Friday, December 24, 2010

Nine Things to Buy After Christmas from

Here's a great article on post-holiday savings for all of you bargainistas out there. Enjoy and take heed!
This message was sent via AOL by Please note that AOL does not verify email addresses.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Neiman Marcus Last Call Sale Today and Tomorrow!

Ladies and Gents,

Neiman Marcus Last Call is offering 40% off your entire purchase today and tomorrow both online and in the store. Check it out at Enjoy!

XOXO- Ms. Diva
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

From Black Friday and Midnight Madness to Cyber Monday Deals!


It's that time of the year!  Most stores are rallying for the big Thanksgiving weekend sales, better known as Black Friday, Midnight Madness and Cyber Monday.  My friends often laugh at the many strategies I employ during the holiday weekend to make sure that all of my holiday shopping is completed by 7am on the day after Thanksgiving.  This year will be no different.  I have gotten some awesome deals and I want to share some of my strategies with you so that you too can be the fabulous gift giver that you ought to be. 
  1. Midnight Madness Sales- Many stores open at midnight on the day after Thanksgiving for special sales.  If you are interested in burning off those Thanksgiving calories by milling around the aisles in the outlet malls, check out this link to see where the local Midnight Madness sales are near you
  2. Black Friday- The trick to emerging a winner at Black Friday sales is to have a plan.  First, check out the Black Friday ads for deals that appeal to you.  I tend to visit because it permits me to log in (create an account first, of course) and create a shopping list. based on the sale ads.  You can also check for ads.  These sites will show you the Black Friday sale ads for many stores.  Browse them and identify those items that you want to purchase.  The next step is to research the products online. Check reviews to see if it is worth dragging yourself out of bed to stand in the long lines for the deal.  Then compare prices for the items that you want to purchase.  You can check sites like and to see how much other merchants are charging for the merchandise you are looking to buy,  After you decide on what you want to buy and where you want to buy it, plan your shopping strategy.  I suggest you go to these sales early.  If the store opens at 5am, get there at 3:30am.  You'd be surprised how many people will already be there.  Do not go to ANY store with an ambitious agenda.  Go in and get one or two items and get out!  Visit the stores a few days before and get a lay of the land.  You will want to have a mental map of the store (Walmart passes out a map to shoppers while they wait in line; Target often passes out reusuable shopping bags with goodies in them) and figure out the fastest way to get to the department where you can find your merchandise.  For example, if I am buying something in Walmart's electronics department, I have a tendency to walk through the clothing section (nobody is going to be over there) and then make a hard left towards electronics, passing the shoe section on the way.  I usually go with more than one person so that we can split up and grab the merchandise.  The first one who gets to a check out line will text us to tell us where they are.  We meet them in line and they take all of the merchandise so we can check out together.  We are usually done in 20-30 minutes.  Totally worth the hassle.  You want to apply that strategy at every store you visit.  By employing this strategy, I am usually done with my shopping by 7am on the day after Thanksgiving.  Remember, the early bird catches the worm.  Most stores have early bird specials and limited quantities, so get there early and only go for those things that you really, really want.  Keep in mind the stores' opening hours when you plan your strategy.  I usually go to Walmart (5am), then Target (in line by 5:30am, opens at 6am), then Old Navy (in line by 6:30am, opens at 7am) and then to A.C. Moore (walk in at 8am after my stop at Starbucks for coffee).  When all is said and done, I'm back home and in bed by 9am while the rest of the world is searching through the scraps.
  3. Cyber Monday - If you hate lines and don't get up early, check out the various online sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving, also known as Cyber Monday.  To check out the sales going on at different stores, visit and for the sales at your favorite stores. 
  4. Last Word on Holiday Shopping- Sales can be tempting and overwhelming.  If you want to continue to be a Discount Diva and avoid buyer's remorse (post-holiday credit card bill blues), write a list and a shopping budget and stick to it.
I hope these tips help you as much as they help me.  Now get shopping and don't forget to get me a gift too!

XOXO- Ms. Diva

Macy's 25% Pre-Sale Discount at the One Day Sale!


