Fall Fashion on the Cheap: Carly’s Chic Steals & Fashion Deals

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.
Now that it’s actually fall, many retailers, e-tailers, and designers have already priced their Fall Collections for a shopping spree. It’s a great time to snap up some chic pieces so that when cooler weather hits, you are already prepared – stylish ensembles waiting. If the words breezy or beach chic now make you want to scream, then check out these five fab fall picks:

RAW GEMSTONE EARRINGS Raw gemstone nuggets on a delicate wire add understated charm and a flirty pop of color near the face. Pair with a floaty chiffon print top or distressed leather bomber over a beefy knit sweaterdress in an eggplant hue. Either way, they are sweet, subtle, and spot-on 2008’s chunky-but-rough gemstone trend. Crystal Drop Earrings $13 (on sale) at UrbanOutfitters.com.
SEXY SWEATERDRESS Body-conscious yet comfy and oh-so-chic, the sweaterdress is on everyone’s must-have list. For casual elegance, cinch with a tooled leather belt and accessorize with some scrunchy boots and this season’s legging in a light pointelle-knit. If dinner with a dreamboat is on the menu, add a long dangling gold necklace and stilettos…stat. Turtleneck Sweaterdress in Teal $48 (on sale) at VictoriasSecret.com.
STUNNING STATEMENT BELT There’s nothing like an interesting and unique belt to add panache and personality to an outfit. Even the plainest jersey dress can be instantly upgraded to 2008 with this vintage-style swirl buckle belt. Available in black and tan (or fuchsia, red, and white) and seen on the likes of Cameron Diaz, this a statement that is both affordable and completely on-trend. Swirl Vintage Buckle Belt, 9 GBP (on sale) at ASOS.com.
HIGH-WAISTED DENIM After too many seasons of muffin top, plumbers crack, and other unsavory side-effects of low-rise jeans, high-waisted denim is finally back in style! In addition to camouflaging what should stay hidden, it flattens tummies and elongates the silhouette…so flattering! This version from Blank in a vintage-style wash boasts a retro-style flare that looks fantastic paired with a slimmer top (to balance the volume). Alternatively, try them with a blouse with some pleated, shirred, and pintucked collar-details, or even a dip-dye sweater. And be sure to mimic that sky-high model stature in some equally towering peep-toe platforms (cranberry suede, anyone?). Blank High Waisted Flare Jeans in Bamboo Banga $68 at Tobi.com
PEEP-TOE BOOTIE Regardless of the temperature, the peeptoe bootie is the new all-season staple. As countless celebs, models and socialites will attest, booties multi-task with ease, whether they are partnered with a mini, draped dress, tunic, or super-long rocker skinnies. Nine West Omygosh Bootie $100 at Endless.com.
SPLURGE OF THE WEEK: KNIT BOMBER JACKET There isn’t a self-respecting fashionista not craving a bomber jacket this fall. But how to distinguish yourself from the leather-clad pack? Try this knit version crafted from an unusually chic marled ice-colored yarn – featuring a chic shawl-collar, sexy cropped length, button detailing, and funky super-long textured sleeves (nothing is more irritating than too-short sleeves on a jacket!). Wear with your black skinnies or that purple paisley vintage dress you were wondering how to accessorize, and stay toasty and fashionable all the way until next Spring. Marlova Shawl-Collar Bomber $470 at FunkyLala.com.
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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Carly’s Chic Steals & Fashion Deals of the Week – Cozy Cashmere and, of course, Halloween Accessories

October 30, 2007

As a designer – my line is RIVETED Clothing & Accessories– I’ve developed an eye for style over the years…and right along with it, a nose for a bargain. Half the fun of fashion is looking fabulous without needing to declare bankruptcy. Here I’ll showcase 5 hot designer-style steals each week (each for $100 or, in most cases, for much, much less)…along with one splurge-worthy item.
As we head into late October and early November, the holiday season is looming. Before the party circuit hits its stride, stock up on a few items that can take you to that early-holiday event or get-together, and promise to boost your wardrobe’s versatility.

