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.
To survive soaring summer temperatures in style, comfort without sloppiness is key. Whether you’re running errands, on the court or off, or just cooling down with an icy acai smoothie, stay dressed to the nines in classic preppy chic inspired by the charm of collegiate co-eds. For (way) less than the cost of tuition, look the part in canvas, cotton, dark-rinse denim, and grosgrain:

CHEERY RIBBON BELT The quinessential preppy accessory, a stripey grosgrain ribbon looks great cinching a sleeveless tennis sheath or topping a pair of paperbag shorts. Here, the green-and-blue stripes highlight the colors in the top and skirt, and on sale for less than $20 it’s a great little piece that will inject a bit of liveliness into your wardrobe. (For artistically inclined fashionistas, DIY with cute ribbon and D-rings.) Striped Ribbon Belt $20 (sale) at
AVIATOR SUNGLASSES Jessica Biel and Ashley Simpson are just a few of the celebs rocking this summer’s must-have: contrast-color-rimmed aviator sunglasses. Available with gold, red, baby blue, white, pink, or black frames, and with brown or purple lenses, these aviators look hot topping off any ensemble…and don’t forget to flip that collar up and let a little scarf peek out for some Bridgette Bardot-inspired sophistication. Aviator Sunglasses $10 at
LOW-RISE SNEAKER When classic comfort is the goal, you can never go wrong with a durable Ked-type sneak in a trendproof neutral, especially one with a fun hot-pink satin lining. This frugal find would also look fab paired with a denim mini and distressed army cap or peeking out from under wide-leg 70s denim flares and a shrunken tee. alice + olivia for Payless Olivia canvas sneaker $20 at
DENIM PENCIL SKIRT Always a fashionable must, the pencil brings a long, lean look to any silhouette. In dark-rinse denim, it is clean and casual with a light cotton top, but can easy become siren sexy with a pair of killer heels and lots of skin. When temperatures start to dip, it will look just as chic with patterned tights and a wrap cardi – or with a little jacket and neck-tie blouse if the office dress code permits. Dark Rinse Pencil Skirt $78 at
BRIGHT BAG Bright accessories rule this season. This white-and-green patent bag has handy front and side pockets, easily blending function with trend. Paired with dark denim and a white buttondown, a khaki shirt and ribbed tank, or a cotton minidress. Whichever you choose, play off the bag’s debonair design by keeping your look uncluttered for maximum prep appeal. Miranda White & Green Patent Tote $56 at
SPLURGE OF THE WEEK: SOCIALLY-CONSCIOUS POLO TEE Preen in a prep-inspired tee that helps fight Breast Cancer. From Ralph Lauren, this is a must-have piece for summer – and because all the net proceeds go to charity, why not pick up one in each appealing neon color: yellow, red, turquoise, apple green? FTBC Fitted Polo Shirt $75 at

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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