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Deal Divas

Stephanie Hayes, Katie Sanders, Kameel Stanley, & Keyonna Summers

Getting cagey on the cheap

The caged shoe can be elegant...

Will Vragovic, Tampa Bay Times

The caged shoe can be elegant...

I first became aware of the caged shoe during our February fashion shoot for Bay magazine. Stylist Valerie Romas picked a pair of beautiful, brown, suede caged booties by Alexandre Birman to go with with a silk wrap dress for one shot and with Aztec print shorts for another. Times reporter Kathleen McGrory, who wrote our fashion spread, dubbed the $750 shoes "delicate yet daring, familiar yet fashion forward." She found out Ellie Goulding and Rachel McAdams are fans of the caged look.

So when I saw black, suede sandals at Target for $32 last week I jumped on them. Some smart designer already coined the phrase "summer suede" eons ago. I think they will be a major part of my white jeans and maxi dress combinations in coming months. 

While caged shoes are in, they probably wouldn't have been a hit with fashion icon Holly Golightly. We must always remember what she said when Paul professed his love.

" I'll never let ANYBODY put me in a cage."

 

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Your wedding dress doesn't have to cost $1 billion (or $1,000)

One of H&M's upcoming wedding dresses in its line for consciously made clothing.

Image via H&M

One of H&M's upcoming wedding dresses in its line for consciously made clothing.

Nine months after my wedding, I'm not looking to buy a new white ivory dress anytime soon. Unfortunately for me, neither the Internet nor my favorite stores know about this, and both are pelting me lately with crazy cute and affordable wedding dresses that are pretty useless to me.

I thought if I told you about them the universe would let this former bride live.

Modcloth

The exclusive retailer of New Girl's Jessica Day is going all-in on affordable wedding looks lately, from dresses to shoes to gifts to jewelry (just like I went all-in on what we in the journalism biz decry as a false range).

I struggled to find one over $300. The short and sassy back on the $175 Wedding Belle dress (has the name of a Modcloth item ever been so straightforward?) and long, modern lace of $250 Perennial Poise were some of my favorites.

Bridesmaid looks are covered too, though the prices are closer to what a lot of maids pony up for the ceremony. You've got bold, flared fucshia ($175), the long, grey and strapless All Award dress that would look great with a bold bouquet ($125), and the seriously adorable lilac buy-it-even-if-you-aren't-a-bridesmaid Beloved and Beyond dress ($175).

H&M …

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Guess what? I don't have to stab myself in the eye with a mascara wand anymore

I still might, but it will be on me.

screenshot via pinterest

I still might, but it will be on me.

I have bad vision like the pope has religion.

When I don't have contacts or glasses in, I can't tell that the people around me are human. I have mistaken a laptop bag for my dog. If my glasses fall off my nightstand, it can take several minutes before I find them on the floor. Sometimes my laptop bag/dog finds them first.

So on days when I want to wear my glasses but also put on makeup, everything is a nightmare, because I can't see my face as I am applying makeup.

But all that's about to change, thanks to a random, promoted tweet I saw about an hour ago and have decided I must act upon.

The tweet was about SpecsUp, a small, simple device that holds your glasses off your face but keeps them in your eyeline as you put your face on. I can't believe I haven't seen this on Shark Tank. From the website: …

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My Outfit Monday: Easter weekend dress sales are a near religious experience

Me, so happy I can afford to eat lunch after the damage I did shopping this weekend.

Sherri Day/Times

Me, so happy I can afford to eat lunch after the damage I did shopping this weekend.

I knew I needed a white dress for Easter, so I trekked to the old faithfuls, J.C. Penney and Marshall's last week. 

The sale at Penney's yielded me a great little white lace number for $26 with a coupon, but it was the haul I picked up a Marshall's that reminded me of the magic that is an Easter sale. On the Marshall's dress clearance rack sat this lonesome navy/gold accent Sharagano shirt dress looking for a home. 

When I pulled it down and saw the $15 price tag, it was a done deal. 

The material is a little heavier than the your average, near sheer shirt dress -- making it slightly off season but perfect for someone who works in an office that is always set to Chilly Willy. 

Behold! 

