Monday, March 30, 2009

SNL solves the economic crisis

An oldie but a goodie. Oh Steve Martin. Given the right material, you've still got it. Especially when it comes to espousing money-management wisdom.

Surprise! PMS linked to shopping

Not like we don't already know that a little retail therapy is, well, therapeutic when Aunt Flo comes to town, for any still in doubt a new study out by a British professor suggests that there is, in fact, a correlation between menstrual cycles and that urgent need to spend money at Banana Republic.

According to the study, which surveyed 443 women aged 18 to 50, in the 10 days before their periods begin, respondents were more likely to go on a spending spree than at any other time.

Psychologists believe shopping could be a way for premenstrual women to deal with the negative emotions created by their hormonal changes.

"Spending was less controlled, more impulsive and more excessive ..." Professor Karen Pine told the BBC News."The spending behavior tends to be a reaction to intense emotions. They are feeling stressed or depressed and are more likely to go shopping to cheer themselves up and using it to regulate their emotions."

Not surprisingly, most of the purchases made by the women around their cycles were for adornment, including jewelery, make-up and high heels (i.e., items that make you feel pretty but don't have to be bought in a specific "size", as bloating can make you go up a full clothing size).

Just something to keep in mind the next you have that hankering for a pint of Ben and Jerry's ... and 28 pairs of shoes from DSW. [BBC]

Travel for cheap this summer

I'm obsessed with the Travel Channel. For the last three months, I've lived vicariously through Anthony Bourdain and Samantha Brown, following them around as they traipse to the far reaches of the earth in search of the best foods and cultures.

What's recently began happening, though, is I'll flip through my DVR (chalk full of Travel Channel shows at the moment), settle in excitedly to watch Anthony immerse himself in Provence, and an hour later I'll be whimsically depressed, cursing the day I ever decided to not be a host for a Travel Channel show. (Not like that was ever a clear-cut option, but you get the point.)

These days my budget doesn't allot for the wayward three-day weekend in Spain, or the month-long vacation-on-a-whim in the heart of Tuscany, but if I tone down my excessive tastes, I may yet be able to squeeze in a trip or two this year. Women's Day recently published a fabulous article, "Can You Afford to Go on Vacation", that has excellent pointers in planning a vacation on a budget. Among my favorite tips:
  • Stay close to home and still have a great time (plus save on travel expenses) by opting for a summer getaway that you can reach with one tank of gas or less. Check out for destination options, then research sights and activities online. If a local bed-and-breakfast stay is on your agenda, look for one that’s part of the Free Gas promotion: Guests get a gas rebate or a gas card for refueling. Find participating B&Bs under “Special Packages” at
  • “It’s usually cheaper for families to rent a vacation home for a week than to spend seven nights in a hotel,” Gregory Karp, author of Living Rich by Spending Smart, tells WD. “You’ll get more space for the money and will save on food by cooking meals.” Go to, or
  • Trading houses with another vacationing family is a growing trend. To make it work, take precautions: Get references. Agree on house rules. Have several phone chats to make sure you’re comfortable with them. Request home photos or videos. Lock valuables in a safe, or leave them with a friend. Have a neighbor check your home while you’re away. Learn more at
Remember what happened in The Holiday? Yeah, that could be you. Hopefully Jude Law would somehow be a part of that package, too.

For the complete article and to learn more frugal travel tips, visit

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lo Bosworth hearts cheap bags

Guess it doesn't matter what you make these days, my pretties, as everyone is jumping on the fashion-for-less bandwagon. Case in point: Lo Bosworth, LC's best friend from Laguna Beach and The Hills (vapid, guilty pleasures of mine), was spotted last week at LAX near a luggage carousel rocking the very Hayden-Harnett for Target bag I (ahem) blogged about in back in December.

(Source: be completely honest, Lo is my least favorite character on the show, and one of my least favorite "celebrities" in general. Perhaps it's her catty passive aggressiveness, and the fact that she acts more innocent than she is. But I digress. C-lister Lo may not be a good barometer of what everyone (especially everyone in Hollywood) is spending on clothes and accessories these days, but it's humbling to see at least one member of "The Hills" cast who publicly wears something us "poor" folk can afford. Hey, at $10,000 per episode, you know Lo hasn't backed herself into a corner at all over how much she can plunk down for a handbag of her choosing. Oh Target, you cross so many class lines! Now if only someone could snap a pic of LC trolling the sale racks at Forever 21 ...

