Steal vs. Splurge – Elizabeth and James Heels!

Bargainistas, I’ve got another Steal vs. Splurge for you!

D’orsay heels have been popular for years, though currently re-emerging as a popular heel to wear, paired with everything from skinny jeans to leather jogging pants (yes, such a thing exists!).

A few months back, I came across this pair of Elizabeth and James D’Orsay heels on Shopbop.

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 1.09.31 PM


Sadly, at $325 a pair, these heels would remain on my ‘covet’ list.  Since then, the heels have been discounted a bit, but the 40% discounted price ($195) is still too much for my budget to bare.




So, I was beyond excited when I came across this ‘luxe for less’ version!

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 1.10.49 PM


Currently sold at Forever 21, this version is selling for only $36.80!  Much more reasonable than the ‘discounted’ $200 price tag on ShopBop!  What’s more, I was ordering online and – as usual – Googled ‘Forever 21 promo code’ and came across this 10% off, plus Free Shipping code: RA9TT7.  The caveat:  Using this code makes your items FINAL SALE, so make sure you are familiar with Forever 21’s shoe sizing before ordering.



Here’s a side by side comparison:

Heels v2

Pretty similar, right??  You’re welcome, again (version 3.0). 😉

P.S. – Follow me on Instagram to see how I styled the Forever 21 version of these heels with office-appropriate outfits this past month!

The Hunting Enthusiast

A ‘bargain’-hunting enthusiast, that is!  That’s me.

I love to shop, but I especially love to shop when I am amidst a sea of potentially amazing bargains. And that, my fellow fashionistas, is what I was faced with this past weekend.  In honor of Veteran’s Day (sidenote to thank the many women and men who have served our great country…my hubby included), many stores were offering promotions.  Nordstrom Rack was among them, and boy did they have some bargains!!


Nordstrom Rack is one of those stores that can easily overwhelm the novice and/or infrequent shopper.  However, there is no shame in falling into that category.  Stores like these have rack after rack, filled with large quantities of individual, unique items; one of these racks alone would be enough to make even the most experienced shopper walk right back out the door on an off day.

clothingRacksWhat you must realize is that there are strategies/steps one must consider when dealing with stores like these; further, when searching through piles or racks of clothing, shoes, accessories, etc.:

Step 1:  Shop by color/print/material.  Take for example the picture above.  The racks are categorized by size, so I would likely start with the rack in the lower left hand corner.  I would not bother searching the other racks because they aren’t my size, and if limited on time, don’t really care about the item that someone decided to leave behind in the wrong rack.  If they left it behind, it was likely for a good reason.

Back to the rack.  Immediately, my eye is drawn to the black jacket with fur, as well as to the red jacket that appears next to it.  I don’t bother going through the other items, because no matter how inexpensive they are, chances are, I will not like them because I wasn’t immediately drawn to them.

Step 2:  Set a minimum for what you will consider a ‘bargain’.  Often, if the item is discounted anything less than 40%, I will not consider it.  40% and above is my criteria for bargain shopping.  This past weekend, most items were at least 50% off, with an additional 25% off.  Now that’s worth considering. 😉  And don’t forget to ask for your student/military/teacher/etc. discount!!

Step 3:  If grabs your attention, and meets your ‘bargain’ price criteria, it goes in the shopping cart.  There is no time to stand in front of the rack and get in the way of other shoppers trying to get their share of the bargains available, while you decide what you do and don’t want.  You don’t want to be THAT shopper.  Put the items in the cart and move on to the next area of the store.

My cart after identifying all of my 'bargain' finds!

My cart after identifying all of my ‘bargain’ finds!

One other thing to consider.  Clearance often equates to ‘out of or end of season’.  Unless you have lived on earth for only one year, you KNOW that seasons come back the following year.  Don’t shy away from buying an amazing $20 wool coat when it’s 105 degrees outside.  It will be cold again…just you wait!

Step 4:  Once you have identified all of the bargains in each section of the store (e.g. clothing, shoes, accessories, kids clothes, etc.), pop a squat in an area of the store that has little-to-no traffic.  On a weekend, this can be tough.  Often that means hanging out in the men’s shoe department, haha!  I digress. So, set up shop and being to EDIT.

