by Carly J. Cais, Fashion Designer & ChicSteals blog
As a designer, I’ve developed an eye for style over the years along with 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.
Now that it’s a new year, it’s time to put those Resolutions to the test & improve physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually…and, while you’re at it, fashionably. Here are our 5 Fashion Resolutions for 2009:


Spring 2009 Brights by Fashiontribes

It’s painful, but bite the bullet and stash all those items guaranteed to make you cringe in the not-too-distant future: yes, we mean the Uggs, celeb-inspired Love Quotes scarves, and matching velour tracksuits. Ditto busy prints that are not geometric, bold, floral or adorned with butterflies (not stars, though: so 2008). The Spring 2009 fashion forecast calls for color, so put away the grays and give all that black in your closet some oomph with cheery brights. To get back on trend, try one-shouldered outfits, rompers, sheer tops, art-inspired prints, and bejeweled items, as well as 80’s-inspired pieces. Here are some of our picks:


Get the Look: Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively by Fashiontribes

If you’re feeling under-the-weather or just fashion-challenged, there’s nothing guaranteed to make you feel even more frumpy like a pair of baggy sweats and stained tee. For little or no more effort, you can pull on a casual go-to outfit that’s comfy, chic, and guaranteed to lighten your mood. (Yes, fashion can be both uplifting & inspirational…when you know you look great, that confidence shines from within.) An easy way to pull together some looks you like is by combing through magazines, blogs (like this one!) and even TV shows…professional stylists have already done the hard work of coming up with the looks; all you have to do is replicate them in your own closet. Alternatively, take inspiration from a celeb who has a similar body type and coloring whose style you like; if she looks chic and pulled together, so will you. We personally adore Gossip Girl Blake Lively, who was recently named one of Marie Claire’s Best Dressed of 2008. Here’s what you’ll need to steal her style:


If your closet isn’t bursting at the seams with unworn party dresses, belts still with their tags on, and way too many pairs of shoes with unscuffed soles – we salute you! For the rest of us, there are just too many options stuffed into the closet, and as a result, a confusing mess. For 2009, we’re planning to donate more and keep less…and then actually wear it. Anything that’s obviously stained, way too small, or somehow never got altered automatically gets purged. And if it hasn’t been worn it in a year, buh-bye! Of the stuff that’s left, why not recruit a girlfriend help you find new ways to create some fresh new outfits? Once we’ve pulled together some fabulous, on-trend outfits, we’re going to snap photos and create our very own lookbook; extra work to be sure, but guaranteed to pay dividends on those OMG-I-have-nothing-to-wear days.


Agyness Deyn Style by Fashiontribes

Day after day, most of us reach for the same handful of items. But much of the fun of fashion is about taking a risk, pulling off the unexpected, and being open to trying new things. Even if you’re not feeling Agyness Deyn-level bold enough to rock a taffeta ballroom skirt with a stonewashed denim jacket and spiked hair, why not try at least one thing you normally wouldn’t? You may be pleasantly surprised. Love day-glo but don’t own a single neon item? Instead of a dress, try a scarf. If you’re more rock ‘n roll than preppy, a slouchy striped tee under a blazer is a fab way to meld the two. Trying something new will also help you get additional mileage out of your closet by formulating more go-to outfits than you would have ever thought of while lounging in the safety of that comfort zone.


We’ve become a nation of fashion slobs by Fashiontribes

People used to dress up. A mere half century ago, even housewives who spent all day cooking and cleaning at home did so decked out to the nines in tight-fitting, crisp hourglass dresses, crinolines, and frilly aprons. Granted, we’re not asking you to don petticoats while dusting or other restrictive garments completely inappropriate to the situation, but the time has come to fight back against the widespread Slide into Slobdom. Since there’s nothing sadder than a closet full of gorgeous stuff hanging unworn, even if you don’t have a fancy function to attend, make up your own and dress the part! Break out those shoes you love and that dress you adore from the back of your closet – even for a short trip to get coffee – just because! As long as you’re chic & pulled-together, you’ll garner stares, extra attention (at worst, they might whisper: “Isn’t she just a little overdressed for Starbucks?” To which we say Pfft!), but more likely you’ll be that woman of mystery who has everyone dying to know what fabulous after-hours fete you’re just now arriving home from.
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

(photos: Blake Lively –; Agyness Deyn in blue ballgown –; 50s housewife – Roman Holiday; Pamela Anderson – The Fashionable Housewife)


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