Where to save:
1. Trendy jewelry
Okay, so the J. Crew bauble necklaces didn't outlast the test of time. The original bauble necklace was over $100. I decided to go the much more practical way for this trend, and buy a few different colors of them from eBay. I am so glad I did! The bauble necklace trend has fizzled out, and I don't feel guilty for giving away my old ones (or tossing them) after 2 years+ of wear. Mine were about $12 a piece-- totally worthwhile, particularly because no one knew the difference! Charming Charlie, Bauble Bar and J. Crew Factory are your best bets for trendy, in-the-moment, statement jewelry.
Mike and I and a white bauble 2014 Holiday Christmas party with a teal bauble
2. Party tops/bachelorette party garb/anything fully sequined
There is nothing I love more than a fully sequined piece of clothing. There's something about sequins that shouts, "I am ready to have fun!" However, there is no need to splurge on something that can be worn 1-2 times, mainly at your or your besties' bachelorette parties. For my friend Leah's bachelorette party, I tried on a few high waisted skirts and cropped sequin tops (thank you, Kim Kardashian, for making me think this was a good idea!). I went with a $10 crop top from Forever 21 (I think they could sense I was WAY past 21, so I made my visit speedy!). I paired it with a $5 cotton high waisted skirt, also from Forever 21. One of my friends, Jackie, was then able to re-wear this look for my own bachelorette party. Totally worth all $15 of it!
My sister, Anna, (left) and I celebrating Leah!
Forever 21 dressing rooms! Ha!
I know this might sound crazy, but I never pay more than $80 for a pair of jeans. I'll tell you why: jeans are constantly in flux. Styles are forever changing-- the boyfriend jean is back again, some rips are fairly common, the wash is darker now, higher waisted jeans are popular-- why spend $150+ on a jean that might not be on trend next season? I find the best jeans at Von Maur; my favorite brand is Else. It's the little sister (cheaper) brand of Joe's Jeans, and they will run you about $69 bucks (or less, here!). They have an amazing, flattering fit! Ann Taylor Loft also has fabulous jeans (and there is always a sale happening online and in-store. Plus, if you're a teacher, there's a 20% discount for all purchases!). J. Crew Factory also becomes my jam in this category as the jeans are constantly on trend and on sale (hello teacher discount at J.Crew, too!). Who knows if high-waisted, light wash, match stick skinnies will be in next season? But at least you've only paid $49 for them.
Don't get me wrong: I used to covet my Seven Jeans, True Religions, Citizens, etc. But, once I started seeing high school BOYS (!) wearing Trues, I knew the time had come to switch.
Where to Splurge:
1. Workout/exercise clothing and tennis shoes for working out/running
I discovered Lululemon when I moved to Chicago in 2009. It was the promised land of spandex-- everything made me look sportier, healthier and more toned. Of course, it was probably just the intoxication of the Halsted Street location, but there was something amazing about rocking that tiny Omega. My first pair of flare-legged (!) Lululemon groove pants (here) were bought in the fall of 2009. I STILL wear them to this day! Lululemon hems for free and ships for free, too. All the different rises of waist lines can be confusing or overwhelming if you're new to Lululemon. My advice is stick to a basic black pair of the Wunder Under crops or pants (avoid high rise or roll down, too much extra fabric). They'll change your life! Luon is a great fabric to work with. Don't go with anything flared. Stay skinny or cropped with your pants or capries; it will work better for any type of exercise.
I find that if I am in a workout outfit that I love, I will want to work out! I coach the dance team at our school, and it requires me to be in dance clothing at least 3 days a week. Feeling confident in a well-made pair of spandex with just the right amount of compression can make exercise fun (and fashion-forward).
I have tried Target, Old Navy and other places for workout gear, and what I find is: pilling, stretching out, struck/broken zippers. So, then I ended up buying a few replacement $30 pieces, instead of one, tried-and-true piece.
My favorite Lululemon tank top is this last photo. It's called the "Free to Be Wild" Tank. I just got a second on Sunday at the Naperville Lululemon. You will be in love! Runs true to size-- check it out here. Forgive my selfies; I am new to the blogging world, but soon I will have a better camera!
2. A wear-every-day watch
Michael Kors is my go-to designer for watches. I have a gold and a silver watch, to match my accessories of the day. I have had both for several years-- similar to my gold, here. Disclaimer: do not pay full price for your watch! You can splurge for less at the Nordstrom's annual sale. I paid about $120 for each of my watches. Here is a shot from our engagement photoshoot with the watch.