I found myself at the Macy's One Day Sale today (don't ask me what time I was there) and I thoroughly enjoyed my finds, which I will share with you at another time.  What I will share now is that when I went to use my coupons to get a further discount on my purchases, I was offered a 25% pre-sale discount.  "What is that?",you might ask.  Well, Macy's is offering a 25% family and friends discount on all merchandise in the entire store (no restrictions like the pesky coupons they send home) starting on December 1st.  So, if you purchase an item today, but don't need it right away, you can pay for it today with the pre-sale 25% discount and pick it up on December 1st.  The up side to this is that you get a deeper discount on today's sale merchandise.  The down side is that you can't take your merchandise home with you today.  I chose to go with the 25% discount because I don't need my dresses until the holiday time.  So, if that makes sense to you, go to Macy's and make some purchases and pick them up later.  Just think, you can buy the higher end merchandise on discount (these items are usually excluded from sales and coupons).  Otherwise, remember to use your coupons, but read the fine print on the back for the exclusions.  Anyway, there were a ton of other deals at the sale, so go check it out.  It's so worth it!

XOXO- Ms. Diva

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ms. Diva's Look Book November 2010


Per your requests, I have uploaded my look book which I created using combinations from the wardrobe worksheet I shared with you last month.  I note that my daily wardrobe is not limited to these combinations, but this at least helps me get dressed when I don't feel like thinking about what to wear.  Nevertheles, this has been a worthwhile exercise, as I have discovered that my color pallete is pretty monotone. The only color in my fall/winter wardrobe (on this worksheet) is from an occasional bright colored sweater or an accessory.  So, I guess I'll be shopping for some color this season. Enjoy!

XOXO- Ms. Diva

Lanvin for H&M Launches on Nov. 23rd!

It's time to get excited! Lanvin is the next high end designer launching a line at H&M. For those of you who are not too high-falutent for pedestrian lines, this is one heck of an opportunity to score a gorgeous dress or two. The price points are a bit pricey, but with Lanvin dresses typically running 2k-4k, this is a unique opportunity. I can't speak to the quality of the materials, but it's worth a look see. The dresses are absolutely gorgeous. With items from $9.99 to $249, these affordable holiday gems will put a little spice in your wardrobe. But beware- you better style these items your way or you may have a twin. Check out the look book from the Lanvin collection.
XOXO- Ms. Diva

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Free Shipping at Starts Today!

Folks, Walmart has turned up the heat on its competitors by offering free shipping on almost 60,000 items on its website. These items run the gamut on price points so check it out!

XOXO- Ms. Diva

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nicole Miller with Stuart Weitzman for under $150

So ladies, a few weeks back, I visited my alma mater in Maryland and I made a pit stop to the Nordstrom Rack store in Towson Town Center Mall. While there, I purchased, among other things, two fabulous pieces that I recently wore to a work function. The first item was a Nicole Miller ponte ruched sheath dress in navy blue. The best thing about the dress is that it is form fitting and the ruching is forgiving to my imperfections. Ruching is the best camouflage! I also purchased a pair of Stuart Weitzman daisy pumps in navy blue patent leather to wear with the dress.

Here's the kicker-- the dress was originally $295 and is still being sold in the regular Nordstrom store. Apparently someone purchased the dress and did some alterations to it and then returned it. Well, it fits me like a glove and it cost me a mere $69.99. So thanks to Nordstrom's liberal return policy, I saved $225 on the dress. You can't beat that! I also got a great deal on the shoes, which were originally $265. I only paid $77 for them! I saved $178 on them! So I had a complete look for under $150 and my entire outfit was a designer master piece. Let's say that I am still on cloud nine. Check out the dress and shoes (shown in other colors) below.

XOXO- Ms. Diva

How to Save $500 by Christmas

I thought I'd share this article from on how to find $500 for Christmas shopping. Check out the link below to go directly to the article:

(CNN) -- You've only got about five paychecks left until Christmas. That means if you expect presents under the tree and not a debt hangover in January, you need to find the money starting now.

Can you save $500 by Christmas? You can try and here's how.
1. Stop paying for things you don't use. If you have not set foot in the gym since your New Year's resolution, ditch it. Cancel the subscriptions for magazines and papers you don't read. You can also raise your deductibles for home and auto insurance. Conservatively, that's $50 a month.

2. Check your cellular plan. Many people are surprised that they don't use as much on the data plan as they are paying for. AT&T estimates that 98 percent of customers use less than 2 gigs of data. And ditch the landline if you can. You might be paying for too much technology.

