Designer to deal: Full skirts

Welcome to the next part in the Designer to deal series, in which I show you where to score the latest trends established by designers at a fraction of the cost. My first part in this series focused on camouflage. My next obsession is full skirts.

Like many women, I’ve always been fascinated by the glamorous look of the 1950s. One of my favorite pieces of that era is the full skirt, so when the style made a comeback earlier this year, I was thrilled.The full skirt first started popping up on fall runways and on popular fashion blogs. It’s known as Tibi‘s “signature skirt” and the brand has many gorgeous variations. The look has now been done by many other brands including Cynthia Rowley and alice + olivia.

This is probably one of my favorite trends of the year because it’s so sophisticated and unique. At the same time, it’s also versatile and comfortable. With its a-line design, a full skirt highlights a small waist and makes your legs look longer. This is a trend I don’t see going away soon.

Thankfully, full skirts are now available at stores and on websites college students can afford. Perhaps the best one I’ve found yet is this one from ASOS. With such a classic pattern and a price of under $30, how could you go wrong? I also love this H&M skirt with texture and a bold red color, priced at about $50.

Retailers from across the pond are joining in on the full-skirt fun, too. Choies calls the style a “midi skater skirt,” and their full skirts are more traditional. This red one looks exquisite and is priced at just $22.99. It’s also available in green. The shipping for U.K. retailers might cost you a bit, but you’re still getting a deal.

Since full skirts originated decades ago, it’s likely that you can find them in thrift stores. I’ve even seen a few in Goodwill! You can also check out vintage sellers or even hand-me-downs from older women in your family. Whichever way you find a full skirt, you’re guaranteed to look classic and chic.

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App review: shopkick

A shopkick ad in Times Square. Photo Credit: shopkick Inc.

A shopkick ad in Times Square. Photo Credit: shopkick Inc.

I don’t remember how I first stumbled upon shopkick, but I know I was immediately intrigued. The app had mainly positive reviews on Apple’s app store and promised a unique concept – earning points for gift cards simply for walking into stores. The points, known as ‘kicks,’ are collected by users to gain free gift cards to popular stores like Target, Macy’s, Old Navy and more. I have been using shopkick since last summer, and with its newest update, I thought now would be the perfect time to write about my experience so far.

To use shopkick, offered on both Apple and Android devices, users open the app to discover what stores near them offer kicks. Kicks at nearby stores can be obtained by just walking in to the store and also by scanning featured items, usually new products which their brands want to promote. The amount of kicks rewarded varies by store and changes weekly. Both of these aspects have usually worked great for me. Walk-in kicks have always worked effectively in mid-sized stores like Target and Old Navy, but fail to work in department stores like Macy’s and JCPenney. Whether it is because of the app itself or the size of the store, this is an issue that shopkick should work on so I and other users don’t mindlessly walk around waiting for walk-in kicks to be rewarded.

The app was recently updated after the introduction of Apple’s new operating system iOS 7. The update matches iOS 7’s look, with a greater use of bold colors and a more modern aesthetic overall. However, this new look has been given mixed reviews, as some users complain of a cluttered and confusing layout. The app’s customer rating in Apple’s app store has notably dropped due to this.

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The updated shopkick home screen. Photo Credit: shopkick Inc.

I also thought the update confusing at first, but quickly got used to it and now prefer it to the previous version of the app. On the updated version of shopkick, new products are front and center, accumulated on the app’s home screen in large pictures. This seems to place an emphasis on helping users find products they may like and purchase more than just scanning products. Another addition to the update is the filter in the upper-right corner. Through this filter, users can check out the editor’s books, which are “books” users swipe through to see new products and find extra kicks.

On the previous version of shopkick, editor’s books and their hidden kicks could only be found by selecting each individual store’s tab and looking through the books one by one. With the filter added to the update, users can now look through all editor’s books without having to tediously check each store. This is probably my favorite part of the update. It’s an easy and quick way to earn some kicks.

Of course, the best part of shopkick is the variety of rewards available. When browsing through rewards, I actually have a hard time choosing the reward I want! Some participating stores are Target, Macy’s, JCPenney and American Eagle. Even gift cards for higher-end stores, like Tiffany & Co. and Coach, are available, though those obviously require more kicks.

