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Category — Advice From the Experts

4 Places to Snag Designer Deals


I admit—I have champagne tastes. I think of my clothing as individual works of art, which is why I really love designer items. I tend to be drawn to the mid-priced, yet edgy, designer labels such as Vince, Rebecca Taylor, Rebecca Minkoff, Helmut Lang and more. But, mid-priced designer is still expensive. I never pay full price.

The truth is that finding deals is a sport. You have to be willing to put some work into it. For me, fashion is a passion. I pull pages out of magazines, scour blogs and check out new arrivals from my fave designers. The key is to have a short list of what you’re looking for.

Here are some strategies for stalking designer items so you can snatch them when they go on sale.

1. Shopstyle by POPSUGAR. This site allows you to tag favorites and be notified when they go on sale. Each day you’ll get an email with sales items from your favorite designers. Many times I’ll spot an item in a magazine, go to this site, tag it and wait for it to go on sale. I generally won’t buy a more expensive item until it goes 50 percent. Sure, I’ve lost out on some things I’ve really wanted, but it helps me from impulsive shopping, so the trade off is worth it.
Another shopping site to watch: Lyst

2. eBay. Sometimes eBay sellers will carry items currently in stores. Most times these prices are cheaper than buying from a traditional retailer. I go to eBay for past season items that I missed out on, basics (I love how soft Vince tee shirts are) and classic items such as jeans and blazers.

3. TJ Maxx. Our local TJ Maxx has a great selection of designer items. I’ve seen Diane Von Furstenberg, Vince and Theory recently. Always search the perimeter of the clothing section as that’s where they keep the better merchandise. But, don’t forget the sales racks. I recently got a Theory mint green sweater for $10 that was on the clearance rack.

4. Nordstrom Rack. OMG! This place is heaven. Plan on spending at least an hour going through the racks and trying things on. Skip the stuff in the front and head straight to the clearance racks. There you’ll find seasonal deals on designer items. They have a great selection of dresses, shoes and tops. They also have some jewelry deals. I’ve seen Alexis Bittar bangles and earrings for less than half price.

Check back soon as I reveal some of my other shopping strategies.

photo by: Roberto Trm

April 17, 2013   Comments Off on 4 Places to Snag Designer Deals

I’m Obsessed: Spring/Summer Trends

Candy Colors
Trends I’m obsessed with this spring/summer:
1. Jazzy Jackets. Cardigans are so tired. I love the polished, unfussy look of these jackets. The tangerine-colored bomber is a fresh take on a blazer. The white denim moto jacket is seriously chill and can be worn for fall as well.
2. Mint Green. I’m so not a pastel girl, but I admit I’m really drawn to the mint green. I think it mixes easily with black for fall and white/yellow/tangerine/aqua for spring and summer. This envelope clutch is such a unique design. The shorts are a perfect sateen material that I can wear with a blouse and heels out to dinner.
3. Embroidered Jeans. I never really got into the patterned jeans trend. But, I think these embroidered jeans are so chic. The black lace really dresses up white jeans, so modern and fresh!
4. Candy-colored jewels. So fun! These colorful jewels have just the right amount of pizzazz for spring and summer. So on-trend for the colors of the season.
5. Sassy Stripes. While a hot trend right now, stripes are really a classic pattern to me. Rather than the usual blue and white stripes, go for a tangerine color.
6. Dressy Shorts. Combining several of my favorite trends—floral, brights and flowy—these loose silk shorts are stunning. With a white blazer, a bright top and neutral heels, this is a perfect date night outfit for steamy summer nights.
7. Wear-with-everything Sandals. With a European trip coming up, I want shoes that are stylish, yet comfy enough to wear walking the cobblestone all day. The top sandals are actually walking sandals, can you believe it? The bottom nautical sandals probably aren’t good for touring towns, but they’ll be great neutrals to go with all my summer outfits.


Now, this is about $3,000 worth of clothing and accessories. Keep checking back as I’m going to reveal some of my secrets for scoring these items cheaper.