3. Eat in. Southern cuisine queen Paula Deen (no surprise) gave me this one. She says every time you stay home and grill a steak with your family instead of going to a restaurant, you put $35 back into your pocket. Do this once a week, and you've just saved $350 by Christmas.
Read an excerpt from Christine's new book "Smart is the New Rich"

4. Make a list of 10 things you routinely spend money on (clothes, groceries, gifts, etc.) and cut $10 from each. Gail Cunningham from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling also cautions against buying anything for the holidays that you cannot fully pay off in three months.
"Consumers who fight for bargains should realize that the 20 percent savings they were so happy to snag is lost if they have a double-digit interest rate on their card and stretch the payments out over months."
Delete your saved information on online shopping sites so you aren't tempted to nickel and dime yourself to death every time you get an e-mail touting $9.99 T-shirts. If you don't need it, don't buy it; if you can't afford it, put it down. Aim to cut miscellaneous expenses by $100 a month.

5. Along those lines, certified financial planner Doug Flynn recommends paying cash for an entire month. You get a better sense of what's coming out of your pocket, and it inspires some restraint.

6. Banish those fees. Only use in-network ATMs. The average cost for a trip to an ATM for a bank that is not your own is $3.54. Eliminate one trip a week for the next 10 weeks, and you've saved another $35. Find a credit union or community bank that offers free checking. The downside of credit card reform is some banks are looking for new ways to raise revenue and that means adding fees to your checking account. Bottom line: Don't pay someone else for the use of your money.

7. Switch to a programmable thermostat. The government says this saves $180 a year off the typical energy bill. Start now and you are on your way to saving for next Christmas as well.
Pick a few of these that apply to you, and you're there.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nordstrom Rack's Semi-Annual Large Size Shoe Sale Saturday

Ladies who wear size 10.5-13 and men who wear size 14-16, head over to your closest Nordstrom Rack this Saturday for the big shoe sale. Nordstrom Rack has the largest selection of large size, nice shoes than any place I've ever seen and at great prices. I bought a pair of Stuart Weitzman navy, patent leather pumps there 2 weeks ago for $77 (originally $295) so I ought to know. Check it out. Happy shopping.
XOXO- Ms. Diva

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A "Furry Situation" This Fall: Fur Boots For Less

One of this fall’s hottest trends is the emergence of the fur boot. Yes ladies, the mukluk has made a comeback! This trend was seen on the runways of some of the leading designers, including D&G (my fave), Ralph Lauren, and Chanel. (See photos above.) Now, of course, since I’m Ms. Diva, I’ve been wearing fur boots for a couple of years now (particularly since it can get really cold here). That being said, I have only purchased fur lined snow boots. I have not purchased actual fur boots. Instead, I invested in fur boot toppers. Last year I purchased chinchilla boot toppers at Century 21 for $50. The boot toppers extended my boot wardrobe dramatically. This year, I saw Steve Madden boot toppers for $30 at Marshall’s and I had to buy more. So, if you are interested in trying this look out, but don’t want to spend thousands of dollars, invest in boot toppers. They can be worn scrunched up on top of your boots as an accent, or pulled all the way over the leg of your tall boots to give the look of an actual fur boot. Check out these sites to purchase your own.
Happy shopping!
XOXO- Ms. Diva

Put a Ring on It!


With the holiday season swiftly approaching, there will be tons of parties and tons of opportunities to be fabulous. What better way to show how fab you are than by wearing some dazzling bling. So, I've done some investigative shopping and consulted my favorite fashion magazines, and I've discovered the following places to shop for on trend, low priced jewelry:

  • Recently featured in People Style Watch, this website offers celeb-and designer-inspired jewelry for less.
  • I discovered this site after one of my besties broke my favorite costume tennis necklace. I purchased the necklace at Impostors, a jewelry chain that sold beautiful costume jewelry. Unfortunately, the store went out of business. Nevertheless, in my search to replace the necklace, I found this site and it is quite impressive. Check it out if you are looking for gorgeous formal jewelry (although it has so much more to offer)!
  • I recently purchased two two-finger rings from an Afaze store in the mall. One said "Love" and the other was a blinged out gold-tone bar. I wore them both on one hand so it looked like the word "Love" was underscored by diamonds. Suffice it to say, it looked like a modern update of an 80s throwback. I was excited to learn that you can buy their merchandise online. Check them out!
  • I've mentioned the store before as a place to get great, basic tees. I also love their cocktail rings (which is my signature jewelry choice) for as low as $4 (and lots of choices at that price point as well).

