The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Fashion Over 50: Where to Shop

Actress Ellen Barkin sizzles in her 50s.

An astute reader from Ridgefield, CT, writes:
"Here's a challenge for the Budget Babe—write a column on what 'mature' women can do to get reasonably priced clothing that doesn't look cheap because, unlike you [twenty-somethings], at our age we can't get away with wearing a potato sack and accessorizing! If we wear cheaply made clothes, we look poor."
—Fabulous Over 50

We hear you loud and clear, Ms. Fabulous Over 50! The truth of the matter is this: finding wearable, modern clothes to fit one's lifestyle, budget and figure can be tricky at ANY age.

What's more is that when you're young, you don't have the money to buy designer duds. But as you mature, you gain the wisdom and self-confidence to know that clothes do not the woman make—not to mention you have better things to spend your hard-earned cash on (perhaps a trip to Tuscany).

Having said that, we understand your need for well-made, figure-flattering clothing that doesn't look, well, let's face it: old-lady, granny, stuffy or shapeless. Fortunately, budget babes at any age have options. Here's where to find affordable fashions that we think are ageless:

  • Now celebrating 60 years in business, Talbot's is known for classics. Our beloved mother—who taught us everything we know about style—shops almost exclusively at their outlet stores (which are actually better maintained than many regular retail stores).

  • Chico's is your go-to source for updated separates. Another great offering from Chico's is Spanx for Chico's shapewear.

  • The purveyor of island lifestyles, Tommy Bahama, has some seriously cool stuff for summer, available in stores only. And no, it's not just for Parrot Heads.

  • J. Jill is owned by the same company as Talbot's. Their slant is more effortless chic. Beware shapeless garments and ditsy floral prints.

  • For designer goods at a discount, check out and's designer boutique.

  • If you can get past the cheesy styling and euro-glam models at, you'll be rewarded with some great finds, especially in the swimsuit and jeans departments.

  • Spiegel mailed its first catalog to American women back in 1905, and they still have great offerings today. Highlights include collections by Norma Kamali and Jessica McClintock.

  • If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That's the lesson we've learned with Isaac Mizrahi's cheap-chic collection for Target. Check stores frequently as they update their looks regularly. We may love what we see one week and hate what we see the next.

  • Land's End has expanded its petite collection with more than 200 looks to choose from, and finding the right fit is especially important for mature fashionistas. Also a great place to snag a cute tote or bathing suit this summer.

  • Hit the sale section at as well as your favorite department store:,, and all have clearance sections. Neiman Marcus aka Needless Markup has a Last Call spot where you can save as much as 75% off designer apparel, handbags and accessories.

Art as Inspiration

Indulge us for just a moment, and check out this incredible dance routine from Fox's hit-show So You Think You Can Dance (aka American Idol for dancers). It's a dose of good ol' fashioned inspiration and it doesn't cost a dime. (Turn up those speakers! The music is AMAZING)

Dancers: Hok and Jaimie
Music: The Chairman’s Waltz
Memoirs of a Geisha (sndtrk)

Ask The Budget Babe: Feet and the Friendly Skies

Dear Budget Babe,
Just got back from a weekend trip and air travel is getting nastier by the day. Anyway, due to 'heightened security measures' we now have to take off our shoes, right? In summer that means walking barefoot where other people's feet have been. Eeeeeeewwwww
Budget Babe, is it ok to relax the fashion standards a bit and wear socks for that dreaded walk down the security aisle?

Answer: It is perfectly acceptable to wear socks or nylons after removing shoes at security checkpoints—in fact, we highly encourage this. However, it is not acceptable to wear socks with sandals (sorry, Mum!). The solution? Don't wear sandals when flying. Closed-toe shoes worn with socks protect your tootsies from fungus and rogue luggage carts in the airport, and keep them warm on the plane.

Common sense dictates that you also pick socks that aren't too slippery, in dark shades that wont show dirt. No holes. If you're minding your fashion Ps & Qs, you'll probably be wearing dark jeans or slacks, so socks should be a similar hue to create the most pleasant visual line.

Young'uns or the young at heart can wear cute, colorful or patterned socks, too. Nothing wrong with that.

As for shoes, opt for ballet flats, fashion sneaks, even fashionable clogs. If you're worried about the heat, wear socks that breathe and shoes made from real leather.

If your funky foot odor is so toxic that agents from the Department of Homeland Security get called in when you remove your shoes, consider this remedy: Brew up some iced tea and soak your feet in it for about 30 minutes a day for a week. The tannic acid in the tea will cure what ails you.

If you have a fashion conundrum that's keeping you up at night, e-mail The Budget Babe at

Things We Love: Monkey Key Covers

Having recently moved into a new apartment, we can truly appreciate these playful, monkey key covers (or are they Teletubbies?) from Honestly, we now have more keys than a medieval dungeon master, and while it's always a trip trying to remember which key fits which door, the whole ordeal could be made that much easier by simply slipping one of these distinct, mischievous-looking critters onto said keys. You know what that means: a lot less fumbling, and no more monkey business. Set of 6, $4.95.

The Undie Award Winners 2007

Undies are seriously important. They keep the girls happy, our cheeks uplifted and our curves feeling sexy. So which styles and brands are the best? Thanks to the Undie Awards (it's like the Miss America pageant for panties), you can save time and money by trusting the votes of over 12,000 women across the United States for the best in bras, underwear and more.

While our personal fave, the Victoria Secret low-rise cotton bikini (get 5 for $25!), didn't make the cut, here are four rightful winners from the competition:

Hanky Panky Thongs
"A Fabulous selection of colors in makes this collection a
favorite lingerie piece among celebrities. All day comfort
in a "one size fits most" stretch to fit fabric."

Most available in one size (o/s) and XL
$18 - $60

Barely There Flirtatious Bikini 2546
"This low-rise bikini is made in super-soft flirty lace, and features a "V" style to help hide under low-rise fashions."

Available in sizes 5-8

Wonderbra Gel Satin Push-Up Bra 7234
"Innovative lightweight gel pads which give unbelievable comfort and cleavage."

Available in sizes 32A - 38C

Calvin Klein F2540 Perfectly Fit T-Shirt Bra
"Smooth, seamless, contoured shape cups with two-way stretch foam."

Available in sizes 32A-38D