The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Back-to-School Bags Under $30: Forever 21

Forever 21 at ShopStyle

I know that some people like to malign Forever 21 for their "fall apart" fashions, but all the bags I've ever purchased from the fast-fashion chain have garnered dozens of compliments and they've held up really, really well. As in, I've never had a single problem with any of the half-dozen or so bags, totes or clutches that I've purchased from the store over the years. For example, I still use this black convertible bag at least weekly (it was in my daily rotation for a year but a girl's gotta mix things up), and the zippers still function perfectly, there are no loose threads, and the pleather has held up really well, no scuffs and you can just wipe it clean. So with that in mind, if you don't have a lot of cash to drop on a new handbag this season, consider purchasing one from Forever 21. And here's some more food for thought: Just because something costs $30 doesn't mean it's disposable. There's nothing on the tag that says you can't enjoy your budget purchases for years to come!

Back-to-School Bags Under $70: Urban Expressions

Urban Expressions at ShopStyle

If you're looking for a roomy, comfy, affordable handbag for back-to-school with an "It" bag vibe, Urban Expressions is a brand you should know. You can find this Los Angeles-based company's stylish, modern collection of handbags and clutches at stores like DSW as well as online at, and Urban Expressions has been featured in People StyleWatch, Life and Style, Cosmo and O, The Oprah Magazine, so you might be familiar with some of their designs already! Most bags are priced under $50 at Baghaus, and under $70 at DSW, but as always, look for sales and sign up for the DSW rewards club (if you aren't already a member).

The Look for Less: Alexander Wang Leather Moto Vest

Alexander Wang at ShopStyle

Alexander Wang's highly-coveted black leather moto vest, as seen on the S/S 2009 runway, costs a whopping $1,036 on sale at Satine.

To get the look for yourself this fall, try this faux leather moto vest by Xhilaration, just $19.99 at Target.

For more budget-friendly options, including some non-leather looks, browse my hand-picked options below. I want the one from Express but must wait for a sale…

Mudd for Kohls Fall Clothing & Accessories

When I shop at Kohls, I usually hone in on the Simply Vera Vera Wang and ELLE collections, but I received some images from the Mudd Fall Lookbook which I thought I'd share in case there are some Mudd fans out there. This juniors label is a great source for fall plaid, denim, and tees at really low prices. If you're a fan of pricier labels such as Lucky Brand (sold at Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's and Macy's) which has a similar boho, peace-signs-and-seed-beads aesthetic, you might want to check out Mudd for some affordable looks-for-less, too, especially their jewelry, scarves and other graphic tees. Any thoughts on Mudd?