by Carly J. Cais, Fashion Designer & ChicSteals blog
As a designer, 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.
With so much focus on the skinny model debate, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the fun of fashion doesn’t stop above Size 6…especially the thrill of a fashionably frugal find. Women of all shapes and sizes can look fabulous any day of the week – just look at Jennifer Hudson – provided the fit is right, the cut chic, and the price affordable – like these curve-loving picks:

CRISP COTTON DRESS The fresh, verdant green of this chic summer dress looks great on a variety of skin tones, while the wrap-style tie-front couldn’t be more flattering or chic’ifying for the figure. Whether paired with strappy sandals for a date or dressed down with city slides, this versatile dress is all the more fabulous, thanks to the $40 pricetag. Dallin Tie-Front Dress available at, the premier retailer of women’s sizes 14-32. Be sure to check out their summer clearance sale which features up to 60% off dresses, separates and swimwear to help you spice up your style for a song.
STYLISH STUDDED SLIDE Some days, heels ain’t happening, but you don’t want to look sloppy. These edgy, studded slides will take you stylishly from the beach to brunch with a beau, offering moderate arch support and a nonslip rubber sole. Along with free shipping & returns, the impressive array of earthy colors these come in and widths up to WW make them a can’t-miss. Bouquets Durango Sandal $55 at
WOVEN BELT Thanks to the built-in “give”, these belts best hug and flatter curvy fashionistas. The eyecatching brass buckle and black-brown leather makes this multitasker look as cute cinched right at the waist over a flowery, flowy dress – SATC style – worn low on the hips to accent a fabulous pair of jeans, or even lending a more casual vibe to a buttondown-and-skirt combo. Woven Wide Belt $20 at

ELEGANT TEE Regardless of dress size, the key to looking chic is choosing pieces that skim the body without bulging or stretching. (When in doubt, ask yourself: “Would Jackie O wear it like this?” If she wouldn’t, neither should you.) With its longer sleeves, and smocking at the neck, this tee skims without clinging, and couldn’t be more flattering. Pair with a dark denim trouser jean (the Fashiontribes editors are obsessed with the universally-flattering The Flirt jeans by Old Navy), or a high-waist skirt to bring the eye up to the unique neckline. Origami Top $20 at
CUFFED SHORTS As an alternative to pants during the summer swelter, try cuffed city-length shorts in a neutral shade. Versatile enough for the office (with a kitten heel), they easily dress down with flip flops, tank and a floppy straw beach hat. Micro-sanded Bermuda Shorts $35 (sale) at

SPLURGE OF THE WEEK: WIDE-LEG JEAN Finding the perfect pair of jeans is every girl’s lifetime quest. With wide-leg styles back again, hop on the trend in this slightly-stretchy, dark-rinse, high-waisted version. Not only is the cut is super-flattering and leg-lengthening, but the dark color goes with just about anything. Comfortable and comfortably-priced, they are an excellent investment that will keep you chic and fabulous all year round – be it with a buttondown and shrunken jacket at work, or paired with a soft cardi-wrap and metallic wedges to hang out with your best gal pals. Riley Wide-Leg Trouser Jean $118 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
(Jennifer Hudson images: Vogue cover –; red carpet –; white & black dresses – Off The Rack)



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