Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rules to Shop By #3: Wear the Right Size

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I'd like to present exhibit No. 1.

Don't focus on his Kevin Federline costume, but instead, take a look at her waist. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a "muffin top."

We've been dealing with this henious crime for several years now, and it's showing no signs of retreat. High-waisted bottoms have been slowly creeping into style this year, but not enough people are taking the bait. The muffin top is still a raging plague, folks, and we need to stop it.

Let's take another look at the picture. That girl is NOT HEAVY, and yet, those shorts are squeezing her like a marshmallow in a vice. She's obviously not so large that she can't find clothes to fit, so what are we left to assume? Girlfriend is wearing the wrong size.

There is no shame in going up (or down) a size to get the appropriate fit. I will freely admit, ladies and gentlemen, that I have to switch sizes all the time. Just a few weeks ago, I tried on a pair of jeans that gave me Sausage Leg Syndrome (a dibilitating condition similar to the muffin top), so I went up not one, but two sizes, and they were still wonky. So you know what I did? I walked away. Those were obviously not the bottoms for me.

Unfortunately, the young lady in the picture did NOT walk away from those shorts, and is GUILTY of a fashion crime (so is her beau, actually, but that's an entirely different can of worms). Don't let the same thing happen to you. Everyone deserves well-fitting clothes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Miscellaneous: History Buff Part 2

Okay, things are more under control at work today, so I can get back to business on here. As promised, details about the historical reenactment we were a part of this weekend:

Well, I have to re-phrase that. My outfit passed the historical accuracy test, but my husband's did not (not that he tried very hard). When we got to the ticket booth to pay, the cashier thought I was one of the reenactors who just go there late. Nope, sorry. Just a fan of the past. We found a friend, who plays a German soldier, and he said my look was "spot on."

That blouse I already had (it's from Express, actually, which isn't the place I think of when I need something old fashioned), and the skirt and shoes are from Goodwill. I think I spent $12 total on my look for the day.

That hairstyle was a HUGE PAIN to replicate, but it lasted all day. It even kind of stayed after I took out the bobby pins, but that was probably because of all the hairspray I used, and not really because of the style itself. I forgot to take a picture of the back, but it was just a bun. The red lipstick and screwback earrings I already owned.

And that's a better look at the herringbone weave on the skirt. And, I guess, the bow on my blouse.

Now, since I was considered "historically accurate," I got to help my friend in the cafe while her soldier was off in battle. Said cafe was supposed to be in France, and since a lot of the reenactors speak at least some of their character's foreign language, I felt like I should take a stab at it. I know how to say "hello," "goodbye" and "thank you," but anything else is just food vocab I learned from Top Chef. I think the only word I got to use was fromage. And baguette, but I was referring to a cookie and not an actual baguette.

While I was butchering French like a cavewoman, my historically inaccurate husband chilled at a cafe table and snacked all afternoon. So it worked out nicely for everybody! We're thinking about getting a better costume for him and going again, because it was AWESOME.

Has anybody else ever done something like this? Comment!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Web Gem: Win some stuff!

Everything has gone to hell at work today, which means I have to do actual THINGS and can't spend my time canvassing the web for deals. Instead, here's a nugget to tide you over until tomorrow. The Nesting Place, another blog I read, is doing 24 hours of giveaways today. Win yourself something pretty.

Back to the salt mines...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Miscellaneous: History Buff

My husband and I are friends with another couple who do historical reenactments. I've been to a few in my day--mostly pioneer-ish things since I live in Illinois--but these two are involved in WWII history. We're meeting them at the aptly named World War II Days tomorrow. Not only will there be a battle, but we'll supposedly "step back in time" and learn about the era in general. This also includes food, so I'm extra stoked.

My friend told me that if I find accurate clothing, I get to trot around with her and be part of the festivities.

Much easier than, say, dressing like Martha Washington, but I'm told the festival people are really picky, so we'll see if they let me help. If not, whatever! I still get to wear my pretty outfit. Regardless of how "accurate" they decide I am, I'll still post pictures of us on Monday (maybe Tuesday, if I'm feeling lazy).

Anybody else have any unusual weekend plans?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Web Gem: Go Fug Yourself

I work a later shift than the usual 9-5, so I have a few hours of free time in the morning before I dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig in a mine the whole day through. I've been re-reading the Eragon books lately, so today I thought I'd watch the movie.

