by Carly J. Cais, Fashion Designer

As a designer – my line is RIVETED Clothing & Accessories – I’ve developed an eye for style over the years…and right along with it, a nose for a bargain. Half the fun of fashion is looking fabulous without needing to declare bankruptcy. Each week, I showcase hot designer-style steals (each for $100 or, in most cases, for much, much less)…along with one splurge-worthy item.
It’s that time of year again: the time for some of us that brings decadent gifts in the form of jewelry and chocolates…or the time that some of us refuse to celebrate with resounding “down with love!” anti-V-Day sentiment. Whether you choose to embrace the day or not, Valentine’s Day brings a great opportunity to grab some cute merch at closeout prices, and these picks this week are no exception. Show yourself a little love with these 5 heartful choices – that unlike that box of chocolates from what’s-his-name you can enjoy year-round and mix into your daily wardrobe as you please:

From the candy pink box it arrives in to the sweet little heart at the top, this clutch may seem like a gift limited to V-Day…but it’s definitely an accessory that can make an appearance in your everyday wardrobe without a hitch. The little gold scottie tag at the front may inspire you to take this cutie when out walking your pooch or on a short trip down to the corner store – it’s the perfect size for a quick excursion or works great on its own as a sweet little clutch to go with that flowered dress that’s in your closet awaiting the first warm day of Spring. Slip it into a larger tote for workdays and use it alone on the weekends with some denim capris and a big flower corsage pinned to your blouse to celebrate all that is carefree and girly. From Juicy Couture for $95 – it’s a designer steal that will juicy up any outfit.
Scottie Leather Wristlet, $95,

In February with the winter winds still a-blowing cropped pants require some dark stockings underneath to keep your gams toasty…but in a month all will be forgotten in a flurry of warmer weather. For now, to bring a bit of brightness to these gray days try these lovely pink capris with a pair of peep-toe platform pumps and a wrap-sweater. From the forefront of French fashion at La Redoute, these $30 pantalets can be paired with a beret and romantic piles of cashmere scarves pinned back with a fantastic brooch to brave the cold, and then lightened up with a thin print tee and some strappy sandals come May.
Cotton Twill Cropped Pants, $30,

Whether you love or hate the day itself, this bleeding heart tee can be worn year-round without looking out of place. Girly but with a touch of rocker sass, this $24 cap-sleeve number comes with black, red, or brown sleeves, and the design itself can be found on a number of items (including housewares!) at this boutique. Head on over to its parent store where they have thousands – thousands! – of adorable Valentine’s Day-themed merchandise not designed by some faceless, huge corporation, where you’re apt to find designs with er, heart. Create a design yourself too, while you’re at it!
Bleeding Heart Cap-Sleeve Tee, $24.00,

The detail on these laser-cut doily earrings belie their $10 price tag. Oversized and girly, they look just as fab paired with a striped marine-inspired sweater for a weekend matinee as with a dark wrap dress for a night out on the town. They may look like those doilies you may remember from Granny’s house, but in a foxy red they’ve been updated for 2008, and dangling from your lobes are sure to sweeten up even the most bland outfit.
Red Doily Heart Earrings, $10,

This winter brought an update on the Uggs we love to hate: embellished versions with hand-painted motifs by a number of well-known celebrities that were auctioned off for charity. Even if you missed snagging a pair of these highly-coveted items, grab this $20 funky version that appeals to both those who love the Day of Love and those that can’t stand it. Updated with a gorge bronzey glow, the tattoo-like graphic on the backs sends this hard-edged mixed message and keeps your admirers guessing.
Love/Hate Boots, $20 (sale),

Every Valentine’s Day, I admit: I Dream of Dolce. Dolce & Gabbana that is. Even if the S.O. plans not to splurge on jewelry this year, perhaps you can convince him to part with a mere $150 for this luxe designer pendant that’s both sweet and a little tart. With its high-polish silver front, sparkling stones, lever clasp, and leather cord, it’s not your average heart-shaped pendant, and adds a little cheekiness to what’s become a relatively boring motif at all those other jewelry stores. Pair with a fuzzy v-neck sweater and skinny jeans- or something frilly, red, and delectably see-thru! – and show him that it was most certainly worth his while to get your something designer and fabulous.
D&G Heart Pendant Necklace, $150,

If there are any high-priced pieces you’d like me to find similar, less costly versions of, please email me at carlyjcais AT ‘Til next week, fellow bargain-hunters!
– Carly J. Cais


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