I hope this helps in your holiday makeover. Enjoy!

XOXO- Ms. Diva

Monday, October 25, 2010

Online Deals, Free Shipping and More

So I was reading my monthly issue of InStyle Magazine which featured an article on Smart Ways to Save Money Online ( InStyle Magazine, November 2010 at pg. 242). The article provided a bunch of great sites that can help you save money, including:

Also, the article suggests that readers download the invisible hand, a browser widget that notifies you when the product you're shopping for can be found elsewhere for less. To download the indivisible hand widget, go to

I hope these sites help you save loads of money. Happy shopping!

XOXO- Ms. Diva

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Latest Discovery:


I was just reading People Style Watch where I discovered a great website for inexpensive, trendy footwear, among other things. Check out It's worth a "look-see" for all of you size 5-10 people. It won't work for us size 11 gals, but hey, I am here to help all my divas-in-training. Also, check out People Style Watch every month for shopping discount codes. Enjoy!

XOXO- Ms. Diva

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Shopping Your Closet: The Real Way to Discount Shop


I apologize for being M.I.A. for the past 8 days, but my real job has been kicking my tail. It's been so bad that despite the brisk weather, I still haven't turned over my closets for the fall/winter season. Nevertheless, with my jam packed schedule this weekend, I will make it my mission to get it done.

So, as I embark on this monumental task (my closet is too small and insane), I am digging out one of my old faithful tools so I can avoid buying things I don't need this season. This is, by far, my favorite wardrobe tool, even more than those Huggable Hangers. Ladies, I'd like to introduce you to the Wardrobe Worksheet! InStyle Magazine unveiled this a few years ago. The wardrobe worksheet forces you to inventory your closet in a meaningful way and gets you to really think about the many different ways you can wear the clothes you already have. Because of the worksheet, I ensure that I look fabulous all the time.

So here's how it works- First, you list 10 of your favorite pieces for the season. These are the things in your closet that make you feel your best, are appropriate for the season and fit really well. Then you list your 10 season appropriate basics. For instance, for the fall, we all should probably have a black turtleneck/sweater, black/grey classic slacks, a white button up shirt, heavy, dark rinsed jeans, a great heavy sweater, heavy leggings, and whatever else you tend to wear as your "go to" foundation pieces. Next, you start putting outfits together with those items while trying on shoes and bags to go with them. List those 10 seasonal shoes and bags that work with the outfits you created. Make sure to include a wedge, a skinny heel, a flat, a pair of great boots, a dressy bag, an every day bag and a funky bag to complement the host of looks you will create with all of the items you listed. As you are putting your lists and outfits together, keep in mind the things that you don't have that you really need. After doing all of this, you list the 10 items (or less) that you need to complete your wardrobe. Once you have created 10 or more looks, list them on the worksheet and use it as your cheat sheet when you are getting dressed.

Can't think of what to wear today? Look at your worksheet. If you are really into it, take pics of your outfits and start creating a "lookbook" with the wardrobe worksheet in front, followed by your outfit photos. I promise, it will save you time and money. Click on the link for your copy of the wardrobe worksheet.


Friday, October 8, 2010

$16 Jackets at Old Navy this Saturday


By now you must have seen the commercial for the sale at Old Navy this Saturday. In celebration of its 16th anniversary, Old Navy will be selling all jackets for $16! You can buy for the whole family. You can even buy some for Christmas gifts. But by all means, seize this deal. Pick me up while you are at it! XOXO!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Designer Handbag Giveaway: MULBERRY FOR TARGET. 3 Days Only!

Add Target ( to your address book to ensure complete delivery. Learn more. Home Page View the Weekly Ad
Women Men Baby Kids Shoes Home Kitchen Bed + Bath Furniture Toys Electronics
MULBERRY FOR TARGET Forget Fashionably late. Get your paws on a bag before they hit stores!
Find a Store REDcards Help GiftCards Registries + Lists Follow Us. Add us, tweet us, text us, watch us.
FacebookTwitterTarget MobileYou Tube
  If you no longer wish to receive our e-mail advertisements, simply unsubscribe.