Worst. Idea. EVER.

I'm a big stickler about book-to-film adaptations, especially about how faithful the movie is to the original story. Eragon the movie was a COMPLETE bastardization, and I am FURIOUS on behalf of the author (who I'm sure was plenty furious, anyway, because it was BAD). Just... don't watch it. Even if you don't read the books. It was that terrible.

Anyway, I do have a point. Sometimes, one (like yours truly) could use a chuckle. An excellent place for a good belly laugh is Go Fug Yourself.

Blog-mistresses Heather and Jessica go through celebrity fashion disasters--and the occasional "well-played" look--for our amusement. Sometimes, they have interactive posts where readers decide if an outfit can be saved. It's a great procrastinating tool.

They have a HUGE reader base, so some of you might already enjoy them, but if not, head over for a tickle on your funny bone.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Go Retro: Family Find

I just got the following email from one of my aunts.

"OMG!!! look at this dress..." (That's all she could get out.)

OMG three exclamation points, indeed.

If anyone else ever finds something they want to share, you can email me from the address in my profile. I'll gladly post it!

On the Cheap: Rain, rain, go away.

Hi, Mother Nature.

You're probably really busy looking after small woodland creatures, monitoring wind erosion, and melting the polar ice caps, but could you maybe, just perhaps, not make it so hot if it's going to rain? I mean, it's the first day of fall and I was kind of looking forward to wearing my rain coat, but I didn't want to give myself heat stroke on the way to work. You're a bodiless entity, so you might not know this, but umbrellas don't block ALL the water.

Days like today are when a nice rain coat comes in handy. Or, since it IS autumn now, a trench coat would work, too:

See, Mother Nature? Isn't that cute? It's apparently lined with animal print, too, though doesn't have a picture of that. And if being cute weren't enough, it's also on sale.

So, if you could, the next time you're going to make it rain, just bump the temperature down about 10 degrees. Maybe 15. It's hard for us to bust out the adorable rain gear when it's in the 80s. Thank you.


[Edit: I just heard about the flooding in Georgia. I will now marvel at my extraordinarily bad timing for this post. Apologies.]

Monday, September 21, 2009

On the Cheap: Pump it Up

Given my vast knowledge of owl pellets, you might think I know a lot about animals in general. I've stored away a few tidbits over the years. For example, when a ferret backs into a corner, it's about to poop. Pandas can have twins. Male penguins take care of the eggs.

I also know, as most people do, that snakes have scales, and when I first saw these shoes, I was like, "WOW! I guess they killed the huge snake that regurgitated a hippo!" (Seriously, watch that video.)

But then I looked again and realized they were crocodile. Similar... yet very different.

The shoes themselves are also similar, yet very different in terms of price. On the left, we have a more subtle look from Ann Taylor for $175. And to the right, Victoria's Secret has a slightly bolder shoe that's on sale for $39.

I might not be so good about identifying animal skins on shoes, but I do know a good deal when I see one. Happy shopping!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Go Retro: Mission Accomplished


After much squinting at my screen and adjusting searach criteria, I found three dresses worthy of your attention. All of them are under $50, and all of them are part of the "buy it now" category on Ebay--which means that instead of bidding, you just pay the asking price. This way, we know for sure that none of them can creep over budget.

The navy number with the bow is $42.95, and the '60s floral is $49.99. Neither of those have the (vastly impractical) wow factor of the post below, but they'll still help you stand out. And think of how versatile the navy one would be! If I bought it, I could wear it to work, or on a date with my husband, or even when said husband makes me watch the Bears game with him (because navy IS one of their colors).

Now, if you like a little more zing from your vintage clothing...

Stick some crinoline under there and you've got yourself a full skirt! Or don't, and keep it a little sleeker looking. This Hawaiian halter from the '50s is the least expensive of the bunch, at $30.

This was refreshing! Time for a celebratory trip to the vending machine.

Go Retro: The Blues

This gives me the blues for three reasons.

1. It IS blue! Ha.

2. Because everybody is so damn casual these days, I have no reason to buy it.

3. It's already $380 and its Ebay auction doesn't end until Sunday, so even if I did have someplace to rock it, it'd be out of my price range (I also wouldn't want to enter that bidding war, because it's INTENSE).