Click on the picture above to find out the brands and prices of the items pictured.

April 16, 2013   Comments Off on I’m Obsessed: Spring/Summer Trends

Why I Cut Gwyneth Paltrow Some Slack

Gwyneth Paltrow vino a divertirse a El Hormiguero

Geez, will everyone just get off Gwyneth Paltrow’s back already? The media has a field day cutting her down about her fad diets, her holier-than-thou speeches and her pricey picks for spring fashion. Media outlets around the world report that Gwyneth is out of touch with reality, has horrible hair and her kids are starving. She was speared for her promotion of Net-a-Porter.com and the “$20,000 spring wardrobe.” C’mon people, smart fashionistas know that they can recreate the outfits she highlighted with look-alike items from less expensive stores. Besides, Vogue and other fashion magazines promote this uber-expensive clothing on a regular basis. I don’t hear anyone bashing them.

What I don’t understand is why the backlash against her? Despite it all, I like her. In some strange way, I relate to her.

To me, Gwyneth is going through much the same transformation I went through. She’s finally accepting herself and using her passions to drive her success.

My confidence and sense of self became clear in my mid-30s. I freed myself from toxic people, found solace in exercise and, for the first time in my life, was truly happy with my body and with the direction in which my life was heading. Getting dressed was something I got excited about, and I wanted to share my newly found “secrets” with everyone. But, it wasn’t just about my new body; it was about my new outlook on life. I was happier, more confident and more willing to put myself out there. Judgment from others didn’t matter as much to me. In fact, I was more willing to pursue the things for which I had always been passionate—fashion, exercise, travel, writing. Fear had always kept me from revealing my true self and things had changed.

While Gwyneth is certainly a 1 percent-er, I find her to be honest and, shall I say, somewhat normal for a wealthy celebrity. She’s making a business out of the things that interest her. While that certainly doesn’t make her an expert, it does make her more interesting to me.

I believe in the power of female entrepreneurs. Isn’t that truly what she is? Why can’t we support other women knowing that they’re doing what they’re passionate about? I say more power to Goop.



photo by: ElHormiguero

April 12, 2013   Comments Off on Why I Cut Gwyneth Paltrow Some Slack

Smart Shopping Tips


I wrote this article last year and wanted to re-post it since it makes so much sense!

I love the start of a new year—the chance to set more realistic goals. You have a whole year ahead of you to reach these goals and there are opportunities just sitting out there waiting for you to grab them!

I put together this list of awesome articles to help guide you in finding your style, reaching your goals and rebuilding your wardrobe.

1. I resolve to learn how to use eBay. I know it can be time consuming, but believe me, if you want to score designer deals, eBay is a great way to do it. Check out these articles: Ebay is Your Best Fashion Friend, Ebay Tips and Deals, How to Snipe on Ebay and How I Search Ebay.

2. I resolve to hone in on my style and buy accordingly. I watched What Not to Wear the other day (love that show) and it can be hard to figure out how best to let your personality shine through with what you wear. Here are some articles to help you figure it out: Finding Classic Investment Pieces, Defining Your Personal Style, Dig Out of Your Fashion Rut and Your Guide to Creating Your Own Personal Style.

Magpie Styling Tip: Check out my 10 Fashion Rules.

3. I resolve to wear clothes that fit well. So many people make the mistake of wearing pants that are too short (they make you look stumpy), wide-leg capris, too-tight shorts and too-big jackets. Check out: How to Dress For Your Body TypeSize Matters, Finding Clothes That Fit and Flatter and Finding Pants That Fit.

4. I resolve to buy for my life, not the life I dream of living. Yeah, I have issues with this. I love sparkly, glittery and dressy, but my life is work from home, and I have two children. So, I don’t really have the opportunity to wear all that I buy. I put together a shopping checklist that will help you determine whether or not an item is worth your investment, check it out: Download my FREE Shopping Checklist here. Other articles: Tips for Finding Fashion Deals, Shopping Savvy Quiz and How to Stop Buying Clothes You’ll Never Wear.