Easter weekend offers more than just a religious triumph for Christians and a metric ton of candy for everyone else. 

The dress sales are amazing and should always be on your annual shopping calendar.

What?

You don't have a shopping calendar?!?

You barbarian. 

Allow me to improve your life tremendously. 

Here's your first quarter shopping calendar, print it out and stick it to your refrigerator, darlings.  …

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A mid-week reminder that, sometimes, it's good to break the fashion rules

Carrie Bradshaw from 'Sex and the City'

New Line Cinemas

Carrie Bradshaw from 'Sex and the City'

If I have to read one more clickbait-y "I Tried (Insert Thing Here), And (Insert Result Here) Happened" post on the Internet, I might jab a stiletto into my eyeball.

And yet.

I clicked on this Buzzfeed story posted Tuesday night, "I Dressed So You Could See My Visible Belly Outline For A Week And It Was Scary," and it provoked all sorts of thoughts about fashion and body image.

The idea is pretty striking, if not groundbreaking. The writer, Kristin Chirico, starts by saying this: "While it's become socially acceptable to have fat deposits in your a** and boobs, it's a (mostly) unspoken rule that you must do your best to hide your belly fat."

And she isn't totally wrong. As a society, we're big on the sort of flat bellies that Spanx help create. Merely by bringing up such a "rule," Chirico's post made me think about why so many of us feel uncomfortable dressing in ways that aren't 100 percent flattering according to whatever body image standards are in vogue at the moment. Let us not forget that, half a century ago, cone bras meant pointy busts were all the rage. …

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A friendly fashion reminder from the TSA

TSA Instagram post from March 21, 2016.

TSA Instagram post from March 21, 2016.

@TSA is one of the most entertaining Instagram accounts out there, as much of a must-follow as @mindykaling, @modcloth and @beyonce.

But @TSA is not all throwing stars and retired bomb-sniffing dogs in hats (though who could be mad about that?). The account has useful tips for managing your fashion while flying, too!

Consider Monday's offering from a no-no experience in Baltimore:

"It's a bad idea to pack anything in your carry-on bag that looks like a firearm and ammo as it will slow things down for you and the travelers in line behind you. These shoes and bullet wrist bands were discovered in a carry-on bag recently at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI). While replicas are prohibited in carry-on bags, these shoes could have been packed in checked baggage."

There you have it. You better check your fire(arm) heels, or you'll end up embarrassed on the Internet.

(H/T to friend Jessica, who advised me to follow @TSA many months ago.)

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My Outfit Monday: How a $12 Goodwill dress saved my engagement moment

Times retail reporter Justine Griffin remembered she had this blue dress from Goodwill ($12) in her car when her then-boyfriend surprised her with a surprise night at the hotel that started it all...

Times retail reporter Justine Griffin remembered she had this blue dress from Goodwill ($12) in her car when her then-boyfriend surprised her with a surprise night at the hotel that started it all...

Enjoy our latest installment of Your Outfit Monday, this time from Times retail reporter Justine Griffin.

This is the true story about how a $12 dress from Goodwill saved me from looking like a total mess when I got engaged. 

I found myself in Sarasota browsing Goodwill donation stores one day a few weeks ago while on assignment.  One of the perks of being a retail reporter, I was able wander the store aisles in between interviews. I am an avid thrift store shopper, so I can safely say I have an eye for finding a gem in a sea of awful floor-length corduroy or checkered-patterned dresses.

And I did -- I found an adorable navy blue dress with a coral-colored design top for $12. The design of the dress includes two flattering cut out sides at the upper torso and a sheer blue floor-length overlay that is comfortable and flowy, but still shows off your legs. 

I tried it on and it fit like a glove. Sold. 

The dress sat in the back of my car for a week. I'd say it's not exactly appropriate for work and I didn't have a fun girls night out coming up, so I wasn't sure when I'd get to wear it.  …

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Here it is: A highly skeptical, non-gushing Stitch Fix review

Modeling the Stitch Fix skirt I purchased, roiling with ennui.

Photo by Deal Diva Katie

Modeling the Stitch Fix skirt I purchased, roiling with ennui.

