Friday, May 27, 2011

DIY: Infinity Wedding Dress - Save Yourself Money AND Pain

I am really on a tear to share my recent do-it-yourself projects with everyone! This one is very close to my heart, as I decided to make my own wedding dress.

I was once like you. I wanted to keep to a small wedding budget, but I still wanted a killer wedding dress, and I wasn't about to cobble one together myself with bubble gum and paper clips. As far as I was concerned, the dress could take up 90% of the budget because, darn it, wedding pictures last forever. But then. Oh. God. I had a wedding-dress-shopping experience so horrible that it put me off ready-made dresses altogether.

First, let's talk about David's Bridal -- we thought it would the perfect place to look for a pretty dress at a reasonable price. When we arrived, the greeter barely spared us a watery smile. No one helped us look, which proved to be a great difficulty considering that signs everywhere warned that the dresses could only be touched by a handler. We sought out one such handler, only to be clucked at for not filling out an extensive questionnaire when we first arrived. We explained that the greeter had not said anything about it, yet we were still waived to the very end of a now-lengthy questionnaire-filling line. At this point, we merely walked out of the store, unwilling to give them our business. I do believe my bff used a few creative expletives on the way out - one of the many reasons I love her.

Fed up with the poor service at the big chain store, we headed over to a small, non-franchised bridal shop in Orange. They had a great selection of affordable dresses -- which would have been great, had they allowed me to try on the ones I liked. Instead, every time I asked about a dress hanging on the wall, the shopkeeper shoved a catalog at me and insisted I order one made-to-measure. I kept repeating that I needed to see a dress on to make sure it was flattering, but she just kept shoving that darn catalog at me. The last straw was when I asked about a dress I particularly liked -- she seriously looked me up and down and said, "That one is too small. It will never fit you." You can guess how that excursion ended (If you guessed that more expletives were involved, then you guessed correctly).

The rest of the day proved just as fruitless; either the prices were way out of my range, or the designs felt phoned-in, or the quality didn't justify the cost. I was tired, angry, and fed up with the process -- and it had only been one day! In the interest of sanity, I took matters into my own hands.

I knew my sewing talents were very, very limited, so I set out to find the simplest pattern possible, figuring that I could make up for the lack of drama with a pretty fabric. Google magic helped me find a pattern for a dress that only required one seam. Yep, only one seam. Perfect for me! Plus, this particular one-seam dress is called an "infinity dress" for its ability to twist and wrap and drape into a near-infinite amount of styles. I had to be able to find at least one flattering version out of infinity, right?

Somewhere along the line, I got it into my head that I wanted white-on-white stripes for my dress. I couldn't find such a fabric online, so my friend and I headed out to Downtown LA's Fashion District. I had hoped to find something to my liking at their famous $1/yard stalls but, alas, my picky nature bit me in the backside. I ended up finding the perfect overlay at shop selling drapery fabric -- hey, if curtains are good enough for Scarlett O'Hara, then they're good enough for me. I found my lining fabric at another stall downtown, too.

Making the dress was pretty easy, albeit time consuming. The only thing that made it difficult was that I had to finish all the edges of my pieces with a rolled hem to keep my woven fabrics from unraveling. My own dress also used more than one seam, because it was full-length, double-layered, and non-stretchy -- but when you're elaborating on a single-seam pattern, you can't really go wrong. I substituted the circle skirt of the pattern for a quick hack-job of an A-line skirt, too, which resulted in a funky-cool curved hemline that I really adore. I just drew out my waist measurement, hip measurement, and desired hem width centered on the fabric, then diagonal lines to connect them all (and repeated for back of skirt and lining). I did a rolled hem at the waist and hemline of the skirt and all the way around the straps, then sewed the front and back of the skirt together along the diagonal lines, adding a zipper at one hip. After that, it was just a matter of attaching the overlay and lining straps to the waist of the dress.

