Old Navy

What I Wore to BFW 2016

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Apologies for how late this is, but if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably know what I wore to Birmingham Fashion Week. But I didn’t really share many details.

I was only able to attend two nights, so I went with pretty different styles..both on a budget, of course!

The first night, I opted for a boho look. I was just perusing the mall and saw the dress in Old Navy’s sale section for $18. But they didn’t have my size. Did you know many stores can check a computer database to see if they are supposed to have what you need or to see if a nearby store has it? So, I marched right to the cashier and asked for a “merchandise locator.” It showed the store I was in was actually supposed to have one! So, I poked around and found it hanging with the non-maternity version! It may not be the most fashion forward, but it’s on trend and I was on a time crunch. I added an $8 multi-strand choker from Forever 21 and a straw clutch I have had for probably ten years. My shoes were caged sandals–a $10 clearance find from Target last year. Ideally, I would’ve made more of an effort to make my hair more wavy, but I was late and I threw in a couple of small braids in my hair and called it a day!

Moral of the story: if you see something you like at a price point you like, don’t give up on it! It could actually be right around the corner!

For the final night, I went a little more glam! I actually didn’t buy anything new at all for this look! I wore a non-maternity pencil skirt (see my post about its versatility!), an old Gap maternity tank I’ve had since my last pregnancy (and still wear even while not pregnant!) and some sort of ruffly shrug I got on super clearance from some fancy store in Atlanta that was going out of business. I accessorized with a red Rebecca Minkoff envelope clutch I got last year (on clearance, of course) and Schutz animal print heels I got when my beloved Piperlime was still in business!


Moral of the story: don’t discount your own closet when getting ready for a special occasion! You may actually surprise yourself!

Thanks for reading!

xoxo vanessa





The Budget Is Back!

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So, remember that whole “6 months no shopping” challenge I gave myself last year? I got a lot of positive feedback from it and learned a lot about my will power and my ability to appreciate things I have. All great things! But I have a dirty confession. I am now a statistic. I did what many financial gurus predicted. I binged! Oh, how I binged.

My no shopping challenge ended right before I went to San Francisco for the first time. So, when I got there, I shopped, of course. And I shopped when I returned home. And I shopped online. I hate to admit I was out of control! Where was that will power I had for 6 months prior?! It went on vacation, too I guess–somewhere far, far away from me!

So, what’s the point of all this??

To get my financial frenzy back on track, I’ve decided to do a “12-month no shopping challenge.” HA! I kid, I kid!!

Seriously, though. If you read the title of this post, you probably figured it out–I’m bringing back my monthly budget! My husband and I recently met with some money pros and we got realistic about our spending/budgeting. I decided to put myself back on my $150/month budget. It worked really well for me last year. And for some reason, I am better about saying “no” to a sale if I know I can use my budget as an excuse to cool off my debit card. For instance, “Hey, Vanessa! Did you see the amazing sale going on at XYZ?!” I would reply, “Yes! It’s so awesome, but I’ve already maxed out my budget for the month.” It’s easier for me that way. I know. I’m twisted. But it’s the only thing that seems to work for me.

How am I doing now? Before mid-January, I’d already spent about $110. While that doesn’t give me a ton of wiggle room, I do take comfort in knowing I have made some great purchases so far (y’all know I love to stretch my dollars!). And I still have $40 available to spend before the end of the month! I’ll definitely be posting my monthly purchase/budget results. It helps hold me accountable. Because, you know, holding myself accountable privately is just crazy talk.

Now, I know this is not some flashy post with a lot of pics, so I’ll leave you with a preview of two of my favorite purchases so far!

I got this dress from Old Navy (online) for $7.50! It’s now sold out, but the sale is still going on through January 10th and there was a lot of cute stuff I would’ve considered buying had I not been keeping my budget in mind ;). (See, it’s already working!) Use code: SAVENOW to save 25% off clearance prices through midnight EST January 10th. Normally, I am looking for additional 50%, but with these low Old Navy prices, the deals are already dirt cheap.

Old Navy
Old Navy

I also made my first Rebecca Minkoff purchase! It may be my first designer handbag purchase come to think of it. The Leo envelope clutch was $38 during a sale of 50% off markdowns at a local boutique called Soca. I LOVE it SO much! It has beautiful lining which makes me love it even more!

Rebecca Minkoff-Leo envelope clutch
Rebecca Minkoff-Leo envelope clutch

I can’t wait to share my other purchases with you…and I can’t wait to spend the remaining $40 of my budget! haha! Thanks for following me on this journey!

