Friday, September 30, 2011

Saving on Shoes

Footwear can make or break an outfit.  But there is no question that quality shoes can cost a lot (and you'll want to make sure you buy shoes of good quality -- not only will they look and feel better, but with proper care, they will last longer than poorly made shoes, too).  So how can you save money on shoes?  Here are some tightwad tips:
  • While it can be tempting to wear your go-to shoes every day, switching off between two or three pairs will allow the leather to rest and your shoes will look nicer and last longer.
  • Wear shoes appropriate for the weather and for your activities.  For example, changing into rain boots in bad weather, and keeping a separate pair of barn shoes or garden shoes, will keep all your other pairs in better shape.
  • Know that some shoes - such as fabric espadrilles with hemp soles - won't last long, especially if you are caught in a shower - and you should pay accordingly.  I saw pretty espadrilles priced at $100 or more this past summer but knowing that they would hardly last through the season, I wasn't even tempted for a second.
  • It is always better to pay a little more for quality, e.g. leather uppers, and sewn rather than glued soles.  While they might look ok at first, cheap shoes don't wear well and you'll end up spending more money replacing them than you would have for a quality pair in the first place.
  • Practice good shoe maintenance - brush suede, clean and polish leather, and if they get wet, dry them away from direct heat.
  • Find yourself a good shoe repair shop - replacing heels and soles isn't expensive and will dramatically extend the life of your favorite shoes.
  • As with anything else, keep your eyes open for good shoe sales (usually end-of-season sales in January and July yield amazing bargains) and when shopping online, use coupons and rebate programs like Upromise.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fashionable 50 for $50 (or Less)

In years past, many women's magazines (not just the fashion-focused ones like Vogue) featured fashion spreads with clothing and accessories priced beyond what the average woman could readily afford.  The idea was to show the latest styles, with the assumption (I suppose) that readers enjoyed aspirational articles and/or could easily translate the looks to lower priced goods on their own.

This fall, I've noticed a decided shift -- perhaps related to the tanking economy, perhaps because magazines are finally listening to reader feedback in these days of social networking -- toward real fashion priced at levels that real women can afford.  A good example is Redbook's 50 Under $50 -- good-looking, stylish pieces that don't break the bank.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Free Museum Admission Today

Saturday, September 24th is Smithsonian magazine's Museum Day, with over 1,300 participating museums and cultural venues throughout the U.S. offering free admission.  Learn more and download free tickets at

Want more opportunities to save on museum admission throughout the country?  Check out The Insider Travel Guides free museum admission pages:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

13 Pieces; 30 Looks

One of the key attributes associated with most frugal fashionistas is the ability to take a few key (low cost) pieces and transform them into a variety of chic outfits.  Now it seems as though everyone is getting into the act.  Most recently, Banana Republic and stylists from Lucky magazine have teamed up to show how 13 basic items will yield a month's worth of stylish Fall looks.  Take a look at the pieces and the outfits they have chosen -- then take similar items that exist in your own closet already and create something just as nice without spending a dime!
Want more ideas for mixing and matching clothing basics that your probably already have?  Check out another example of Wardrobe Basics: How to Wear 8 Pieces 30 Ways and How to Make 5 Outfits from 1 Shirtdress.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Frugal Fall Fashion

It is hard for me not to yearn for new clothes every September.  Not only does back-to-school season serve as a signal (dating back to my childhood) that it is time to get new duds, but the hefty fall fashion issues of magazines like Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Elle and many more scream "buy, buy, buy!"

This year, in the interests of saving money, I resolved to be methodical about any new purchases, rather than give in to the impulsive "oh I love this; I must have it!" kind of shopping I often do.  I studied fashion and trend websites and then reviewed all the items in my closet, to determine what I already owned that is "in" this season.

Here's what I found:

Top Trends
  1. Key fabrics: sheer, python, fur, lace
  2. Key patterns: polka dots, graphic prints, Native-American patterns
  3. Skirts: pencil skirts, trumpet skirts, longer length
  4. Pants: higher waist, colored jeans
  5. Coats: bright colors
  6. Embellishments: paillettes and sequins, Peter Pan collars
  7. Shoes: wedge booties, chunky-heeled loafers
  8. Bags: red, crossbody
  9. Jewelry: cuffs, collars, tassel earrings
  10. Colors: teal, mustard yellow
Here's my plan:
  1. I already own two sheer tops (I've got both white and black tops w/strategic appliques); aubergine python clutch; fur purse; black cashmere sweater with fur collar and cuffs; fur scarf; and two lace skirts.
  2. I might buy sheer black hose with dots, but otherwise am likely to skip the dots (they often look too costume-y), large graphic prints (I'm too petite) and Najaho prints (been there, done that).
  3. I already own denim, tweed and lace pencils skirts and a black silk trumpet skirt.
  4. I'm not sure the high-waists and colored jeans are for me; I'll wait this out a while and see.
  5. While I like the idea of a bright coat, I already have several coats in great shape and am not sure I'm ready to buy another.
  6. I have a cream sequin jacket (bought on sale for about 90% off); will skip the Peter Pan collars since I think they make all but the very young look frumpy.
  7. I bought a great pair of wedge booties on sale last spring; I like chunky-heeled loafers but will wait for a great deal.
  8. I have a classic bag in red leather; bought a new metallic crossbody bag for 78% off.
  9. I bought a cuff bracelet on sale but I think it looks worth a lot less than I paid for it (even though I bought it on sale).
  10. I have plenty of teal: teal and black peep toe pumps; teal leather clutch; teal blazer; teal and brown jacket.  I'm not sure that mustard is for me other than as an accent color.
So with some thought and planning, I will be chic and up-to-date without spending much money at all on this season's fashions!

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Dress Better for Less

    Good Housekeeping isn't the place that I usually go for fashion tips.  But their recent article on classic clothes worth the investment, tips for cleaning and maintaining your clothes, and using what you have in new ways is quite helpful.