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When in Rome, Shop with the Romans

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By brandis1 · December 2, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Now that I’m a Chicagoan, (I know, it’s true), it’s time to get to know the locals. I was able to meet quite a few local fashion and jewelry designers at Glitter, a holiday shopping event hosted by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs at the gorgeous and historic Chicago Cultural Center. And what luck, some of them were having a sale! But I digress.

Glitter is an opportunity to shop for your holiday needs while supporting local designers during the season of buying, er, giving. This year, 24 local designers and independent retailers showcased their wares.

One such designer was the adorable Nora Jewett, and her just-as-adorable neutral-toned dress label, Nora Del Busto. I also scored a look at her S12 lookbook, and if I didn’t wish for spring before (ahem, in Chicago), I do now. 
Nora Del Busto, $308Now, I know around the holidays, you’re supposed to shop for others. But, now that I’ve discovered this glittering bib necklace and earring set ($34 total!) from MGO Fashion Salon, I’m wondering if the friend I buy it for will let me borrow it… a lot.


MGO Fashion Salon, Necklace $26, Earrings $8

I can’t wait to meet more of the Windy City’s finest.

 

Tagged with: local designers, shopping

The Thrill Is Back!

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By brandis1 · November 22, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

 

To my Thrill of the Buy fans, yes, both of you, I apologize for the hiatus. But Thrill has taken some time to share thoughts with the gang at GalTime DC…oh, and move to the Windy City! And you know what that means: even more thrills to seek out in a city that has more shopping to offer than Gaga has costumes. And I’m just in time for the most wonderful time of the year – Black Friday. It is my Christmas. My Oscars. My Superbowl Sunday. The only problem is figuring out which sales to hit…and how hard to hit ‘em. I’ll be honest with you: I rarely find gifts for others on Black Friday. Black Friday is my gift to myself. And besides, I prefer not to buy presents that my friends and family gifts could’ve found themselves, or seen in a store already. Not original enough. Black Friday is the time to scoop up all the stuff I want/need/die for at steep discounts.

 

A few of my favorites, both in store and online:

The Big Brown Bag Sale at Bloomie’s – I can never go wrong here. During a Bloomie’s sale, I’ve scooped up more than one Marc by Marc Jacobs or DKNY dress on supa-sale. Sign up for their e-mails to get additional discounts.

Filene’s Basement – Sad but true. The store that perfected the basement bargain is shuttering its doors within a few months. The only silver lining here: Going. Out of Business. Sale. I’ll be there Black Friday…and probably a few Fridays up until closing. Heck, I’ll probably end up keeping them open after so many visits!

And something I just discovered thanks to Racked, HALF-OFF gift cards to the likes of Barney’s, Topshop & Ikram through the site Giftly. No joke. And if you don’t know about Ikram…read up. Some of those stores aren't known for their low, low pricing. Thus, a gift card at 50% off is as good as it's gonna get. I don’t know how long this particular deal is going on…but you may not want to pass ‘er up.

And if all of that excitement, didn’t get you going, Cyber Monday is right around the corner. Side note: this is when I find those presents for friends and families. Through my favorite sites like Gilt, Ideeli and Rue La La (the list goes on), I know I’m getting gifts more unique and specific to each person – rather than just the sweater on sale at J. Crew or Banana Republic. ‘Cause those are for me.

Tagged with: black friday, shopping

Not a Deal, But I Still Get It...

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By brandis1 · June 25, 2011 · 0 Comments ·
Ok, so I know I've said in the past I don't pay full price for anything -- and I pretty much still don't. For example, I'm awfully proud of the blush-colored dress I recently scooped up at Banana Republic for a mere $35, when it originally cost $150 (Banana was offering an additional 25% off sale-priced items in-store that day). 
   
But you'll recall in my first Thrilling post, I quoted one Lauren Santo Domingo about her desire to "get people excited about paying full price again...blah, blah, blah." Please don't think me a traitor, but I kind of get what she means. 
   
