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.
Upcoming festive gatherings with relatives, family, significant others, in-laws…what a fashion nightmare! Your perfect go-to ensembles for romantic dinners a deux don’t cut it when you’re dining with Aunt Leda, her gaggle of cousins, and the odd parent – so what’s a girl to wear? Fear not! With these easy pieces, it’s easy to dress, impress, and look both classy and chic – all without spending a bundle:

Family-Friendly Fashion for Hols with the Fam by Fashiontribes

FLORAL TUNIC Since we’re saving the curve-highlighting sex kitten look for another occasion, try this flowy versatile tunic. The fun print rescues it from the clutches of baggy and boring, while well-placed accessories keep things chic. Wear as-is over textured tights and knee-high boots, or add some shape with a dark, low slung belt. Don’t forget a long chain necklace to pull it all together…just try to keep it from dangling in the gravy boat during dinner. Floral Tunic Dress $29 (sale) at
RETRO BOOTIE Play off the slightly 60ish vibe of the tunic with these undeniably groovy booties. In mod maroon, the contrasting suede and crinkle patent really stand out – especially with an outfit in monochrome or muted hues. To channel Twiggy, pair with a white shift, black leggings & mini gloves, or go the Nicole Richie route in acid-wash zip-ankle denim, a tie-waist sweater, and piles of scarves. Any way you wear them, these little booties truly a festive statement make. Zoe Patent Button Boot $38 at
PLAID COAT Mixing two bold patterns and making both of them look chic is definitely not Fashion 101, but the subdued tones of this coat would work well even with the bright flowered print of the tunic. What makes this coat a catch are the epaulet details at the shoulders (fantastic!), the double-breasted front, and structured belt – all of which make it look far more expensive than it really is. Reaching to just above the knee, this little trench looks fab in all sorts of weather: belt without buttoning over a swingy dress, or on cold blustery days, turn up the collar up and add a dark bucket hat. On sale for $30 off, it is a fashionable steal – and mother-approved. Double-Breasted Plaid Coat $100 (sale) at
KNIT BANGLES Chunky knit bangles are everywhere this season, and available at every pricepoint, from Elizabeth Yarborough’s elegant version for $190, to the recycled cashmere pieces for $30 at, to a serviceable garden-variety version from Claire’s for $10. Better yet: pick ’em up by the armload at Old Navy, where they come in a rainbow of eyecatching colors for a bargain-basement price of $5.50…for three! Stack on one arm over a tight-fitting turtleneck, peeking out from under the billowing sleeve of a dolman dress, or with any slinky, form-fitting looks. However, don’t pair them with a bulky sweater as that classifies as complete overkill. Set of 3 Sweater Bracelets, $5.50 (sale)
BOLD COCKTAIL RING If organic, inspiring forms are your thing, check out Twisted Silver’s elegantly twisted selection of button cocktail rings, mixed metal bag charms and chain-link earrings in a variety of metals. This 1″ ring evokes both flora and coffee bean in its undulating, symmetrical lines, while the raw brass imparts a modern feel. To highlight the bronze gleam, pair with warm neutrals, such as a deep-V cardigan in cream and a pair of brown cords. Life Ring $40 at
SPLURGE OF THE WEEK: Slouchy Leather Bag Every once in awhile, you come across a bag that you know is going to be your go-to accessory of the season – like this chic Orly bag from the new Jewels by Julie Knapp line. The slouchy shape eliminates that oh-so-familiar digging around for something in the bottom, and the ruched leather hobo comes in coal black, wine, and rich brown to complement almost all outfits. We love the brass ring at the closure, complete with contrasting snakeskin inlay (animal skins are hot-hot-hot this year). Pair with a 70’s-flare jean and blousy drawstring tunic, a dark fedora and cropped blazer, or go for contrasts all in sleek black from head to toe. Orly hobo $200 (sale) 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

(Gossip Girl photo at top: Giovanni Rufino/The CW ©2008 The CW Network)


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