If you want this gem of a Hayden-Harnett for Target bag from last season, all the Hayden bags and accessories are still on clearance at Target, no telling when they will sell out. Lo's canvas flight tote has now been marked down to $34.99 from $49.99.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fashionable Fridays: Breakfast at Tiffany's

The most famous brunette on a budget of all time was none other than Miss Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Sure, she was in hot pursuit of sugar daddy for the duration of the film, but that girl knew how to make a dollar stretch. From having breakfast at Tiffany's (standing outside with a croissant and coffee, admiring the jewelry displays in the window), to living in her sparse yet adorable one-bedroom apartment and making her $50 from the powder room take her into another week, Holly was the poster child for making her pithy amount of money work for her -- especially in the fashion department.

If we're talking fashion in movies, one need not look further than this film. The 1961 classic starring Audrey Hepburn is eponymous with what being stylish is all about. Unfortunately, the real costumes used in the movie have little to do what being on a budget is all about, as Givenchy himself outfitted Audrey in all scenes, making anything near the "real deal" for us normal folk dreadfully out of reach.

According to The Comic Critic, Hubert de Givenchy was the first couture designer to break into costume design in film with Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Audrey Hepburn was formerly Givenchy's favorite model, and was cast in this part pretty much as a clothes hanger for Givenchy. He previously designed her gowns in the 1954 movie "Sabrina" and the 1957 movie "Funny Face." His costume designs in this film created the fashion classic for American and European women of "the little black dress", plus a strand of pearls and an up-do hairdo. It also launched Givenchy into the American mainstream fashion designer market.
I remember dressing up as Holly Golightly one Halloween in college, and from that moment on I realized that looking as stylish as Audrey was really an effortless task (fake cigarette holder and gaudy costume baubles aside) and didn't have to cost as much as a $20,000 Givenchy gown. With that in mind, here are outfit inspirations from the movie. Some items are pricier than others, but the ensembles are a good guide when you're out shopping and need a little help. Let me know if you've stumbled across any good Holly-esque deals of your own!:

Untitled - by Mischulka on

Cat! - by BrunetteOnABudget on

This Old Navy trench coat (above) is a steal at $49, and I currently own these pointy flats from Target ($17), which I love. The glasses and dress are from Forever 21. Click on the pictures for pricing.

Holly and Paul ("Fred baby") at the Tiffany's jewelry store, spending the day doing things each has never done before.

Dearest laitae/Agnes,
Dearest laitae/Agnes, - by BookLovers'Charm(weRblesd:D) on

Breakfast at tiffany's tribute
Breakfast at tiffany's tribute - by LolaHaze on

breakfast at tiffany's

breakfast at tiffany's - by tasbeeh on

Holly's sleeping
Holly's sleeping - by BrunetteOnABudget on

And if you're in love as much as I am with Holly's claw-footed bathtub couch (above), I did find one place online that sells it ... but it's $4,000. Boo. Finding an old claw-footed tub and cutting out one side may have to be my next art project. It can't be that hard, can it?

If your thirst to look like Audrey is still not satiated, check out eHow's "How to dress like Audrey Hepburn."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Must Have: TopShop Heels

Confession: I cried a few days ago. No, it was nothing marital-related (Love and I are doing fabulously, by the by), and I wasn’t hit with any horrible health-related news from family or friends, thank God.

Instead I was sitting front and center (okay, so it was the nose-bleed section, but it was still center) at Britney’s "Circus" concert, cheering with 50,000 other screaming fans. I've always been a Britney fan, the height of which was during my college years at UC Santa Barbara. As I've matured and she subsequently regressed, I felt I still had to stick with her. I was a fan, after all, and I don't think people give enough weight anymore to what being a true fan is. Would you give up on, say, your best friend just because she shaved her head, started dating a tres trashy man and began attacking people with umbrellas? Exactly. So it was when she began performing what originally kicked off her tumultuous foray into fame, “Oops, I Did It Again,” that I could no longer contain myself.

“I LOOOOVE YOU BRITNEYYY!!!!” I shrieked at the top of my lungs. So overwhelmed with emotion and nostalgia of the "better times", I began to cry as I replayed a montage of her turbulent career inside my head. Love, who I had dragged to the concert as my date (lucky, lucky man), sat in his seat looking up at me with amused and shocked disbelief. Of course, I didn't blame him for not understanding being so moved by something so seemingly trite and shallow that you begin shedding tears. He is a straight man, after all.