Look for more great articles about personal style, making over your closet and buying investment clothing this year!

photo by: andrewarchy

January 21, 2013   Comments Off on Smart Shopping Tips

Salmon Quesadillas

Healthy Salmon Quesadillas

Healthy Salmon Quesadillas

No, this blog isn’t turning into a cooking blog, but I was so excited about this recipe that I had to share. I don’t really have a lot of time to cook but sometimes I go on “cooking rolls,” where I’ll plan lots of new recipes. We’re trying to eat healthier, so I’m making recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Cleanse Recipes in Redbook. I’m just not disciplined enough to go on a complete cleanse, but if I can make dinner and breakfast healthier, then I’m all for it.

I was SHOCKED that my entire family liked these as much as they did. While both of my kids are fairly adventurous when it comes to food, my son is a total meat guy and my daughter really likes her pasta. But, they loved these quesadillas. Here’s the recipe with my notes:

Salmon Quesadilla

4-8 brown rice tortilla wraps (I just used whole wheat tortillas)

3 Fillets cooked wild salmon (or two cans of wild-caught) (I bought these filets and marinated them in a mustard marinade*–see below–then broiled them.)

1 small red onion, thinly sliced into half moons

1/4 cup fresh chopped dill (or 2 tbsp dried)

1/2 cup miso-almond sauce*

Mustard Marinade*
6 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
3 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1/2 Tsp. Minced Garlic
Whisk ingredients together and marinate salmon for 10 minutes before broiling for about 5 minutes on each side.

Miso Almond Paste*
1 cup almond butter

2 garlic cloves

3 tbsp chickpea miso (I used MUCH less, only about 1 tsp. of this and I couldn’t find the chickpea miso, so I used soybean miso)

Juice of 1 lemon
Place into a high-speed blender or food processor with the rest of the above ingredients. Blend well until puréed and a smooth paste is formed.

Place a large griddle or cast iron pan over medium heat with a few small scoops of coconut oil. Gently warm the wraps for 1-2 minutes on each side, to make them more pliable. While warming, chop onions and dill.

Once wraps are warm on each side, remove from heat (keeping it on medium) and cover half of each wrap with miso-almond sauce to desired thickness (I spread a good amount on there). Top with sliced red onion, dill and salmon.

Fold wrap in half and place onto the still-hot griddle or pan. Cook on one side for 3-4 minutes, or until tortillas are a golden-brown. Flip and repeat on the other side, cooking until the entire quesadilla is warmed through.

This recipe says it serves 4, but I could have easily made 6 out of it, maybe even 7. I also served it with black beans and brown rice. The picture above is from my lunch the next day. I made another one for myself with the leftovers and ate it with a yellow tomato.

January 18, 2013   Comments Off on Salmon Quesadillas

Shopping: Where to Spend; Where to Save

Oxfam cotton bag design concepts

I get this question all the time, what items are worth my investment and what should I buy at discount stores? With the advent of stores like H&M and Zara, figuring this out is more confusing than ever. Here are my rules:

1. Have a Budget. I used to spend whatever I wanted each month on clothing (well, within reason!). I sell the items I stop wearing on eBay, and I also sell at a local consignment shop. I use that money to fund my shopping. The problem with not having a budget is that I’m not that disciplined, and I’d lose track of what I spent–not good. In addition, I spent a lot of money on stuff I just didn’t wear or stuff I thought I loved but didn’t really. You know the, “Well, maybe with a belt this will look good,” or “If I have my tailor completely reconstruct this garment, I just know I’ll love it.”
A budget makes me thoughtfully consider each piece individually. It’s funny, now I rarely love something so much that I have to have it. Because of my budget, I tend to want to take some time to think it over. It helps cut out that impulsive shopping.

Magpie Styling Tip: Barely any garment fits perfectly off the rack, so minor adjustments by your tailor can make a garment look fabulous on you. Just be careful when you want to make too many changes. Many times it’s just not worth it.

