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.
If the wild, wintery winds of January are making you want to blow off to warmer climes, you’re in luck – fashionably-speaking! The Resort ’09 Collections were brimming with bold, ocean-inspired hues, colorblocking, and fun, tropical prints. And as you dream of escaping to balmy skies and lounging on the beach, remember: the last burden you need schlep is too much luggage. To pack the ultimate versatility into your excursion, try these five picks for frugal, fabulous resort wear:

SHINY SANDALS Always pack two pairs of sandals: one ratty pair for the beach, and one fabulous pair to wear everywhere else. At $20, this shimmery embellished wedge is as affordable as it is chic (plus it’s vegan – score!) paired with everything from an animal-print caftan, city shorts & a safari-style tee, or with a black silk slipdress that clings in all the right places. Coordinating chandelier earrings and poolside Mai Tai optional…but highly recommended. Regan Sandal $20 at
BREEZY TUNIC Since packing light means versatility, a billowy, graphic blue & white tunic promises to be just as at home in jungles urban or tropical. The pintucks create a semi-fitted shape that looks fab tucked into some cigarette pants, or paired with a matching jacket for that laid-back office vibe. But cinch with a braided gold belt and pair over some super-short shorts, and the look is all apres-beach and pre-dinner cruise. City-Style Tunic $26 at
SEXY EARRINGS Whether you acquired your tan on the beach or from a bottle, a color like aqua is one of the best ways to show it off – especially if you’re rocking texturized, sun-streaked hair. The understated length of these dangly cerulean earrings pops against your jawline, looking beachy-chic whether you’re actually on vacation…or merely planning it in a white buttondown and a black (or brown) suit. Turquoise Stone Earrings $20 at
TEENY WEENY BIKINI Coming in at #8 on Nina Garcia’s list of the Top 100 pieces no stylish woman is without (pg. 25 of The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own), a bikini is what you’ll want to wear under everything on vacation (who needs bras and panties anyway??). In white with a sweet dot-print, this Tiki set offers adjustable coverage in front, and Brazilian coverage in the back. Sexy underneath a sheer caftan; sultry peeking out from under that tight minidress. Kon Tiki Tiki Tri Bikini Top & Bottom ($64 for the set) at
SAFARI SKIRT Safari resonated throughout the spring resort collections, and we particularly love the bold splash of color at the hem of this chic skirt. Pair with a simple white tee and espadrilles while chilaxing; with a dark blazer when you’re back in the office. Or, for full-on 2009 safari style, go the Sarah Jessica Parker route in Sex & the City with a sheer top and a belted vest. Still long to be on vacation? Be sure to also pick up the alternate color, in a lovely aqua with a deep lagoon stripe at the bottom. Pleated Skirt $73 at (one of our fave sources of casual chic threads for work and play).
*Splurge of the Week: FUN FLORAL FROCK A highly important part of a stress-free holiday is heading straight from the pool or beach to swanky cocktails without any annoying obstacles to getting your drink on…such as getting nailed for “improper” attire. Toss this slightly retro frock on over your swimsuit, tuck an exotic flower behind your ear, and be prepared to tango past the velvet rope and straight onto the dance floor. Les Jardin print dress $165 at
If there a
re any high-priced pieces you’d like me to find similar, less costly versions of, please email me at carlyjcais AT fashiontribes DOT com.

– Carly J. Cais


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