The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Deal du Jour: Clinique Bonus Time at Macy's

It's Clinique Bonus time at Macy's now through Sunday, May 4th. Yours free with any Clinique purchase of $21.50 or more. Value $50.00

Your Bonus Includes:
Different Lipstick in Raspberry Glace
Long Last Lipstick in Beauty
Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion
Liquid Facial Soap Mild
High Impact Mascara in Black
Clinique Colour Palette: Colour Surge Eyeshadow Duo in Like Mink
Blushing Blush Powder Blush in Smoldering Plum
Choice of a pink or purple cosmetics bag

Not Loving American Living for JCPenney

In February JCPenney launched its new American Living label, a collection of Americana-infused women's, men's, and children's apparel and housewares masterminded by Ralph Lauren and his Global Concepts division.

I love the music they use in the The American Living commercials directed by Bruce Weber, who has worked on other campaigns for Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Abercrombie & Fitch. (FYI, the music is by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, case you're curious.)

But aside from that, I am not loving much else about this collection. The styles look outdated rather than classic, and everything is too expensive (which must explain the recent price cuts I've been noticing).

In fact, According to The New York Times, the American Living collection costs about 15 percent more than the highest-priced private labels now sold by Penney under brands like Concepts by Claiborne, Joneswear and Liz & Co.

For example, a woman’s seersucker skirt costs $70; a distressed jean jacket costs $100; and a large leather hobo costs $115.

I'm also not too keen on the brand's rustic bald-eagle-and-flag logo. A bit contrived, don't you think?

So my gut tells me this collection will be a major flop with shoppers. But if it lasts, at least American Living will provide a to Penney's upcoming Fabulosity clothing line.

Shopping Tips for the Forever 21 Virgin

I'm often asked to comment on the quality of the merchandise at Forever 21, an incredibly popular albeit controversial fast-fashion giant. I'm a big fan, in case you haven't noticed, and I definitely think Forever 21 has its place in the market—and in your wardrobe.

If you're new to the phenomenon that is Forever 21, here are a couple things to consider:

  • Shop in person if possible. This way you can try things on and judge the fit and quality firsthand.

  • Be prepared to dig. For a budget shopper who's used to thrifting, etc, this shouldn't be a problem - rather, it's an adventure! But yeah, their stuff can be hit or miss, so you need to dig around for those diamonds in the rough.

  • Forever 21 has great accessories and trendy items that let you "test" new styles without making a big investment. You will have so much fun, because for the price, you can afford to take some style risks.

  • Sizes are targeted towards teens. A major drawback for some but that's how it goes.

  • Quality: Is it amazing? No. But it's good, and with proper care, it will hold up. And consider this: Many other stores these days are selling the same types of garments which are sewn in the same kinds of factories, except they're marking their prices up well beyond those found at Forever 21. Remember: Just because something costs a lot these days, doesn't mean it's good quality and vice versa.

  • Check back often. Forever 21 stores get new merchandise just about every day. Sometimes I don't see anything I like, other days I want everything in sight.

  • Don't be turned off by the name. I always see women of all ages shopping at the Forever 21 on State Street in downtown Chicago, for example. Besides, a budget babe must always be willing to shop anywhere and everywhere for a great deal!

Look vs. Less: FCUK Sunrise Tellin Dress

Into optical illusions? These unique frocks have stripes that give the illusion of a tonal gradient when viewed from a distance. Pony up $168.00 for French Connection's version (center), or simply give the illusion that you paid a lot for your duds with either of the dresses on the sides from (who else) Forever 21.

>> Left: Diamond Knit Dress at (also available in red), $22.80
>> Center: Sunrise Tellin Dress at, $168
>> Right: Sleeveless Diamond Knit Dress at Forever, $24.80