shopping

Hello, Cato! + Giveaway

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Disclaimer: I partnered with Cato Fashions for this post, but all opinions are my own. 

First of all, let me say hello to all of you! Since my last post, I have given birth to baby number three–a healthy baby boy, Avery, who arrived about four weeks early! I’ll share the birth story in a future post if you’d like! But for now, let’s talk about getting ready for the holidays with the help of Cato.

Before this post, I honestly could not tell you the last time I stepped foot inside a Cato. And I can’t give you a good reason why. I guess, as my shopping options and experiences have expanded, along with not having one within five miles of my home, I kind of forgot about it. But I recently moved and there is now a Cato within five minutes from me! And a new location also opened up in my area last month–in Midfield’s West Hills Plaza. So, it’s safe to say I’ll be saying “hello” to Cato once again! 


I went in recently and was reminded why it should not be counted out when shopping for any occasion, including the holidays! So, if you need to be re-introduced to the retailer, let me do the honors. I tried on a few options that could be worn for three different holiday gatherings.

1. An office party. You cannot go wrong wearing winter white! It’s so chic and luxe, especially with a little fur or gold accessories! I paired Cato’s off-white wide leg trousers with a gold, pleated tank, ivory scarf and a statement pendant necklace. 

2. A get together with friends: The holidays present the perfect opportunity to wear textures you may not feel comfortable wearing every day. Cue the sequins and faux leather leggings! And while we’re at it, throw in my faves–over the knee boots!! Please note, the boots are on sale for $19.99!! The black ones are sold out online, but they may still be in your local store! 

3. The party scene. My favorite occasion! As a new mom of three, the opportunities to get dressed up are few and far between. So I try not to pass on chances when they arise! For this look, I went with a sequin mini dress with a slight scoop back and brought back the OTKs. Let’s face it, wearing pantyhose or tights don’t always make for warm nights when you’re trying to look cute. So try pairing OTKs with your party look for a slightly edgier feel that will add some much-needed warmth and texture!

Cato also has a TON of on trend accessories to amp up any look. From shoes to clutches, it’s seriously a one-stop shop! Here are some of my faves: 


One other thing I LOVE about this store: the prices!! Nothing you have seen featured is over $40!! I went home with the boots (above), the fur collar (above), a yellow dress from the clearance rack and a faux fur vest (below) for $63 before tax! That is my kind of shopping!

I also saw a ton of other things at fabulous price points that I can’t possibly fit in this post! I highly encourage you to say “hello” to Cato if you are like me and hadn’t been in a while! If you need a little incentive, how about a little giveaway?! 

To enter for a chance at a $25 Cato gift card, leave a comment below! I’ll also be opening it to followers on Instagram! You can enter both ways and each time will be counted as a separate entry! Contest ends Wednesday, December 14th at 5pm CST. Open to U.S. residents only. 

Good luck and as always thanks for reading!! 

Shop Save and Share + 24 hour giveaway

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It’s that time of year again–Shop Save and Share coupon time! I’ve blogged about this for the past two years because it’s a great opportunity to save money while helping a worthy cause.


The Junior League of Birmingham is behind this awesome deal. Because of it, they’ve been able to put $475,000 back into community programs like Meals on Wheels and support for moms at UABs NICU.

Here is the deal: purchase a coupon book for $40 and save 20% at hundreds of restaurants and retailers in Birmingham. The coupon is good from October 19th through October 30th.

It’s the perfect time to get pampered at a local salon, try new places to eat or get that long-coveted item that rarely goes on sale!

To buy a coupon book and see a list of participating businesses, click here.

Because I love you all so much and because the Junior Leage of Birmingham is so generous, we’re giving you a chance to win a free coupon book! Just leave a comment with your name and email address below! This is a quick giveaway, so the winner will be chosen and announced in 24 hours!

Good luck and, as always, thanks for reading!!

Vanessa

**this giveaway is now closed**

Going B-a-n-a-n-a-s 

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Sorry, Gap, Inc. Every time I think about going shopping or updating my wardrobe, I think to myself “I need to venture away from my usual closet staples of Banana, Gap and Old Navy.” They’re my crutch! But unlike Gwen Stefani, I guess I am a “holla back girl.” Because I seem to keep holla-ing back every time I get those daily emails! Usually, it’s notices of a great sale or chic ways to wear new arrivals. It’s a mix of both that has me craving some Banana right now!