But similar emotions began ebbing to the surface again today when I caught sight of one of the most fabulous pairs of shoes I’ve seen in a while and had to choke back tears of want:
One word: Ruffles. Okay, four words: Ruffles, zippers, high heels. I’ve fallen in love with the way the soft femininity of the ruffled leather tones down the gritty masculinity of the zippered piping. Must. Have. Now. Even better? They’re actually (gasp) affordable! These Emma Cook platform sandals are $190 at Sure, they aren’t Target prices, but they also aren’t $900 Louboutins, either. Splurging a teensy bit on yourself never hurt anyone, did it?
These streets have too many names for me...
These streets have too many names for me... - by *pebbles* on

Spruce up your finances this Spring

Ladies, it's that time again.

Rainy day showers may be slowly traversing their way across the March and April months, but the bright, bold clothing in store windows, sky-high wedges creeping back out onto department store floors and laquered-red Ferragamo bags that seem impermiable to any reccesionary pressure to just. go. on sale. (fingers crossed), it can only mean one thing: Spring is finally here! But before you dust off all those fabulous dresses and skirts hiding in the back of your closet, it may be time to dust off your finances first.

This spring, if your closets are more organized than your finances, view it as a sign that it’s time to take action. Women & Co. founder Lisa Caputo and president Linda Descano recently offered some divine tips to help spruce up your finances and put together an action plan toward better financial health. Check these out before heading into the nearest mall armed with your cash and/or cards to kick off your Spring shopping spree:
  • Gather your financial records. Pull together your financial statements (e.g., bank, credit card, brokerage), your insurance and legal documents (e.g., life insurance, will, healthcare proxy), and your personal records (e.g., birth certificate, marriage/divorce certificate, property deed). Create a filing system and put a copy of your important papers either in a fireproof box at home, a bank safe deposit box, and/or with a trusted lawyer, relative, or friend.
  • Get the big picture. Use your financial statements to calculate your net worth, which will tell you the difference between what you own (assets) and what you owe (liabilities). Once you have a picture of your overall net worth, determine your cash flow, which will help you identify areas where you could be saving and/or investing more.
  • Set financial goals. Short-term goals are those you’d like to accomplish within one year (e.g., pay off credit cards); mid-term goals, within 5 years (e.g., make down payment on a new home); and long-term goals, 5 years or more (e.g., save for retirement). Write these down to help you clarify and prioritize your financial goals.
  • Allocate your money. Once you know your financial goals, allocate your money accordingly. This will help you determine how realistic your financial goals are, how long it may take to meet them, and what adjustments you may need to make now to achieve your goals in your desired time frame. Review expenses monthly and evaluate your progress regularly.
  • Check your financial reputation. Your credit score is a picture of your financial health in the eyes of lenders. Check your credit reports as they could have errors or discrepancies that could limit your access to credit. Resolve any errors and if you have any over-due payments, work towards paying them down as soon as you can. The three organizations that issue the most commonly referred to credit reports are: Equifax (, TransUnion ( and Experian (
  • Protect yourself. If you don’t have a will, living will, or health care proxy, speak to an attorney to help ensure that your assets are handled according to your wishes. Dealing with these issues today can help you and your loved ones breathe easier in the future.
  • Stay informed and engaged. Periodically review your goals and objectives at least once a year, as they will likely shift over time as life circumstances change.

Hope these tips help!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Would you rather win America's Next Top Model or a Nobel Prize?

A new poll out yesterday sheds a startling light on some women and certain priorities.

Oxygen Media released a new poll surveying 18- to 34-year-old women about outer versus inner beauty and, shockingly enough, 25% of women said they'd rather win the top spot on America's Next Top Model over winning a Nobel Prize. At least it was only a quarter of respondents. I have a gut feeling this 25% doesn't remember how winning ANTM does not guarantee anything except a D-List spot on VH1's "The Surreal Life" (hello, Adrian Curry).

I wonder how this compares to similar survey results taken in past decades like the '50s, '60s and '70s. Though the current 25% is a tad disappointing, I have a feeling that number would have been much higher in the '40s and '50s if women back then were asked if they'd rather win, say, the Miss America pageant over a Nobel. Just sayin'.

What's more interesting in the results is that 25% of women in the Oxygen poll also said they would not be willing to shave their heads to save the life of a stranger. Sad. I wonder if this is the same 25% who have their eye on ANTM's top prize?