All in all, I spent about $50 on fabric. Throw in $10 for the cost of a rolled-hem presser foot to finish the edges of my fabric, and that's $60 for a totally custom, customizable dress. Not bad at all... especially since it only has to hold together for one day!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DIY: Convertible Handbag

I wanted a black-on-black striped bag. And I wanted it in genuine leather. And I wanted it to sport lots of hardware. And after setting eyes on these highly convertible bags while window shopping in Laguna Beach, I wanted my bag to be a transformer, too.

I couldn't find that hippogriff of a bag anywhere! Surprise, surprise... cue pout.

I sound like Bratty McBratterson, don't I? Well, I'll admit to being a demanding, neurotic control freak, but I think I (sort of) manage to redeem myself by being willing to work for the things I want -- and boy, when I decided to make my dream bag myself, the process turned out to be work. Seriously, this bag started out as two $1 pairs of leather pants, a $0.50 men's shirt, and a bulk order of D-rings. Forcing these disparate elements to play nicely together took a lot out of me - have you ever tried to apply rivets all along a 14-inch length of leather when your rivet gun only has an inch of clearance? No? It's kind of a pain!

However, for about $30 in materials (blood, sweat, and tears are free... provided they're your own, of course), I walked away with a totally custom -- and customizable -- wearable work of art. Poor rivet planning aside, the bag was not that difficult to construct; if you have some basic sewing skills, then it should be pretty easy to make, as you don't even need to finish off edges when working with leather.

  • Cut leather pants into strips as long as your desired bag is tall.
  • Sew strips together lengthwise until desired bag width is reached.
  • Follow instructions for constructing a lined zippered pouch... only, y'know, use your own measurements.
  • Use leather scraps and a rivet setter to attach a D-ring anywhere you'd want a handle to be.
  • Fashion straps out of leather and secure to lobster clasps with rivets.
  • Clip straps to different D-rings to achieve a different look! Here are some examples in backpack mode, foldover mode, tote mode, and crossbody hobo mode.
This tutorial is bag-specific, but the DIY concept is universal - don't short-change your crafting skills. You could end up saving a bunch of money by ripping your own holes in jeans, bedazzling your own tops, or even just hemming your own pants. It's also a rush to sport your new item about town and be able to say, "Oh, this? Yeah... I made it." Crafting isn't just cost-effective - it's empowering, too!

Monday, May 23, 2011

work outfit: how a citron shirt saved spring

I learned the hard way that I am not a Spring Colors Girl. Pastels and creamy tints like dove gray make my skin look washed out and, let's face it, a little dirty. Cheerful, optimistic hues like peach, fuchsia, or periwinkle make me feel like a fraud. What colors are left to me? Citron, lemon, lime, kumquat... y'know, colors that are a little bit sour and obnoxious -- just like me!

Citron must either be very unpopular or very hard to dye, because I just don't see it everywhere. I probably would never have tried on a citron item if I hadn't found this amazing Ebby by Farinaz Yaghavi top at the swap meet, but I'm infinitely glad I did. Citron gives my outfits a nice, bright pop without making me feel too girlie or soft. I'm in love with this color... and I'm also crushing hard on this brand.

The Farinaz Yaghavi site claims to sell "the only knitwear you will ever need," and I can't say I disagree all that much. If I had unlimited funds, I'd buy one of their Sensual Half Sleeve tops in every single color on offer. The neckline falls in a perfectly-flattering, not-too-wide-and-not-too-low V, the sleeves hit at the elbow and highlight my waist when I'm sans jacket (why half sleeves are so elusive, I will never understand), the fabric drapes like an absolute dream -- and keep in mind that my shirt is on its second life (at least)!

My other two favorite items in this outfit are my orange python belt and my gold horseshoe pendant, because they were both lucky finds. The belt, which is unmarked except for the Italian words vero pitone (or real python), was waiting for me in a Goodwill at one of my vacation destinations. The pendant has actually been with me since I found it in the parking lot of Alpha Beta as a very little girl. I don't see any markings that would indicate metal purity, so it is probably worthless -- whew, good thing it was free! Anyway, the point of my story is that you can find a crazy deal anywhere, whether it be at a swap meet, on vacation, or as you fall and skin your knee on your way out of the grocery store. :)

Ooh, and here's a close-up pic of the fabric of my skirt, too -- 'cause it's pretty and contains little flecks of citron, the color of the day.

