Louis, Louis…

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To Louis V. or not to Louis V? That is the question for this budding fashionista.

My handbag collection is modest. I have a small Coach bag I received as a birthday present from my husband a few years ago. And when I say small, I mean it would probably be a better fit for my two year old daughter. It does cut back on carrying a lot of junk, though. I also have a Cole Haan bag which I pretty much carry every day now. I stole that from My mom gave it to me. Everything else is MODEST! Here’s proof:


(from l to r: Coach, Cole Haan, JCPenney clutch, straw clutch, yellow BR ipad case I use as a clutch, BR Factory convertible bag, BR leather mini bag, The Limited faux leather clutch, BR leather tote)

No Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Hermes. Nada.

Truth be told, I’ve never been a big “bag lady.” I actually hate switching out purses. I feel like it’s a nuisance to move my wallet, make-up, chewing gum, loose change, coupons, gift cards, scraps of paper, crayons and unredeemed Chuck E. Cheese tickets (because you never know when you’ll end up there) from one bag to another. It never fails, the one thing I don’t switch over, is the one thing I end up needing later in the day.

So, do I really need a designer bag as a budding fashionista? My life doesn’t depend on it, so no, I don’t NEED one. More importantly, do I really feel like saving for one? Because I certainly do not have the resources to walk into a Louis Vuitton and nonchalantly ask for a new Speedy 25, let alone the Capucines, dahling. And I don’t know if I’m disciplined enough to watch a jar full of money fill up, only to spend it on ONE thing! I could buy SO MUCH with that money!

But, it would be nice to carry one, right???

IF I decide to start saving (you can help me decide below), I will take you along on my ride of materialism. I will only set aside money if I’m putting equal amounts into savings. That’s the only way I can justify it. I figure, with that plan I may be slinging a Louis on my arm in about 2-5 years! Ha! We’ll see!

Tell me what you think:

And if this is just all too materialistic for you, for your listening pleasure, here’s a little Erykah Badu to keep it all in perspective! 😉

by Vanessa Culpepper

Fall Trends to Try–or Not!

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You know, I started writing a blog on the hot fall trends that are still wearable and budget friendly for the average woman…but as I started compiling a list, I became a little overwhelmed! It seems impossible to package it altogether in a pretty little blog. If you Google “top fall trends 2013” (minus the quotation marks) your search will turn up more than 1 BILLION RESULTS! 1 BILLION! Who has the time?!

Anyway, I will attempt to touch on a few colors/trends to look out for this fall…before telling you, “Don’t put too much stock into trend reports!” How twisted, huh?

Some hot colors this fall include: cobalt, black/white, olive, and oxblood.

Some hot styles include: metallic shoes, mini handbags, pointy toe pumps, anything houndstooth (Roll Tide for all you, UA fans!), and embellished sweatshirts.

I also found a lot of things just did not seem “new.” Is it because I’ve been seeing this stuff since fashion week back in the spring? Or maybe fashion is almost always recycled anyway.

Here are some “trends” that are still going strong: military inspired, menswear inspired, peplum, leather, floral, graphic prints, sheer fabrics, animal prints, fit/flare skirts, statement coats. The list goes on, so I am not including pics!

Seeing how much is still thriving from previous seasons, it made me think: Just wear whatever the heck you like! It is likely to be en vogue by someone somewhere! I know that may not be great fashion advice if you’re looking for fall inspiration. I apologize. I never claimed to be a fashionista. 😉

I try to follow my gut instinct when something really new does come out. I get it wrong sometimes. Like, peplum.


Boy, did I miss the mark on that one! I figured…eh, peplum–it’ll last one, maybe two seasons and that’ll be the last we see of this frilly little thing. Needless to say, I let that bandwagon pass me by. I felt like it was/is too girly for me. And, lo and behold, peplum continues to pop up and flop around everywhere! It is still on the spring 2014 runways. Not that I don’t appreciate it. It’s just not for me. Part of me thinks, I should just cave and flounce around freely! But the stubborn side of me says, “No, budding fashionista (yeah, I call myself “budding fashionista” ALL the time), you didn’t like it when it came out. Stick to your guns!”

That’s why, again, I say…just wear whatever the heck you want!

Of course, follow trends that may catch your eye or give you butterflies (I think we all know how I feel about leather by now), but the most important thing is that YOU like it and YOU are confident in yourself. Confidence never goes out of style!


by Vanessa Culpepper

Budding Fashionista on Google+

Budding Bonus 1: Fashion Blog Faux Pas?

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When I started this blog, I had one reservation: Is it too superficial?

I have two beautiful children whom I adore. Why not blog about something more important, like motherhood?