The last reward I earned on shopkick was the $10 Sephora gift card mentioned in this previous post. That gift card saved me a lot on my purchase and I earned it fairly quickly. Although shopkick has its hiccups that could be improved, it’s definitely my favorite app. For college students looking to save some money or treat yourself at your favorite store, shopkick is a great way to do so.

This is just a brief review of shopkick, as there are many interesting aspects waiting to be discovered by new users. Whether it is earning kicks or finding new purchases, shopkick is a great tool for those who love to shop. So, what are you waiting for? Download shopkick now and watch the savings add up.

Three ways to use the Internet to save

I’m sure most people will agree with me when I say that the Internet is one of the best inventions of all time. In today’s world, the online world is becoming increasingly prominent. Whether for breaking news, socializing or even job networking, technology is changing the way we live. Perhaps my favorite way to use the Internet, however, is to hunt for shopping deals. Here are three ways I save money on clothing with the Internet.

1. Social Media

Websites like Facebook and Twitter are not just for keeping up with friends anymore. As retailers have learned the value of social media, they are using these websites to promote their brand and connect to customers. Often these companies will post exclusive coupons and inform users of new sales. This method is often found with growing companies like Nasty Gal and small, local stores. Social media is the perfect way for busy college students to learn of new discounts when scrolling through their daily news feed.

2. Email

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A recent coupon code I received from Nasty Gal in a newsletter. This is just one of the discounts I find every day in my email inbox. (Click picture to go to their website.) Photo Credit: Nasty Gal Inc.

This is probably the best way I find deals and sales. Usually when first visiting a retailer’s website I am bombarded by large ads telling me to sign up for that retailer’s newsletter. Other times the newsletter sign-up is a small box hidden at the bottom of the website. Either way, I find that sign-up form and never regret it! Each week I receive dozens of emails notifying me of new products, sales and coupon codes. Of course, I can’t always afford to shop, but it’s nice to know the current savings available. Some newsletters I have signed up for include Pixie Market, Urban Outfitters and Forever 21.

3. Discount Websites

There are dozens of blogs and websites devoted to posting the latest coupons and discounts daily. My personal favorite is RetailMeNot, where you can search for coupon codes for specific brands. Most of the coupons available are for online shopping, but as the website grows it is offering print coupons as well. The site also offers their own app and an email newsletter. I make sure to check RetailMeNot before buying something online and nearly always find a discount I had no idea about. These may be anything from 10 percent off an order to free shipping.

Another great website I recently discovered is UNiDAYS. This website gives college students exclusive discounts when they sign up through their college or university. Currently, UNiDAYS offers several discounts including 20 percent off on the Levi’s website and 10 percent off on U.K.-based ASOS.com. The site promises more discounts in the future, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll offer!

These are just a few of the ways I save some money on clothes online. The Internet is a great resource to find some savings if you keep your eyes peeled and use available resources. What are some of your favorite ways to save money with the Internet?

Designer to deal: Camouflage

Over the last few years, camouflage has become a closet staple, with some even describing it as a neutral print. I’ve never been a big fan of the print; it made me feel as if I were going hunting or heading out to war. However, camouflage recently received a makeover on the runways of Fashion Month. Designers and fashion houses like ValentinoChristopher Kane and Alexander McQueen showcased luxury takes on the now-classic pattern.

I’ll admit that camouflage’s new place in fashion has converted me. Of course, I don’t have the money to shell out for these pieces. Still, even if I could afford them, I’m not sure I’m ready to wear camouflage so boldly just yet. As a new convert, I think I’ll start out slowly.

So, what’s a girl to do? Find some accessories. The perfect solution? Shoes!

A pair of shoes is an easy way to incorporate a new element into your wardrobe. Between heels, sneakers and flats, the options are endless and the prices are usually doable. With affordable options like those of Forever 21 and Express, I can try out camouflage at a low risk. Next time you want to try a new style, consider shoes first!