Item Original Price My Price Vendor Type Location
Ebby Farinaz Taghavi Knit Top $96 $1 swap meet Huntington Beach
Handmade Skirt ? $1 swap meet Huntington Beach
Off-Brand Tweed Blazer ~$23 $1 swap meet Los Angeles
Vintage Italian Python Belt $54 $3 Goodwill Hilton Head Island, SC
Jessica Simpson Floral Garden Satchel $108 $10 (funded) Amazon internet
Horseshoe Pendant ? $0 found object parking lot
Dolce Vita Jayce Boots
$10 (funded) Amazon internet

Thursday, May 19, 2011

work outfits: works of art (continued)

Here I am wrapping up my submissions for the YLF Picture Perfect Challenge, which encouraged everyone to base a work-week's worth of outfits on famous paintings.

Wednesday's inspiration was another Picasso: Nude, Green Leaves and Bust. I had a tough time with this one, worried that the bold lines and bright colors called for a type of color blocking that would make me feel uncomfortable. I initially thought of wearing my cobalt blue dress layered over a bright, white top, but that felt too loud. Instead, I settled on a classic base of black and white, and let my accessories carry the color in the outfit. This olive green sweater and air force blue handbag felt much more in keeping with my personality.

Item Original Price My Price Vendor Type Location
Halogen Button Front $58 $1 swap meet Huntington Beach
Bloomingdale's Wool Skirt $100 $1 swap meet San Fernando
Benetton Wool Wrap Sweater $90 $2 swap meet Huntington Beach
L'Incontro Bowler Bag $485 $10 Goodwill Santa Monica
Dolce Vita Jayce Boots $103 $10 (funded) Amazon internet

Thursday's inspiration was Dora Maar with Cat. I am rather proud of this interpretation, as I even had a black cat near my shoulder, just like Dora! I felt drawn to the red/purple combo in the painting, and ran with that theme for the rest of the outfit.

Item Original Price My Price Vendor Type Location
DKNY Cashmere Shell Sweater
$1 swap meet San Fernando
Ann Taylor Pencil Skirt $108 $1 swap meet Huntington Beach
Ann Taylor Red Fabric Belt ? $0 (came w/ dress) thrift store Ontario
Cettu Handbag $250 $10 swap meet Huntington Beach
Vintage Brown Sweater ? $1 swap meet San Fernando
Cat Pin ? $1 swap meet San Fernando

Friday's work was Van Gogh's Irises. I almost gave up on this one, as I had used up all my purple clothing, and the wrap sweater I wanted to wear was in the laundry pile. I still love how this one turned out - I think the yellow-green skirt recalls the wavy lines of the iris leaves. I topped off the ensemble with some Prada Infusion d'Iris, which I received as a birthday gift last year - one of my favorite scents now!

Item Original Price My Price Vendor Type Location
Ann Taylor Sleveless Shirt $58 $1 swap meet Huntington Beach
Apriori Skirt $213 $1 swap meet Huntington Beach
Express Cashmere Sweater $60 $1 swap meet San Fernando
Cognac Leather Boots ~$80 $4 Goodwill Outlet Santa Ana
L'Incontro Bowler Bag $485 $10 Goodwill Santa Monica
Hawaiian Heritage Love Pendant $250 $0 gift gift

...and that's a work week! Huge thanks to YLF forum member -- and fellow blogger! -- Bella for organizing a fun and challenging week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

restore to save more: how to dye leather

Those of you who found my blog on the ever-awesome YLF forum (the site that single-handedly restored my faith in kind, supportive women) have already heard heaps on my love affair with leather dye, but I wanted to consolidate all my dye posts into a single how-to before I forget all about them and they fall off the edge of the interweb.

