Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What $100 will get you RIGHT NOW on the web - 10 NEW Designer items

As a kid, $20 was the ultimate attainable "big" amount you could save for a purchase.  You could get a really good toy with $20, but it probably took some saving.  As an adult, I find $100 is often the grown up version of the $20 you had to save for as a kid.  Enough to really do something with, and, although you had to work for it, it is still attainable.  

So, you have your benjamin in your wallet and aren't sure what to do.  You are going to blow this money on yourself and get something NICE.  But since a new Coach bag costs $300, where to start?  Here are some  luxury items you can get for $100 or a bit less.  It won't be as big of a bang for your buck as buying used, but sometimes you want something current, shiny, and NEW.  And you get the thrill of wasting your money on something ridiculously awesome.  (My personal favorite is the Tiffany's Necklace).

#1 Large Coach Wristlets  $98
Coach makes a variety of items in the "accessories" category, and recently they've been making these large wristlets that the strap will also clip to the other end of the bag, turning it into a little purse.  So, you get a little Coach bag for $98.  (Before taxes of course)

Coach Wristlet Page - try not to drool too much.

#2 THIS Tiffany Necklace  $100
What's not to love about Tiffany's??  Audrey Hepburn, shiny silver, the little blue boxes....sigh.  Right now, Tiffany has a good selection of items hovering at the $100 mark. This necklace is adorable, although the hearts are VERY SMALL in person (maybe a quarter of an inch tall and wide).  The best thing about this necklace is that you get TWO mini charms on it, it has the Tiffany's logo, and it's one of their rare jewelry items that has their famous BLUE on it.  A perfect first Tiffany's item. 

See the Tiffany's necklace HERE....try not to squeal too loudly.

#3 Dooney & Bourke clear logo tote bag $60
Dooney and Bourke is a great designer and has fairly sensibly priced items.  This tote is new for spring, comes in 4 colors, and is only $60.  It's a clear plastic with their DB logo on it, so it's a pretty good go anywhere bag that you can even take to the beach.

Buy the Dooney bag here

#4 Burberry's heart shaped coin purse $95
 I couldn't find an exact picture of the coin purse currently for sale under $100, but this one is close.  The coin purse on the Burberry website is heart shaped, features their famous plaid, and is trimmed in cranberry patent leather with a looped zipper pull.  While not the best use of $100 as far as function goes, it's something on the Burberry website that's actually under $100, which is almost impossible to find.  And it's very cute.

Get the little coin purse here

#5 Tory Burch Robinson slim card case $85
 While small, this little wallet has several card slots, is made of leather, and features the large Tory Burch logo in gold.  Tory Burch continues to be super hot and is making a name for herself as America's favorite designer in the "mid" price range (although I consider her in the "high" price range).

The Card Case is Here.

#6 Longchamp's small Le Pliage bag $98

Longchamp's Le Pliages line continues to be wildly popular, and comes in a rainbow of colors. Their smallest bags are deep enough that you can still easily stuff all your necessities in there.  And, if you have $125, you can get their medium sized tote, which is probably my favorite Longchamp item.

View the Pliage line here

#7 Gucci's heart cell phone strap $80

Ok, again, not the best use of $100, but hey, it's GUCCI.  And there's precious little you can get NEW at Gucci for $100.  And it's actually really cute.

See the cell phone strap here

#8 Kate Spade logo Bon Shopper tote bag - on sale for $87, reduced from $175
Some designers NEVER do sales on their websites (Coach, Louis Vuitton, Gucci...), but other designers regularly have sales.  Kate Spade cuts prices more drastically on new items than almost any other.  This bag is new, adorable, and at half its original price right now.

See the adorable tote bag here

#9 Michael Kors Tie Dye crossbody bag - $90 on sale from $128
Most of us know Michael Kors as one of the Project Runway judges, but he's actually quite a prolific designer, and for whatever reason always seems to fly just under the radar as far as name recognition goes with the general public.  His style is quite chic, somewhere between Calvin Klein and Tory Burch.  Very American.  This cute bag is $90 on sale right now.
Get it here.

#10 Coach's Madison Small wallet $98

 I have a version of this wallet, and I LOVE it.  It's perfect.  It's compact, adorable and SO very Coach.  It snaps shut but doesn't have latches to fuss with, has an ID slot, several card slots, and a place to hold money.  It even has a back zippered change pocket.  It has everything a wallet needs and is smaller and more compact than almost any I've ever had.  AND it fits well into all my little wristlets that I'm always taking in and out of my diaper bags.

