Posts Categorized: shopping

This Week I Love …

Freebird by Steven.

So Steve Madden, right? I remember the 90s and how having a pair of his shoes was a BIG DEAL back then. (At least to teenagers such as myself.) And then the brand shifted out of favor for a while, and now it’s just a mainstream, accessible, solid brand. (My most worn pair of shoes is by Steve Madden.)

But Freebird by Steven – a newish offshoot of the parent brand – is a different story. For one thing, it’s WAY more expensive, so always poke around Amazon and eBay before pulling the trigger. But for another, the designs are edgy and tough, made from gorgeously distressed leathers, and adorned with subtle details and creative hardware. I am so very smitten with this brand.

Here are a few pairs you can nab right now:

STEVEMADDEN-FREEBIRD_BOLO_COGNAC_SIDE

Bolo, $275

I used some magical combination of coupons and got these from Amazon for around half off a month or so ago. (They’re cheaper there now, too, and 6pm has a few pairs at half off.) They are even more gorgeous in person, though that 3″ wood block heel isn’t exactly the comfiest. Still can’t wait to pair them with dresses or tees and jeans for summer. Also love the similar Hustle style.

freebird dakota boot

Dakota, $166.21 – $231.90

Love the detailing on this boot, from the wrapped strap to the x-stitched front panel to the back zipper. These also come in black or tan, but this dusty gray will be fantastic for spring and summer wear.

freebird sandals

Wing, $195

Some of the sandal styles are a little too clunky for my taste, but this strappy heel is stunning. More on the casual end of the spectrum so perhaps not ideal for dressy nights out, but perfect for edgy warm-weather looks. More sizes and black version at Bloomingdale’s.

STEVEMADDEN-FREEBIRD_BOULDER_TAN_SIDE

Boulder, $285

I’ve sworn off mid-calf engineer boots, but the combination of medium height and chunky heel on this boot intrigues me. This rich tan is another versatile spring/summer shade for boots, but the Boulder also comes in stone, a dark red-brown, and weathered black.

freebird by steven coal

Coal, $350

So much money, but SO AMAZING. This pair is quite tall at 17″, but would be equally amazing with Boho and rocker chic looks. Fold over the top of the boot shaft to mix it up. This burnished cognac is breathtaking, but these also come in black.

freebird phoenix

Phoenix Low, $275

I know the crusty, weathered, post-apocalyptic look isn’t for everyone, but it gets me every time. And that distressed finish has just a hint of metallic sparkle to it. SWOON. The tan and gray suede versions of this low boot have smoother finishes.

Other sources to check include Nordstrom Rack, 6pm.com, Nordstrom, Shopbop, Shoes.com, Onlineshoes, and Zappos some of which carry exclusive or past-season styles.

Anyone else tracking Freebird by Steven? Thoughts on the styles?

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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Guest Post: The Politesse on How to Build a Work Wardrobe on a Budget

I’ve linked to The Politesse a few times already, but today I’m excited to be sharing this guest post from its co-founders, Allyson and Andrea.  Both are fashion journalists who decided to launch The Politesse after noticing a lack of social skills, business protocol and basic etiquette amongst their female interns, assistants, and interviewees. The blog helps young women navigate the professional world with the amusing mantra, “You can climb the corporate ladder in heels, but we’re here to make sure you don’t flash us on the way up.” Using good-natured humor and grounded common sense, A + A provide answers to questions like “How do I follow up without being a stalker?,” “Is a crop top office appropriate?” and “Should I decorate my cubicle?”

Today, they’re going to share some tips for creating a work-appropriate wardrobe on a fresh college grad’s budget. Please welcome them both!

* * * * *

building a work wardrobe on a budget

Years ago, when we got our first jobs in the fashion industry, there were limited options for on-trend, wallet-friendly fashions. We’d eat Ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches for three solid weeks just to save up for a pair of shoes from Bloomingdales. It was a different time.

Today, there are endless options for fashion-forward, work appropriate wardrobe solutions—perhaps even too many to choose from! With the abundance of cheap, enticing styles popping up in your inbox, social media feeds or even your walk to and from work, it can be difficult to know when to splurge and when to save.

Not to worry! If you’re new to the workforce and/or have limited funds, read on for our tips on how to build an office-appropriate wardrobe on a budget.

When to spend

It’s best to set a budget for your work wardrobe, and we recommend spending roughly 60% of your budget on quality basics. While we love a bargain, your whole wardrobe should not be made up of disposable fast fashion. It’s just not economical, and here’s why: Imagine you purchase a black polyester blouse for $30. You wear it six times and then it falls apart—that’s $5 a wear. Instead, think about buying a silk blouse for $90, one that will last a whole year. If you wear the top once a week, that equals less than $1.75 a wear. You save money in the long run!