For corporate contact information please visit our Contact Us page.

Please do not reply to this e-mail as we are not able to respond to messages sent to this address. You can find answers to your questions through our online Help department. To contact the sender of this e-mail, write to Target Guest Relations, Target Corporation, Mail Stop 1A-X, P.O. Box 9350, Minneapolis, MN 55440-9350.

If you have a website account and wish to update your e-mail address, please enter your changes under "Personal Information" in My Account.

Pricing, promotions, and availability may vary by location and online. Descriptive, typographic and photographic errors are subject to correction and Target shall have no liability for such errors.

REDcardSM: Target® Visa® Credit Card and Target Credit Card® are issued by Target National Bank, an affiliate of Target Stores. Subject to credit approval. Target Check Card® is issued by Target Corporation. Subject to eligibility requirements.

©2010 Target and the Bullseye Design are registered trademarks of Target Brands, Inc. All rights reserved.

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This e-mail contains information that is privileged and confidential and subject to legal restrictions and penalties regarding its unauthorized disclosure or other use. You are prohibited from copying, distributing or otherwise using this information if you are not the intended recipient. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify us immediately by return e-mail and delete this e-mail and all attachments from your system. Thank You.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Best and Worst Warehouse Buys

Ok ladies, my Discount Diva swag is not just limited to fashion. I look for a deal wherever I can get it. So, when I read these two articles today, I couldn't help but to share it with you.

As a card carrying member of BJ's Warehouse, I know that I need to be careful about what I choose to buy in bulk because I may just be getting ripped off. I also know that buying certain things in bulk can be both a life saver and a money saver. So, here are the tricks of the trade.

Warehouse Clubs Best Buys:
  • Over the Counter Drugs
  • Electronics
  • Wine, Liquor and Beer
  • Books
  • Office Supplies
  • Dry Grocery Items/Nonperishable Items
  • Soda

Warehouse Clubs Worst Buys:

  • Milk
  • Diapers
  • DVDs
  • Toilet Paper
  • Holiday Promotions
  • Nonbulk Items

I also note that I have purchased some high-end items from warehouse clubs. For example, I purchased my first Movado from BJ's for $250. I recently saw Bottega Veneta bags there as well. I didn't check the price because I'm not shopping for a while, but it's worth a peek if you are in the market for a high-end bag.

Anyway, if you are interested in reading the full story on the tricks of acing warehouse club shopping, check out the following links:


Dollar Store Discount: Not So Much

Ladies, check out this link from which explains why certain dollar store "deals" are really "duds."

Among the items the video suggests you should not buy from a dollar store are:
  • foam cups;
  • foam plates;
  • napkins;
  • dish soap;
  • toothpaste;
  • batteries;
  • certain bags of candy;
  • sugar substitutes; and
  • sandwich bags.

Hope this helps!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

10 days until Mulberry bags hit Target!

Ladies, ladies, ladies. . . if you are bag junkie like I am, you have to get to Target at 8am on October 10th to purchase your Mulberry bag. Yes, just 10 days until our favorite English luxury brand hits Target at affordable prices. When these bags were presold on, they sold out immediately, so don't drag your feet getting one. While the coveted Alexa bag isn't in the collection, the pedestrian version of Mulberry's Edna bag and its Picadilly carry all (these bags typically run between $950 and $1450) are included in the collection for Target. The collection starts at $14.99 and goes up to $59.99 (based on what was presold on Take a look at the ad to get a sneak preview at the Mulberry launch. Only 10 days away! Enjoy!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Spotted: Tods, Gucci, Armani, and Cesar Picotti Shoes @ Marshall's

I was out and about in Somerset, NJ yesterday when I stumbled into Marshall's. Lo and behold, I saw dozens of this season's Tods boots, Gucci pumps and Cesar Picotti shoes. To my amazement, this season's shoes were only $399. Now I know that doesn't seem like a discount ladies, but it is. So if you are looking for this season's hottest high end footwear for less, march on over to your local Marshall's and see what they have in your size. As for me, I'll take a pass. I just can't spend that kind of money these days. Ciao!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Belts: The Inexpensive Way to Transition and Update Your Wardrobe

Ladies, are you suffering from a wardrobe budget crisis? Are you wondering how you are going to update your wardrobe this fall without breaking the bank? Well, the answer to this pressing dilemma can be found for less than $20. Belts! Unfortunately, the belt has been taken for granted in the accessories family. Frequently, the belt has been dismissed simply as something that keeps your pants from falling down or the accessory that addresses gapping jean waistbands. Yes, it's utility cannot be denied, but it is a styling tool that can take your wardrobe fundamentals from blah to rah!