There are children in danger, neglected or struggling all over the world. Should I blog about all of these heartbreaking stories I come across as a news producer and raise awareness about just how sick and twisted this world can be (for anyone who may not have a clue)?

What about Racism? Bullying? Illness? Adoption? All of these are dear to my heart. All these subjects are more important than “fashion,” in my opinion.

But they are DEEP. They are TAXING. I would be emotionally drained if I wrote about some or all of these topics on a regular basis. There have been stories we have covered locally that left me in my bathroom at work, crying for ten minutes because of their upsetting nature.


I needed a release. Something fun.

So what about blogging about love and relationships?


Love isn’t too depressing–usually. I think I know a little about it. But I’m trying to learn the ropes myself and certainly don’t feel qualified to give relationship advice–although I do like to try my hand at it more often than my husband would probably like! He thinks I mettle too much, but that’s neither here nor there!

So, another passion: fashion! This is my release.


I just want it to be known, my heart and mind run deeper than trends, sales and shopping. That’s why I created my Budding Bonus. There will be times I feel compelled to vent about an issue or problem. And this is where I will turn. And when you’ve seen enough outfit ideas or sales alerts, this is where you can turn. 🙂 Hope you enjoy!


by Vanessa Culpepper

Budding Fashionista on Google+

Full Price? What’s That??

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Paying full price has never really been part of my vocabulary. I believe I can thank my wonderful mom for that. We did not have a lot of money growing up, at least I don’t think we did. I remember getting stuff from a flea market. We typically shopped at outlet or t.j. maxx-type places (which isn’t too bad, i know!) and even then, it had to be marked down.

And then there was Hudson’s. The salvage center. A place for close-outs, damaged retail items, leftovers. I was SO embarrassed to go. Always afraid a classmate would see me (not thinking, my classmate is here, too so why should I be embarrassed??). As I got older and became more familiar with name brands, I realized what a true treasure hunt it could be!

It was at Hudson’s I got my first 100% cashmere turtleneck sweater from Lord and Taylor. I believe it was about $13. Hallelujah!! But..RIP cashmere sweater. It fell victim to moths and I had to get rid of it. Had I paid full price I would’ve had to have held a real funeral for that sweater just to grieve the loss and pain to my wallet!!

So, no. For me to pay full price, that’s a big deal! I remember the first top for which I paid full price. It was 2002 or 2003. I had my first real job out of college, making a whopping $20K as a weekend news producer. I was making the big bucks now, so I just HAD to splurge on this beautiful top from The Limited for about $50. I still have it. I can’t part with it. And yes, I’m showing it off!

imageMy mom would’ve flipped at the price!

When I wasn’t working in news, I had the fortune (or misfortune, depending on how you look at it) of working in retail. So I learned a few tips about when to shop for sales. I will share a few with you that you may or may not know.

1. Markdowns are often taken during the week. Often on Thursdays. Get to know an associate at your favorite store and ask when markdowns usually happen.

2. Look for big sales at the end of fiscal quarters (end of April, July, October, January). Many retailers are trying to make last minute dollars to end the quarter on a good note and will offer sale on sales.

3. In my experience, Black Friday is all hype when it comes to clothes shopping (electronics, home goods is another story). I believe the best time to shop is the day after Christmas. That is my absolute favorite day to shop. Yes, it’s a little crowded, but the sales can’t be beat and I typically have a little Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket (yes, I still get Christmas money and I am 33 years old. Thank you, Santa!)

4. Emails, emails, emails. When stores randomly offer sale on sale, they will typically send an email. I love and loathe this. Yes, I get a plethora of messages at 2am every day that I am typically deleting when I wake. But when you get that one that says, 40% off markdowns at J.Crew…JACKPOT!! It’s all worth it! Sign up for Emails at your favorite stores or favorite shopping center (malls and outlets usually have a list).

5. I am a little hesitant to encourage this one: A store credit card. ONLY get one if you promise yourself you will pay it IN FULL, EVERY MONTH! Interest rates on store cards are RIDICULOUS! I racked up some pretty healthy credit card debt in the past, so I was REALLY hesitant to open another card. I worked at Banana Republic for a year before I bit the bullet. I opened one there and have paid it off every month in full. No excuses. And the reward has been great! I chose Banana because I can use the card at Old Navy, Gap, Banana and Piperlime. The reward system is 5% back to use at any of the stores. I am good at saving my rewards. So, with rewards and a coupon I got for having a store card, I was able to get these $198 Michael Kors booties for $40.

imagePiperlime purchase

6. This is more than just clothes shopping-related, but here’s  a link to your guide to shopping for just about anything throughout the year: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-best-time-of-year-to-buy-everything-2013-2?op=1

If you have any smart shopping tips, please feel free to share!! I’d LOVE to learn more about savvy shopping!