I’m OBSESSED with gauchos/culottes. I own three pairs plus a gaucho jumpsuit and I canNOT get enough of the trend. So, my heart fluttered when I saw three new styles from Banana.

This gorgeous burgundy pair ($89.50):    

They would look amazing with neutrals, of course. But with summer still lingering around, I think they’d be gorgeous with mustard or blush!

Then I saw this cool relaxed pair ($89.50):  

I love how the website pairs them with heels to keep the look polished! But try some flat sandals for a hip, Euro feel.

And the piece de resistance…this super chic faux leather pair ($98):  

You know leather ain’t going anywhere. So, it’s only natural the hottest new pants of the season are made in the hippest texture around. These would be perfect for a night out!!

As I perused through other new arrivals, these items also caught my eye!


  
  
  

All I have to say is, All I have to say is, “Bravo, Marissa Webb!” Since she has become creative director for Banana, I have fallen in love with one of my fave brands all over again!

And a bonus: right now, until 8/17, there is 40% off at Banana, Gap and Old Navy online with the code TREAT! So it’s the perfect time to give something new a try!

Budget Breakdown – January 2015

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One of my goals for 2015 was to get my shopping budget back on track. I read a great article on Who What Wear that covered how much of your income you should allot for shopping. It is a FANTASTIC overview on what you really should be able to afford. Essentially, the financial expert in the article advises spending 5% of your take-home income on shopping. Of course, bills and other expenses could bring that number down. You know best! Deep down, as much as you may want to spend 5% or 7%…you know if you can afford it!

Before having read that article, I decided to set my budget at $150. It’s actually less than the 5% recommendation in the article, but it is a realistic number for me.

I’ve kind of been dreading writing this post because I know I went over in January. Surprise, surprise, right?! I spent about $200. Of course, I stretched my dollar to the max and am happy with all of my purchases! Here’s a breakdown!

From Old Navy (30% off sale prices):

striped pencil skirt – $8 // plaid top – $10 // men’s plaid top – $10 // sleeveless LBD- $7 sold out, similar here // (not pictured: Shirt dress w/ tiny heart pattern – $11)

From Banana Republic (60% off sale prices):

Mixed Media Tank- $8 // (not pictured, Lace shell-$10 in store/sold out, similar here.)

From local boutique Soca Clothing (who was having 60% off sale prices!):

Rebecca Minkoff envelope clutch – $38, similar here// BB Dakota Mayer Sweater – $38 (but currently $30 here) // (not pictured, two shift dresses in black and burgundy $12 each)

From Forever 21:

Forever 21 Cape $20

From Marshalls (not pictured):

Black Culottes – $10…can’t wait to wear these now that it’s warmer!

I will say, I gave up shopping for Lent, so my February budget is definitely UNDER! YAY! I haven’t been able to wear everything I’ve purchased so far because it’s just now starting to warm up, but to see how I’ve styled some of these items, be sure to follow me on Facebook (Budding Fashionista) and Instagram (@buddingfashionista).

Thanks for following along!

My Trip to St. Barth

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So, I didn’t exactly go to the vacation hot spot of the rich and fabulous, but it was definitely a fabulous trip.

I had a chance to experience a “Pink Bag Moment” at a retailer new to the Birmingham area–Calypso St. Barth. It’s a brand I was relatively unfamiliar with, so I was excited to learn what they’re all about. The brand definitely has a resort, sometimes bohemian feel with influences from cultures around the world, but it really is more than that. There really is something for practically everyone: the edgy, the boho chic, the hipster, the surfer girl, the preppy, there are even some pieces that could work for the corporate woman.

Full disclosure here: as part of my blogger experience, I was able to bring home one clothing item!

Basically, I got to play some serious dress-up! I tried things I never would’ve normally tried (i.e. fur). I also tried things I totally would’ve pulled for myself as well (i.e. leather).

The experience wouldn’t have been made possible had it not been for the help of Brittany and Jessicah. They did a great job pulling different pieces for me to try on. Honestly, when they told me I pretty much had free rein to start putting outfits together, it was a little overwhelming. That’s why I don’t call myself a full-fledged “fashionista.” I guess I need more practice just going into a shop and creating fabulousness. I can totally pull things that work within my existing wardrobe, but it was a little different to start from scratch. So, the Calypso girls were totally my crutch!

