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!
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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!
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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!