If you’re still with me, I have a little treat to share with you! I’ve teamed up with several other fashion lovers for an awesome giveaway on Instagram! We are giving away 3 $200 pre-paid Visa Gift Cards. Head on over to my Instagram for more details!  

Sink or Swim

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I have never had a bombshell figure by any means, but I was certainly thin in my 20’s and am more along the lines of “average” in my 30’s. I actually used to like bikini shopping. After having two children and realizing 40 is approaching faster than I’d care to admit… those bikini-loving days are long gone. One of my “resolutions” was to get into a two-piece this summer…. Ummm…yeah, about that… I guess I still have some time left to make that happen, but I hate to admit, I believe I’ve GAINED weight since the New Year! The metabolism I once took advantage of is history.

So, even though I won’t be shopping for swimsuits anytime soon…like, for nearly three more months!…I decided to put a little post together for the women out there who may be in my boat. These are some of my fave ONE-PIECE swimsuits for the woman who still wants to look affordably chic while juggling children…or even without juggling children! All are under $50!

I found 6PM.COM had a ton of affordable one pieces. (I love this site for discounted designer shoes as well!) Here are a few, but check out their site to see other options. It’s very search friendly!

I love this Tommy Bahama one for the colors and pattern. It also comes with a detachable halter strap, which is always ideal for a little extra support and to prevent fears of a swimsuit malfunction!

Tommy Bahama - $37
Tommy Bahama – $37

I love the back detail of this Rachel Pally suit! If you’re going to wear a one-piece, at least make sure it has some kind of visual interest, right?!

Rachel Pally - $45
Rachel Pally – $45


Rachel Pally - $45
Rachel Pally – $45

This Guess suit is not typically my style, but I love how it gives a woman a little peek-a-boo action when she doesn’t want to show off her entire stomach!

Guess - $46
Guess – $46

U.S. Polo Association is really making a splash with this suit! Love the black and white with the keyhole detail! Simple yet sassy!

U.S. Polo Assn. - $25
U.S. Polo Assn. – $25

This O’Neill suit is a great basic! This one has a lower back, but it has a bikini-style fastener, which adds to the sex appeal yet still offers that tighter support around the bustline.

O'Neill - $45
O’Neill – $45

I love, love, love the print of this Bikini Lab suit! And the price?! Yes!

Bikini Lab - $25
Bikini Lab – $25


This Body Glove mono-kini is a little less scary than others I’ve seen. It’s still relatively modest, yet definitely sexy.

Body Glove - $27
Body Glove – $27

This Splendid suit is a great halter in a beautiful color with cute keyhole detail!

Splendid - $30
Splendid – $30

Victoria’s Secret offered this cute option, which would be ideal for me! It’s the look of a mono-kini, yet keeps all of the problem areas of my belly covered up!

Victoria's Secret - $49
Victoria’s Secret – $49

I also did a little Google searching and came across one really unique and affordable suit on a site I’d never heard of: SwimwearPlace.com. I love the front detailing on this! I can’t attest to the quality as I’ve never shopped here, but it’s certainly worth a look!


front panel detail - $48
front panel detail – $48


Almost all of my current one-piece suits are actually from Old Navy. So I knew I’d find some affordable options there. Plus, there’s almost always some kind of online discount available! (prices included in pic caption)

And, of course…any fashionista on a budget probably already has Target on her radar! Here are a few from Tar-jay 😉 Some really great patterns available! (prices included in pic caption)

Now, there’s no excuse to not test the waters this summer… no matter how “not” bikini-ready you are! I’ve come to fully embrace the one-piece and even if I get back to my bikini-bod shape, I won’t hesitate to slip into a one-piece for more coverage! Don’t forget the sunscreen!


Thanks for reading!


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??

The budding fashionista is on Facebook!

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I’m venturing out, people! Because I have committed to not shopping for 6 months (starting February 1st) I figure I will need to keep some sort of outfit log to track what I’m wearing. Remember, my goal is to try not to repeat an entire look in that timeframe. I think I can do it because I haven’t repeated an outfit yet in the past 3 months or so (a look at some of my looks below).

I am not a mathematician/statistician. If I did a closet inventory and calculated the different outfits I can create combining my tops with pants/skirts/shorts, plus include dresses/jumpsuits/rompers, I would technically be able to tell you if it’s even mathematically possible for me to achieve this feat. But, a mathematician I am not. I suppose I could enlist in the help of Mrs. Bratton, my beloved calculus teacher from high school, but I’ll leave her alone for now.  So, we’ll just have to take it day by day and document it….via Facebook (I do typically post outfits on Instagram, but I know some of you are not active on Instagram)!

