The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Loehmann's Hits Downtown Chicago

Good news for Chicago shoppers...

From "Loehmann's will open its first downtown Chicago store at 151 North State Street next month, adding to the discount retail presence on the street, which currently houses Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx and Filene's Basement. Located between the Chicago Theatre and Macy's on State Street, the newly constructed 27,000-square-foot bilevel Loehmann's will possess one of the more upscale interiors of the 61-store chain, with marble floors and private fitting rooms. It will sit below the Joffrey Ballet's new headquarters and across from ABC Channel 7's new studios. ..."

FYI, Loehmann's is a discounter of designer fashions. Think of it as a dressier, more mature version of TJ Maxx.

The opening of Loehmann's is part of an ongoing transformation of State street...which has been bittersweet: In 2006, Marshall Field's, an iconic department store and city landmark, was replaced by New-York based Macy's. (We won't shop there on principle, but the building is still worth visiting for it's stunning Tiffany glass dome.) Then, the nearby Louis Sullivan-designed building that had housed Carson Pirie Scott for over a century saw it's tenant take flight.

On the plus side, the area south of Washington has really seen a surge in new businesses including affordable clothing retailers and restaurants. In addition to the stores listed above, budget babes can also shop at Chicago-based Akira, and Sears, plus Urban Outfitters, Old Navy, H&M, and a trilevel Forever 21 (to name a few).

Let's hope Loehmann's gives shoppers in Chitown something to cheer about.

Beauty Review: Listerine Whitening Strips

by The Budget Babe's Beauty Expert
I was really excited to try those new Listerine Whitening Quick Dissolving Strips because I thought that the concept was great—after all, who wants to have to take out that spitty strip of plastic post-whitening? But after trying the product, I'd have to give it a thumbs down.

Overall I would have to say I was really disappointed with this product, to the point where I dreaded using it (and often skipped sessions because I really couldn't force myself to do it.)

Let me tell you why. First off, getting the strips out of their wrappings was a PAIN! The thin, clear, delicate strips stick to one side of the metallic silver packaging and have to be peeled off (if you manage to see the strip, or haven't already torn it in half trying to open the package). Putting them on is standard, however what happens next made me cringe just thinking about it. The strips tasted vile—they're extremely bitter and just all around gross.

And then there's the whole "dissolve" thing. The package claims they dissolve and are gone in around 5 minutes. Hours later I still found myself picking out from between my teeth what looked like mini jellyfish and had the irritating properties of corn stuck in your teeth, yuck!!!

The combined taste and then tooth-picking really grossed me out. Not to mention I have to admit I'm a little afraid of something that completely dissolves and I'm consuming, how healthy can that be?

And the icing on the cake? I wasn't even impressed with the whitening. I can honestly recommend any other whitening strip on the market over these (and I have tried them all).

If you want whiter teeth without getting them professionally cleaned, opt for an electric toothbrush and some Arm and Hammer toothpaste. Combined, they create and maintain the whitest smile you've ever had on a daily basis—and on a budget.

Listerine Whitening Quick Dissolving Strips are available at; $26.99 $23.99

Fall Fashion: The Puffy Vest

Down-filled, fur-lined, quilted or knitted, puffy vests are so warm and snuggly that you can't help but love them. Layered over a fitted sweater, puffy vests stand in as substitutes for jackets. Worn beneath a lightweight coat, they provide extra warmth and mileage as temperatures drop. If you're worried they'll add extra visual bulk, pick a more streamlined version in a dark color. With so many styles to choose from these days, there's sure to be a perfect poofy for your wardrobe. Here are six budget-friendly suggestions...

[1] Bitten SJP Navy Puffer, under $20
[2] Gap Camo Hooded Vest, $34.99
[3] Old Navy Frost Free Vest in Oxygen, $39.50
[4] Delia's Fairisle Sweater Vest, $54.50
[5] Forever 21 Safari Vest, $37.80
[6] Forever 21 Plaid Wool Vest, $29.80

The Launch of Twelve by Twelve

The wait is over: Twelve by Twelve, the new "luxe" line from Forever 21, launched September 25th in select stores and online.

What we've seen so far looks promising: uses sexy branding. Clothes are categorized by snazzy names like "Dandy Dolls, "Mystical Forest," and "Modern Art." Each has it's own subtle flavor. Polyester is still prevalent but natural fibers can also be found. The overall color palette is more sophisticated and subdued than it's sister brand. Prices top off at $89 for outerwear.

Until we can get our paws on the real deal, we'll just have to go by what we see online. Here are some standout items from the debut collection...

[1] Downtown Double-knit Jacket, cotton, $69
[2] Cottswald Cocoon Sweatercoat, wool, $48
[3] Oxford Shirtdress, silk, $36
[4] Nostalgic Minidress, silk, $39

Savvy Travel: A New Kind of Factory Store

Fifi LaMode visits Lodz, PolandThe Budget Babe's International Shopping Advisor Fifi LaMode returns from Łódź, Poland, where everything old is new again—and film, culture and shopping thrives. —TBB

by Fifi LaMode
Łódź is located in central Poland, about 120 km from Warsaw. It's pronounced "Wooj", (the name is Polish for "boat") and used to be one of Europe's primary textile centers from the early days of the Industrial Revolution. Izrael Poznanski's factory at one time employed over 11,000 people. The city received privileges to encourage development and was labeled a special economic zone. Jews, Germans, Russians and Poles flocked there to get rich quick, earning Łódź the name "Ziemia Obiecana", or Promised Land. It was one of Europe's most multi-cultural cities.

This Golden Age ended with the world wars. After World War II, Łódź was the defacto capital of Poland, since Warsaw lay in ruins. The Jews were gone, so were the Germans and most Russians. It was still a major textile center, and designers like Yves Saint-Laurent and Daniel Hechter had their pret-a-porter collections made there; In the 70's and 80's you could find samples or seconds with their labels at the department stores and they were selling for a song (a Daniel Hechter corduroy jacket with flannel lining cost $12!).

Today the factories are closed but culture thrives. The Łódź Film School is respected world-wide (Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polanski, Agnieszka Holland—ring a bell? All from the Łódź Film School), continuously producing world-class directors and cinematographers. Arthur Rubinstein lived on Piotrkowska Street, once the world's longest shopping street at 4.5 km, boasting impressive art nouveau architecture as well as excellent cafes and restaurants.

The special economic zone still exists today and developers and investors are coming from around the world to take advantage of the tax breaks and financial incentives. Rumor has it that David Lynch fell in love with the place while filming there and plopped down a load of money for some project or other.