I've set a task for myself today. I'm going to find some vintage pretties that don't cost as much as a car payment. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Holi-Daze: Costume Conundrum

Here's something interesting:

We have nearly identical Cleopatra costumes. The one on the left is from Spirit Halloween, and is $39.99. The other is from Party City, and comes in at $49.99. Hmm.

And check out this Bride of Frankenstein wig:

Party City and both sell it (and use the same picture!), yet BuyCostumes can get it to you for $5 less. Hmm!

Now, a costume for the munchkins:

The "Adorable Witch" from Target (left) is $14.99. For that price, you get the dress, hat, and belt. An eerily similar "Adorable Witch" is available at--you guessed it!--Party City (right) for $19.99, and also includes the dress, hat and belt. HMMM!

I'm a fan of DIY Halloween costumes, but I know some people prefer to buy them. If you're in that group, I think we've discovered a place you should skip.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ma, Look What I Got: Resting Easy

I occasionally forget that sales at Macy's go Friday (or sometimes Wednesday) through Sunday. At the beginning of the month, I wandered into Macy's on a Tuesday and I was all, "Why isn't anything on sale? What a bunch of SCAM ARTISTS!" But then I realized I was a day early, so I left and came back when the sale was actually happening.

Months ago, when my husband and I established that, yes, the bedding he'd had since high school would have to go, we also decided that no matter where we bought the new stuff, it would have to be marked down or we weren't getting it. I saw on that bedding would be part of their Labor Day Sale, so once I knew when it actually began, I dragged my husband back and we bought this:

We don't make our bed quite so artistically, but you get the gist. It's called Quill, and the entire collection was marked down the day we went. Let's crunch some numbers.

Full/queen duvet cover= $99.99 (regular price $135)
Standard pillow shams= $39.99 ($60)
Peacock decorative pillow= $29.99 ($45)
Green decorative pillow= $39.99 ($60)
White decorative pillow, not pictured= $39.99 ($60)
Down alternative comforter and 2 pillows= $50 ($120)

Total: $299.95 ($480).

By waiting a few measley days, we saved $180.05! Which works out nicely since I learned today that getting one's wedding dress professionally cleaned ain't cheap...

So not only is the bedding cute and inexpensive, but it's soft, yet crisp, and good for going back to sleep after your husband leaves for work. If you're in the market for something new yourself, you can still get it on sale at

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On the Cheap: Hey, Soldier.

Do you guys remember My Chemical Romance? Actually, a more apt question would probably be "have you heard of them?" They're a band, and a copule of years ago, they reached the height of their "fame" while promoting their album The Black Parade.

They had the kind of eerily devoted fans who would dress like them, and so there were a lot of angsty 14-year-old girls trotting around in military jackets and black eyeliner. Military jackets appear to be an actual trend for 2009, and they're a lot better looking than they were:

Similar to what one wears to march in their own black parade, yes, but a much more subdued version. It's actually very cute. Too bad it's $325. If you're willing to forgo the silver trim, Forever 21 has a version to check out.

It's $24.80 and also comes in grey. So cheap, you could get both.

Monday, September 14, 2009

On the Cheap: New Store!

I was walking to work today, and I went by a store that only opened a few weeks ago. Its name is A'gaci, and anytime a store is called something I'm not entirely sure how to pronounce (it's apparently uh-GAH-see), I assume it will be expensive. Affordable stores tend to have straightforward names. Payless, for example.

So I've been ignoring this store for a while, but curiosity got the best of me today and I went in. Turns out, my foolproof analysis was WRONG:

That belted sweater/blouse is $15.50. And then I found a pinstriped pencil skirt for $19.50, and some cute peep toes on sale for $11.10.

I used a calculator this time, so I know the math is correct: that's an entire outfit for $46.10. And to think, I could've been shopping there weeks ago! Even if the name IS kind of pretentious, that's what I get for assuming.

[Edit: I didn't buy them. Just wishful thinking for now.]

Friday, September 11, 2009

On the Cheap: Pretty in Pink

I know I've been all up on the sweaters lately, but fall is coming and I just can't seem to get away from them. So here's the last one for a while:

I only buy things at J. Crew if they're on sale, and this cardigan happens to be 60% off. Or thereabouts. I didn't actually do the math, but $128 marked down to $49.99 SEEMS like it's about 60%.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hello, Gorgeous!: The Eyes Have It

Yesterday, I saw some really hideous pictures of Elizabeth Hurley, in which she made the colorful decision to match her eyeshadow to her dress. I thought about posting it for you on here, but then I realized it was from a "real" photo source and they probably frown upon thievery, and also it was SCARY and I didn't want to do that to you. So click through if you're feeling brave. If not, just trust me when I say it was a lot of ugly.