Coach's small wallet page is here

While not all practical, hopefully there's something here to suit your taste.  Or something to start saving for...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Buying Authentic Coach - what to look for

Ok, so you want to get yourself a deal on ebay or are even hoping to find a little vintage Coach at your thrift store.  Good news!  There are thousands and thousands of authentic Coach bags out there just waiting to be re-discovered by YOU!  I have found Coach bags everywhere, even at little thrift stores in the middle of nowhere.  My husband even knows a fake Coach from a real one at pretty much just one glance.  Here are some important things to help you separate the real ones from the fake ones.

- Coach always uses REAL LEATHER on their bags.  If it looks like its supposed to be leather, it needs to be leather.  They don't use pleather or faux leather.  It can take awhile to tell real leather from fake leather just by touch, but you can do it.  

- Coach NEVER lines a bag with C's on the inside if it has C's all over the outside.

this is a FAKE lining on a FAKE bag.

 - most Coach bags have a patch inside with a "creed" and a serial number and or style number.  Usually the number should have an "No" followed by a series of numbers with a dash in the center.  They can be various lengths, but they should always have at least 3 digits/letters before the dash and after (often there's more).  A lot of fake bags have "NT" - and a set of numbers. Also, coach bags were NEVER made in Korea.  A LOT of vintage fakes have "NT" and then 2 numbers, a dash, and 3 or 4 more numbers.  All of those are fake.  Also, check the creed to make sure the words are spelled right.  Some vintage bags have some misspellings in the creed, even though the bag may be a pretty good quality otherwise.

REAL Coach creeds:

- Get to know Coach's styles.  They do come out with a lot of crazy shapes and colors, but they are always well made and reasonably tasteful.  They have NEVER made bags that look like these:
 Also, another thing both these bags suffer from is the ZIPPER HANGS OVER THE EDGE.  Coach pretty much never does this.  If you see a bag with the end of the zipper hanging over, run away.  Coach almost always nicely tucks the bottom end of the zipper inside the bag.  They may have long zipper pulls, but the bottom end of the zipper tucks inside, or the zipper will be a separating kind (like on a jacket).

- The Signature C bags usually have a symmetrical pattern to them.  Usually the C's are well placed on the bag and are NOT crooked.  Some signature patterns like the Optic Signature are not symmetrical because they can't be, but if the bag has regular C's, they should be even on both sides of the bag. 

BAD C's on a FAKE bag...
GOOD C's on a REAL bag...
 - Hang Tags come on most Coach bags.  They are easy to remove, though, so they won't always be there.  If you see a bag with a Coach hang tag like this, walk on.

Check the font and shape of these tags. FAKE. 

Here's a REAL Coach hang tag:  See how the font is different. 

The biggest tip for buying Coach bags on Ebay is make sure you see pictures of BOTH the inside of the bag and the outside.  Buy from a seller with lots of feedback and one who has sold a lot of authentic Coach bags.  As you get to know your stuff, you can take more chances to try and score a good deal, but stick to someone you trust for the beginning.  Before you know it, you'll be getting familiar with Coach and becoming a pro!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

You're my obsession: Louis Vuitton

Remember when there was that one toy you wanted but you knew your parents never, ever would get you because it cost way too much?  Like the GI Joe aircraft carrier or the Lego pirate ship or the Barbie dream house?  You were too old to believe in Santa Claus, but you were desperately hoping somehow you could magically get the $100 or $200 it would take to get the ultimate dream toy, and your allowance was 50 cents a week.  Maybe if you saved your entire allowance for a year, and got all straight A's AND combined your birthday and Christmas presents, maybe then it would be yours.

This is how I feel about Louis Vuitton. 

I recently got the LV bug when I used my tax return money to buy this a few weeks ago.

And THEN I had enough store credit at my favorite consignment store to get these for FREE...

They are ridiculously cute, and match the scarf SOOOO well.  I'm completely thrilled with my little set.  However, suddenly I was turned onto this new brand, and all the Scottsdale ladies tromping about with their hair and their boobs and their real Louis Vuittons are not helping.  And then as I was researching Vuitton and all its fabulousness, I find THIS picture:

Wait, AUDREY HEPBURN had a Vuitton Speedy?!?!?! That does it.  I need me one of these bags. 

