The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Tips for Shopping During a Shaky Economy

Tough economic times call for increased belt-tightening, preferably a studded leather Linea Pelle belt purchased on sale at, but it's gotta be tightened nonetheless. Whether or not you feel we're in a recession (I prefer to remain in denial and think positive thoughts! Channel The Secret, everybody!), a lot of people are definitely feeling the pinch of those gas prices, sluggish markets and more. So what's a stylish gal to do? Read on for some tips that will help you shop smart during tough financial times.

Indulge in virtual shopping. I didn't say online shopping, I said virtual, as in, not real. What do I mean by this? Visit sites like or where you can "shop" to your heart's content by browsing the web, saving your favorite items, creating crafty outfits and sharing thoughts and comments with fellow fashion lovers. Oftentimes, an hour of goofing around with Polyvore is totally enough for me to get that fashion fix. I can see how colors and silhouettes go together (or don't) without actually buying the items. Trust me, you don't really need to have those Louboutins or even that cute bag that's on sale at Target. Transcend, people, transcend!

Shop your closet. Honestly, you probably have gems hiding in there that you haven't seen in years, and they deserve to see the light of day. Pretend you're thrifting, or shopping a fabulous vintage trunk show. Pour yourself a glass of wine, play dress up, and think of creative ways to rework what you already own. You will be surprised by what you discover. Plus, just think of how green you're being!

Organize a clothing swap with friends. They don't all have to be your size, as you can swap things like accessories, too. Make them bring food, too, and you've got yourself a fashion potluck bonanza!

Go thrifting. If you've been put off by the funky smells or bizarro clothes you've seen at thrift stores in the past, give it another go. Nowadays you can find plenty of nearly new clothing and current styles since so many people have overflowing closets. Who knows, a recovering shopping addict may have just dropped off her 13th Chanel bag, and you can scoop it up for pennies!

Buy quality essentials. Now may be a good time to commit to buying just 2 or 3 great new items, and bypassing all the rest. That means no more Target or H&M. Instead, hit the sale racks at Saks or Neiman Marcus and get a sharp, designer blazer or quality Italian leather shoes in a neutral color that you can wear for years to come. It's not so boring as it sounds, it's quite noble in fact.

Have you had to cut back on your fashion spending? What are you doing to stretch your style dollars?

My Latest Steals: Bronze Beauties

HAPPY COINCIDENCE The week before my cruise to Bermuda, I bought a ton of fun "cruise-wear" from Last minute shopping can cause some serious damage to your budget, but that's a topic for another post. Anyways, I needed to find a big, beachy tote that I could carry around the ship during the day, something with ample room for a towel, sunscreen and other necessities, so I decided to get this sequin weave tote bag. The $40 pricetag kinda made me cringe because it's Forever 21, after all, but like I said, it was getting down to the wire and I had to make a decision, stat.

When my tote arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by the unique design, even though it turned out to be bronze and not beige as I assumed from the online pics (yeah, I didn't read the fine print very carefully). Basically, it's like a fully-lined silver sequin bag nestled inside a woven leather-like bronze bag. The overall effect is much less shiny and much more tasteful than it sounds; in fact, the bag is a subtle metallic that glimmers gently in the sunlight. And it was perfect for my vacation.

The happy coincidence was that the night before my cruise, I couldn't resist darting off to Target for more last-minute essentials like those adorable, travel-size toiletries shoes! So necessary. I lucked out and scored an adorable pair of bronze Isaac Mizrahi for Target t-strap sandals for just $7.48 on clearance. I can't tell you how amazing these shoes are. They have leather uppers, comfy 3" inch heel, and look equally fab with jeans or a dress. I had planned on wearing 4" stilettos for all the evening activities on the cruise, but after a little turbulence our first night, I was so glad I had packed my new chunky heels. Besides, you end up doing a lot of walking on those ships, and a lot of stair climbing, and a lot of dancing, so these shoes proved to be a dream. (What, oh what will we do when Isaac leaves us for Liz?)

One thing to note: The t-straps are still $29.99 at (also come in silver), so you may want to check your local brick-n-mortar for the best deal if you're interested. Above, I put together a simple outfit so you could see how everything looks in real life. What makes me most happy is the bag and shoes aren't too matchy, but when combined, they add a nice touch to just about any casual to semi-dressy look.

>> Sequin Weave Tote Bag at, $39.80
>> Isaac Mizrahi for Target Pat T-Strap Sandals at, $29.99