Dyeing for the Perfect Color
My problem this past Fall: I needed to replace my dark brown boots, but I couldn't find anything to fit my calves. One pair came close, but the leather was so soft, the shafts puddled around my ankles. The solution: a damaged pair of Sam Edelman boots at the swap meet (they were these, but damaged on the OTK part). Wrong color, wrong style, but the calf fit like a second skin, and the price was right. Cheap boots + brown dye = experiment time! It might sound scary to some but I prefer to take matters into my own hands, rather than wait for the winds of fate to blow new boots my way.

I chopped off the damaged top of the boots to get them down to the height I liked best, and I reattached the buckle detail where I liked it. Then it was time to bust out Tarrago's self shine leather dye kit in dark brown.

  • Step one: Scrub with preparer fluid (provided) to make sure the leather will accept the dye.
  • Step two: Use paint brush (provided) to paint dye into seams, crevices, and anywhere else hard to reach with a sponge.
  • Step three: Use sponge (provided) to apply dye to boots. Use a circular motion, and don't let the dye glob up - spread it out nice and thin so that the leather can absorb it. Let coats dry.
  • Step four: Check out your dye job in various types of light to see if there is a nice, even color. Repeat step three as needed.
You can also use masking tape to protect hardware or other elements that you don't want dyed, but I am pretty steady with a brush (and impatient), so I skipped that part. Didn't matter in the least for me. It seriously was THAT easy. I didn't make a mess, didn't run into any problems.

Dyeing to Erase Damage
Where I undertook the above boot project to satisfy my impatient nit-picky-ness, I decided to dye this bag in order to restore its stained, dirty leather. Dying the bag was a tiny bit harder than dying the boots, simply because there were more design elements to work around: buckles, straps, folds, zippers. However, it was still super easy -- I made it a point to put in as little effort as possible -- and it still turned out really well. I even managed to spilled the preparer fluid all over the bag... Oops. It didn't matter at all. :)
Shortcuts: This time around, I did not paint every single seam (as per the instructions) before using the sponge. I used the sponge from the get-go, and just tried to make sure I got every nook and cranny. This saved a lot of time, because you have to sponge over the brush strokes anyway, in order to prevent glooping and keep a nice, even color.

Hardware Hardships: I make the decision not to tape over much of the hardware, and I also gave dying the zipper fabric a shot. A bit of dye leaked through the zipper fabric, so if you want to preserve your lining *and* dye your zipper, then you should tape off the edges of your lining first. I painted over much of the hardware, then tried to remove it with acetone -- this was a problem, as it was impossible to avoid touching acetone to the leather, and it caused color loss. I ended up rubbing the dye off with tissue, and it came off easily without damaging the leather -- MUCH better.

Leather Love: the leather does NOT feel stiff, and the slouch/movement of the bag was not affected. It's an floppy, unstructured bag, and its movement feels the same as before dying. I would say that if you are dying distressed leather, none of the distressing will carry through. It may seem obvious, but the dye definitely makes the leather look brand new... so don't dye if you need to preserve a super matte/sueded/nubuck type look.

Well, there you have it! Whether you give a so-so item that extra oomph or pull a truly busted item back from the brink of your donation pile, leather dye is your friend. From now on, I will always look past the current condition of a leather item and consider what its condition could be after a quick coat of dye.

work outfits: works of art

These outfits are inspired by a fun thread started on YLF: the Picture Perfect Challenge urges women to find their outfit inspiration in famous paintings - too fun to pass up!

Monday's inspiration piece was Picasso's Boy with a Pipe. I don't own any non-abstract florals, so I took my inspiration from the colors used -- cognac and blue, with a pop of green. I don't have anything that exact shade of blue, either, so I tried to soften it a bit with a charcoal sweater vest. You may remember my cognac boots from my Goodwill Outlets post.