2. If I love it—truly love it—and it fits well, I buy it if it’s in my budget. When you think of classic items, you don’t put custom-made black silk pants with an embellished attached waist in that category, right? Me neither, however, years ago I worked with designer and stylist Paris Gordon on a pair of holiday pants. They cost a fortune, but I’ve worn them dozens of times—to holiday parties, on vacation, to charity events. It was totally worth it to me to invest in those pants.

3. It’s all personal. There aren’t many items that warrant a big investment anymore. Fashion is so accessible now. For me, the best investment pieces are items I’ll wear over and over. Some aren’t classic styles, but it’s all about taking risks. Here’s a list of the clothing items I’m willing to spend on and some I’m not:

Solid black and white tee shirts. I love Vince tee shirts and I’m willing to spend more on them, but I won’t buy them at full price. I’ve found them at TJ Maxx and other discount stores. The discount tee shirts just don’t hang on my body the same way.

• Jackets and blazers. A well-fitted, high-quality blazer is an essential for me. I find myself grabbing my Theory leather-sleeve blazer over and over, with casual, work and dressy outfits. I feel the same way about a leather jacket. I know I’ll turn to it over and over.

• Dresses. Yes, there are some inexpensive dresses that I’m willing to buy. But, I find that the quality of the dress (even casual ones) is vital to how it fits. Better dresses aren’t made of cheap polyester, they don’t have random strings hanging off of them, and they don’t have uneven hems.

Save• Jeans. My favorite jeans are the Old Navy Rockstar jeans. They fit well, and they look great wash after wash. Plus, they have a ton of different colors and they’re cheap!

• Sweaters. I’ve had sweaters from J.Crew, designer sweaters and some from Target. I feel like you can find well-made sweaters are less-expensive prices.

Jewelry. Wow, the options out there are endless. A lot of jewelry is trendy. I’ve found some super well-made bracelets and necklaces at Target. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll invest in pieces that really speak to me, but I’m not going to limit myself to Charm & Chain, Stella & Dot and designer.

But, that’s just me. I live a different life than some of you. What I choose to invest in may be different from what you choose.

I want to hear from you. What types of clothing do you invest in? What are budget items in your books? Post in the comments!

photo by: net_efekt

January 15, 2013   Comments Off on Shopping: Where to Spend; Where to Save

Tweet Tweet & Cleanse Recipe

Jacket/Rebecca Minkoff; Blouse/CWonder; Necklace/BCBG; Jeans/Old Navy; Boots/Antonio Melani and Purse/Cynthia Rowley

Jacket/Rebecca Minkoff; Blouse/CWonder; Necklace/BCBG; Jeans/Old Navy; Boots/Antonio Melani and Purse/Cynthia Rowley

A friend of mine turned me on to this cute blouse. I loved it so much, I had to copy her (Thanks Denise!) I LOVE bird prints.

Anatomy of an Outfit
A lot of people ask me how I come up with the outfits I wear. This one started with the jacket. (See here in another outfit). Since I had worn a black shirt with it before, I wanted something a little different. I tried pink shirt, looked horrible, then I thought I’d go with this print.
From there it was easy, black jeans and booties. I was going to wear my knee-high boots, but it was warm out, so I went with booties. I tried two different necklaces but this one worked best. The other one was just a little too long, but not long enough to wear outside the blouse.

As for the purse, I was already using it and it worked. I bought that at TJ Maxx on the clearance rack for $40.

The Cleanse
On another note, I’ve decided to do a modified cleanse. Actually our whole family will be doing it. It’s about cutting out sugar and eating healthier, not a diet and not liquid only. However, some of the ingredients are hard to find, so I haven’t gotten everything I need for the dinner and lunch meals. I’m using recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP and Redbook article. (Don’t hate on my girl Gwyneth, I love her!)

Here’s the first one I did. It was really good, you have to really blend it well though. Obviously, mine doesn’t look near as good as the one in the picture from the link above. I used the SunWarrior Vanilla Brown Rice Protein powder, which tastes really good.