Take for example your favorite floral, summer dress. If you want to take it into the fall, dust off your old denim button down shirt and pair it with the dress. Roll up the sleeves on your shirt, leave a few buttons open and throw a cute belt on over it. Wear your cowboy or ankle boots and shazam . . . the diva emerges!

Ok, so maybe you still aren't buying it. Let's say you have another cute, summer dress that you don't want to put away just yet. Throw on blazer and put a belt around the blazer and wear some opaque tights with it. Thanks to the blazer and belt, you can transition your summer wardrobe into the fall months. (You can even try a skirt suit with a slip dress underneath to wear to work by day. If you have a party to attend after work, slip off the skirt, unbutton the blazer, cinch it with a shiny belt, throw on some strappy sandals, and proper jewelry and you are ready for the night!)

Or try a corset belt over a fitted dress and layer it with a loose cardigan. It's gorgeous, makes your waist look small and adds a little umph to the dress. Even adding a skinny, patent leather belt to a standard sheath dress or skirt suit without anything more can add a bit more sophistication to the look.

Besides the great styling options, the best thing about belts is that you can find them really cheap. So next time you are shopping with your daughter at Mandee or Joyce Leslie, check out the belt selection and find some great ones for under $10. Or the next time you are at Target buying God knows what, go look in the belt section. You'll be pleasantly surprised. Also, try H&M, Forever 21, Arden B, Charlotte Russe and Zara for sylish and inexpensive options. Check out the images below for some great belted looks and update your wardrobe today!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gucci Alert!

Ladies, I stopped by DSW today (just to look) and they are selling Gucci shoes (pumps, wedges and flats) for $145-175. In case you didn't know, that price is outrageous. Plus, they had quite a few styles and sizes, including size 41. I saw at least 5 pairs in size 41. So hurry to the store and check it out if you are in the market for a splurge shoe. Hope this helps!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

$29.99 Stuart Weitzman shoes

Ladies, it's time to get down to business. Are you wondering how I adopted the title the "Discount Diva." Well I've been known to snatch up a bargain or two in my day. I have one rule (and one rule only) when it comes to shopping. Never pay full price! And just to show you how diva I am when it comes to bargain shopping, here are a few of my fave bargain finds:

Do these shoes look familiar? You may recognize them from the profile pic for this blog. They are my first pair of Manolo Blahniks and I found them at Neiman Marcus Last Call for (drum roll please) . . . $57! The shoes were originally $645. I later returned to Last Call and found a second pair of Blahnik's (olive green, patent leather, pointy toe, kitten heels) for $177 (originally over $600) and a pair of Christian Louboutins (originally over $800) for $277. Top that!

Ok, so maybe I sound a little crazy, but these are my wedding shoes. No, I'm not married, but these are, nonetheless, my wedding shoes. When I found them, it was like heaven. Where in the world was I going to find simple, elegant, high end shoes for my future wedding? I wear a size 11 for crying out loud! But I found these Stuart Weitzman peep toe pumps with beaded embellishment for $29.99 at Nordstrom Last Chance in Miami (not to be confused with Neiman Marcus Last Call). I have never worn them. They just sit in shoe bags and I have them cleaned every year. I probably will change my mind about them when the "big day" comes, but hey, you have to buy them when you see them! On the same day I purchased these shoes, I bought a Juicy Couture, hooded, short sleeve, zip-up, sweatshirt dress in ash grey for my beach excursions for $15 and some gifts for some other folks. Then I rounded out my purchases by buying a black Swiss Army expandable suitcase (complete with wheels and handle) for a mere $20 to carry my goods home. Unfortunately, this fabulous store now only has one location in Phoenix, AZ.