Louis Vuitton, however, is no Coach or Dooney.  There are not ones regularly selling for under $40 in ANY condition.  Even the FAKE ones usually go for over $100.  And I don't do fakes.  BUT....I will do a tribute.  So, I busted out my laundry safe markers, some blank canvas bags, and got to work.  Here are my fill in Vuittons for now.
They came out surprisingly well! So, for now I'll have to stuff everything I own in these beauties, and, then if I follow my own advice really well all year long, maybe, just maybe, I'll get an actual one late in the year.

It's good to have a goal anyway.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cutting Your Budget for Luxury

So, you're a grown up now and have real expenses.  Like a mortgage, or at least rent, car payments, insurance, etc.  Let me stress first and foremost, these things are far more important than whatever little thing you are wearing on any given day.  But, if you're like me, having something nice on just makes life so much more darn fun!  So, here's some budget cutting tips on how to squeeze the most out of your pennies so you can get that Coach bag you'd like to have...

#1 - My biggest advice is DON'T get into credit card debt.  It's not worth it in just about any case.  I know times are hard, but is your trip out to dinner or that fabulous haircut worth 20% interest or whatever cards are asking these days??  Credit cards in and of themselves are fine, I know a lot of people who have them but they pay them off each month.  If this is you, you go girl.  If you can't do that, save yourself the trouble and get rid of those cards.

#2 - Food and drinks
Food can be divided up into 2 areas: Groceries and Restaurants.  With groceries, it takes a little more time to save, and it seems more like nickle and dime saving, but it will add up over the course of a month.  Buy stuff that's on sale whenever possible, and use coupons on the sale stuff if you have them.  Our last grocery trip we saved 34% by buying sale items and using coupons.  It was awesome!
       With restaurants, you have to look at your lifestyle.  Sometimes you have friends who want to go out 3 times a week, and its sort of built into your social life.  If this is the case, it will be tricky to cut back.  But couldn't you eat at Chipotle and split that giant burrito with a friend rather than going to Outback steakhouse? ($3 a person instead of $20 a person!!) I love to eat out, but I try to avoid "sit down" restaurants as much as possible because then you have to get an entree, drink, and tip at least 20%.  It adds up fast.  Also, I LOVE Starbucks, but my husband bought me an $80 frappuccino maker for Christmas several years ago, and it's saved me hundreds and hundreds in blended beverages.  Make your own coffee as much as possible.  Get a fun travel mug and take it with you so you've got it all morning.

#3 Personal Expenses 
This is a controversial area and will vary wildly from person to person.  But, here's some things I cut back on for a bag or shoes.
- I cut my own hair.  Yes, that's right, I hack into my hair like some explorer in the great jungle with a machete. I'm lucky to have curly hair, and it hides a ton of mistakes.  I also borrow my sister's thinning shears to thin it out.  I'm still getting compliments on my hair, so it's working. I save $60 a month this way.  Also, I color my own hair on the rare occasions when I feel like it needs perking up.  I save another $60 this way.

- I don't get manicures or pedicures.  There's nothing wrong with them, but I'd rather blow my money on something I can keep.
- I only buy just the makeup I need, and from wal mart or the grocery store.

#4 Clothing
This is an area where it's really easy to save.  As long as you aren't a special size like my 6'6" husband.  Clothes add up FAST, and usually occupy the same money in your budget as a bag or nice shoes.  So, what I do is get clothes at the thrift store, Old Navy clearance, or a consignment store (Jcrew pants for $9!).  Just make sure they're cute and fit you well.  Consignment stores are awesome because they charge very little for quality clothes and are usually comparable to old navy prices.  AND when you're done with the clothes, you can often re-consign them at the same store and get some of your money back!! (usually in store credit)  /then the next time you go into the store, you might just walk out with some new clothes for FREE.

# Electronics stuff
How much do you pay a month for texting? A data plan?  Your Iphone?  For some of you, these are totally necessary for your business etc, but do you REALLY need a $60 per month unlimited data plan just so you can occasionally check the internet while you're stuck in traffic?  See if there's a way to cut on things in your cell phone bill.  A $40 a month savings is a really nice pair of shoes at the consignment store, or a cheap Coach bag on ebay (see previous blog on designer bags on ebay for under $40).

Do you watch enough tv to justify that cable bill?  If you have a man in the house, this is probably HIS luxury and will be non-negotiable, so just skip that argument.

We have expanded cable, but not premium cable, and we Netflix like crazy.  If you have a Wii or Xbox, you can watch Netflix on your TV through them.  We still pay a lot a month, but we skip the DVR and anything that involves buying a converter or extra box. 

So, how much did you save by just reading this??  Could you afford....





And maybe even...this??


Monday, May 2, 2011

Designer shopping totes - the cheap way to get a new designer bag!