Now. I love a good eyeshadow. It can go along way toward making one look alert and well-rested. It can also be a lot of fun on New Year's Eve, or one's birthday. But it should not match one's clothes--especially when those clothes are BLUE, Elizabeth! (It's even more appalling when you think about how expensive the stuff must've been.)

I stay moderately faithful to Cover Girl and Maybelline, but I occasionally stray when I need eyeshadow.

The Ulta brand has 96 colors to choose from, most of which are neutrals (thank god), but they also have some spunkier options for a night out:

Whatever your eyelids need, you'll find it, and you won't pay out the nose to do so. Each color is usually $7, but they're all on sale for $4. Go on and stock up. Heck, try something new! Just fight the urge to pull an Elizabeth--your future self will thank you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Go Retro: Lady in Red

Timless Vixen Vintage has given us another present.

This kind of speaks for itself.

On the Cheap: Magic Man

I don't talk about it much on here, because it's pretty off-topic most of the time, but I'm a Harry Potter fan. Nay, Harry Potter devotee. I'm not quite so obsessed that I have Daniel Radcliffe's face on my duvet cover, but when my sister and I were younger, we DID send a letter to the director of the fourth movie, explaining all the reasons we thought it should be a musical. We even wrote out some scenes to illustrate our point. Obviously, he was too threatened by our brilliance to use our idea.

Anyway, I've been seeing a lot of "fancy" memorabilia for sale the last few years, and while I think it's cool, "fancy" is usually code for "expensive." It would be nice to have Voldemort/Dumbledore bookends, but I'm not willing to pay $195 for the honor. Nor am I willing to pay $125 for a replica of the Triwizard Cup that's only eight inches tall.

A more reasonable alternative would be a magic wand. Alivan's is a web-based company that makes many, MANY styles of wands. They start at about $25, but can go over $100 for some of the more fancy-pants varieties. Twenty-five bucks isn't bad, but they can be found for less. This one is only $8.50 on Etsy.

The description says it's made of PAPER! Merlin's beard, you guys. I'm sold.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On the Cheap: It's All Black and White

Leave it to me to fall in love with a $485 cardigan.

Dolce and Gabbana aren't really known for their low prices, so until I win the lottery or become incredibly famous, I have to ignore them and shop at the mall.

White House Black Market is more my speed, and as you can see, they also have adorable cardigans right now. (Though I'm not sure what's up with the red flowers on that one, since I'm pretty sure red is neither white nor black.) Each one is $88, which I can't in good conscience call a bargain, so I tracked down some options from Overstock, too:

Each is about $40. The drawback of Overstock is that things can sell out in approximately .03 seconds, so if you see one you like, order it pronto before somebody else beats you to it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Miscellaneous: Dollar Store Deals

This is shocking, but dollar stores have had increased business in the last year. In other news, water is wet.

This upsurge means that people who don't normally shop at dollar stores are doing so now. Everything might seem like a great deal, but that's not always the case. One of my aunts sent me this article about things to watch out for when "everything is a dollar" (because sometimes they are LYING). She must have been practicing her mind reading, because I stumbled upon this baby a few days ago.

When it comes to dollar stores, I prefer Dollar Tree, where everything actually IS a buck (the monetary value, not the animal). It's great for party supplies, wrapping paper, office supplies, tin foil and plastic wrap, Tupperware, sponges, kitchen/bathroom cleaners, and anti-bacterial wipes. And snacks. Oh, and candles.

You get the idea. Are you a dollar store patron? Which one is your favorite? Are there any things you WON'T buy at the dollar store? Share with me.

Make the Investment: Knockin' Boots

Sometimes, cheaper isn't always better. Most of the time it is, but occasionally one can get burned. A couple of years ago, I got stung by a pair of boots I bought at Hot Topic (don't judge me). They were black canvas galoshes--which defeats the purpose, I know--with little pink and yellow hearts. I LOVED them, but alas, our affair was not meant to be. Not only were they canvas, but the soles turned out to be paper thin and they let in a bunch of water. The final nail on the coffin was how they fell apart a few weeks after I got them. The canvas uppers came away from the soles, leaving a big slit on the heel of each boot. I spent about $15 on them and in this case, I got what I paid for.