My Betsey Johnson sequined blue sweater dress is one of my most special finds. I saw a clip on the news about the Buffalo Exchange stores, where you can sell your clothes or purchase lightly worn or new clothes and I thought I'd give it a shot. I got this dress for $22.50 and it hadn't even been worn yet. It originally retailed for over $300. I paid less than 10% of the retail value of the dress! It doesn't get any better than that. Plus, it hugs my curves just right. (I also bought a pair of Justin Vintage Western Boots for $50. While I was in the store, I Googled them to see how much comparable Justin boots were going for and I found out that they ran about $145. Another great buy!)

This Zac Posen for Target dress was so highly coveted that it sold it almost immediately in most stores. But because I preview all of the designer collections for Target online before they hit the stores, AND because I showed up at the store at 9am on the day Target launched the line, I was able to acquire this gorgeous little number. Now, typically, I cannot afford Zac Posen, but I adore his clothes. And while some divas are too high post to where designer pedestrian lines, I am am not in that club. I'm too fly to care. So I bought it for $74.99 and I get nothing, but compliments on it. Too chic!

For all of my SITC fans, you will remember Carrie's Christian Louboutin glitter pumps (pictured at left). In fact, they might have been the highlight of that most disappointing movie . . . but I digress. Yes, they were fab, but way out of my price range. So I grabbed a pair of the H for Halston glitter pumps sold at Bakers (another pedestrian line - I'm obviously a big fan) for $79. Check them out below. They definitely were a crowd pleaser.

In any event, these are just some of my more recent favorites. Clearly, I thoroughly have displayed my weakness for shoes. But don't fret-- my dynamic discounts are not limited to shoes and the occasional pedestrian line. So let's make a pact. I promise to update you all on bargain fashion finds as I discover them and keep you posted on the best places to find discount designer duds. All I need you to do is stay tuned! I'm just getting warmed up.

XOXO - Ms. Diva

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lesson 1- Buy the Basics . . . for Less

You will find lots of books and articles professing to be the rules that you MUST follow in order to be fashion forward. As a self-professed "diva on a dime," sometimes I find those rules somewhat offensive, particularly when they suggest that us divas will not be whole without a pair of $800 shoes or an expensive logo-ridden bag.

Take for instance, the latest installment from Nina Garcia, who reached fashion icon status as a judge on Project Runway and as Marie Claire's Fashion Director. In her book, The One Hundred: a Guide to Pieces Every Stylish Woman Should Own (Collins), she suggests to readers that they should own one investment bag, i.e., an Hermes Birkin Bag ($7,000+) or a Louis Vuitton Speedy Bag ($695) or any other bag of that status. At the outset, while these bags are gorgeous (I have 3 Speedy bags myself), most women cannot afford to spend that kind of money on a bag. More importantly, in the grand scheme of things, I can come up with a lot of other ways to invest $7,000.

Nevertheless, there is something to be said about having some classic pieces for your wardrobe. So I urge you to read these lists and books (check out Tim Gunn's 10 Essential Elements or InStyle: Secrets of Style: The Complete Guide to Dressing Your Best Every Day) simply to get ideas, but don't feel bound by them. Here are some of my top pieces that I use to build the foundation of my wardrobe (excluding shoes and accessories- we'll leave that for another day):

  • White, black and grey t-shirts- There are none better than the Hanes brand as far as I am concerned. They practically invented them. So why on God's green earth would I spend more than $10 on one when I can get a Hanes tee for $5 at Wal-Mart. I wear these under blazers, on weekends, as shells under cardigans, over turtlenecks and button down shirts, etc. . .

  • Black dress pants- They are a must have for any wardrobe. They match everything, but are only as good as their fit. I just brought a pair of DKNY boot cut black slacks for $75 at Loehmann's. These pants retail at $225.

  • A white, crisp-button down shirt- I have several, and I wear them in every way possible. I where them with slacks, a skirt, under sheath dresses, tucked in, belted and untucked, under sweaters or blazers, black shorts, denim, rolled up on the sleeves, tied at the waist, etc. . . I really love wearing a men's oversized white button down because I can wear it as a dress with a cute belt and stilettos. And what better to wear to bed than your man's shirt. Sexy is an understatement! The styling possibilities are endless. And the price is reasonable as well! I purchased my favorite men's button down from Marshall's for $19.99 on clearance and it was a Ralph Lauren! My latest purchase is the Zac Posen for Target white shirt (Regularly $29.99, but i got it for $15 on clearance) pictured here. I am huge fan of high end designers' pedestrian lines. Zac Posen's was no exception. Once you get into the swing of things, you'll want these shirts in different colors!