One of the first things I saw was a fur vest. Confession: I have never really been a fan of fur. It always seemed too flashy and a bit pretentious for me. But I really warmed up to this rabbit fur vest after I slipped it on over a super soft, slouchy, striped T and black faux leather leggings. It surprisingly wasn’t too bulky or furry! Add the booties, a little bling and I felt way too cool for my own good. Now, it doesn’t come cheap. This is one of the items they called a real “investment piece” that will last a lifetime. Investment to the tune of $600. So, yeah. There’s that. And for animal activists, I also want to point out no animals are actually killed for their fur. They use fur that has already been discarded from places that are already using animals for other things, like restaurants. Not sure if that softens the blow for some people, but hey…at least they’re trying, right?

20140913-004526.jpgRabbit Fur Yali (Vest) // Flavia Long Sleeve Striped T // AG Leatherette Skinny Ankle Legging // Frieda and Nellie “Queen” Statement Necklace // Hoss Side Zip Leather Bootie

 

Another piece that really caught my attention was an olive leather jacket. If you haven’t purchased any leather so far (real or faux), there’s still time to jump on the bandwagon, because this luxe look ain’t going anywhere, folks. One hot new way to wear it this fall, is COLORED! This piece is AMAZING!! I could seriously throw it on with any and everything. It is so lightweight and super soft. It would be gorgeous with some distressed jeans or thrown on over an easy, breezy dress. I paired it with their silk palazzo pants and a horn necklace (the tube cami is my own). The pants were a bit long even for my 5’8″ frame, but I wasn’t wearing any shoes since you couldn’t see my feet anyway. So, a heel, bootie or wedge would have been perfect! I absolutely loved this look!

20140913-004548.jpgLizzy Leather Shirt Jacket // Berna Paisley Silk Palazzo Pants // Hipchick Couture Cognac Tooth Pendant Necklace

 

Next up…more luxe love with cashmere, baby! Another piece you can throw over everything. I’m such a sucker for cashmere. It’s so soft! And I can’t help but feel like I’m jumping another income bracket when I wear it. I paired this cardigan with the same striped T and necklace I had on with the fur vest. To keep it casual for a comfy, cozy look, I paired it with some distressed jeans and brown booties. There’s something about pairing gray and tan that I love!

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Uma Cashmere Cocoon Cardigan // Flavia Long Sleeve Striped T // AG Nikki 11 Year Distressed Skinny // Frieda and Nellie “Queen” Statement Necklace // Hoss Side Zip Leather Bootie

 

I was also drawn to a beautiful silk dress with gold embroidery. I love the shape because it’s not too clingy and perfectly hides the belly baggage for this mother of two! I paired it with my favorite new leather jacket of-the-moment for a fall look. I also tried it solo for warmer temps, paired with a pretty, gold necklace to add even more sparkle. I kept the booties for both looks to bring it down a few “dressy” notches. But throw on a heel and it could totally take you to date night or even a cocktail hour.

20140913-004430.jpgFran Indigo Ikat Embroidered Silk Dress // Lizzy Leather Shirt Jacket // Hoss Side Zip Leather Bootie // Chan Luu Long Charm Necklace

 

Now, we’ve covered fur, cashmere, silk. How about velvet? You want luxe? Calypso St. Barth has it, I’m tellin’ ya. This top was gorgeous in person. The bohemian vibe keeps it from being too stuffy. It’s perfect to dress up a pair of distressed jeans (another one of my weaknesses).

20140913-004453.jpgFriederike Embellished Velvet Tee // AG Nikki 11 Year Distressed Skinny // Hoss Side Zip Leather Bootie

 

Now, if you’re looking for something that will really give you some bang for your buck, they actually have a fun cardigan that can be worn two ways! I had to give it a try. Put it on one way for a more dramatic, full-length look. OR….wait for it… turn it upside down! and then it turns into a more slouchy cardi! How fun, right?!

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Cashmere Cocoon Pocketed Cardigan // Flavia Long Sleeve Striped T // Frieda and Nellie “Queen” Statement Necklace // Hoss Side Zip Leather Bootie

 

While I was there, I also saw a customer trying on this beee-u-tiful caftan from the sale rack. So, I HAD to try it on as well. The color is just gorgeous and I just felt sophisticated and fabulous in it! I may not have any fancy tropical getaways planned to wear this beauty, but who knows… maybe I’ll actually get to visit the real St. Barth one day. Until then, Calypso St. Barth will do just fine 😉

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Adilette Silk Habotai Caftan

As I mentioned, I did get a chance to bring home one lucky addition to my wardrobe. It’s in that pink bag I’m carrying in the pictures below! I’ll reveal what I chose in an upcoming post with different ways I’ll be styling it… but feel free to make your predictions in a comment below! Hint: I posted a peak of it on Instagram!