"Recessionistas" need not wear jellies

Sigh. Just when I thought the Today Show "fashion on a budget" clip with Bobbie Thomas wasn't bad enough, we now have another video clip from Mtv's new House of Style, hosted by my former sophomore year high school crush's (Leonardo DiCaprio's) current girlfriend, Israeli model Bar Rafaeli. If you haven't seen it yet, don't bother setting your DVR, as it was so much cooler in the '90s. But I digress.

In this clip, aside from learning that one of the "must haves" this spring are $175 high-heeled jellies (yes, jellies), there's a segment where model Jessica Stam takes you shopping in her closet to teach every recessionista how to get the most out of what you already have. Sounds good in theory, except Jessica's closet is a little different than the average girl's. Her pointers? Set up a bag swap, where you and your friends can trade $1,500 handbags (like the Marc Jacobs one she is holding) betwixt one another. Fun!

Other tips include:
  • She "loves" white t-shirts, and suggests pairing them with black skirts. Groundbreaking.
  • "Hitting up" your brother and/or dad's closets for baggy flannel shirts you could wear as jackets in the summer. (The last time I wore flannel was when I pined after Jordan Catalano, endlessly listened to Nirvana and thought it would be so cool to move to Seattle and learn the intricacies of brewing good coffee. This was junior high, 1994, people. Needless to say, I'm not a fan of the flannel comeback, and there's really no reason to wear your father's and brother's clothing.)
  • Cut your jeans into shorts (i.e., cut-offs). Revolutionary (and tacky).
I'm still waiting for a really good segment on dressing well on a budget. So far I've been disappointed with what I've seen. Kind of the same feeling Angela Chase had when she found out Jordan cheated on her with Rayanne Graph. Okay, maybe not that disappointed, but you get the point.

To see the House of Style clip, visit Jezebel.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hypocrisy thy name is denim

According to the Wall Street Journal last week, "If there is a silver lining to a financial crisis that threatens to leave the entire country dressed only in a barrel, it is this: At least we won't be wearing denim." Oh really?
Never has a single fabric done so little for so many. Denim is hot, uncomfortable and uniquely unsuited to people who spend most of their waking hours punching keys instead of cows. It looks bad on almost everyone who isn't thin, yet has somehow made itself the unofficial uniform of the fattest people in the world.
Um, insensitive much? Although I prefer wearing dresses and skirts when the weather permits, I like wearing denim jeans (dark bootcut or skinny 7 for all Mankinds, thankyouverymuch), and I'm not "fat". (That is unless a size 6 is now the threshhold marker between "small" and "large".) The WSJ columnist has a problem with denim, but I think he comes off as elitist and snobby. Not everyone looks like a farmer in denim, unless of course you're wearing overalls (a la Tai in Clueless), which is always a big no-no.
If hypocrisy had a flag, it would be cut from denim, for it is in denim that we invest our most nostalgic and destructive agrarian longings -- the ones that prompted all those exurban McMansions now sliding off their manicured lawns and into foreclosure, dragging down the global financial system with them. Denim is the SUV of fabrics, the wardrobe equivalent of driving a hulking Land Rover to the Whole Foods Market. Our fussily tailored blue jeans, prewashed and acid-treated to look not just old but even dirty, are really a sad disguise. They're like Mao jackets, an unusually dreary form of sartorial conformity by means of which we reassure one another of our purity and good intentions.
Obviously there is a time and a place to wear jeans, but I think this is almost offensively melodramatic. What do you think? []

One list you don't want to be on

When I arrived in Vegas last week for a 4-day romp of pina coladas, dancing and pathetic gambling attempts at the nearest slot machine, the one thing I didn't think was "Man, Vegas feels...empty." Maybe it was because I didn't stray far from the strip, or maybe I was too preoccupied with all the divine shopping and food (dinner at Tao = fabulous!!). Regardless, at the end of the day I was yet a lowly tourist, passing through to enjoy the best of what the city had to offer on one street. If you take into account what's going on outside of the Luxors and Bellagios, though, the state of things isn't so rosy and pina colada-tinged.

According to Forbes, which released a list of the 15 emptiest cities, ones central to sagging industries are suffering the most. This is obvious, especially with cities like Detroit, where automakers (and all the other industrial companies that depend on them) are struggling to stay above water. But cities like Miami and Chicago also made the list, which surprised me. Number 2 on the list? Yup, that'd be Las Vegas, which I assume depends heavily on tourism and company conferences and events to bolster the local economy.

