Prep School Style: Carly’s Chic Steals & Fashion Deals of the Week

by Carly J. Cais, Fashion Designer & ChicSteals blog
As a designer – my line is RIVETED Clothing & Accessories – 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.
To survive soaring summer temperatures in style, comfort without sloppiness is key. Whether you’re running errands, on the court or off, or just cooling down with an icy acai smoothie, stay dressed to the nines in classic preppy chic inspired by the charm of collegiate co-eds. For (way) less than the cost of tuition, look the part in canvas, cotton, dark-rinse denim, and grosgrain:

CHEERY RIBBON BELT The quinessential preppy accessory, a stripey grosgrain ribbon looks great cinching a sleeveless tennis sheath or topping a pair of paperbag shorts. Here, the green-and-blue stripes highlight the colors in the top and skirt, and on sale for less than $20 it’s a great little piece that will inject a bit of liveliness into your wardrobe. (For artistically inclined fashionistas, DIY with cute ribbon and D-rings.) Striped Ribbon Belt $20 (sale) at
AVIATOR SUNGLASSES Jessica Biel and Ashley Simpson are just a few of the celebs rocking this summer’s must-have: contrast-color-rimmed aviator sunglasses. Available with gold, red, baby blue, white, pink, or black frames, and with brown or purple lenses, these aviators look hot topping off any ensemble…and don’t forget to flip that collar up and let a little scarf peek out for some Bridgette Bardot-inspired sophistication. Aviator Sunglasses $10 at
LOW-RISE SNEAKER When classic comfort is the goal, you can never go wrong with a durable Ked-type sneak in a trendproof neutral, especially one with a fun hot-pink satin lining. This frugal find would also look fab paired with a denim mini and distressed army cap or peeking out from under wide-leg 70s denim flares and a shrunken tee. alice + olivia for Payless Olivia canvas sneaker $20 at
DENIM PENCIL SKIRT Always a fashionable must, the pencil brings a long, lean look to any silhouette. In dark-rinse denim, it is clean and casual with a light cotton top, but can easy become siren sexy with a pair of killer heels and lots of skin. When temperatures start to dip, it will look just as chic with patterned tights and a wrap cardi – or with a little jacket and neck-tie blouse if the office dress code permits. Dark Rinse Pencil Skirt $78 at
BRIGHT BAG Bright accessories rule this season. This white-and-green patent bag has handy front and side pockets, easily blending function with trend. Paired with dark denim and a white buttondown, a khaki shirt and ribbed tank, or a cotton minidress. Whichever you choose, play off the bag’s debonair design by keeping your look uncluttered for maximum prep appeal. Miranda White & Green Patent Tote $56 at
SPLURGE OF THE WEEK: SOCIALLY-CONSCIOUS POLO TEE Preen in a prep-inspired tee that helps fight Breast Cancer. From Ralph Lauren, this is a must-have piece for summer – and because all the net proceeds go to charity, why not pick up one in each appealing neon color: yellow, red, turquoise, apple green? FTBC Fitted Polo Shirt $75 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

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Carly’s Chic Steals and Fashion Deals of the Week: Classic Co-ed “Love Story” Chic

November 27, 2007

by Carly J. Cais, Fashion Designer

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.
Gorgeous Autumn colors, yummy pie, day-after-Thanksgiving-mega-sales…not to mention classes starting up, college football games, and alumni weekends. Take a page from the college book (think Ali McGraw in Love Story!) and get inspired by a classically casual look. Whether you’re on campus or not, there’s hot style to be found in study hall that translates perfectly to the street.

STRIPED SCARF When you’re hankering for something classic – but with a feminine twist – this stripey scarf gets an A+. Super long, it can hang long & loose, or be wrapped around your neck multiple times on chilly day. The teensy bit of sparkle keeps it from being confused with all the other Rugby-style scarves out there. Choose from pink, blue, black, red or green. Lurex scarf $20 –

PEACOAT There’s just something about a peacoat…slip one one & you look both preppy and fetchingly feminine. Whether it’s over a dark suit to the office or as a coverup with a hoodie and leggings – it’s suprisingly versatile. This affordably version has a fab heart-locket print lining that will appeal to your inner girlie-girl. To keep it universal, try classic black or gray; for more adventure, opt for bright green or lipstick red. Classic Peacoat $70 –
(sizing note: it runs slightly small)

Whether paired with an oversized varsity hoodie or dolled up under a nipped jacket with multiple strands of Coco’esque pearls, vintage-wash jeans are the ultimate closet staple. Fraying merely makes them more tough-looking & unexpectedly sexy when a little flash of skin peeks through. The slight flare looks fab with a pair of killer stilettoes…how could a fashionista say no? Cali Low Rise Flare Jeans $50 –
SHEARLING BOOT That iconic shearling boot that showed up on the fashion radar a few years back paired wth frayed denim mini skirts on starlets perpetually in and out of rehab? It’s still considered the most Hollywood-chic way to brave an L.A. winter in style. (In our defense, celebs are contributing handpainted versions of Uggs to auction off for charity!) If you’ve found the steep $160 price tag for the original offputting, then happy days are here: a great lookalike pair for $20! With so many colors to choose from – black, brown, camel, ivory, purple, red, & pink – as well as a shorter version, and some embellished pairs, the selection at is totally tantalizing (and totally affordable!). Faux Shearling Boot $20 (sale) –

THERMAL TOP Perfect for layering and super-cute on its own, the thermal tee is unabashedly intimate even when worn in a casual setting. Add colorful stripes and fabulous neckline gathers, and it looks great even if it some time has passed since your college heyday. Pair with leggings and boots for an I’m-just-going-to-hit-the-Starbucks-next-door look, or add a black mini and dark tights to sexily play up the colors. Cozy Thermal Stripe Top $44 –

As every style-savvy co-ed knows, even if you’re clothed head-to-toe in great designer knockoffs, you need to add at least one fab accessory that is the real thing in order to come off as fashionable rather than fashion victim. This iconic bean pendant adds an equal splash of sophistication to a strapless silk party frock or a college-cozy ensemble. The medium sterling silver version is surprisingly affordable at just under $200, while the 18k gold is a steeper $775…but isn’t that what Christmas/Hannukkah/Festivus are for? Silver Elsa Peretti Bean Pendant $195 –
If there are any high-priced pieces you’d like me to find similar, less-pricey versions of, please email me at *carlyjcais AT*. ‘Til next week, fellow bargain-hunters!

– Carly J. Cais

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