 

 

If anything above appeals to you and you’re experiencing a little sticker shock, or if you can handle the prices and just love a deal, there is a promotion going on right now! Until September 21st, you can save $50 off a $300 purchase with code GCFALL2014. The discount actually increases the more you spend. Some exclusions apply.

Happy Shopping!

 

I Couldn’t Pull The Trigger

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Let me preface by saying: I did NOT anticipate creating a blog post about this. If you’ve been counting down the days to the end of my no-shop challenge, you know….IT’S OVER!! I can officially shop til I drop!  I had grand plans of my first post-no-shopping post to be about what I’ve learned (which that is still coming), but I was compelled to slap this post together because of an unexpected experience I had.

A few days before my no-shopping challenge ended, I had a light bulb moment and realized, I can shop online at the stroke of midnight on August 1st!! duh! I filled up virtual shopping carts, but when it came time to “check out” I couldn’t do it!! I don’t know what’s wrong with me! After going so long without paying for a thing, I felt an intense amount of pressure to spend my money wisely and to make thoughtful purchases. I mean, people were sending me messages about how they couldn’t wait to see what my first purchases were!! See? Pressure! First world problems, I know.

Anyway, are gone the days when I would see a clearance price and quickly snatch it up? Only time will tell. It’s not one of those instances when you actually want to shop or have money to shop, and you can’t find anything. I found plenty, but I questioned if I was really getting good deals (I mean, after getting quite a few things for free these past 6 months, spending money on anything seems overpriced at this point!). I questioned if I wanted to spend so much at one time. Or if I could afford to spend so much. I questioned if I really needed everything. Or even wanted everything! Was I buying for the sake of buying??

These are actually questions I need to ask myself EVERY single time I’m about to make a purchase. It wouldn’t hurt if you asked yourself the same questions either!

I actually posted some similar questions in a “fitting room tips” post on my Facebook page yesterday. And it must’ve been a message from God or something because it couldn’t have come in a more timely manner.

So, I still plan on shopping. Very Soon! But, I think I want my first purchase to be one I can physically touch and try on. And I want to make sure the deal is unbeatable!

If you’re wondering what I had my eyes on, here’s a little slideshow of things that are still lingering in my “shopping carts.” Tell me if you think any of these are worth “pulling the trigger” for! And I am aware these items are not in correlation to my previous post of things I REALLY wanted to get when I shop again, but I plan to get those in person so I have them in time for an upcoming trip I’ll be taking.

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The Spree before Shop-Free

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If you follow me on Facebook, you have seen my no-shop challenge in effect. Starting February first, I’ve vowed to go 6 months without shopping and without repeating an outfit. The purpose is two-fold: keep my budget in check as my husband and I prepare to buy a real house (townhome living is too cramped with two kids) and to make up for the Spree of January ’14.

Now, if you’ve read my post about not paying retail and great times to shop, you know why January is one of the best, if not THE best, times to clothing shop all year. Boy, did I take advantage. While my husband was not thrilled at how much I “saved,” I was ecstatic! Let’s get to the breakdown, shall we?

This is what I purchased through Piperlime. They were having 50% off clearance and eventually 60% off clearance! Couldn’t pass that up!

Piperlime: black top w/ gold trim, $15 // plaid shorts, $12 // Aldo d’Orsay flats, $15 // shift dress, $10 // faux leather dress, $25

My damage from Banana Republic and Gap while visiting my local stores. Again, additional percentage off markdowns is the way to go!

I love Gap, Inc. brands and continued the great deals at Old Navy.

I also had a TON of fun shopping at H&M.com where there were a TON of markdowns at super low price points:

Here are some other lovelies I purchased from the runway department of T.J. Maxx, Forever 21 andFrancesca’s!

I was also able to get some great deals on shoes from DSW! I couldn’t find all images online, so I had to get organic!

I always find great deals on shoes at Ross Dress for Less!

All of this totals to about $520! That’s about $15 for each item on average. One thing I didn’t do was add up the retail price since I got so much stuff and didn’t keep track of it before I started wearing things! But considering the Rebecca Monkoff dress was originally $368 and the black boots were about $200 originally, I’d say my savings would be astronomical!! Did you get that, hubby? ASTRONOMICAL!! 😉

I also earned a whopping $50 reward from Banana Republic and I still have a few gift cards left over from Christmas. I figure I can spend those if I feel like I am going to break! That’s not really cheating is it??