Being "on the list" is something all of us usually strive for (oh how very VIP sounding it is), but this is one list I wouldn't want to be on, as the likelihood of finding employment is bleaker. I'm curious: Are you on the list?:

Detroit, MI
Las Vegas, NV
Atlanta, GA
Greensboro, NC
Dayton, OH
Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale, AZ
Orlando, FL
Kansas City, MO/Kansas City, KS
Indianapolis, IN/Jacksonville, FL
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/Miami Beach, FL
Chicago/Naperville/Joliet, IL
Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater, FL
Bakersfield, CA
Charlotte/Gastonia/Concord, NC/Cincinnati, OH/Middletown, KY

If so, how has it affected community morale?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Recession not an excuse to go crazy with glue gun

I'm a devout believer that being fashionable is something anyone can do on any budget. While I drool over Burberry trench coats and the current object of my obsession, the Chloe Kerala bag, I also kneel at the altar of Target and have been known to "make it work" at Forever 21.

But there is a difference between being practical and being a zipper- and double-stick-tape-wielding crazy person, fresh off the Home Ec. boat. Behold yesterday's Today Show segment about "DIY solutions" to looking fashionable on a budget this spring, spearheaded by one Bobbie Thomas, an alleged "style editor":

I think this delectable morsel of a clip can teach all of us on a budget a few lessons about looking fashionable and not foolish:


  • Shop online before you hit stores to find the best deals on that cute A-line skirt or little black dress you've had your eye on. Doing your homework before you leave the house will save you time, and inevitably, money. You can take solace in knowing you really did find the best deal possible on your chic new heels, because Google told you so, after all.
  • Play up the season's trends through accessories (such as scarves, necklaces, chunky rings and/or a new clutch), and not pricey, trendy pieces that will look so last season in about, oh, 3 months. Please, just put down the leather fringe. This isn't "Can't Buy Me Love" and no one looks good in a fringe-trimmed jacket, no matter how much you love young Patrick Dempsey.
  • Take the time to browse the sales racks, but if you really want to invest money in your wardrobe, always spend more on your classic items, such as a khaki trench coat, slacks, pencil skirt, et. al. These are timeless staples in your wardrobe that will stand as the foundation to all your cheaper, "throw away" clothing.


  • Throw zippers all over your clothing and call it art. You are not Andy Warhol, nor are you Philip Lam. And no one wants to be the one to have to tell you that your exposed zipper fell off, um, about a block ago.
  • Hot glue leather fringe on anything, Pocahontas. This includes purses, shoes, or frumpy black cardigans.
  • Roll up one of your dress sleeves and think someone will believe your dress is Missoni and not Marshall's. A kind friend will probably begin tugging at your sleeve, much like they would help you if your tag was unwittingly sticking out.
  • Listen to Bobbie Thomas.

Fashionable Fridays: Spring is in the air

Finally! This has been a long, hard winter, people, with many a split end, chapped lip and disgusting, pale-as-a-vampire complexion. Now that the sun is out, I'll be dusting off all my warm-weather dresses (almost half of my closet), giving myself that facial I've been coveting, getting a pedi and basking in something other than spray-on tanner...which I use sparingly, at best. Don't judge.

flowers - by Maja Konestabo on

Spring time in Paris
Spring time in Paris - by BellaMarie on

Untitled - by babydoll<3 on

Untitled - by sugarsugar on

Summer wishes....
Summer wishes.... - by Faithfashion! on

for *Sanja*
for *Sanja* - by graziana on

iloveyou.... - by ★♥Chelsea♥Paige♥★ on

Annie by safetysuit
Annie by safetysuit - by AshleyCullen on

Untitled - by VwDiiva93 on

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

10 reasons you're not rich

Being "rich" is such a subjective state of mind. Some feel rich regardless of what they own and how they live day-to-day, while others -- me included -- think being rich consists of something like this:

Okay, that minus the bad hair and the upper lip plumage.

It's a common misconception that you will become rich off what you make at your job. This is rarely the case, as people generally start to accrue substantial profits off not paychecks, but good investments; therefore, it's important to espouse a saying I've had told to me many times before:

"You will never become rich by working for someone else."