Ungar Resort 2012
Hear me out. At the time, the well-respected Ms. Santo Domingo was referring to her newest venture, Moda Operandi -- a designer sale site, where the latest designs (seriously, fresh into production) are not on sale, but merely for sale -- many of them for a hefty dollar. For some of us, these prices are more shocking than thrilling. And I understand why -- we're talking Narciso Rodriguez and Alberta Ferretti collection wear. It's not even in stores yet. It's straight from the runway, and won't be available to you until the fall at least. And you'll pay handily for it. 

 
First of all, you have to apply to gain access to this site. I didn't even bother until I found an offer online for the first 500 Daily Candy readers (you're too late, sorry). So, I signed up to see what MO was hiding behind that velvet curtain. And oh boy.

For example, the Emanuel Ungaro Resort 2012 collection (above) just debuted on New York runways last week. And today, it's available at Moda Operandi for...well, how much money do you have? For example, the yellow-printed evening gown (bottom right -- beautiful, ain't it?) is going for $3,940. But it is stunning. There are also Lisa Marie Fernandez swimsuits and Marc Jacobs Collection handbags and shoes.

Not to worry, I will not be making any purchases from this site anytime soon -- you probably won't either, huh? But that's ok. I don't mind saving big on last season's designer goods, from the likes of Gilt, Rue La La and so on, for much, much less coin. But I get what she's saying. With this site, shoppers become members of a very elite club of trendwearers. And if you're into big fashion, that is indeed thrilling.

Springin' in the Rain

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By brandis1 · May 1, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Checked the forecast lately? Some days the weather is both rainy and sunny, warm and cold. The biggest problem here is figuring out what in the world a girl is supposed to wear for both! Don’t fret. You’ll need a few staples and to follow a few rules.


Let’s start from the bottom up. For me, it’s just too warm for my beloved Wellies. And let’s face it, it’s only going to get warmer as the days roll on. Try a pair of rubber flats (and protect your leather ones from the rain). Brand-name MELISSA, and maker of the shoes pictured left, is known for a variety of rubber shoes from flats to sculptured wedges…but those can start at a $100.  Thus, I get a thrill from these by J. Crew for $58 and in four colors from coral to basic black. These work with your slacks and skirts or dresses, while keeping your look professional, even lady-like. We love our rain boots, but ballet flats keep it fresh.  

Next: you can’t just go out in shoes, so consider layering the rest of your look so you’ll be prepared for the change in weather throughout your day. So put away your cardigan, spring is the season for jackets. Trenches, of course, work best in the rain. But on a not-so-rainy day, any jacket will do to keep you warm from being cold, and in style. And if there’s anything I’m not a fan of, it’s pretending you didn’t check the forecast that day. Just because it’s sunny outside doesn’t mean the temperature got above 60. So, any old jacket will do: safari jackets, boyfriend blazers, motorcycle jackets. Bring ‘em out. My favorite cover this year is that the denim jacket is back. Even more thrilling, you may not even have to buy it this time, just shop your closet. I dug out my old one from, ahem…last time they were on trend. They work especially well with something feminine, a dress, a skirt, flowy pants. 

Now, grab your umbrella, and your gigantic sunnies (a la Rachel Zoe) and let’s get going!

It doesn't have to cost a fortune

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By brandis1 · March 13, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

As much as I love a good online sample sale, not all designer wear has to come from a members-only website or even Bloomie’s (my fave department store…especially when there’s a sale). In case you missed it over the last five years – which I did – now is your chance to snap up one (or three) of Target’s most popular dresses from its Go International Designer Collective.

My favorite? This black & white, printed number by Thakoon. And it has pockets!

Thakoon for Target

The collection features 34 of the Collective’s greatest hits from 17 previous designers, including Rodarte, Proenza Schouler & Zac Posen. The thrilling part? They’re all under $45. And they’re on sale today. Hurry up. You don’t want to miss the same dress twice.

Do's & Don'ts of Shopping Online

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By brandis1 · March 7, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Shopping Bags

When shopping for an amazing deal, I find many of them are online -- no disrespect to you, mall. In fact, I shop every day, from the comfort of my own desk, er, home. (Note to my husband, if you’re reading this: no, I don’t ALWAYS buy something).