We've had an insane amount of love for Stitch Fix on this blog. Even in life outside the blog, I've been hearing nonstop praise for the shopping service. It's like, when everyone is standing around a table of cheesy crab puffs talking about how tasty they are, how long are you going to hold out? 

I finally tried it. I knew the stuff was pricey, but I was really trying to be open minded, hoping I'd get something that felt worth the money. And I was excited about the prospect of having someone else pick out my clothes, always a helpful exercise in refining your style.

Well. With no intention of taking away the joy this service has brought some very good friends, I'm about to inject some cranky sobriety into this conversation. I will attempt to stay diplomatic as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Let's see how it goes.

 …

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In which Lauren B's Bachelor finale dress looked all too familiar

Epiphany: When Lauren B marries Ben Higgins, she'll become... Lauren H.

ABC

Epiphany: When Lauren B marries Ben Higgins, she'll become... Lauren H.

I have given up apologizing for watching The Bachelor, you hear me? Too many of my smartest, classiest female friends watch it and enjoy it for me to feel the need to defend it as good television. Also, have you ever even seen it, Becky? WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE. #thehillshaveeyes

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, I want to tell you about a bout of déjà vu I had when watching the finale on Monday. Ben Higgins, the bachelor in question, popped the question to his season-long frontrunner, flight attendant Lauren Bushnell.

Now, I have never been proposed to by Ben Higgins (that I can speak of). But I have worn the exact same dress Lauren was wearing during the proposal.

It was quite recently, in fact: I rented the cobalt Badgley Mischka gown off Rent the Runway in January for friend Eve's wedding at the St. Pete Shuffleboard Club. The dress was a bit steep for a rental, at $100, but I loooved it; you can read my glowing five-star review if you flip through the user photos.

You can also go crazy and buy it at Saks for $660. You know, you do you. …

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We don't have Jewel's voice but we can steal her boho style

Hi, queen.

Hi, queen.

Widely-known fact about Stephanie and me: We 'ship at the throne of Jewel. The poet-songstress first commanded our hearts in the mid '90s with hits like "You Were Meant for Me," "Who Will Save Your Soul" and "Foolish Games," the latter inspiring many, many karaoke turns in Steph's living room, to the delight of everyone around, we are sure. 

So we couldn't resist the chance to see our adolescent muse in person at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater on Sunday. Jewel is 41 now, a divorced mother of one. Her set mixed in poems and anecdotes about being a homeless teenager who stole a bunch of stuff before she was discovered. Boosted by "double wines" and amazing merchandise, Steph and I hung on to her every word. 

We wore our best bohemian looks for Jewel's performance, me in a floor-length mixed-pattern dress from Anthropologie sale rack, and Stephanie in a flowy white elephant print dress (recycled from my closet!).

Jewel's look was also true to theme: a weightless navy and white printed maxi with sheer sleeves. It kept the focus on her folksy songs, and looked great with her guitar. (Did I mention she played "Morning Song"? Shocker, right?!) …

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My Outfit Monday: Keeping cozy on a dreary day

When it rains I ask myself, "How can my outfit be most like a blanket?"

photo by Eve Edelheit

When it rains I ask myself, "How can my outfit be most like a blanket?"

When you're sick, the weather's bad, or you're just still bummed about Amy Poehler's marriage not working out, there's nothing like comfort food: mac and cheese, soup, chocolate cake, etc.

Getting dressed this morning, I realized I have "comfort clothes." That even when it's pretty warm out, if it's raining and gross and Monday, all I want to do is burrow into soft pants and a big sweater.

"To thine own self be true," wrote Shakespeare, dreaming one day he'd make it into a Deal Divas blog. And that is exactly what I did on this drizzly, cloud-covered Monday.

My maroon pants are the $13 Ann Taylor outlet find I bragged about in a recent post, and are so comfortable I might just keep them on for the lunch-time nap plan I've been crafting (I would never do this, editors. Maybe Katie though??).

This sweater came in my second Stitch Fix box last fall, and is still my favorite keeper to date. It's a swingy neutral in the front, and a button party in the back (see pictures in slideshow!). Never itchy, so cozy, lost in it forever. …

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Hot tip: Get a MAC mini session for $30 and 30 minutes

Me, after a makeover.

Times files

Me, after a makeover.