Peaches with Coconut Milk Smoothie

For the Recipe go here: Peaches With Coconut Milk Smoothie.

January 14, 2013   Comments Off on Tweet Tweet & Cleanse Recipe

Pinterest: What I Want Now

Are you following me on Pinterest? Check out the What I Want Now board for the hottest items on the Internet (well, according to me… 🙂


September 1, 2012   Comments Off on Pinterest: What I Want Now

PLAYing Dress-Up Fall Edition

As many of you know, I’m the managing editor of Playground Magazine. We launched a new editorial section for moms called PLAYing Dress-Up, where we pick a reader mom who models for us. This issue, I helped style their outfits in order to hit on some of the more popular fall fashion trends.

Read it here: Fall2012-PLAYingDressUp


August 31, 2012   Comments Off on PLAYing Dress-Up Fall Edition

Central Florida Consignment Store Reviews

I am a consignment shop junkie. I love finding fashion treasures that don’t scream “local mall.” The way to do that is via ebay or consignment shopping.

Magpie Styling Tip: Read my ebay tutorial series: Ebay is Your Best Fashion Friend, Ebay Tips and Deals, How to Snipe on Ebay and How I Search Ebay.

If you live in Central Florida or visit Disney and have time to shop somewhere other than the outlet malls, I highly recommend these three stores (none of which are close to Disney, BTW) 🙂

1. Chic Boutique. 2818 Corrine Drive (near Baldwin Park)
First of all, the owners, Renee and Janet,  are fabulous! They’re friendly and really know their stuff. They’ve got everything from hot new contemporary designers like Parker, Rebecca Taylor and Vince to classics from Jimmy Choo, Chloe, DVF and Prada. I scored two Parker blouses, a new-with-tags grey suede Vince jacket and an authentic Jimmy Choo handbag that was never used. This is the store I choose to consign with because they cater to fashionistas who like the same brands as I do. Generally, I spend what I make at the store!

You can get items at half of retail. But, realize that these are high-ticket designers, so half may still be $300. However, if you want designer at a discount, this is the place. They have a very active Facebook page that features new products each day.

Pros: Great selection of jewelry, handbags and shoes. Lots of inventory and contemporary designers.
Cons: Prices are still on the high side and items sell fast (great if you’re a consignor.)

2. Top Drawer Couture, 2506 Edgewater Drive
While a lot of items are for older ladies who lunch (think St. John’s knits), you can still find a great deal on classic designer duds. I’ve scored DVF and See by Chloe at this consignment shop. What you’ll find here that you may not find at the other stores is Chanel. I’ve seen bags, jewelry and accessories in the shop each time I’ve visited. They also have tons of high-end shoes and handbags.
Recently, they started selling items online, which makes it easier for those out of the area to get goodies too. They also have somewhat active Facebook page and post new items every week.

Pros: High-end handbags, classic designers.
Cons: Tends to cater to the 55 and over set, amount of inventory varies. Sometimes you have lots of options, other times not so much.

3. Clotheshorse Too, 3895 Lake Emma Road in Lake Mary
This store is close to my tailor, so I stop in whenever I have an alteration I need done. Generally, you won’t find a lot of super high-end designer at this store, but they have a nice selection. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen Manolo Blahniks, St. John’s Knits, DVF and Laundry by Design at this store, but your best scores will be J.Crew and Ann Taylor. I scored a rare J.Crew cardigan, some cute DVF maxi dresses, an Elie Tahari jacket and a couple Laundry by Design tops.

Pros: Great selection of popular store clothing such as Banana Republic, J.Crew and Ann Taylor. The prices can’t be beat. They sell the designer items for much less than Chic Boutique and Top Drawer. Tons of shoes.
Cons: Not many high-end items, skirt and dress selection is minimal. Rarely any high-end handbags.

There you have it. Of course, Central Florida has quite a few more consignment shops but these are the three I frequent the most. Let me know what you’ve scored at these shops!

May 24, 2012   Comments Off on Central Florida Consignment Store Reviews