When it comes to beauty, the rule, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” applies as much as it does in romantic relationships. When you’ve found a stylist that “gets you,” you need to hold on tightly. I personally have had a total of two stylists in my life.
One was my cousin, whom I lovingly refer to as, “my first stylist,” since she got a round brush stuck in my hair when we were six. My mom had to cut it out. I was traumatized. She then moved on and went to beauty school, where I served as her experimental head. I trust my family fully, and if my cousin needed to turn my hair orange to learn the art of patience, so be it.
Over the next decade, my cousin perfected the art of hair. She is one of the best colorists I’ve seen, and I am not saying that just because she’s related. She can look at a grainy image on a tiny phone screen and come up with the exact same shade. I also liked that she was honest with me about colors and styles that wouldn’t suit me.
After my cousin moved several states away, I threw a temper tantrum, and then started seeing another stylist at her salon. At first I was afraid (I was indeed petrified). However, I soon came to realize that Tajia was also a hair genius. She always cut my hair better than what I’d asked for, and she was excited to work with me, because I am a pretty experimental client. I don’t ask for the same style each time I come in. I am open to suggestions. Alas, Tajia moved away too.
I now find myself looking for another stylist. I have seen a few in the interim, as I have greys that need to be covered (better to grey early than wrinkle early, I always say), but I don’t have a regular yet. I am a little nervous that my patronage will cause my next beloved stylist to leave the state too. I hope not. Because once you’ve found someone who understands how your hair behaves and knows how to create a style that looks amazing, it can feel like you’ll never connect with another stylist on that level again.
However, I am not easily traumatized by bad haircuts. Hair grows back. It’s not like a bad nose job, where your chances of having anything even remotely resembling what you started with are slim to none. There are also a lot of hats, wigs and weaves that can cover a botched cut. Though I will still get anxious with each new chair until I find the perfect one.
$140 – johnlewis.com
So many people have the misguided notion that it takes a ton of money to be chic, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Thankfully, chic women like Michelle Obama, Duchess Catherine (AKA Kate Middleton), Natalie Portman, Lauren Conrad, Eva Longoria and more have been spotted rocking items from stores frequented by people with average sized wallets. Although these women can afford to pair their Urban Outfitters hauls with pricier items, they can teach all of us a lesson in mixing and matching. To learn how to stretch your wardrobe budget, read on.
1. Thrift/Consignment stores are a shopper’s best friend: Forget Macklemore. Those of us who look fabulous on a dime have been shopping at these stores forever (In college, we had an awesome one on campus called The Bunker at which I spent many a Statistics class). It’s true, you have to commit some time to digging, but finding the diamond in the rough is so worth it. I once found a pair of Diesel jeans in great condition for $30. If you aren’t label conscious and just want to find some interesting threads, try thrift stores like Arc and Goodwill. These stores will accept most items, so you run the risk of finding items in not-so-great condition. Make sure to inspect everything before buying it. On the bright side, you can get five pairs of jeans for $20. If you care a little more about the condition of your hand-me-downs, consignment is a better option. People sell used clothing to these shops, so they are great for finding more well-known brands, and the clothing is in good condition.
2. Discount shopping: In recent years, Target has made quite a name for itself featuring lines by Jason Wu, John Paul Gaultier, Prabal Gurung and Philip Lam (launching Fall 2013) have all contributed collections to the retail giant. However, their regular line up from Mossimo, Merona, Sam and Libby and others garner a lot of compliments as well. Other retailers like Kohl’s, JC Penny and H&M also offer adorable clothes for less than $100 each. With other stores like Old Navy, Forever 21, The Buckle, Pac Sun and more, there are many places at which you can find great pieces for not a lot of Benjamins.
3. When someone messes up, we all benefit: Stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Ross are full of overstock merchandise that was ordered, but never sold. This happens a lot when buyers miscalculate the quantity that they think they can sell. As the fashion season turns, they need to unload the bulk, and pass it on to these stores. For those of us who don’t care if our Calvin Klein rain coat is “so last season,” it is a gold mine for finding super cute merchandise for a steal. Yes, these stores can seem somewhat dingy at times, but they are well worth it.
4. Outlet shopping is amazing: Outlet stores are other places in which overstocked items are unloaded to us cheapskates. However, some brands design items specifically for the outlet. To save a ton of money on name brand merchandise, these are a great place to go. If you must rock designer jeans, go to an outlet store and pick a timeless cut and wash, so you can wear them for a long time. Outlet malls are excellent resources for finding higher-end pieces to mix and match with your Old Navy gear.
5. The clearance section is amazing: If you can wait until the end of a season to buy new stuff, you can save money. Discount and sale sections feature end of season items that need to be moved before next season’s goods can be put on display. Although it can be difficult to find your size at times, keep looking. You may find your new favorite jacket, pair of jeans, pair of boots, etc. It is definitely worth it to check the clearance section of your favorite stores to see what kinds of steals you can add to your closet.
6. Don’t be afraid to splurge: Not many of us have access to Paris Hilton’s American Express Black card, but that doesn’t mean that we can never buy anything nice. While you definitely don’t want to make a habit out of buying Burberry trench coats on credit, luxury items are a great way to motivate yourself. If you want to lose 15 pounds, commit to “paying” yourself $20 a pound. Put it in a cookie jar or a savings account. By the time you’ve lost the weight, you’ll have $300 – enough for a new pair of True Religions. Saving for luxury items makes you appreciate them more than throwing them on plastic and letting the bills rack up until you can no longer pay them on time. It takes discipline to save money, so in addition to looking posh in your new coat, you will feel a sense of pride when you wear it. If you’re on a budget, splurge on things that are timeless rather than trendy, so you can keep them in your wardrobe for a long time.
Back in the day, the only people who were lucky enough to take advantage of sample sales were those who lived in the likes of New York, Los Angeles and other cities with members of the glitterati. These days, anyone can access a sample sale with the click of a button. With flash sale sites like Hautelook.com, Ruelala and Gilt, among many others, you too can have sample sales delivered directly to your inbox on a daily basis.
How do these sites work? Much like discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, these sites sell overstocked items to consumers at steep discounts. While they typically sell last season’s merchandise, they can be a great place to find designer items on the cheap. Although there is no way to try on clothing, most of these sites have generous return and exchange policies. If you’re looking for a timeless piece that is high quality and fashionable, these places can be a great resource. They also sell beauty products and home goods.
Items on Gilt tend to be on the higher end of the luxury scale, so despite good discounts, they’re still pricey.
Hautelook has a good mix of higher and lower end items. They ship quickly, and the customer service team is helpful. Hautelook was acquired by Nordstrom, so they are now a representation of the brand, and treat customers as such.
I found out about RueLaLa by watching The City on MTV. This site does a lot to help emerging and local designers, but I’ve found the merchandise to be very hit or miss. If you do find something that you like, they ship quickly.
Beyond the Rack always has amazing deals, but the company is based in Canada. There’s nothing wrong with Canada, but it takes a long time for them to get merchandise from their suppliers, so it can take up to 8 weeks to get your order.
Ideeli is another site with a varied selection of merchandise. They don’t have a ton of stuff on the site, but they do offer good deals, and they ship quickly as well. They also have a great return policy in case you get something that you don’t like or doesn’t fit.
If you are patient and can deal with the angst of not being able to try clothing on before you buy it, then flash sale sites can be a great way to add clothes to your closet for a reasonable amount of dough. Sign up and see what tickles your fancy.
$31 – fatface.com
$6.13 – ocado.com
$6.13 – hm.com