However, you don’t want to end up with a pile of party dresses, only to find that there are so many better options available once holiday merch hits the stores! Avoid the dreaded buyer’s remorse with these five fab picks:


‘Tis the season to sparkle & bling, and the mall is one place that’s always stocked with budget-friendly, on-trend pieces. Your first stop? Claire’s! However, beware: sorting through the huge selection of eye candy requires some serious stamina, but rest assured you’ll be rewarded with gorge jewels & accessories that mimic the high-end look. The proof? This featherweight jewel-encrusted pendant necklace – at just under $10, it’s as gorge on the pocketbook as it is to look at. Now I have something to adorn my shoulders, pair with some fancy satin dresses, or rock with skinny black jeans and a weathered tee for a retro 80’s glam look. Gem Necklace at Claires.com.


I am in love with the way Mike & Chris have redefined the hooded sweatshirt, but at $150 or more, high-end hoodies are simply not that affordable. Fortunately, a number of other lines have followed suit, serving up a plethora of girly, frilly, tailored, detailed, and oh-so-stylish hooded pieces. (And yes, I am also guilty of having a hoodie in my line.) The Royalty Jacket from Forever 21 (my go-to store for deeply discounted girly fashion must-haves) has everything I could want: fabulous gold-tone military buttons, huge kangaroo pocket, nipped-in waist, little puff-sleeves, and of course, a hood. Pair it with jeans, skirts, or – in place of a dress – a long-sleeved white top & a pair of dark tights. $28 from Forever21.com.


Regardless of whether you’re engaged, married, or still in the game, sometimes – as Carrie proved when she singlehandedly sparked a major trend by wearing Aidan’s diamond engagement ring on a necklace (prompting Marrieds & Singletons everywhere to follow suit) – what’s needed is a simple but gorgeous engagement-style ring. Forget your average (ie. boring) Princess cut diamond on a regular band. Instead, go avant garde with the Aerospace-Grade Titanium Tension-Mount Diamond Ring from Absolute Titanium. If the $500 starting price seems a bit much, try a stainless steel tension lookalike from RockCandles.com. At $35, it’s chic whether strung on a sterling chain or adorning your finger in a futile attempt to deter persisitant admirers.

If you thought Old Navy was the last place on earth you’d expect to find cashmere, you’re not alone. Lately, they’ve been coming out with more trendy, stylish staples & luxurious sweaters. This collar-shawl gem looks as fab over a lacy white cami with a flared skirt as it does paired with classic black pants. Simply add some bling accessories & prepare to brave the hols in style. However, do try to refrain (or not!) from purchasing one in every hue they offer: pastel pink, blue, gray, & black. $70 at OldNavy.com (If you’re a Old Navy, Gap, or Banana Republic cardholder, save an additional 20% until November 8th!)


Usually I avoid the kitschy holiday stuff, but since I recently (really!) passed the legal age of trick-or-treating, I could hardly ignore a chance to indulge in a little Halloween fun. In amongst all the black and S&M paraphenalia and body piercings lurks something fab at Hot Topic! For one of the best all-around, dressed-to-the-hilt-not-a-single-detail-overlooked Halloween costumes this time of year, look no further than the sexxxy Marie Antoinette mini-corset dress…but I digress. I also unearthed this mummy-ish, kind of macabre scarf with a mesh overlay that is perfect as an accent piece with a plain, dark overcoat, or with a fitted long-sleeved top. $24 at Hot Topic.

i>The silhouette of Fall is a cropped, swingy top with a monochromatic, leg-lengthening bottom, such as these high-waisted trousers. Bishop of Seventh spares no detail with the front-pleats, double-buttoned closure, tabbed waist & a figure-friendly wide-legged fit. Pair with a cropped, capelet-style coat in cream, tucked-in button-down white blouse or, if you’re headed for a holiday party, with a slinky silvery spaghetti-strap number. $295 at NeimanMarcus.com.
If there are any high-priced pieces you’d like me to find similar, less-pricey versions of, please don’t hesitate to email me at *carlyjcais AT riveted-clothing.com*. ‘Til next week, fellow bargain-hunters!
– Carly J. Cais

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Carly’s Chic Steals and Fashion Deals of the Week: Rustic Winter

November 13, 2007

As a designer – my line is RIVETED Clothing & Accessories – I’ve developed an eye for style over the years…and right along with it, a nose for a bargain. Half the fun of fashion is looking fabulous without needing to declare bankruptcy. Each week, I showcase five hot designer-style steals (each for $100 or, in most cases, for much, much less)…along with one splurge-worthy item.
With the cold weather comes just the excuse you were looking for to escape the high-paced hustle of city life by hightailing it off to a secluded spot in the wilderness, curling up by a roaring fire, and slowly sipping a mug of hot cocoa. Whether its a romantic getaway in a secluded cabin or a trip with the girls to your fave chalet – or you just want to dress the part – here are some great country-inspired picks to help you get cozy. However, unless your name is Paul Bunyan, no piling them all on at one time!

