by carlyjcais
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.
Finding must-haves that are both affordable and chic can be quite the challenge: often the selections are limited, the workmanship shoddy, the clothing is cut too small/’Tween/bootilicious for real women. For classy threads that don’t cost an arm and a leg, here are some savvy shopping sites that are comprehensive, trustworthy, and off the beaten pathenough so that you won’t see your affordable treasure walking down the street on someone else with a similar nose for fashion finds: Nostalgic in feel but user-friendly, Ruche is a modern boutique with a vintage touch that offers a variety of handpicked girly pieces – tops, denim, bottoms, outerwear, shoes, bags, accessories, and jewelry (some of which are organic & vegan) – that look like they might have been unearthed in a quirky vintage store. Like their excellent customer service, their prices hearken back to better days: nothing is priced over $50, including outerwear, and with $7 flat shipping, it’s hard to resist…so don’t! Can’t-miss pieces include Swaying Bird Hoop Earrings (pictured) with tiny wire-wrapped beige pearls and peach beads surrounding a swiveling gold bird charm ($13), and the Roses Are Red Mod Dress ($37) with pleated front and gorgeous rose-pattern (wear over a dark turtleneck, add black tights and black maryjanes for a winter-fabulous outift). To save 10% on your entire purchase, at checkout enter CHICSTEALS – “True style and beauty cannot be bound by rules and labels,” explain the fashionistas at Know.Label., which is filled with such a well-edited range of labels, we have agree. Styles include tops, dresses, bottoms, denim, belts, outerwear, jewelry, and bags from artists and designers all over the world. Prices similarly run the gamut, with most dresses at around $50 or under, and many coats under $200. We’re obsessed with the Paulette Trench Coat in Khaki, ($96) (because we’re suckers for the voluminous drawstring collar, deep pleated pockets, and silky beige finish), and the Wide Leg Sailor Jeans ($42) with crisp front pintucking and dark rinse, and looks killer paired with some sky-high basketweave wedges and an oversized rib-knit cardi – For California cool, Golden State Clothing features a Cali-friendly selection of boho, office chic, and everything else needed to rock Left Coast Casual-Sophisticate. Outerwear, tops, bottoms, sweaters, and dresses are priced between $30-$120, with a variety of budget-friendly pieces to choose from. Additionally, the company is committed to utilizing sustainable materials, ethical manufacturing, social responsibility, and energy neutrality. Pieces from in the Charity Items section donate 100% of the price to Algalita, Earth911, Tree People and other environmentally-responsible charities. Recommended: Cavalry Vest ($50) is fabu military-chic with its bronze buttons and cropped length, and Cable Mini Sweater Dress ($60, pictured) with the open shoulder and buckle detail goes wonderfully paired with a long layered necklace and slouchy boots. To get 10% off your order, be sure to sign up for their email list – What began as a brick-and-mortar store in North Carolina has since developed into an online mainstay of indie designers – both established and up-and-coming. Edge of Urge has both men’s and women’s clothing, as well as shoes, accessories, housewares, and stationary – all with a non-box-store, homespun feel. Prices range from around $20 for a tee, to $250 for the most detailed, unique jacket ever, while a pair of fabulous leather boots can run around $350 (but they’re oh so fine!). Handmade, limited quantity pieces are more pricey, but you’ll agree they’re worth every penny when people stop you on the street to find out what you’re wearing. Fave picks: the Dani Boot with its hidden wedge-heel that makes you 3″ taller in rustic pebble-grain leather ($164, pictured), and Biltmore Top ($66), with kitschy white bib and red buttons – perfect with a high-waisted pencil skirt for that naughty secretary in all of us – For such affordable prices, Accessory Bug offers surprisingly stylish, expensive-looking bags, as well as lots of vegan/faux leather options. Thanks to exquisite stitching and and attention to detail (both inside and out), they easily withstand scrutiny and hold their own against pricey designer versions…a bonus for anyone craving the as-seen-on look without the cost. Our picks: the Red Alexandra Slim Short Wallet ($20, pictured) with its covered closure (carry with cream tailored pants and a striped sweater), and the Black Large Vicky Leopard Print Satchel ($46), because every woman deserves a leopard-accessorized walk on the wild side –
COOL FIND OF THE WEEK: For all online shopaholics, is a brand-new site that keeps all your links organized. Set a price alert on whatever you are shopping for, and then copy/paste the URL of the product you want into the text box on the ShoppingNotes page; when the item’s price is lowered or it goes on sale, they let you know! You can set price alerts on almost anything that catches your eye, and every link is automatically saved with an image and description so you’ll have no problem keeping track of the hundreds (and hundreds) of must-haves on your list. Now that’s what we call cheap e-shopping savvy.
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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