An introduction to cost-per-wear

It happens in an instant. You spot your dream dress from far away, hanging right on the rack as if it’s waiting for you. You don’t even care to look at the price because the dress has it all – perfect color, perfect length, perfect fit. You want it – no, you need it – until you look at the price tag. So, what do you do?

I know I’ve experienced this before, as have many other college girls. Even if an item is not so expensive itself, it’s more than our usual budget. We prefer things that are both stylish and affordable. Still, sometimes an expensive purchase may be worth it.  This is where the concept of ‘cost-per-wear’ comes in.

Since first reading about cost-per-wear in various blogs and magazines, like The Budget Fashionista, it has been helpful in my own shopping excursions. Cost-per-wear is used to determine the true value of an item.  In using this method, take the total cost of the item and divide it by how many times you will wear it. For example, if something costs $100 and you plan to wear it 20 times, it will cost you just $5 for every time you wear it.

Cost-per-wear shows how versatile and useful a piece of clothing may actually be, preventing you from making impulse purchases. For example, you may find a trendy top on sale from a store like Forever 21, believing it to be a steal. But, before you know it, you’ve only worn the top a few times when it goes out of style. In this case, the cost-per-wear is high.

On the other hand, you may pay higher than usual for a good pair of jeans or a little black dress. These are essentials to any wardrobe, much like a denim jacket or a plain button-down shirt. For these items, it’s worth it to pay more for good quality and durability, because these items are timeless. They can be used with many items in your closet and won’t go out of style.

My favorite pair of Converse were about $50, but I’ve owned them since about 2011 and wear them weekly. They’re comfortable and classic. I dress them up or down, pairing them with almost everything. The cost-per-wear would definitely reflect the value of these shoes.

So, is that dream dress really worth it? Is it timeless or just a trend? Does the price reflect the quality and versatility? Cost-per-wear will help you decide. To start, you can use this handy calculator.

New deal at Sephora

As a lip-color junkie, I have been lusting over Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tars at Sephora for a while now. Lip Tars are highly pigmented liquid lipsticks that come in a wide range of colors – everything from pinks and reds to unconventional colors like yellow and blue! OCC Lip Tars are also 100 percent vegan, made without harmful ingredients like parabens or sulfates. Each tube comes with a brush, and just one small drop on the brush will work for your entire lips and last you hours.

So, with all these benefits, it is no wonder Lip Tars cost $18 each. That is more than many are willing to spend on a tube of lipstick, no matter how long it lasts. I always compare the price to what I could spend on other products, like a new top or some meals. Still, I was considering paying full price for this glorious product – until I was scrolling through my Instagram feed today.  A new post from OCC’s official account announced a new set of four smaller-sized Lip Tars at Sephora, priced at only $20!

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Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics All-Star Mini x 4 Set. Photo Credit: Sephora USA Inc.

I immediately went to the Sephora website to order the set. On the homepage, I noticed a new promotion titled ‘Beauty Fall,’ where customers can enter their email every day until Oct. 24 to receive a random reward, like free shipping or 10 percent off an online order. I received 10 percent off my online order, which shaved $2 off the set. With this discount and a $10 gift card I had previously acquired, my entire order (including three free samples, tax and the cost of shipping) came out to just $15.39!

As compared to $18 for one of these products, $15.39 is a bargain. This is a great example of using the saving methods I write about in this blog in everyday life. With the help of social media, promotions and a little patience, I scored four OCC Lip Tars for less than the price of one. The Lip Tars’ high-quality pigmentation will last me a long time, and the variety of colors in the set will give me a number of options. I hope this example inspires you to save on your own favorite products.

Introduction

Welcome to Style Savings!

On this blog, I aim to show readers how to dress well on a college budget.

My mother raised me to appreciate the value of a dollar, and, as a lover of fashion, I have carried this lesson over to my closet.

Many college students, including my friends, believe that you have to spend a lot of money to have a varied and stylish wardrobe. Thankfully, this is completely false. All it takes is a keen eye and some patience.

On Style Savings, I will show you the tips and tricks I use to shop on a budget. You can look forward to outfit posts, price comparisons and more.

I hope you enjoy reading the blog and learn how to save on your own style.