by Carly J. Cais, Fashion Designer & ChicSteals blog
As a designer – my line is RIVETED Clothing & Accessories – I’ve developed an eye for style over the years, and an appreciation for the fact that sometimes, designer pricetags can be downright scary. While life necessitates a splurge once in a while on that can’t-live-without-it fabulous item, much of the fun of fashion is mixing high with low to create outfits that are creative, and also budget-friendly.
Each week, I showcase five hot designer-style steals (each for $100 or, in most cases, for much, much less)…along with one must-splurge item. This week, we’re celebrating indie design and emerging talent by showcasing handmade, non mass-produced goodies that definitely don’t come with a MADE IN CHINA label. Here are five fab picks that support cottage industry while adding unique flair to your wardrobe:

ELEGANT EARRINGS Tongue firmly in cheek, The Opulent Project lasercuts flourescent light panel covers, nametags and other humble sources of plastic into exquisitely-detailed, stark silhouettes of jewelry worn by royalty. Available in white with black backing, or red with a white backing, these have a dramatic 3 inch drop and will leave you feeling opulent, whether you pair them with a designer cocktail frock or a repurposed tee. Large Emerald Drop Earrings $34 at The Opulent Project Shop.

CHIC CROPPED TEE With waistlines creeping upward, a full-length shirt can feel like too much fabric. Billowy sleeves, gathered front, and waist-smocking create a darling little silhouette for just about any figure – and it’s just short enough to balance all those paper-bag shorts and tie-waist skirts perfectly. Try over a sleek LBD when you want to look sharp, but not too dressy. And if only life were fair, this is what every too-big, baggy old tee in the closet would aspire to be. Shardann Random Tee $65 at
SNAZZY SANDALS A stylish take on the embellished sandal trend, the metallic blue fish-skin suede uppers have been overdyed with silver, creating gorgeous texture reminiscent of crumpled paper that only gets better with age as some of the silver rubs off, exposing the blue hue beneath. Cushioned soles will take you far, whether it’s a beach wedding, dinner & dancing, or just a trip to the corner deli. Pair with a breezy print maxi-dress and large gold hoops, or roll up the cuffs of lean white pants for a very Stella McCartney vibe. Silver Marina Leather Sandals $85 at the Etrelle Shop on

PRETTY PURSE Handpainted by Peruvian designer Alessandra Brava and lined in velvet, this wooden box purse is the perfect size for all your daily essentials. If calla lillies aren’t bright enough, you can customize everything from the choice of flowers, to the size, to the colors. supports female and family workshops located in Peru, so whether it’s about fashion or doing the right thing, you’ll can feel equally good about your choice . Callas Black & White Painted Purse $54.50 (sale) at
FABULOUS NECKLACE Amy McClure’s Olaria Studio line has a chic, gothic feel, as embodied in this hand-crafted debossed ceramic pendant. A hefty 2″ wide, it sits just at the collarbone, enhancing any wide-necked top to a T. Pair with a black wrap dress to play up the stark contrast in the pendant, or wear a shrunken portrait-collar jacket and let this piece shine. Olaria Studio Ceramic Pendant $52 at
SPLURGE OF THE WEEK: FEATHERWEIGHT FROCK Light as chiffon and made from hemp, organic cottons, and bamboo, indie designer Leanne Marshall’s Leanimal dresses will make your knees weak, your heart swoon, and you the star of your next soiree. Choose from fabulous, flirty frocks – all handmade by the designer and imbued love of her craft. Rosandra Dress $295 at (For last-season and discounted pieces, be sure to visit her Leanimal Shop on
If there are any high-priced pieces you’d like me to find similar, less costly versions of, please email me at carlyjcais AT fashiontribes DOT com. ‘Til next week, fellow bargain-hunters!
– Carly J. Cais


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