TEXTURAL SCARF Mixing your fashion media (think sweater-style knits + cotton or other wovens) is in-in-in this season – if this fab all-in-one mixed wool & silk dress from Missoni (at right) is anything to judge by (it’s Missoni…meaning it’s safe to judge). To punch up some of the many black coats that are probably hanging in your closet (I know mine is stuffed with them!), try a mixed-texture scarf. With a cotton edging on a substantial knitted body, it shifts the attention up toward your face, while the mix of beefy knit and cotton offers just the right amount of warmth on cooler evenings when a heavy coat is overkill. For sophisticated office days, try gray, and when you’re craving a bit more attention or out on a date, go for hot pink! $38 at UrbanOutfitters.com.

Give thanks to the fashion gods that the days of knotting your boyfriend’s oversized shirt at your waist in order to create a little desperately-needed sex-appeal are (so) over! With so many adorable, body-conscious cuts in blouses, there’s no better time to be fashionably female. The sweet plaid print is ultra-modern, while the puff cap-sleeves, waist-defining tie & ruffles – which draw the eye right to your feminine…*ahem*…assets – mean there’s no chance you’ll be mistaken for one of the boys. A tailored skirt, killer heels & thin belt at the waist keeps the look city; alternatively, pile on the country charm with a pair of Frye boots & denim jacket. Emma Ruffle Top, $34.50 at

If the winter wind is threatening your poor earlobes and ‘muffs just aren’t enough to brave the chill, break out a more rugged bomber-style topper. With built-in ear flaps & a mere $13 – $13! – it delivers an adorable Sienna Miller snowbunny look that’s way easy on the wallet. Houndstooth Bomber Hat (at left) – Target.com. Alternatively, try the fab (faux) furry style (at right) from Victoria’s Secret. Leave the voluminous stuff in the closet & pair this instead with skinny pants and a tight-fit sweater; loose & sexy does it with the hair…et voila…instant chalet chic! Trapper hat, $34.50 at VictoriasSecret.com.

Sometimes you just tire of jeans, and slacks are a bit…well, slacking when it comes to comfort. Cozy pants in a thin-wale corduroy (remember: thin wale, good; wide wale = visual width on your legs = bad for most except the super skinny) will not only bring you back to your High School glory days, but also increase your closet’s versatility. Look for riveted details, high back pockets, and a slight flare to the leg for the most flattering fit. The shape elongates and slims the legs; perfect with your favorite baggy sweatshirt and beat-up Birkenstocks when you just don’t feel like dressing up…& killer tucked into knee-length boots and a paired with a military-style jacket when you do. And the super-sweet thing is that these Piper Spiral Cords come in no less than four inseam lengths, to fit everyone from the sweetest Petite to the leggiest Tall. $39.50 at Alloy.com.

Although military-style has infiltrated pretty much all of fashion this season, it’s best attempted in small doses…such as in a pair of versatile boots. Tuck your skinny jeans into them and add your fave oversized leather weekender for a trip to the ‘burbs; top with a swingy capelet and tight skirt for a more fashion-forward Helmut Lang-inspired feel. And don’t let
the 4″ wedge frighten you – they already have a 1″ platform, so they’re easy to walk in and surprisingly chic. Platform Boot, $44 – Newport-News.com.

Rachel Leigh originally made a splash back in ’04 with her wire-wrapped rings of precious and semi-precious gemstones & pearls. Now, she has…branched out into amazingly affordable bracelets, earrings & quirky-chic necklaces that are being snapped up by publicists, celebs, and style-savvy fashionistas in the know. This antler necklace with adorable embedded mini-crystals is striking enough to stand alone as a statement piece, or equally stylish as an accent piece when paired with a cluster of delicate chains gently resting at your throat. Rachel Leigh Antler Crystal Necklace, $136 – CoutureCandy.com.
If there are any high-priced pieces you’d like me to find similar, less-pricey versions of, please email me at *carlyjcais AT riveted-clothing.com*. ‘Til next week, fellow bargain-hunters!
– Carly J. Cais

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