But sometimes, online shopping is the only way to pick up brand names or designer duds at sample sale (read: discounted) prices – unless you live in New York or Los Angeles where sample sales happen every day. Many of my girlfriends complain, though, that they don’t like shopping online, that they need to try it on first. Ladies, I hear ya. But there are times when the price is so right, I just can’t let it go. Case in point, three of my favorite purple dresses were all purchased through a website and delivered straight to my door. Thus, I’ve got a few rules I live by to avoid getting burned buying something that doesn’t fit or look good, or falls apart after one wash.

#1  First, know your body type and what looks good on it. For example, being more, ahem, curvaceous through the hip and thigh region, I know not to buy pants online…especially anything that starts with the word “skinny.” I’m also careful about fitted or pencil skirts. So, I stick to tops, jackets and dresses or skirts with room in the hips and fitted at the waist. Conversely, my more, ahem, buxom girlfriends might be careful about buying certain tops online – you might need to see it on your body before committing.

#2  Know your brands and your size in those brands. I know that in most shoes, I’m a 9.5, unless it’s a European brand, then I know I have to go up a half-size. I avoid brands and websites I’ve never heard of or didn’t come from a great recommendation. If you’re not familiar with the workmanship and quality, you could be disappointed when it arrives and that top you thought would look great to meet your boyfriend’s parents is totally see-through.

#3  Check the measurements and get familiar with yours. If a skirt is labeled ‘mini’ but looks to be a totally normal length in the picture, see if it has a measurement, then get out the ol’ measuring tape, ruler or plain ol’ piece of paper and see where that falls on your leg.

#4  Alterations can be your friend. If you take the leap and purchase something online and it mostly fits, a little nip/tuck might be all you need to make fashion magic. Make friends with a tailor or seamstress. My dry cleaner, for a example, does a solid job.  Because my top half is a completely different size from my bottom half, I’ve had to have alterations on clothing bought in-store just as much as those bought online. And I may have gotten a better deal online.

#5  Last but not least, check the return policy – some sites offer free shipping and free returns, so there’s less worry if those knee boots arrive and you can’t zip them all the way up. (Nope, that’s never happened to me…I measured my calf before ordering ‘em. See #4). Sometimes, the sale is just so good that it’s a final sale and they’re not taking it back. Know what you’re in for, so you don’t get burned.

Now...let's go shopping!

Red Carpet Style

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By brandis1 · February 22, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

While the carpet most of us are walking is really just the one in our living rooms (and it’s rarely red…or is it?), every now and then, some of us have a good excuse to get all dressed up. To look like you’re on your way somewhere glamorous, somewhere special. With spring just around the corner, I’m drooling over the long, printed strapless gown. I’m not talking about the big, birthday, wedding cake, ‘I’m going to the prom' dress. I mean something that flows, it might even be (gasp) comfortable, but still feel feminine and maybe even a lil' sexy. BCBG Max Azria knows what I'm talking about. And get a load of this one: on sale at Bluefly, another trusty designer website, where you don’t pay designer prices. Some of us know it well.


BCBG Max Azria pink printed chioffon strapless gown

BCBGMAXAZRIA pink printed chiffon strapless gown

$259.00$233.10 by BCBG MAX AZRIA at Bluefly

Some might think a print too informal, but I disagree. And I’d argue you can erase any doubt with the right accessories. Maybe a skinny, metallic belt, gigantic earrings and shiny, sparkly, blingy shoes. Platforms, if you’re bold. Maybe you’re not in Hollywood and there are no paparazzi demanding you “look over here!” to pose for the cameras. So what. You’ve got somewhere to go and you better look good, girl.

The most wonderful time of the year

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By brandis1 · February 13, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Fashion Week, of course. Why, what’d you think I was talking about?

Just because you’re not really at Fashion Week in NYC, doesn’t mean you can’t look like you belong on the front row…or have the same view as the actresses and fashion-plates who are.

Let me start by saying I’ve never been to Fashion Week, but it is high on my bucket list. Like…number one. Where else can you find as many fashion-obsessed, well-dressed women (and men) in one place? All ogling over the latest designs by Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors and other favorite designers. The best part: you get to get all dolled up!

