Thursday, July 16, 2009

Budget-conscious bargains and the perfect lippie!

Times have been tough for this fashionista of late and but that doesn’t mean life has been no fun or a totally shopping-free zone! I’ve been having lots of budget-conscious fun (a contradiction of terms I would have once said, but no more!) Sadly, though, I have been remiss in keeping you up-to-date with my purse-friendly purchases while I have been in the midst of all this fun. Sorry girls but I’ll just have to focus the mind on blogging as much as I do shopping from now on, promise!! (It costs nothing after all, which is a major bonus!)

I have realised that no matter how broke I am a) I can’t live happily without the thrill of the till (shallow, I know, but true nonetheless!) and b) there are always fabulous bargains available to suit the teeniest of budgets.

I was in London a couple of months ago and found some fantastic bargains at knock-down prices. Matalan is a European high street chain which, as far I know, is yet to reach the Irish shores, but they have a sale shop in Wood Green, North London, near where my sister lives and I found some fabulous tops there at unbelievable prices. I got two beautiful ruched neck satin tops, one black and one lavender, for £4 each and a super, and very now, blue, grey and white graphic print sleeveless top for just a fiver. They are all good quality and go brilliantly with skinny jeans or denim skirts. I feel stylish and cool in them and just need to throw on a little jacket and some wedges (neither of which are is short supply in my bulging wardrobe!) and I am good to go for lunch with the girls or a few drinks in the pub. I love the simplicity of outfits like that which you can just throw on and forget about.

Speaking of wedges I bought a lovely and super-comfy pair in Marks & Spencer a few weeks back. At €27 they were at the expensive end of my shopping budget these days and a real treat but so worth it. I have lived in them for weeks now. The thing is Marks and Spencers shoes come in a 35½ which is a perfect fit for me so each summer I invest in a pair of their sandals and then inevitably live in them for the whole season. No change this year then! The sandals are silver with a strap across the ankle and 2 inch wedges. Totally gorgeous and metallics are so ideal for going with loads of colours that I have got endless wear out of them – something that is more and more important when I have less and less money to spend these days!! (On a final M&S note, I noticed with pleasure that they have improved their sterling to euro exchange rate too which was another bonus.)

I got a great surprise a few days after buying the shoes when I was passing time in Penneys before meeting a friend and found a silvery grey scarf on sale for a euro. Apart from the fact that it picks up the colour of the shoes, it is ideal for keeping me cosy on those ‘summer’ nights which suddenly turn chilly!

Speaking of Penneys, special mention has to go to a gorgeous petrol / turquoise dress I got for just €15 about six weeks ago. It is simple jersey to the knee with just a scoop neck and incredibly flattering. I paired it with a wide red belt, t-bar, round toe red shoes (I call them my Minnie Mouse shoes!) and a pile of red bangles. I wore it out one night when I really wanted to feel good and it succeeded in making me feel fantastic.

So you can see over the last few months, despite my financial woes, I have managed to squeeze in a few shopping sprees but in really lean times the budget just won’t stretch to clothes or, particularly, shoes sometimes. I have written before about the joy of cosmetics purchases in times of financial strain. A little lippie can go a long way towards making a girl feel better and it costs relatively little. I recently discovered a great new range by Revlon called ColorStay Ultimate Lipcolour. I have been on the search for my perfect red lipstick for what seems like forever and saw an ad in a magazine featuring the actress Jennifer Connelly wearing the shade Top Tomato. She has similar colouring to me so I decided to try it out and fell in love. The perfect texture and the perfect colour. Hey, who needs a man when you have the perfect lippie? Mind you, with this product I could kiss a man all night and still have perfect lippie afterwards so it seems a shame I don’t have someone to kiss! Anyway, it goes on like a gloss but dries to a moisturising lipstick and lasts for hours. At €13.05 it isn’t the cheapest brand on the market but you won’t need to re-apply it every time you nip to the loo when you’re at dinner or in the pub – it genuinely does survive eating and drinking – and I think it is worth every cent. There is a good range of colours too. I have the lovely ‘Premium Pink’ which brings a ‘pop’ of colour to my face in the day time and the aforementioned ‘Top Tomato’ which is a great night shade (or for when I am feeling brave in the day time!)

Some things never change of course. However much I tell myself I a now a recessionista and am just fine living on a budget and (ahem!) am enjoying the challenge of it even, the truth is there is still part of me that longs for the high life. Thankfully, I have a wonderful sister who can facilitate that wonderfully. My gorgeous sister Nici got me a Burberry Prorsum bag as a present and gave it to me on my recent visit to London. It is beyond lovely. Mushroom-coloured leather with a cross-body strap and two short handles it is the softest leather I have ever touched. Roomy enough to hold the ridiculous amount of stuff I carry with me but compact enough that I don’t look like I am carrying the kitchen sink everywhere I go it is my perfect bag. My fabulous sister hits a style home run yet again. Thanks sis!

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