Item Original Price My Price Vendor Type Location
Off-Brand Navy Blouse ? $1 swap meet Huntington Beach
Vintage Rifle Strap $24 $10 (on sale) gun store Seattle
Handmade Feather Skirt ? $1 swap meet Huntington Beach
Cognac Boots ~ $80 $4 Goodwill Outlet Santa Ana
Ted Benson Handbag $300 $6 (funded, Ebay price $60 shipped) Ebay internet
J Crew Sleeveless Sweater $42 $1 swap meet San Fernando

Tuesday's piece was Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Once again, I did not have the exact colors handy, but I approximated the feel of the work with this beige blazer, hopefully bringing out the yellow in it by adding my bright yellow hobo.

Item Original Price My Price Vendor Type Location
Benetton Blazer $120 $12 Goodwill New York
Converse Plaid Flannel Dress $32 $1 swap meet Torrance
Liz Claiborne Belt $26 $1 swap meet Torrance
Green Tights $12 $1 swap meet Torrance
Gianni Bini Boots $80 $10 (funded Ebay price $55 shipped) Ebay internet
Cristina Hobo $450 $0 (gift) TJ Maxx Culver City

The challenge is still going -- to be continued!

Monday, May 16, 2011

How to Shop: Goodwill Outlets

Be thee fairly warned: thrifting has never been for the faint of heart, but a Goodwill Outlet could still give you a coronary if you aren't prepared. For serious.

Few and far between, these establishments are basically where unsold merchandise gets one final go at being re-homed. There are no racks. There are no hangers. There are no "departments." There are no price tags or bathrooms or dressing rooms or mirrors. What they do have is giant bin after giant bin of unsorted, unwashed, pre-owned miscellany priced to sell by the pound. It's not a place where everyone would choose to shop -- and that's precisely the point. The crux of the matter is that Goodwill Outlets allow adventurous and industrious bargain hunters to trade in petty amenities for the one thing that matters most (at least on this blog): a better bottom line.

How it works:
1) Visually assess intimidating mound of clothes/shoes/whoknowswhat.
2) Snatch up anything that looks cute, and throw it in your shopping cart.
3) Grab an armload of stuff and shift it to the side, so that you uncover more stuff.
4) Repeat steps 1-3 until your arm/patience/nose gives out.
5) Assess stuff in cart for wearability/quality/fit/weight.
6) Haggle and pay.

A few tips for mitigating the peril:

1) Dress to dig.
The Goodwill Outlet browsing process is something akin to an archeological dig, and you should dress accordingly. Hands-free bags, ponytail holders, short or roll-up-able sleeves, and easy-moving fabrics are a plus.

2) Know your clothes.
This process goes a lot faster if you are the type of person can spot her go-to brand of shoes from across the room or recognize cashmere by touch. Get familiar with the look and feel of the things you love, and finding more things you love will get to be second nature. I only spent about ten minutes at the outlet this time around, and I left with one of my favorite brands of jeans for $2.50 and perfectly fitting leather boots for $4.

3) Figure out some fit cheats.
There are no dressing rooms or mirrors in the outlet, so you have to find other ways to tell if a garment will fit you the way you want it to. For example, I know that I like my jeans rise to go no higher than my hip bones, so I throw shame to the wind and line up the crotch seams of prospective jeans to the jeans I'm currently in to see how high the rise goes. I also know that I like my tops to define the area under my bust, so I usually lay tops over my chest and make sure the side seams wrap around my torso no farther than my armpits.

4) Don't be shy!
There is a chance that your outlet location will be filled with lots of other bargain hunters so eager to find their own deals that they will physically jostle you out of the way. Don't let yourself be run over! Put your head down and jostle them right back. And if the cashier quotes a price that seems too high for you, make a counter-offer. These leather boots were originally quoted at $5 but, because the soles are cracking a bit (an easy enough fix for me, but a significant shoe flaw nonetheless), the cashier let me have them for $4 -- Don't laugh! That dollar I saved could turn into an awesome swap meet purchase later!

5) Have fun!
You might not end up coming home with anything, so don't put pressure on yourself to find a diamond in the rough every time. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and quit when the thrill is gone. There are always more stores to browse, and new items are always arriving. :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

When Saving Doesn't Pay

I have a confession to make.