When to save

Though it can be tempting to buy trendy fashion from cute boutiques with beautiful visual merchandising, helpful sales associates and designer brands, resist the urge. When it comes to trendy, fashion-forward pieces, fast fashion retailers are your BFFs.

Want to buy 70s inspired flares and pussy-bow blouses for fall? Head to H&M for vintage color palettes and denim under $40. Interested in purchasing some statement chandelier earrings for a work event this spring? Check out the jewelry section of Forever 21 for unlimited options, most under $13.

Brands to know

One of the most amazing things about modern retail is the ease and availability of ecommerce. We can shop whatever brands we want, whenever we want with

hassle-free returns (most of the time) and free shipping. Since the choice can be overwhelming, here are our favorite brands for budget-friendly workwear, and the

best items they offer.

  • Everlane: Producing designer items at wholesale prices, Everlane creates small capsule collections that often sell out within days, so we check their website regularly for new styles. Some of our favorites include their silk blouses (we’re loving their new mint color for spring) and perfect layering tanks.
  • H&M: Shopping at H&M is all about separating the juniory, cheapy pieces from the higher-quality, European-inspired pieces. When shopping online, we click through to the “Trend” section, which offers pulled-from-the-runway, sophisticated separates (how chic is this crepe robe jacket?) In store, just ask a sales associate to direct you to the “Trend” section, and you’ll find amazing coats for under $75, well-made dresses for under $50 and colorful printed tops for under $35.
  • Zara: Though Zara hasn’t made its way into every US city (yet), the Spanish brand’s ecommerce site is super inspirational and offers a flat shipping rate of $4.95. We turn to Zara for sleek basics like single-button blazers, French-girl stripes and effortless summer dresses. Did we mention that all returns are free?
  • ASOS: UK-based ecommerce site ASOS is our go-to source for fun, fashion forward items—think coordinated separates, playful sandals and statement sunglasses. The best/most dangerous thing about ASOS? Completely free shipping and returns. Be careful, ladies.
  • Gap: A little bit nostalgic, a little bit utilitarian, Gap’s product selection is perfect for building an affordable work wardrobe. We pick up staples like classic black pants and crisp oxford shirts, but every now and then we’ll spot a perfect shirtdress or a laid-back moto jacket. Trust us, Gap is still great.

For more advice on what to wear to work, or to ask us a question regarding career, etiquette or life in general, email us. We’d love to hear from you!

Images courtesy Everlane

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This Week I Love …

mn1-out-lg

… upfront payout consignment stores.

I’ve been consigning my clothes for many years now, and used to take ALL of my stuff to the Turn Style stores. I’d had decent luck, though the consignment model was a little frustrating: I brought in my items, buyers looked them over, took what they wanted, put them on the floor, and IF someone bought them I could collect my percentage two weeks later. If no one bought them, I could pick them up at the end of the season. Fair, certainly, but long and sometimes fruitless.

When I purge my closet, I follow these guidelines: Anything more than a few years old goes to thrift and charity stores, anything with a recognizable and covetable brand name (Fluevog, Frye) goes to eBay, but the in-betweeners go to consignment. Items that are relatively new and in good shape, but too much trouble to list on eBay. Late last year when I began transitioning my style in earnest, I decided to branch out and try a few other consignment options. And I’m ever so glad I did.

Chains like Style EncoreBuffalo Exchange, Clothes Mentor, Plato’s Closet, Crossroads, and Everyday People run things a little differently. You bring in your items, buyers look them over, make you a cash or trade offer for the items they want to take, and you leave the store with cash and any rejects. Percentages vary from store to store, but in most cases you’ll be offered between 30% and 50% of the planned selling price. And, ya know, no waiting to see if you’ll get paid or not.

What I’ve learned about upfront payout consignment stores:

  • Call ahead to find out what they’re most interested in buying. If they’re full up on boots and you bring them five pairs, they’ll pass. Especially if storage is limited.
  • Some chains buy for all seasons year-round, but others are season-specific. Make sure you know your shops’ preferences.
  • Most stores want stuff that was made within the past two years, especially when it comes to clothes. They can be a little more lenient with shoes and accessories.
  • Wear and tear will work against you. If a sweater is drowning in pills or shoes could really stand a new heel tip, be prepared for passes.
  • Many stores have specialties and they influence buying behaviors. The obvious one is Plato’s Closet which caters to tweens and teens, but some are subtler. Most Clothes Mentor stores focus on mid-market, mall, workwear items, but Buffalo Exchanges often take covetable vintage items.
  • If you can, make a day of it. Pack up your consignables, start with your favorite store, and then take your rejects around to any other nearby stores. (If you’re like me, after about three stores you’ll be ready to surrender the leftovers to your favorite thrift shop.)

Anyone else consign with cash-payout stores? Are there any other chains I’m missing? Folks outside the U.S., do your consignment shops typically pay you out immediately or wait to see if your items sell?

Image courtesy Buffalo Exchange.

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