So, the hot trend right now is reusable shopping bags. Of course you can get the ugly reusable bag at your local grocery store for a dollar, or a blank one at Jo-Ann's and decorate it yourself for $2 - $5.  The designers are also hopping on this trend and are making reusable shopping bags.  However, these bags are often pretty darn cute, and I say make them your next cheap new regular bag!

A few of my favorites:

#1 - The Dooney & Bourke Canvas bag $48
 It's big, roomy, and totally evokes the style of Dooney & Bourke, and even has leather on the handles.  AND ITS ONLY $48!

#2  Marc by Marc Jacobs Packables $58
Marc Jacobs is has made quite a name for himself, and his Marc by Marc Jacobs line often re-sells for nearly as much as his higher end Marc Jacobs line.  He has introduced some "packable" totes and bags in various shapes, sizes, and colors.  This one is quite cute, and this size is $58. 

#3 Harvey's Shop n' Go collapsible tote bag $34
Harveys Seatbelt Bags are so fabulous, and last forever.  They are reasonably priced, but still are $100 or more.  This bag, currently available on their website, is only $34!  The handles are made of seatbelt, too, so you still get that touch of what they are famous for.

#4  Stella McCartney perfume tote $9.99
Ok, so technically I bought this bag on ebay, but it was ONLY $9.99 with free shipping.  It's pretty cute, with dark purple contrast stitching, a front pocket, and stella mccartney's logo on it.  Also, it doesn't say "fragrances" on it anywhere, something I dislike about fragrance bags.  Kind of ruins the designer feel for me.  Copy and paste the link below to go to the seller's store, they have a ton of them.


#5 Gap Feed Bags $29.50

Technically not high end designer, but they have a good look and a very down home feel, and will look great with your flannel shirt and cowboy boots.  Plus, $5 from each bag goes to help school lunch nutrition. 

#6 Ralph Lauren Eco Friendly Pony tote $10

According to the Ralph Lauren website, the bag is ONLY available for purchase in Polo Ralph Lauren stores.  But it's only $10!!  And their other pony bags are hovering around the $100 mark.  BIG difference.  You can also find Ralph Lauren pony totes of all kinds and colors on ebay, and often for under $35.  A savings of about $70. 

#7 Longchamp Pliages bags $125-$145

 I'm jumping the shark a bit here, because these bags are a lot more expensive than any of the other bags mentioned so far.  However, because leather Longchamp bags retail for $400-$600 easily, this is a cheap price by their standards. They come in a multitude of colors that change each season, and are pretty durable.  They also fold up and snap into a fairly small shape so you can tuck them away.  And, unlike the other bags mentioned here, they ZIP shut completely.  Good for travel!  (You can get these on ebay for less, but not as much less as you might think.  Still be prepared to shell out at least $60.  And beware of fakes, there are a lot of those on Ebay right now.)

#8,9, and 10

These bags are ones I've seen but can't find pictures of and aren't for sale right now. #8-  A few seasons back, Tory Burch came out with a packable tote bag that zipped shut into a wallet like container for when you weren't using it.  I think it was under $100, but I cannot remember what it was called, nor have I seen any on ebay. 

#9 Kate Spade also came out with a cute little nylon shopper tote, which I heard someone recently call it the odds n' ends tote bag.  It was a thin black nylon grocery style bag with a "list" of things you might want to buy printed on it, and the logo on the side near the bottom.

#10 Fashion week bags and store opening bags - I've seen a few cute Mulberry canvas bags from 2011 fashion week that have adorable drawings on them.  I've also seen some Gucci totes that are supposed to be from store events, and they go for not too much. 

The one thing to be aware of when buying any of these bags is make sure you are getting an authentic one, and not some cheap knock off from overseas or the mean streets of NY.  Usually these shopping bags aren't copied. More likely you will see an ebay seller claiming to have shopping bags from a designer - but they are really just crappy bags they've made, slapped a designer logo on, and then claim it's a shopping bag to make an excuse for bad quality.  Don't let this warning scare you off, though.  And with some of the prices listed here, you may just want to buy the bags new!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

10 Designer bags for under $40

There are currently over 40,000 Coach bags on Ebay right now.  Here are some fabulous designer bags that go for under $40.  Consistently.  Most are Coach, but there are some others thrown into the mix.

