.  Of course, being on a shoestring budget means that I don't allow myself to even walk into that store, because most of their items are out of my price range.  However, I made a recent discovery that was very exciting...

They have an online Factory Outlet that is open to shop on weekends only.  Friday 12am to Sunday midnight every weekend - and right now, they are offering FREE shipping on all orders placed!!

If you aren't familiar with this brand, you may want to peek at their sizing chart before ordering, because they tend to run at least 1 size big, depending on the item.  Some final sale items worth looking at:

1) Soft Blossom Slub Cotton/Silk Bib Henley - $19.99    
2) Disco Ball Bracelet - $14.50 
3) Caramel Grommet Belt - $14.99


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Spring Wishes

If you're anything like me, you have already begun salivating over the gorgeous array of frocks that have arrived in store windows everywhere for spring.  It is quickly becoming my favorite season (fall, a close second) - mainly due to the billowy, soft fabrics and feminine floral prints it brings. 

There is something about this time of year, more than any other, that makes me want to embrace being a girl.  And while I know that a major trend for 2011 involves bright neon shades, when I see tiers of ruffles in a pretty pastel, I just simply can’t help myself!  Here are a few items I am coveting for spring:

1) LOFT twisted chain & pink stone bracelet
2) BR space-dyed plaid scarf
Gap suede wide-strap wedge sandal
4) LOFT jungle flowers ruffle shell
5) Gap the soft pant
6) BR safari pocket shirtdress     



I decided to start this blog, mainly because friends and family were urging me to...but also because I had the feeling there were others like me out there.  Women who adore fashion and beauty as much as I do, but have a family and a budget to think of before themselves.  So this is my attempt to help you gals find the things you are looking for and still feel good about it, knowing you haven't increased your credit card debt exponentially and don't have to hide the receipts from your husbands.  Because I believe that fashion and beauty should make us feel good on ALL levels.  Otherwise, it just doesn't make sense.