Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On the Cheap: Good Deed

My sister is very socially conscious. She's into buying things fair trade, which basically means none of the workers are exploited in the process of making an item. I do like the idea, and for a while I poked around online for fair trade clothing. Unfortunately, all of the fair trade clothing I found looked fair trade, meaning it was covered in dragonflies. Not really my aesthetic.

However, THIS is adorable:

Not only is it cute, summery, and good for humanity, but it's 75% off to boot. AND it's fully lined, thank God, because I'm apparently the only person who ever wears a slip anymore. I'm tired of white skirts becoming transparent in the sunlight because people are too lazy to wear a thin piece of fabric! Just because you can't see through it in your bathroom at home doesn't mean the same will be true when you're passing me on the street and I can see your entire leg. And also the other one. At that point, you might as well prance around in your underwear!

Ahem. The dress is from Fair Indigo. And it's such a steal it gets a whole entry to itself, without some expensive counterpart competing for attention.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hello, Gorgeous: Lash-tastic

Where exactly are sweat glands on the human face? Near the eyelash region? It sure seems like it, because whenever I get all hot walking to the train station, my mascara gets blinked off and sticks under my eyes, making for a fun "Night of the Living Dead" look.

I love a good zombie, but maybe not while I'm at work. I've switched to waterproof mascara until this stupid heat wave ends:


Maybelline means business with their Colossal Volum' Express. They're not kidding when they say "colossal" and "waterproof." That picture isn't totally accurate, but my lashes DID look huge and the stuff stayed away from my face. On the downside, it's hard to remove. The website claims you can remove it with soap and water, but unless you're using some industrial strength floor cleaner you'll need makeup remover. And even then you'll have to scrub.

I think I'll wear it when I get married. At least I know I won't cry it off.

Miscellaneous: The Gloved One

This is how I prefer to remember Michael Jackson:


I don't want to think about the baby-dangling, or the alleged pedophilia, or the maybe-fake marriage with Lisa Marie. I don't want to hear about his nose, or his kids' weird names, or his extreme debt.

I want to think about "Thriller."

If you've never seen the epic music video, experience the greatness here. Or maybe you've seen it 400 times and you just want to pay respect to The Gloved One. Either way, it deserves to be watched.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Web Gem: Ice, Ice, Baby!

It's been really hot this week and I took a different route to work today so I could walk in the shade. Part of my walk included Jewelers' Row and now I can't stop thinking about what I saw.

LOOK AT THIS RING:



Most of it wasn't that weird. Actually, I saw a lot of really cute stuff, even some estate items for those of us who like to go retro. There are about 200 jewelry stores on the Row and it can be hard to navigate, but I found a helper: the Jewelers Center. Don't let the hoity-toity look fool you! They serve a HUGE budget range and a lot of their normal-looking stuff (read: not that bunny) cost about the same as stuff at the mall.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rules to Shop By #1: Get it on sale!

It's hardly the newsflash of the century, but when you buy something on sale, you save money. In other news, the sun is hot and the Pope is Catholic. These are all obvious things that everybody knows. Why, then, do some people insist on paying full price? It boggles the mind. Merchandise goes on sale all the time, it's just a matter of waiting a little while for it to happen.

Markdowns come about in two ways: You have the temporary sale (like Nordstrom's anniversary sale) and you have permanent reductions (like the clearance rack). It can be helpful to know which kind of sale is going on; I had to deal with many a crabby customer at the department store who saw Item A on sale over the weekend, but decided not to buy it, and now it's back to the original price. If you're ever in doubt, ask. It will save both of us a headache.

Products don't go on sale immediately. Where you shop depends on how fast the turnover will be, and thus, how quickly things get permanently reduced. The department store I worked for got new product every ten days or so, depending on which area it was. New merch is NEVER reduced, so instead of plunking down your credit card when you spot that purse/coat/jumpsuit, keep an eye on it. Remember the old adage "patience is a virtue?" That's key here. Smaller stores or independently-owned boutiques, on the other hand, have less product and slower turnover. In fact, the boutique that employed me only did permanent markdowns if something had been in the store for months. Like some leather jackets they tried to sell in May. If you like to hunt the clearance racks, chain stores are the way to go.

Independently-owned stores don't have as many permanent markdowns, but they do have temporary sales just like everybody else. It seems pretty universal to have certain items marked down, like "20% off all jewelry" or "Buy one bathing suit, get one half off!" If you're ever uncertain about when a sale will be, a store's website is a pretty good place to start. Big companies will do TV commercials, too: Last week, I saw a one for $2 tank tops at Old Navy (sadly, I didn't get there in time and they were all gone).

To recap, wait for a sale! Everything gets marked down eventually so unless you need it immediately, this VERY MINUTE, do yourself a favor and save some money.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On the Cheap: Be Shady

Since I have huge eyes, I'm stoked about the big sunglasses trend. I have a black pair similar to these, but I think it might be time to go bold:


The pair on the left are Forever 21, come in 2 colors, and are $5.80. Meanwhile, those Ray Bans on the right are available at Nordstrom and will set you back $129. Some people want to invest in a good pair of shades, but I wouldn't do it for something this trendy. Stick with the cheapies since you might not want to wear them next year.

Hello, Gorgeous: Prime Time!

A few months ago, I started wondering how I was going to get my makeup to stay on my face for my July wedding. I live in Chicago, which means I could get lucky with 80 degrees and gentle wind, or there could be a heat wave and humidity so disgusting we might as well wrap ourselves in quilts before we go outside.

Anyway, I didn't want my face sliding off. Then I happened upon this little container one day when I was scouting out new foundation:

I've been using Rimmel blush and nail polish since high school. If you've never tried their stuff, none of it costs more than about $7 (depending on where you buy it), so it's among the cheaper drugstore fare. Since I was happy with the other products I'd tried, I gave the Fix and Perfect Primer a shot. It does give a little coverage, but it's main purpose is to absorb oil, hide pores, and help your foundation last longer. Check, check, and check! No makeup slide for this bride.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ma, Look What I Got: Party Dress

My wedding shower was a couple of Sundays ago and I needed a dress:



No, that's not me. I don't normally hang out in a wind tunnel wearing my new clothes; I wait until they're a few months old.

The dress is Nine West, from Macy's, and was 30% off plus an additional 20% for using my Macy's card. The one I actually wore had the same Hawaiian motif (we're honeymooning in Honolulu) but it was purple and green instead of red and brown. I just checked the website and they only have red/brown left, but it's still on sale, which probably means it's a permanent markdown. Fierce!

On the Cheap: The Gold Standard

Nothing tickles my funny bone more than inexpensive versions of pricey stuff, especially shoes:

Cheap!

Expensive!

They don't come in all the same colors, but they're otherwise IDENTICAL. I'm wearing the gold pair from Target on my happy little feet right now. And they're even happier knowing I got a deal.

Friday, June 19, 2009

About me.

It’s in my genes to shop. As a kid, my mother would take my sister and me on epic shopping trips with her side of the family in California. From an early age, she instilled in me the importance of getting a deal. Don’t just get something fabulous, get something fabulous without paying full price!

Fast-forwarding about a decade, I spent a memorable 8 months working retail after I graduated from college and couldn’t find a job. During that time, I had the misfortune of working for both a national department store and a small, independently-owned boutique. While my experience was about as fun as running a marathon in Death Valley, I did get to look inside the industry on two very different levels, and learned how to find an even better bargain.

Why pay more than you have to?