Here's a quick tip on getting your face shellacked:

I have been dipping into my local MAC for makeovers before weddings and events for some years now. Although I love experimenting with makeup on myself and others, there's just something tempting and luxurious about letting someone do the work for you, especially when it comes to sticking on those dramatic false lashes.

The rub? At MAC, you have to buy $50 in products to get the work done. It's easy to do that, of course, but not always the best move for your bank account. And to be honest, every time I plan to spend $50, I spend $80. The lashes alone end up being close to $20.

Nonetheless, I am a weak person and I also needed to get a new eyebrow pencil from MAC. Since I'd most likely be stopping in anyway on my way to a wedding, I called MAC to make an appointment last weekend. The employee told me they only had a half hour space, which would be eyes only. Basically, you come in with your foundation and stuff done and they just paint up your eyes and do lashes (which we all know is the hard part anyway). And it's a $30 purchase instead of $50. …

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Shopping Planner: Chiselers and Shabby Chic markets, plus a Saturday stoppage

Fine silver, crystal and china, plus much more, will be available at the Chiselers Market at Plant Hall on Saturday.

Eve Edelheit | Times

Fine silver, crystal and china, plus much more, will be available at the Chiselers Market at Plant Hall on Saturday.

ROAD BLOCK: SATURDAY STOPPAGE
Note to self and to you: The Saturday Morning Market will be closed this weekend as the Firestone Grand Prix takes over St. Petersburg. Remember to wear your most stylish ear muffs!

QUAINT AND QUIRKY: SHABBY CHIC MARKET
They like things airy, elegant and rough around the edges. They’re some of the most celebrated refabbers in Tampa Bay, and they’re gathering in Safety Harbor this weekend for the Shabby Chic Vintage Market and Artisan Day. Head down Main Street until you reach the gazebo — you can’t miss it — to enjoy food and drinks, original art, handmade jewelry, vintage home decor, garden furniture and decor, plant and flower vendors and, of course, entertainment. This serene setting is so quaint, you may just feel as though you’ve stepped foot into a Norman Rockwell painting. Free. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.  (727) 674-1464. simplyeventsfl.com. …

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I came, I saw, I Okeechobeed

How does the middle girl go to the bathroom?

KSS

How does the middle girl go to the bathroom?

I’ve never heard the words “ma’am” or “molly” so often until I was one of the oldest attendees at the Okeechobee Music Festival.

“You need any help with that tent ma’am?,” they guy with the multi-colored deer tattooed across his chest asked me. There was a turquoise diamond between the antlers

“I have to know. Where’d you get your necklace ma’am? I love it,” said the Michigan college student who I overheard earlier asking her tent mates who gave them the Molly the night before.

“Go ahead ma’am,” said the shower attendee when I asked if he could give a 48-year-old woman a break after learning I had to buy my $7 shower ticket at the general store two miles away.

I didn’t go by choice. The only thing my 17-year-old daughter Charlotte wanted for her birthday was to go to the music festival with her friend. She knew they wouldn’t be allowed to go on their own so would I please, please, please agree to take them?

When I finally said yes, I planned to stay at the historic Seminole Inn 45 minutes away in Indiantown. I would drop the girls off at noon and pick them up around 11:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. …

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I came, I saw, I Okeechobeed.

I’ve never heard the words “ma’am” or “molly” so often until I was one of the oldest attendees at the Okeechobee Music Festival.

“You need any help with that tent ma’am?,” they guy with the multi-colored deer tattooed across his chest asked me. There was a turquoise diamond between the antlers

“I have to know. Where’d you get your necklace ma’am? I love it,” said the Michigan college student who I overheard earlier asking her tent mates who gave them the Molly the night before.

“Go ahead ma’am,” said the shower attendee when I asked if he could give a 48-year-old woman a break after learning I had to buy my $7 shower ticket at the general store two miles away.

I didn’t go by choice. The only thing my 17-year-old daughter Charlotte wanted for her birthday was to go to the music festival with her friend. She knew they wouldn’t be allowed to go on their own so would I please, please, please agree to take them?

When I finally said yes, I planned to stay at the historic Seminole Inn 45 minutes away in Indiantown. I would drop the girls off at noon and pick them up around 11:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. …

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