While we all can't (or have no desire to) become Colombian drug czars like Brendan Frasier in Bedazzled, reiterates my point that people assume they aren't rich because they don't earn enough money. "Becoming a millionaire has less to do with how much you make, it's how you treat money in your daily life," the article suggests.
The list of reasons you may not be rich doesn't end at 10. Caring what your neighbors think, not being patient, having bad habits, not having goals, not being prepared, trying to make a quick buck, relying on others to handle your money, investing in things you don't understand, being financially afraid and ignoring your finances [are all reasons why you may not be rich].
Here are 10 more possible reasons thinks you aren't rich:

You care what your car looks like: A car is a means of transportation to get from one place to another, but many people don't view it that way. Instead, they consider it a reflection of themselves and spend money every two years or so to impress others instead of driving the car for its entire useful life and investing the money saved.

You feel entitlement: If you believe you deserve to live a certain lifestyle, have certain things and spend a certain amount before you have earned to live that way, you will have to borrow money. That large chunk of debt will keep you from building wealth.

You lack diversification: There is a reason one of the oldest pieces of financial advice is to not keep all your eggs in a single basket. Having a diversified investment portfolio makes it much less likely that wealth will suddenly disappear.

You started too late: The magic of compound interest works best over long periods of time. If you find you're always saying there will be time to save and invest in a couple more years, you'll wake up one day to find retirement is just around the corner and there is still nothing in your retirement account.

You don't do what you enjoy: While your job doesn't necessarily need to be your dream job, you need to enjoy it. If you choose a job you don't like just for the money, you'll likely spend all that extra cash trying to relieve the stress of doing work you hate. There is much truth to this point, chickadees.

You don't like to learn: You may have assumed that once you graduated from college, there was no need to study or learn. That attitude might be enough to get you your first job or keep you employed, but it will never make you rich. A willingness to learn to improve your career and finances are essential if you want to eventually become wealthy.

You buy things you don't use: Take a look around your house, in the closets, basement, attic and garage and see if there are a lot of things you haven't used in the past year. If there are, chances are that all those things you purchased were wasted money that could have been used to increase your net worth.

You don't understand value: You buy things for any number of reasons besides the value that the purchase brings to you. This is not limited to those who feel the need to buy the most expensive items, but can also apply to those who always purchase the cheapest goods. Rarely are either the best value, and it's only when you learn to purchase good value that you have money left over to invest for your future.

Your house is too big: When you buy a house that is bigger than you can afford or need, you end up spending extra money on longer debt payments, increased taxes, higher upkeep and more things to fill it. Some people will try to argue that the increased value of the house makes it a good investment, but the truth is that unless you are willing to downgrade your living standards, which most people are not, it will never be a liquid asset or money that you can ever use and enjoy.

You fail to take advantage of opportunities: There has probably been more than one occasion where you heard about someone who has made it big and thought to yourself, "I could have thought of that." There are plenty of opportunities if you have the will and determination to keep your eyes open. []

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fashion on a Budget: La Dolce Vita

Writing is my thing, but when I'm not writing, classic films are my obsession. I especially have a soft spot in my heart for classic foreign films, and if you're at all familiar with the genre, then famous Italian director Frederico Fellini is probably one of the first notable names that comes to mind. Fellini had myriad success with a string of films in the 50s and 60s that included what was arguably his cinematic masterpiece: La Dolce Vita. If you haven't viewed it yet, I highly recommend it, but patience is key since the movie is 3 hours long and Fellini's direction and story-telling can seem confusing and scattered at first watch.

For a quick synopsis: "[Playboy] journalist (aka paparazzi) and man-about-town Marcello (played by Italian star Marcello Mastroianni) struggles to find his place in the world, torn between the allure of Rome's elite social scene and the stifling domesticity offered by his girlfriend, all the while searching for a way to become a serious writer." - from IMDB. It's a compelling look at the decadence of excess and sex in a city where some cling to values built on devout Catholic faith while others cling to booze and promiscuity.

Anyway, I've decided to run a string of posts with frugal fashion finds imitating chic fashion seen in film, and my first film pick is one of the classics, La Dolce Vita. For pricing, just click on my outfit creations:

Anita Ekberg (above) as Sylvia, a Hollywood actress visiting in Rome and the object of Marcello's desires. This picture was taken from the famous scene when she wades through the Trevi fountain in the middle of the night.

Sylvia - by BrunetteOnABudget on

My modern spin on Sylvia's classic ensemble. The dress on the left is Urban Outfitters; the one on the right is Forever 21. Both very affordable. Click on the pictures to check out pricing info.

Turkish/French actress Magali Noel as "Fanny" (above).

Fanny - by BrunetteOnABudget on

H&M dress (above) with red Target pumps and Angie + Lola Target clutch.

French actress Anouk Aimee (above, middle) as Maddalena, with Marcello at her side.