-by Vanessa Culpepper

Budding Fashionista on Google+

Not Your Average Black T

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As promised, I’ve returned to showcase other ways I will incorporate my new leather top into my fall wardrobe! Let me tell you, you really had to twist my arm to get this post done quickly. I honestly could not put this top back on fast enough!

If you haven’t invested in a novelty leather item, go for it!! Have fun with it! Give faux a try if you have commitment issues or if you want to cut costs or if you disagree with wearing the real thing! Leather is being used in so many unique ways (whether it be in trims, paneling or other accents), there really is something for everyone!!

Now, to the fun stuff!


I love to play with layers and textures, so I paired a long-sleeve denim button down underneath the top in Looks 1&2. Denim and leather! I channelled my inner James Dean!

Look 1: paired the tops with a khaki corduroy mini skirt–an item I have worn for at least three years–and black knee boots. I could easily switch it up with tights and booties, but I figured i wouldn’t wear my fave booties in EVERY look!

Look 2: leather/denim top with of-the-moment color “oxblood” waxed/coated denim jeans and….yes, the black booties are back!!

Look 3:  I ditched the denim top and let the leather fly solo for another fall trend: black and white! Paired the look with black and gold jewelry and heels to keep it from being not-so-basic. Sidenote: That is white I’m wearing AFTER Labor Day.  Don’t throw stones! I do not believe in hard and fast rules when it comes to fashion. If you can rock the white without it looking too “summery” go for it!

Here are other outfit deets!

imageBanana Republic tops and skirt

imageBanana tops, jeans, leather bracelet. Adrienne Vittadini booties.

image Miscellaneous arm candy!

imageBlack/gold link necklace..you guessed it, Banana Republic.

You would think i owned stock in Gap, Inc. as much as I wear Banana. BUT, i just love their clothes. They are great quality and I can usually get them for far less than “designer” duds when using coupons or waiting for great sales!

So, there you have it! I promise I have more tricks up my sleeve than just leather!

‘Til next time!

Your Budding Fashionista


by Vanessa Culpepper

Budding Fashionista on Google+

For the Love of Leather

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I have been just  a little bit obsessed with leather lately. Maybe I was a biker in another life. Maybe a dominatrix (yeah, right! My husband wishes!). Regardless, leather is a HOT trend and it is not cooling off anytime soon. So, I happily jump on this bandwagon–sorry animal rights activists! 😦

Last year, I scored a great deal on some leather-panel leggings on Amazon. They are Guess brand for $80! Unheard of! This year, I’m digging deeper. I recently purchased a leather top and moto jacket from Banana Republic. Both great deals as well ($100 for the all leather top and $160 for the jacket..again, awesome deals thanks to their weekly 40% coupons and an additional 10% for using my Banana card!! yes!). I’m impatiently waiting the jacket’s arrival, but I already have my hands on the top and was quick to pair it with a lace pencil skirt I got from the J. Crew factory store during my grand haul spree at the Outlet Shops of Grand River (see the post https://buddingfashionista.com/2013/09/19/grand-haul-video-for-outlet-shops-of-grand-river/, or check out my video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuTVE7VmsaM ) . Get it? Leather and Lace? I love that juxtaposition of tough and feminine (do you love the word “juxtaposition” as much as I do??). Check it out!

photo (13)

I have yet to wear this in public anywhere. But, in typical girl fashion, i’m playing dress-up!

I plan to do another post featuring this top with other pairings, so stay tuned for that! Meanwhile, here’s a closer look at the pieces I scooped up! I guess I need to invest in some leather cleaning concoction.

leatherGuess Leather front, ponte back leggings (amazon.com)

leather topthe leather top i’m wearing in above picture. Bananarepublic.com

leather motoleather moto–currently sold out! Bananarepublic.com

I can’t wait to rock that jacket!! What do you like to pair leather with??

by Vanessa Culpepper

Budding Fashionista on Google+

Grand Haul video for Outlet Shops of Grand River

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You may not be able to tell by that lovely freeze frame shot above… but I am so excited to have been chosen as the winner of a grand haul contest for the Outlet Shops of Grand River! I won the category of “professional woman,” so my video basically showcases great steals and deals I got on workwear. I got $361 dollars worth of merchandise for $136 (all pre-tax)! I really love every single item I purchased and have already worn everything at least once. I already have one item featured in two different ways on Instagram. Follow me! *nudge, nudge* I’ll get to do 3 more videos and will post those when they’re ready!!

-by Vanessa Culpepper

budding fashionista on Google+