  • Trench Coat- Trench coats can be worn in the spring, fall and the early part of the winter, which is why owning one makes good sense. They can also been worn alone as a dress. I brought one from Joyce Leslie for $15 in black and I wear it as a dress or as a light weight cover-up over evening attire. The Gap and it's older sister Banana Republic have great ones for reasonable prices. Of course, Burberry is the master of the trench coat. But for divas on a dime, you can find hip trench coats that are fabulous for prices. Check out this Jean Paul Gaultier for Target khaki striped trench coat that I bought for $59.99. I get loads of compliments on it and it is the perfect weight for crisp New York weather.

            • Little Black Dress (LBD)- You've heard this time and time and again, and it's a fact. Every woman should own a little black dress. I have several because I go out so much. I have to say that my favorite is a Calvin Klein jersey knit dress that is so forgiving to my curves (and lumps) that I wear it several times a month. I wear it with simple jewelry, statement necklaces, cardigans and blazers in different colors, denim jackets, bright statement shoes or demure black pumps or flats. Like the white shirt, the possibilities are endless. What makes my fave LBD even better? I got it for $20 from Burlington Coat Factory! It fit so well that I bought it in blue as well.

            • Great fitting jeans- In a world where jeans are retailing at obscene prices, it's nice to know that our favorite weekend staple still has a reasonable price tag in some places. For me, shopping for jeans has always been a nightmare. With a size 10 waist and size 14 hips, a very rotund derriere, and a size 37 inch inseam, you can imagine how difficult it is to find a pair of well-fitting jeans. I have found a godsend in PZI Jeans ( These jeans come in long and short lengths, go up to size 18, they are made in every wash and fit imaginable, and they stretch! Even more, they are constructed to avoid gapping at the waist. They are also reasonably priced vfrom $19.99 (clearance items) to $109.00. I prefer and get more wear out of dark washed jeans and I find boot cut jeans to be most flattering on various body types. My friends tell me that Kohl's also carries great Levi jeans at great prices.

            • A cardigan- I just became a fan of cardigans when I discovered how versatile they could be. At first, I thought they were a bit homely, but FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) proved me wrong. Then I fell in love with the DKNY Cozy, an extra flowy version of the cardigan, which can be worn a cazillion different ways (that means 12), and I knew that this was my long lost love. Worn with a tank or tee underneath, the Cozy is a fabulous investment at $195. However, I found cheaper alternatives at Joyce Leslie and Loehmann's for much less ($20). So don't fret. The quality is not as good, but it works just the same and if you have 5 of them, they won't wear as quickly. In any event, I found a grey Cozy at Marshall's for $45 so it isn't impossible to have such a fabulous piece in your wardrobe for less. Just Google "DKNY Cozy 12 Looks" and you will find videos and pics of how to rock the most fabulous cardigan every invented. Trust me, you won't regret it.

            • A blazer- I think I am partial to this staple because of its versatility and because it screams "I mean business." I have a few because of my profession (which I will not disclose), but they are awesome. I have them in key colors, black, white, off white, beige and grey. I also have them in fun prints, colors and fabrics. They go great with jeans and a tee, over your favorite LBD, paired with a white button down, over black slacks, etc. . . . I've even worn my boyfriend blazer over a formal gown and a cocktail dress and it was so chic! In other words, this great addition to your wardrobe rounds it out perfectly. So invest in a well-made, great fitting blazer. I recently found an off white tuxedo blazer by Theory at Neiman Marcus Last Call, for $45 that fit me perfectly. With my 6ft frame, and giraffe-like limbs, that is a fab find! Better yet, the blazer originally retailed at $375, so I made out like a bandit. So keep an eye out for the next Theory sample sale at Lohemann's or the clearance racks at Las Call. And if $45 is too rich for your blood, I found a basic, black boyfriend blazer at TJMaxx for $15. You just have to commit to sifting through the racks.

            So ladies, these are just my thoughts on foundation pieces for your wardrobe and where to find them for less. As you can see from my descriptions above, these pieces can easily be mixed and matched and do not have to cost you an arm and a leg. Hope this helps!