Maddalena - by BrunetteOnABudget on

Guest post: Safeguard your credit history more than ever

The credit squeeze and economic crisis that started unfolding in late 2007 and continues to worsen has created what can be likened to a "perfect credit storm". Gigantic losses and “write downs” in subprime mortgages have had a cascading, domino effect that has impacted even the most credit worthy businesses and consumers. Because of this turmoil in the credit markets, banks and credit card issuers have been forced to shut off their supply of credit to even their most-trusted, well-established businesses and customers. Small and large businesses alike have had their credit lines severely limited and some have even been cut off entirely. In fact, even McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant company, can’t get access to credit for their U.S. franchisees who are seeking ways to finance store improvements. In late 2008, Bank of America cut off lending to McDonald’s franchisees citing “volatility in the debt markets” for the shortfall in available credit. McDonald’s has since advised its franchisees to seek out other sources of financing.

For small business owners, access to credit has suddenly become very difficult as well. “I had a $60,000 credit line with American Express that was cut off completely,” says Craig Wilson of Silver Springs, MD. Wilson, who has run his own online marketing agency since 2003, was a long-term customer of American Express with superb credit. He used the credit line frequently but only for small, short-term cash flow needs. “I never missed a payment, my credit is stellar and now I can’t get any credit? This is totally insane.”

Stories like Wilson’s continue to cast a dark cloud over a huge number of even the most profitable, well-established businesses everywhere. The problem only seems to be growing worse every day and the need to safeguard your credit history has never been more important. So what can we do to protect ourselves from this perfect credit storm?

While credit is harder than ever to secure, we’ve outlined a few simple steps that you can take for yourself or your business in order to safeguard your credit history and score.

Check your credit report twice a year. The old rule of thumb about checking your credit report was to do it once a year. These days, you’d be better served to check your credit report at least twice a year, and better yet, even once a quarter, if you can. Because of all the restrictions in the credit markets and the wild fluctuations in availability, monitoring your credit report and your credit score has never been more important. You need to check your credit reports at least twice a year and take immediate action on any mistakes or errors that are impacting your score. Protect and defend your credit score with your life!

Keep your credit accounts active. Keeping your credit active is extremely important these days as lenders are being forced to parse out credit selectively. “Inactive” accounts in particular are being targeted and closed down aggressively by credit card issuers. Even though you might not be using your old credit card accounts, you credit score can be severely damaged if one or several of these accounts are closed for inactivity. When these accounts are closed, your total available credit plummets and your so-called “credit utilization” ratio can skyrocket if you have any outstanding card balances, ruining your credit score in the process. So, be sure to keep those old accounts active with just a purchase or two each month that you know you’ll have to make no matter what, such as a gas tank fill-up or paying a monthly utility or cable bill. Keep those accounts active with a few small, affordable, necessity payments each and every month.

Keep your balances low and your payments on time. Now, more than ever, the importance of keeping your credit card balances low and making your payments on time cannot be stressed enough. In the past, a late payment on a bill of any kind was something that could easily be dealt with without any negative fallout, if any at all. These days, however, any type of negative mark on your credit whatsoever can come back to haunt you if you’re not careful. The bottom line is that you don’t want to provide the credit bureaus with any ammunition to downgrade your credit score. The best way to avoid any negative consequences is to make it your mission in life to make all of your payments on time and to keep your card balances very low. This is timeless advice, but never more important than right now.

The credit squeeze has been a huge challenge for everyone. From huge multinational conglomerate banks to the average consumer, nobody has been left unaffected by the fallout of this crisis. But there are some things that you can do to neutralize the potentially damaging effects.

Above all, consumers and businesses alike have to be more vigilant than ever about safeguarding their credit scores. Be sure to request your credit report at least twice a year and be on the lookout for mistakes or other issues that can negatively affect your credit. Next, be sure to keep those credit accounts active. Whether it’s your credit card issuer or a supplier that you use infrequently for your business, be sure to keep access to that credit alive with some very modest, affordable activity. You don’t have to go overboard, but just maintain a small credit footprint with your creditors. And lastly, be absolutely sure to make those payments on time and keep your account balances as low as possible, which is always good advice no matter what the economic climate might be.

This post is brought to you by Steve Sildon of Steve writes frequently about a wide variety of credit and finance-related topics and is widely recognized in the field of personal finance, providing tips and free advice about credit card offers, rewards programs, personal loans and debt consolidation.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Free zebra tote

Happy Sunday, my darlings! I hope you're having a divine weekend. I just want to share a fabulous offer that I came across this morning and believe is worth passing along.

