The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Pantone's Color of the Year Is...

Pantone, Inc., the leading provider of professional color standards for the design industries, selected Blue Iris as the color of the year for 2008, saying the purple-blue hue best represents color direction for fashion, cosmetics and home products.

From "Combining the stable and calming aspects of blue with the mystical and spiritual qualities of purple, Blue Iris satisfies the need for reassurance in a complex world, while adding a hint of mystery and excitement. … As a reflection of the times, Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspect of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast. Emotionally, it is anchoring and meditative with a touch of magic. Look for it artfully combined with deeper plums, red-browns, yellow-greens, grapes and grays."

From left to right: Spring 2008 looks from Balenciaga, Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci, Jil Sander as featured on

While this press-seeking decision will hardly influence how we dress - or even how designers design - we love the idea of an annual color coronation. Different hues impact each of us in such varied emotional ways. The colors we choose to wear say so much about the person wearing them. And as an artist, colors are undeniably more important than words. While we typically lean towards warmer hues on the color wheel, we embrace this opportunity to reflect on this beautiful, cool shade and see how it plays out in the coming months.

Blue Iris is a dominant hue in one of our favorite paintings by Vincent van Gogh. Irises, Oil on Canvas, 1889

Imitation UGGs: Love It or Lump It?

The onslaught of UGGs in the fashion world is showing no signs of letting up this winter season - with Christmas just days away, many UGG styles are sold out or on backorder. Some retailers have even imposed a 4 or 5 pair household limit for the sheepskin footwear due to the incredibly high demand.

As the proud owners of a pair of UGG Uptown boots, we understand the UGG appeal (fortunately, we received ours as a gift): They are incredibly warm, comfortable and comforting in cold climates. Slip them on, and you feel ready to take on any weather in style. What can we say, we don't think UGGS are ugly - they're cute, like so many odd-looking yet adorable creatures endemic to Australia - the platypus or wombat, for example.

However, if you took away the UGG's warmth and cozy lining, well, we don't think they could fall back on looks alone. Which is why we have to say "lump it" (as the Aussies say) to the imitations. If you want to try the look before investing in the real thing, by all means go for it. But if you're looking for a high-quality warm boot - and you like the look of UGGs - go for the real thing, as you won't be disappointed.

LEFT: Xhilaration Electra Suede Boots at Target, $19.99
RIGHT: UGG Australia Classic Short Boot at Nordstrom, $119.95

Promtastic: Betsey Johnson Spring 2008

It's Friday! Time for a little fun - and we have just the thing: Gorgeous runway pics from Betsey Johnson's Spring 2008 collection! "Life is a prom," says the designer. Indeed. These petticoated, glittering creations shout party time. They look good enough to eat. They're what we thought dresses should look like when we were little girls, all ruffle, satin, sequin, tulle, crinoline and lace. Like cupcakes you can wear. They will make you giddy. They will make you giggle. They will make you wish you were 16 again...or, if Johnson has anything to say about it, they'll make you sprinkle a little levity into your wardrobe no matter what your age. The original wild child herself is as fabulous now in her 60s as she was during her Warhol-scene days - she embodies youthful exuberance, and she's cool as all get out. And what's more, she makes us grin from ear to ear. Enjoy!

Styling tip: Why wait until spring? Mix in some satin, metallics, glittery belts, rhinestone brooches, and festive tights when you get decked out for New Year's. Pink cheeks, shimmering lips and iridescent eyelids finish the flirty look.

>> See the complete collection at

Look for Less: Betsey Johnson Party Dress

Black and gold join forces to create one of winter's top trends, especially for holiday attire. Give it a try with your accessories, or make a bold statement with a black and gold dress.

Left: Betsey Johnson employs the glamorous and sophisticated color combination of black and gold on the Fall 2007 runway.
Right: For just $39, you can achieve a similar look with this striking French Corset Bubble Dress from Forever 21.

>> Black & Gold - Top Holiday Accessory Trend <<

Feather Earrings, $5.80 | Elephant Necklace, $7.80 | Pumps, $18.80 | Tote, $30.80 | Mod Ring, $4.80

Savvy Travel: Christmas in Connecticut

'Tis the season for jolly jaunts in picturesque New England with the Budget Babe's International Travel Advisor Fifi LaMode. —TBB

by Fifi LaMode
New England is beautiful in any season, but Christmas is especially lovely.

Ridgefield, in southern Connecticut, especially evokes Norman Rockwell scenes. Its historic Main Street is full of small boutiques and shops with unique trendy clothing, gifts and antiques. Try T L Bennett at 448 Main Street for unbelievably gorgeous French jacquard tablecloths, linens and accessories. She also sells Kai products and French soaps. Wonderful gift ideas and top quality stuff. Deborah Ann's Homemade Chocolates makes chocolates on the premises, and they also sell a variety of imported Belgian ones, in addition to gift sets. It's so much fun to go in there at any season and see the goodies designed for each holiday.

There are 3 fabulous jewelry stores: Adessi, Craig's (huge selection of Honora pearls - every so often they do trunk shows), and Capiello Brothers (get your bargains here - they have estate jewelry and consignment stuff ranging from Cartier watches to funky 60's pendants to traditional wedding/engagement rings. They also do repairs and appraisals).

These are only a few examples of locally-owned businesses. Further down the road going north on Main Street there's a shopping center with a Stop N Shop grocery store. But the big draw is Genoa Deli, where each day they have a variety of home-cooked specials, fresh bread delivered from Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, and salads and sandwiches. Rocco and co. treat you like family. Then there's Venice Restaurant, owned by Stefano from Sicily, who married a local girl, and serves up the best Veal Cutlet Siciliana ever (that's veal parm with eggplant). Double yummmmm. Personally, this is the best place in town - great value for money, friendly, low-key, delicious food.

Now that we've covered how you can spend your money, let's look at another side of Christmas in this lovely town. Take a walk down Main Street south, past the shops, and see the Victorian mansions all lit up, especially after a snowfall. You can smell the wood burning in the fireplaces. Or drive off the beaten path and see homes in a more rustic setting, everything from McMansions, almost obscene in their opulance, to small Cape Cod houses, painted in bright blues or deep reds. You feel like you're in a painting.

This town is not snooty like some of its neighbors (New Canaan and Greenwich come to mind), and more sophisticated than some of the towns more in country, so whether you're from a small town or a big city, you can appreciate the charm, history (they've got a marker where Benedict Arnold fell off his horse during the Revolutionary War - this is when he was still on our side!) and friendliness of this Connecticut jewel.

How to get there: Fly into White Plains Airport (20 minute drive), Hartford (90 minutes), La Guardia (1 hr.) Ridgefield is directly south of Danbury, and about 15 miles north of Long Island Sound.

At the beginning of December they have a Holiday Walk in town, and a Christmas Holiday Homes event, where you travel by horse and buggy looking at the decorated houses.

Fifi will be taking a break to be with family and friends until the New Year. Merry Christmas, dear readers, and thanks for reading my columns.

>> Read all of Fifi LaMode's past articles.