#1  The Coach Court bag

This bag can still be purchased on Coach's website for $258 under the section "Coach originals".  However, it often sells on Ebay for $15-$40.  Mainly because there are enough of them out there and its a more vintage style.  However, all the designer styles are beginning to hearken back to a sort of intellectual-menswear-1980s look, and this bag has all of that.  With a top handle, a removable long shoulder strap, brass accents, and a sweetly retro box like shape, this bag has been recently seen on the likes of Kirstin Dunst!  It usually comes in black, brown, or tan.  A great starter Coach bag!

#2 The Coach signature demi bag

 A Sweet classic, this bag is Coach's answer to the Louis Vuitton pochette or the Fendi Baguette.  It's pretty small, but has been made in a variety of colors, and the top handle can clip to the end of the bag, turning it into a wristlet.  It is also available on Coach's website for $148, but regularly sells on Ebay for under $40. 

#3 The Kate Spade Sam bag

Understated and simple, this is THE bag that made Kate Spade, well, Kate Spade.  It's a boxy bag made of black nylon (there are many other colors) with her simple patch stitched to the front.  Looks good with a little black dress or a t-shirt and jeans.  Because it's reinforced it doesn't get slouchy, and it stands on its own when you set it down.  Now, this bag was highly faked when Kate Spade first came out, so a slight amount of research might be in order before buying one.  However, the majority of Sams on Ebay are authentic.  This bag often sells on Ebay for around $20.

#4 Moschino bags
A very expensive Italian designer/company, Moschino is loved and carried by celebrities.  For many of us, however, it's just a brand we've never heard of.  Rest assured, these bags are stylish and chic.  They are often playful and feature bold logos or unique shapes.  They often sell for close to the starting bid on Ebay, so in many cases that's under $40. 

#5 The Coach Girlie bag

The late 90's and early 2000's were an interesting time for Coach, and they came out with several collections that tried to be innovative, but have since been abandoned and for the most part have been forgotten about.  The Girlie collection was one of these, with slim sleek hobo style bags in this shape.  Most were made out of leather, some were even metallic napa, but when they are on Ebay, they usually don't sell for much over $40.

#6 Dooney & Bourke All Weather Leather

The All Weather Leather collection from Dooney & Bourke is their most famous collection.  For good reason.  SO east coast stylish and soccer mom meets country club, this style features thick pebbled leather and smooth leather trim, with the duck embossed logo and a brass duck fob.  They come in a variety of styles, from doctors satchels to shoulder bags to little crossbody bags.  This collection was also highly counterfeited as well, so you want to look for a red, white, and blue dooney tag inside the bag. (older bags were made in the USA, newer bags do not have that part on the tag).

The All Weather Leather collection is also returning in popularity, with its sort of geeky-chic aesthetic that looks great with menswear, a simple dress, or a polo shirt.  These are all over Ebay so get yours today!

#7 Coach Neo Bags

This Coach collection is definitely not for everyone.  In the early 2000's, Coach made a line of neoprene bags in a with a sort of foamy-microfiber exterior, trimmed in leather.  These bags feature a simple metal plate that says "Coach New York" on the front of most of the bags.  While sort of space-age and businesslike, these bags sell for very little.  Often called "Neo" bags, I think of them as an attempt to go Matrix but just end up looking kind of off.  They are still Coach, and better quality than a lot of other bags out there. 

#8  Coach Soho bags

 Coach introduced its original Soho collection in the early 90's, and then in the early to mid 2000's they came out with another collection in the shape seen above. The shapes all had this signature style rounded buckle, and many had this stitching/shape seen on the base. There are many, many varieties within this collection, from leather to signature fabric to suede, but a lot of these bags sell for very little.  Coach made yet another Soho collection just a year or two ago, and those often sell a little more, but are still quite affordable. 

#9 Coach Chelsea bags

Coach has made several Chelsea collections, but the one from a few years ago is currently selling for pennies on the dollar.  The smaller pebbled leather bags with the front zipper and top turnlock sometimes go for under $20!  This is a great collection because its still very stylish and has a lot of signature Coach touches.  There is a wide variety of styles to chose from as well.  Some of the Chelsea bags sell for more, but there will always be some that go for very little.

#10  Vintage Coach Ergo bags

Sleek and designed to hug the body, Coach has made many Ergo collections since the 1990's.  The 90's bags are made of their famous glove tanned cowhide, and are sleek and fabulous.  The cowhide lasts forever, and is a much higher quality than the fabric bags.  Sometimes even more recent Ergo bags go for under $40, so keep an eye out!

There are so many, many other bags and styles that go for under $40 regularly.  The main think is to keep looking and watch for bags that end at weird times, like in the morning on a Saturday.  Good luck!