But looking like you belong among the throngs of models, stylists, actresses and insiders doesn’t have to cost a grip. A few of my faaaave sample sites are selling the labels that will make you feel just like you’re standing in the middle of in Lincoln Center. Smack dab in the middle.

For myself, I’m crushing on this silk mini dress by Wren – in either navy & white stripes or red & black print. And anyone standing behind you still has something to look at – the triangle cut-out back, course. What’d you think I was talking about? C’mon people!

At Swirl by Daily Candy (http://beta.swirl.com/invite/brandisfriedman) it’s going for a cool $129, almost 60% off. That’s my kinda discount, as part of the thrill of the buy is knowing how awesome you’ll look…especially if it’s for less. I’d pair this dress with a chunky black dress, dark black tights, and those booties I’ve been dying to wear…it is February after all.

Now that you’re dressed, please take your seat (uh, in front of your computer) and get a look at what’s fresh for fall by going to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week (http://www.mbfashionweek.com/) and checking out the photos and videos.

The tale of the sho'booties

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By brandis1 · February 6, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Folks, I’m thrilled to report my latest acquisition. Kelsi Dagger Reece Lace-Up Open-Toe Booties. Enough adjectives for ya? I’ve loved these shoe-booties since first laying eyes on them, which was months ago online where sites like Gilt and Ideeli offered them for $99 or so. A good deal, yes, but I never needed them for $99. But at the low, low price of (wait for it…wait for it…) $39, I clearly need them.

Kelsi Dagger Reece Lace-Up Booties  

I met my newest love at the annual Old Town Boutique District Warehouse Sale less than a mile from my home. This purchase is a case in which persistence pays off. I first arrived at the legendary sale at what I thought to be a reasonable, yet early time – I don’t have an hour and a half to burn just standing in line before the joint even opens. But some women apparently did – especially with rumors of $30 Tory Burch boots circulating. So, when my friend and I arrive to find a packed parking lot and dozens of eager, yet fashionable, women in line, we opted to bail for tea instead. But don’t worry – the sale was not lost on us. We returned after an hour of chatting. Our very first stop, once FINALLY inside: Treat in Old Town, a sample sale boutique known for designer goods at reduced prices. It was meant to be, because my eyes immediately zoomed in on these particular sh’booties…with a little blue dot on the shoe box. I study the key, to find that the blue dot signifies at $39 price tag. My eyes scroll the stack of boxes to find my size: 7…7.5…8…8.5…9…9.5, baby!! I try on one shoe and then head to check out. I didn’t buy another thing in this entire sale. So take that, ladies with your $39 Tory Burch boots! Btw, the shoes were originally priced at $180 according to the box. Piperlime is still pushing them for a cool $129.99, but Overstock, $59.99.

Kelsi Dagger Reece Booties for $39

If you pick up your own pair, I’d go for rocker-cool with leggings (Capri or long) or skinny jeans, and a long tunic or sweater. But that's just me. Rock on.

Now that's what I'm talkin' about...

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By brandis1 · February 1, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

So, here’s what you can get at Filene’s Basement for just under $50: three pairs of tights, a pair of Bermuda shorts and a DKNY sundress. Apparently, DKNY originally suspected that this particular dress would fetch $245 – that is, according to the price tag still hanging on said dress. Oh, DKNY…I love you. But I’m not paying $245 for this dress. Here’s what the haps: I stumble upon this black and red print number in the clearance rack. Conveniently, the price tag is too fuzzy to determine a price. So, I ask the kind man behind the counter, “How much is this dress?”

Kind man punches a few buttons on his trustry register and announces, “It’s twenty dollars.”

Self: I’ll take it.

Filene's Basement Receipt

It’s a simple dress: cotton poplin with a knit sash that criss-crosses the front; and honestly, it needs a little altering in the shoulders. But for a price like that, I just couldn’t leave it in the store. Surely, I’ll have an occasion to wear it under a cardigan at work or a summer dinner. And whenever the occasion does come up, I’ll already have a dress in the closet – versus running out in search of something that I’ll no doubt pay too much for because I’m down to the last minute. A girl’s gotta be prepared.

Btw, the Bermuda shorts were Ellen Tracy, originally $70…I got ‘em for $20. Now, that’s what I’m talkin about…