Interestingly, while those boots ended up being a total wash, I had another pair of black boots that got me through all four years of college. And let's be honest, shoe years are like dog years, so I actually had them for 28. The boots were pointy-toed stilletos, as was the trend back then.

These days, it's riding boots:

They. Are. Adorable. And while they might be more than you normally spend on shoes, they're still under $100 at Zappos. Boots seems to be less affected by flash-in-the-pan trends, so I reckon you could wear these for a few more years. If I didn't already have a pair of riding boots, I'd get them. They're trendy without being over-the-top, and they would look equally good with jeans or a skirt. Or khakis, if you have a horse nearby.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ma, Look What I Got: JACKPOT


Today was an excellent shopping day.

Once again, Forever 21 has come though. (YES, I go there a lot, but a friend of mine needed some trendier clothes for work, and who am I to leave a girl hangin'?)

For the above three items, plaid pencil skirt, baseball tee, and skinny jeans, my grand total was $36.16--and that includes Cook County's outlandish 10% sales tax. (Fun fact: that's the highest rate for any U.S. city! Hooray.)

If there's not a store near you, or if you just don't want to deal with techno remixes of Miley Cyrus songs, everything is available online.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Holi-Daze: Boo!

I've mentioned how I tend to go balls out for Halloween: When I was in college, I bleached all of my hair and then dyed half of it black because I couldn't find an adequate Cruella DeVille wig. Last year, when I was working in the department store, I went to work as the Joker, complete with scary makeup, a purple suit, and green hair.

So I mean business.

This year, as you may or may not know, All Hallow's Eve is on a Saturday and I convinced my husband that we should have a costume party. We don't have any outdoor space, so we can't use any of those robotic zombies that crawl across your lawn, but we CAN rock this:

A changing portrait! This one is apparently 3D and illuminated, to boot. Thank you, Target, for your excellent Halloween wares. And thank you for making this $12.99. We decided to ixnay the fake cobwebs this year, so this will help our house be appropriately creepy.

Do you decorate for Halloween? Where do you get your stuff? (Because I need more. [And yes, this is a new category. Whee!])

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

On the Cheap: Da Bears

My dad is pretty funny. Over the years, he's amassed quite the collection of merchandise for DA BEARS, including but not limited to: t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, drinking glasses, beer mugs, coffee mugs, pens, paper, Christmas ornaments, and several books. Thankfully, he has never wanted to go this route:

Official jerseys are HORRENDOUSLY overpriced. It doesn't matter if that guy is one of their best players (and he must be, because I see these things everywhere), I'm not willing to spend $80 for a shirt with his name on it. Apparently Dad isn't, either. Smart man!

If you DO feel the need to show your devotion to specific players, head to JC Penny:

Well, my stars! It's the same thing for less money! Normally, this jersey is $60 at Penny's, but it's on sale for $49.99.

Score! (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)

On the Cheap: Pamper Thyself!

Part of me wonders how quickly I'll turn into a hunchback as I age. My work chair is the least ergonomic thing ever, plus I've always been a little slouchy, so I assume it's only a matter of time before I can wear a Quasimodo costume without padding my back.

One of my aunts swears that rolling around on an exercise ball will solve all my problems, but then I tried it and pulled a muscle. So forget that.

Since then, I've wanted to try the occasional massage. Unfortunately for me, and for anyone who lives near a large city, pampering oneself is expensive. In my neck of the suburban woods, a one-hour massage is about $75 before tax and tip. SIGH.

There is a silver lining, though. Massages, like most other things, go "on sale." National chain Massage Envy is having a breast cancer research fundraiser on September 15th, during which they're slashing their one-hour massage price from $79 to $35. (If it were possible to capitalize numbers, I would have just then.) That is an AWESOME deal, AND a cause I've donated to in the past. I made my appointment about three seconds after I saw this:

Massage Envy has other promotions occasionally, like a $49 introductory massage, and I'm pretty sure this breast cancer benefit is an annual thing.

They have 810 locations. Find one here to avoid the hunchback for a good cause.