Have you ever heard of ViX? I hadn't till now, but apparently they're an expensive swimwear company that I'd normally never order from (my budget allots for $20 bikinis at Target...and that's about it). ViX bikinis run around $150 (yes, $150 for less than a half a yard of fabric) and are featured in magazines like Vogue, making them highly coveted yet inaccessible to those of us on a budget. But there's good news, especially for us animal-print lovers.

ViX is giving away free complimentary zebra-print totes just for signing up to be a member of their site. When I saw the tote, I fell in love -- it would be such nice arm candy for this summer, lazing on some beach in the south of France on a towel next to me, my toes grazing the warm Mediterranean waters. (Ok, I may just pretend I'm doing that as I'm choking on the shores of the Potomac in 85% DC Summer humidity.)

Nevertheless, here's the link. Not sure how many they have in stock, but it seems this deal just debuted:

Friday, March 13, 2009

You say "cheap shoes," I say lead the way

When I heard Christian Siriano was going to be designing a line for Payless (to debut in September), it gave me reason for pause. On the one hand, it's not like Christian Siriano is Roberto Cavalli or anything, so if anyone is going to design a Payless ShoeSource line, why not him of fierceness fame? On the other hand, though, when has Payless ever been synonymous with anything hip? In college I would peruse the aisles if I came across an errant location, and once in a while I would find tres chic shoes that garnered many compliments but that I would lie about through my teeth. "These?" I'd ask, posing with one ankle cocked inward as if I DIDN'T know they were totally hot. "I, um....can't remember where I bought them..."

Well you know what? I'm ok with my past Payless purchases now and I will lie about it no more. Maybe it's the fact that I have such a limited shopping budget currently (and college is a distant memory), maybe it's the hideous economy, or maybe it's because owning luxury goods these days is so gauche. Whatever the case, I pledge to trek guilt-free to Payless the next time I go shopping. If Target can be hip with their diffusion lines, than why can't Payless, with its Christian Siriano, Abaete, Alice + Olivia, and Lela Rose diffusion lines? Let's break the stigma here, people.

And with that, here are some super cute shoes that Payless currently has to offer:

Not bad, my friends. Not bad. (Especially that last Lela Rose pair.)

And if you're curious as to how Christian's line looks, here's a peek:

I'm in love with feathers

I really, really, really want this hat/dollop of loveliness for any cute coif. I'm not a big hat wearer, and though I own a few headbands, I never wear them for some inexplicable reason. A hat is such a statement, and this one is a statement I definitely want to make. It reminds me of one of those fancy, ridiculously priced little intricate French pastries, on display in chic bakery windows in Paris. Well, for lack of a better way to say this, I want a French pastry on my head. Now.

It's not eccentric, it's fashion!

A lovely accoutrement
A lovely accoutrement - by BrunetteOnABudget on

Fashionable Fridays: Mellow Yellow

I'm going to throw a cliche in here and tell you that pink is my favorite color. I know, barf, pink is everyone's favorite color. Whatever. A close second in my "favorite colors" palette is yellow. Oh, yellow, you saucy minx. How you tease me with your vibrant, warm hue and get me thinking of impossibly exotic locations, submarines sung of by a certain four-part British band, and the California sunsets I know and love.

I know not everyone can wear yellow, especially those of us pale folk, but luckily I tan easily (thank you, half-Persian ancestry) and am most looking forward to the warmer weather so I can once again prance around in lighter colors. Y tu?

Untitled - by barbie™ on

1000 Places To See Before You Die : Rome :)
1000 Places To See Before You Die : Rome :) - by Minni on

learn to walk away
learn to walk away - by ♥MOOSEGiRL♥ on

Perfect Day
Perfect Day - by Monypussy (new HAT CONTEST) on

Untitled - by sugarsugar on

Escape to the Sun
Escape to the Sun - by DallasTX on

RACHEL BILSON - by nadiya is a trendsetter ♥ on

Rest Day, But i'm Still Workin'
Rest Day, But i'm Still Workin' - by ♥~PrettyBaby~♥ on

here comes the sun ..
here comes the sun .. - by popbarb on

Spring getaway
Spring getaway - by FabFashion on

Pastels - Spring/Summer 2009
Pastels - Spring/Summer 2009 - by joostyna on

Here comes the sun, my pretties!
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