The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Deal du Jour: For Love 21 Caron Handbag

Dear For Love 21,
Your weekly must-haves are truly seductive. Might you consider offering free shipping on "The One Item I Need to Get This Week"? The Caron Faux Leather Handbag would make the perfect purse for transitioning from summer to fall, and it is sitting patiently in my shopping cart. Yet it's hard to justify paying shipping charges on top of the $29.80 price tag for one, simple bag (as lovely as it may be). Just say the word - that you'll ship it free - and I'll hit "buy."

Yours truly,

>> Caron Faux Leather Handbag, $29.80 (plus shipping)

Win Cool Stuff: $200 Regent's Secret Gift Certificate

And the winner is... Susan #11, who says she's looking forward to Fall fashion for "warm sweaters, flats, and heels, and the cashmere...oh my!"

Congrats to Susan, and thanks to all 164 people who entered. If you didn't win this time, keep checking back for more great giveaways to come!

Please note: This contest is now closed, check back tomorrow for the winner!

Today's giveaway is MAJOR (as in, it'll give the winner a major head-start on her fall wardrobe!): We're giving away a $200 gift certificate to be spent at Regent's Secret, a private, members-only retailer that offers leading fashion brands to its members at discounts of up to 70% off retail prices! To enter, simply answer this question in the comment section below: What are you most looking forward to about fall fashion?

To join Regent's Secret, click here.

Be sure to use a valid email address and include info(at) in your address book so we can contact you if you're the winner. Comments must be posted by 12 noon ET on Tuesday August 26 to be eligible to win. One lucky winner will be chosen at random, and will be announced on Wednesday August 27. You must be a member of Regent's Secret in order to use your gift certificate (please use the link above to join.)

Featured above: Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent, on sale at Regent's Secret from 08/25/08 - 08/27/08. Special thanks to Jackie for making this giveaway possible. Good luck everyone!

Old Navy Women's Plus Fall Collection

Cowl-Neck Dress, $34.50; Silk Ruffle Top, $29.50; Denim Pencil Skirt, $32.50; Color-Block Top, $26.50, "Diva" Wide-Leg Denim Trousers, $32.50

Old Navy Women's Plus is no longer carried in stores, a move that alienated a lot of their customers. Instead, it's now offered exclusively online and features the latest fashions designed specifically for sizes 16-30. The good news is that the online store provides an expanded selection of fashion apparel that help stylish gals go from work to weekend and day to night – all at great, Old Navy prices. A classic, feminine vibe prevails throughout the new Fall Collection, which includes comfortable, sophisticated wide-leg trousers, chic tops with interesting details, and jewel-box colors that range from inky blues and purples to green and bold citron. Shop the entire line at:

Ruched-Neck Dress $36.50; Flutter-Sleeve Top $29.50, Lace Jersey-Knit Cami, $12.50, "Flirt" Flared Jeans, $32.50; Pleated-Shoulder Top, $29.50, "Diva" Denim Trousers, $36.50.

3/4-Sleeve Silk Top, $32.50, "Diva" Clean-Front Jeans, $36.50; Burnout-Stripe Cardigan, $22.50, Waffle-Knit Tank, $16.50, "Flirt" Wide-Leg Denim Trousers, $36.50; Ruffle-Collar Top, $22.50, Pleated Skirt, $36.50

My Favorite Glossy: W Magazine

My glorious Fall issue of W magazine arrived this week, and as I hoisted up the hefty glossy and cradled it in my arms, I was reminded of exactly why this has remained my favorite fashion magazine since at least 1998. We're talking 556 oversized pages of the best in fashion, beauty and style. Sure, there are other fashion magazines that are more avant-garde or feature more budget-friendly finds (although I'm unable to name any offhand) but W continues to shine brighter than the rest for its photography, more photography, some writing and, well, the large format.

My only complaint is they seem to be featuring more and more actresses on the cover, rather than models, but at least they style them in fresh new ways. Kate Hudson looks great on the September 2008 cover in a remake of the September 1994 Harper's Bazaar cover of Nadja Auermann photographed by Patrick Demarchelier (click here to see the covers side by side). Some people are up-in-arms about the cover, calling it a blatant knockoff, but to them I say, take an art history class and get a life. And I'm not saying the Kate cover is a masterpiece but I see nothing wrong with reinterpretting a photograph with an entirely new person. The aim was to remove Kate's girl-next-door association, so they put her in Nadja's iconic fierce model pose. It's not groundbreaking, but it's also not a crime.

If you don't already subscribe, I highly recommend W as a supplement to your online fashion news...ya know, when you're not around a computer and can't access The Babe. Anywho, here are more reasons why I love W:

  • W doesn't do weird for the sake of weird.

  • Just enough mainstream material to keep you in the loop.

  • There's none of the smut you find in other women's magazines, like, "101 Ways to Please Your Man."

  • Very little celebrity talk, with a greater focus on designers, artists, fashion entrepreneurs, both up-and-coming and the well-established icon. Their homage to the late Yves Saint Laurent brought a tear to my eye.

  • Gives its reader the illusion of exclusivity and elitism. As long as I realize it's an illusion, let me enjoy my fantasy.

  • Columns by The Countess Louise J. Esterhazy, a royal snob. Literally.

What's your favorite fashion magazine?

Luxe vs. Less: The Black Pencil Skirt

Pencil skirts make a fab addition to any wardrobe

I realize that I only recently did a post on how to be frugal during this shaky economy we're living in, but what can I say: The blog must go on. Happily, this post has to do with a wardrobe essential, something you will certainly wear dozens--if not hundreds--of times. Ok, maybe not hundreds, but you will certainly get your money's worth. Exhibit A (on the left) is a mid-weight jersey pencil skirt by Only Hearts, available for $84 at The fabric and elastic waist make it a flattering and comfortable choice. Exhibit B (right) is slightly shorter, which might account for the lower pricetag (I jest). The Lux knit pencil skirt has just the right amount of spandex to put some swagger in your step, and goes for $28 at

Luxe: Only Hearts pencil skirt with pockets at, $84
Less: Lux knit pencil skirt at, $28