Yes, the budding fashionista is joining the Facebook world! If you follow me, you’ll be able to keep track of my outfits of the day (#ootd for all you Instagrammers and hashtag lovers) and maybe even get a few style ideas.

Plus, there’s another reason to follow….drum roll, please!

Sale alerts! I don’t blog every day–there are just not enough hours in the day to be a mom, overnight news producer…AND full-time blogger. But, I do have the time for a regular FB post.

Often, I’ll get great deals or find out about a great sale and I want to shout it from the mountain tops! Now, I can shout it from the virtual mountain that is Facebook.

If there are specific stores you would like me to post on, let me know and I’ll do my best to stay informed for you!

You can certainly expect sale alerts for places like Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, J.Crew, Francesca’s, Lotus Boutique, etc. etc. etc. the list goes on.

Please don’t expect me to get too excited about ALL of the deals, i.e. buy one full priced dress, get the second half off. or 25% full priced sweaters. Nope, not my kind of deals. I’ll be sharing things like, 40-50% off full price and/or sale items. If it’s not a deal I find fabulous, I probably won’t post it.

Thanks for following me as I continue to balance my journey through fashion and finances!

Confessions of a Budget Buster

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This month, I prove I’m only human. A shopping-loving human. And I’m confessiong my shopping sins. Right here, right now.

Even though my November budget was long gone, I couldn’t resist Black Friday. I thought I could just forget about the sales. I thought the sales wouldn’t be that great and I could resist them. I thought wrong. I couldn’t even wait until Black Friday!!

The week BEFORE Thanksgiving, I was in Target and spotted a blazer that happened to look AWESOME (in my opinion) with the outfit I had on at the time. In a moment of weakness, I bought it. For $25 (sold out online). Here it is:

Now, there could be one caveat. I haven’t worn it and still have the receipt. So, if it gets marked down soon, I will purchase the cheaper one and return my current one. I’m scandalous, I know! But I said, I’m sharing confessions here.

Then, I spent another $22 on a floral print blouse I had been eyeing at the J.crew Factory store ever since I saw J’s Everyday Fashion sport it.

I considered getting it with my Grand Haul funds, but still couldn’t bring myself to spending $50 on it…even if it wasn’t $50 of my own money! So, I snatched it up the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when their Black Friday sale was ALREADY STARTING! I’m telling you. It’s going to be called Black Week before we know it.

Then, anyone who’s anyone knew Old Navy was having 50% off the entire store Black Friday. I couldn’t resist.

My son needed another pair of jeans. My daughter needed a new non-dressy jacket. And because I am a sucker for “50% off,” I got a few more things, but I plan on returning them, because in hindsight, I think I can get better deals elsewhere.

Now, I do need to confess something else: belated birthday money. I asked my level-headed, practical, and financially sensible older sister if it would be cheating to use my birthday money for clothes. She said, “no.” All I needed to hear. No need for a second opinion when the first opinion is exactly what you wanted to hear, right? But I still felt a little guilty, although I think I can work past the guilty because….drum roll, please….I made Christmas wish #1 come true! I bought a feather skirt!!

Piperlime had a Black Friday sale of 25% off. Plus I found out I get another 15% for using my Banana Republic Luxe card. So, I got it for $65 (currently sold out)! Now, my level-headed, practical, and financially sensible older sister did not think this was a wise purchase. It’s not something I’ll get a lot of wear out of. But my justification: I haven’t seen a skirt like this under $100 and it is something I’ve been wanting for over a year now, so I couldn’t pass it up. Not to mention, I can style it different ways, so even if I wear it to different functions, I can still make it seem new for years to come.

I spent the rest of my birthday money at Forever 21 where they had 50% off markdowns starting the Wednesday before Black Friday! This is what I got:

1. Some probably too-cool-for-me open-toe booties ($14). 2. Plaid leggings ($4-sold out) that I will be devoting a whole other post to because they are way more versatile than I ever thought they could be. 3. A high-low sleeveless top ($6-sold out) to pair with the leggings so my booty isn’t all “out there.” 4. A red blazer ($12-sold out) I had been wanting to add to my wardrobe–let’s just ignore the fact that it is technically peplum and call this a fit and flare blazer (I have been trying to avoid jumping on this peplum bandwagon).

Now, back to my basic budget expenses. I had to have the right accessories for the feather skirt, so I bought a belt at a local shop for $14. And I had to get some new bling! I scored a necklace on Lulus.com for $6 (they had 40% off on Cyber Monday, if memory serves me)! You’ll have to wait on pics for these!!