Here is a similar watch to my silver MK. I love all things sparkly, so I went for the pave bling. The linked choice is slightly more demure. Rose gold and tortoise watches are also huge right now, if you are in the market for a new timepiece.
3. Shoes for work
As a teacher, there is nothing worse than standing in uncomfortable shoes all day. Additionally, there is nothing worse than going out for a night in uncomfortable heels. I swear, my night can be extended by several hours if only I am in the right shoe.
As a teacher, I must wear a wedge. I want a heel to give me some height around the tall high schoolers, but the best approach is a wedge, particularly because on most days I am getting over 10,000 steps in on my Fitbit.
Toms makes THE BEST WEDGE ever. Hands down. Here it is in classic black. You will NOT regret this purchase. I would stock up when you see them on sale at Von Maur or Nordstroms.
Mike and me, prom posing, downtown Chicago. Madras Toms wedge (old) but similar here for the summer season
Bag is Kate Spade (old) similar here.
Dress is J. Crew Factory (old) similar here.
With my SMC Belles at our 5 year reunion. Floral Toms wedge on me, far left
Shout out to my adorable pals, Fran, Courtney and Ash (from the left)
Their bootie is another shoe that cannot be beat. Peep toe and perforated for the summer is fabulous. These are my favorite shoes-- and on sale! (see above). Dress is old Sale to Sable, but here is one just as fabulous!
Sperry Topsider Boat Shoes are a timeless shoe that can take you through almost all seasons (aside from winter in Illinois). My first pair of Sperrys was a Christmas gift from my mom in 2007 when I was in college. All the Smickers and Domers had Sperrys-- I had to get them! I chose navy leather ones, for tailgating, of course. I wore those puppies until 2013, through years of dancing (and frequent spillage) at the Backer, Finny's, Rum Runners (RIP), Club 23 (RIP) and the Oyster Bar. (Club Fever required a pointier, higher heel).
A chunky heel (Sofft- found here) is best, too. The platform helps to make it extremely wearable. (Below is us smooching outside of Graham's during our engagement pictures). Check out the Soffts!
Tory Burch makes a flat that is to die for. Pricey? Yes. But everlasting? Heck, yes. I have 4 pairs of Reva Ballet Flats that I have worn for years. It took me all through college, student teaching and my first two years in the city to outwear my first black pair (similar here).
3a. Running shoes: be sure to get these fitted at your local running store. You should definitely be running on a treadmill in store to determine if you pronate or supinate (fancy words for your ankles rolling in or rolling out). I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2011 in these shoes (the Ghost) and haven't stopped purchasing the new models of this shoe since. Brooks are awesome! Whether you're working up to a 5K walk or a marathon distance run, I assure you the best thing you can do for your knees and shins is to invest in a pair of Brooks.
4. Purses and work bags
I bought a cheapie cross body purse at Target (pictured below) to bring to Lollapalooza a few years ago, and it didn't stand the test of a single day! I couldn't believe it.
However, I wear Kate Spade purses for several years. It's only usually until I pop them up on eBay to save for a new bag that I will stop wearing one. My current bag here, on sale!
A pop of color-- this yellow Kate Spade bag (below) is one of my all-time faves!
Bag: old, but this one is a similar structure and a great color!
Dress: old (also by Sail to Sable like the gray above), but this is an updated version of mine!
Shoes: Toms wedges as mentioned above
My favorite red purse by Kate Spade (below). Old, but similar here.
Julie and I at the Chicago craft beer fest last year!
If you are like me and have to carry papers, folders, notebooks, textbooks, a liter-sized water bottle, 45 binder clips and a laptop around all day, you'll appreciate a sturdy and classic work bag. My go-to is always Tory Burch. Since my first Tory tote while student teaching, I have been purchasing a new bag every few years. It is so important that there is plentiful room and that the straps LAST. Here are a few of the best Tory Burch bags out there right now: mine and my sister's. Though my sister is in a completely different career, she has to carry similar items in her work bag; the Tory Burch tote is the most practical for all careers.
When it comes to your closet, what do you save on? What are you big splurges? Let me know in the comments below!
PS: check me out on Pinterest: @BelleOnTrend -- I have pinned some great Lululemon pieces if you're interested in giving Lululemon a shot. I promise you won't be disappointed!