Step 5:  The editing process begins when you pull out the calculator.  TI calculators are amazing, but bulky…but again, I digress.  Pull out your phone and start to do the math.  Figure out what each item is going to cost you AFTER the discount.  You should know exactly what price that item will ring up at the cash register.  There should be no surprises.  Also, calculate your total.  This will also help you edit down your items.  Ask yourself the following questions:

1) Do I think I will wear it more than once?

2) Is the price truly discounted?

3) Did I try it on, and if so, was it comfortable/did it look good?

If you can answer yes to all three questions, then it can remain in the pile.  Otherwise, it goes back on the rack, shelf, etc..

I will often edit 2-3 times before deciding on my final haul.

Here are some of the amazing things that made it in my final haul this past weekend:

wpid-PhotoGrid_1384067064931.jpgAll of these items for $77.05.  That averages out to about $5 per item!!  This included a pair of ‘light-up’ shoes that my 4-year old loves so much, two pairs of shorts that were $0.75 each, and onesies for my 5-month old, $5 each.

Next, I found a pair of Burberry Prorsum Raffia Stripe Heels:

wpid-20131109_191051.jpgThis pair of Burberry heels, originally $795.00, was discounted to $119.  They are my size, and fit well, BUT…in the event that I decide not to keep them, eBay is a serious option for these shoes.  Currently sold out everywhere, these shoes would be likely to sell quickly on eBay, and for more than my current purchase price.  According to this listing on, these recently sold out when priced at $318.  That could mean a profit of nearly $200 if I decided to sell them!  $200 that would easily cover the cost of the rest of the items I purchased!

Finally, an item I’d coveted for years!!

wpid-20131113_005655-1.jpgA pair of Cole Haan, Mariela Nike Air Technology heels.  I’d heard of the amazingness that defines these shoes, but had never actually tried on a pair.  To be sure, I walked around the store with them for a bit and loved them.  They were incredibly comfortable, a good basic black shoe for work (one I am bound to wear often), AND, originally priced at $328.  I was able to purchase these shoes for only $36.90!!  What’s more?  These heels are still selling online for $169.99!  Definitely an amazing find and deal.  And yes, another potential eBay success story. 😉

So there you have it…my bargain-hunting enthusiast experience!  I hope that some of these strategies are of use to you when you venture out to conquer your next haul.  In the meantime, feel free to reach out if you have any questions, or follow me on Instagram to see how I style my new favorite pair of Cole Haan shoes!

Until next time!

Steal vs. Splurge – Hermès Belt!

Reach for your wallets!!  This is a good one. 😉

Many of you may recognize this highly coveted belt by Hermès:

Chic in Academia,

Often ranging between $700-$1000 – and also usually available for purchase only in person at Hermès stores – this belt and its buckle is a ‘must have’ in most fashionista’s closets.  It has been seen on many a celebrity…

Chic in Academia,

but now can be seen on you as well!!  How you ask??  Keep reading.

You all know that I love me some fashion, and…I also love me some luxury!  That said, I ain’t no fool!!  There is no way I am dishing out nearly $1000 for a belt.  Perhaps a good, authentic used one on eBay might be an option; though the thought of paying nearly $400 for a used belt makes me cringe.  Unless…[cue drum roll please], there happened to be an amazingly similar one for a fraction of the price!

So, being the great researcher I am (wink, wink!), I searched high and low, far and wide, for something that would meet the strict requirements of my fashionably savvy, yet budget-conscious readers.  I present you with, the C. Wonder Reversible Leather Letter Belt:

Chic in Academia,

At $28 for the letter buckle and $48 for the reversible leather belt (plus a 10% in-store discount with a student ID), you too can have an Hermès-like belt in your real closet, and not just in your Pinterest closet!!  Compare the two belt buckles below:

Chic in Academia,

Pretty similar, right??  You’re welcome, again. 😉

Now, some of you may say, “Well, I feel like I’ll be buying replica”.  That’s fine!  Don’t stress.  C. Wonder carries belt buckles in every single letter of the alphabet!  In my case, it just so happens that ‘H’ stands for ‘Hidalgo’ or ‘Hungry’.  Usually the latter.

So, my chic friends, there you have it.  In my opinion, fashion should be fun and not involve a trip to bankruptcy court.  That said, I’ll also say: Let your pocketbook guide you with regard to which option suits you best!

Until next time!

-Stay ‘Chic’!

P.S. – Follow me on Instagram to see how I styled the C. Wonder version for a work-appropriate look this week!