Most of these purchases were made at the end of November, so I just decided I will deduct them all from December’s budget…which kind of makes my purchases honest, right?? That leaves me with $7 dollars to spend the rest of the month!

How can I possibly manage when Christmas outfits must be planned? And what about all those post-Christmas sales?

I am predicting further weakness in my future, so I plan to do some further compensating in the New Year that involves something relatively new to me: thrift/consignment shopping. That’s coming in February!

Let me know what you think. Is it cheating to use Christmas money to shop in December?

Is It 2014 Yet???

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Seriously. I couldn’t have picked a harder time to do this budget thing. What was I thinking? November=Black Friday!

Once again, by mid-month, my $100 budget had run dry.  So, needless to say, that means I will not be partaking in the hustle and bustle of Black Friday shopping–which, in reality, seems to be starting on Thanksgiving Day in many stores. While we’re on the subject… I used to WISH stores/the mall were open on Thanksgiving after all of the family fun and face stuffing had wound down. But now, as a mom with a family of my own, I am so perturbed at the fact many stores are opening on the actual holiday. The retail race is out of control! Let families relax, spend time together. Or just let your employee enjoy a holiday off to do nothing! For the companies that only operate holiday hours on volunteer staff, I guess I’m okay with that. But otherwise, the only way to stop it is to NOT SHOP on the holiday. That’s my stance.

Now…let me step off my soapbox and get back to budget talk. I really had to put some of my wants aside this time. Most of it went toward clothes for the children. Most of it. Not all.

After a recent doctor visit, I realized my 7 year old is trapped in a 10 year old’s body. So, needless to say, all of his pants from the spring looked like cropped pants (which I’m actually a fan of on adult men). We had a wedding to go to, so there was no procrastinating on making a purchase for him.

At The Children’s Place, we bought khaki pants and some boat shoes that I hoped would be dressy enough for the wedding. I sign up for their emails (like I encourage all of you good, budget conscious shoppers to do) and saved 20% or 25% on my purchase. I couldn’t remember. I also had to make another trip to get jeans. They ended up being only $10 with a coupon. So I ended up getting the pants, shoes and jeans for $35! Not bad!!

The Children’s Place chino//The Children’s Place boat shoe//The Children’s Place boot fit jeans

I also got tights for my daughter at The Children’s Place for $5 since winter feels like it’s already upon us on some days. Do I really need to post a picture? Thank you.

I got some other cute goodies for my daughter at Old Navy. I could not pass up this tres chic sweatshirt dress. And I got her a little silver, peplum striped top. There went $15 ($10/dress, $5/shirt).

I was on the go and in desperate need of black leggings/pants, so I made a quick pit stop to Toys ‘R Us. I got lucky and found some on promotion for $5. And they had cute little bow details on the leg opening! I only found a picture of denim leggings in this style, so just pretend they’re black. 

Old navy sweatshirt dress-sold out//Old Navy Silver striped Peplum Top//Babies ‘R Us leggings – only in black

Then, I could focus on myself. I got an email (yes, email!) from J.Crew saying they had 30% off markdowns. I figured I’d check it out. When I got to the store, markdowns were actually 40% off, so I got a cute tassel necklace for about $23.

J. Crew tassel necklace

And, Marshalls just opened up in the area, so I HAD to be there for the grand opening. I tried out the track pant/harem pant trend…really, I’m not sure how to categorize these things. But the pants were $25. To see how I styled them with my leather top, check me out on Instagram. My older sister questioned this purchase because it was a quarter of my budget. I have an extremely difficult time finding pants long enough. Sometimes tall lengths are not even long enough. So, for these pants to have fit me, that played a huge role in my purchase. Usually trendy pants are made for the average height woman. And, these pants had the original tag on with a retail price of $128! So, it was a no brainer for me!

So, if you do the math, it doesn’t take a genius to see I went a little over budget.

I could have gone so much more over budget. The new Isabel Marant collection for H&M came out. I could’ve done a lot more damage at the Marshall’s grand opening. Also, Piperlime was having 30% off their markdowns! And of course, there’s always Black Friday damage. I have practiced self-control beyond my known capabilities this month.

On the bright side…my Banana Republic bill was only $17.58. I am in sticker shock in the best way possible. It’s usually 15x that much. So, maybe this budget thing isn’t so bad after all.

But rest assured, when January 2014 rolls around, I will be hard-pressed to practice this budget restraint. Expect big sales at the end of the month (it’s the end of the fiscal year!). I may have to reinstate the budget challenge in February!