I bought these Lucky Brand Maggie Jeans at full price. From the actual Lucky Brand retail store. Not an outlet. Not Ebay. Not the hallowed swap meet.

How could I do such a thing?

Well, I was much younger back then -- naive, living off scholarship money, suspicious of this whole "online shopping" thing, and desperate to shuck off the shackles of my thrift-store-exclusive past and buy The Perfect Jeans for the first time ever. I saved for months. I researched for weeks. I dragged my little sister from store to store for hours, agonizing over every little detail. I quizzed the poor shopkeeps for information like they were Jeopardy contestants. And I walked away with these jeans.

Yep, I mean that I bought these exact jeans seven years ago -- and they're still going strong. And looking at these photos, I think they're actually the most flattering part of the outfit (not sure why I layered those two particular top pieces... oh well).

After I'd worn my perfect jeans for a couple of months -- oohing at my own backside in the mirror every time I put them on, strutting around because I felt utterly fabulous in them, doing mental fist pumps when I received compliments on them -- I knew I wanted to feel that awesome all the time. I actually found 2 more pairs at thrift stores. The two purchased at thrift stores, however, simply weren't the same. The fabric content was different, the pocket embroidery was different, the washes were different, and I do believe the denim had molded to the exact specifications of someone else's ass.

I don't think in terms of "cost per wear," even though it is a popular philosophy in the fashion world. There are just so many things that can go wrong and blast your initial I'll-wear-it-forever plans out of the water. Me, I spill things. I get shredded by cat claws. I get bored and donate clothes before a single season has fully elapsed. But if I could go back in time, I wouldn't buy the secondhand jeans again -- even though they cost about one-tenth the price of retail, they weren't perfect enough to stick by my side or give me that elusive clothing high.

If you're out looking for The Perfect Item, and if that type of item varies from wash to wash or batch to batch, the least-expensive option might not be the best. You may be better off buying at full price, in a fully hands-on, try-it-on, test-it-out-before-purchasing environment... and funding the splurge.

Item Original Price My Price Vendor Type Location
Carters Children's Jacket $17 $3 Goodwill Santa Monica
Gap Pullover Sweater $49.50 $1 swap meet San Fernando
Lucky Maggie Jeans $99 $99 Lucky Brand Santa Monica
Army Surplus Boots $30 $30 internet internet
Chococat Necklace $32 $0 gift gift

Saturday, May 14, 2011

work outfits: polyester dresses and a home-dyed handbag

I've spent the last couple of days researching and scouting wedding locations, so I'm a little behind. Here are my outfits from Thursday and Friday, featuring an Italian leather handbag I picked up at Goodwill for $10. My secret? The handbag didn't always look like that; it initially came home dirty and stained. I will have a leather dye post up soon that will tell the whole story. In the mean time...

This dress seems like it was probably born in 1992. It's made out of a weird polyester knit that is almost bathing-suit-like, but thicker and better at hiding weird bulges. I wanted to wear it without hose, since the short sleeves seem too be paired a with leg-suffocating film, but that morning dawned too cold for me to leave the house bare-legged.

Item Original Price My Price Vendor Type Location
Heart Moon Star (Rampage) Dress $59 $1 swap meet Torrance
Henes Too Navy Tights $5 $1 99 Cents Only Los Angeles
Nine West Black Pumps $79 $25 Ross Cypress
L'Incontro Bowler Bag $485 $10 Goodwill Santa Monica
Outfit Total: $628 $37

Yet another polyester dress, thinner and more bathing-suit-like than the one before. This was my one and only Black Friday purchase -- an indulgence driven by my love for cats and my frustration over exorbitant Miu Miu prices.

The top was a really fun swap meet find; working in a business-not-quite-casual office, I tend to go through collared button-front shirts faster than I can replace them. This version from Banana Republic even sports some tiny white polka dots -- perfect for smuggling a bit of whimsy to work on Fridays.

Item Original Price My Price Vendor Type Location
Cat Print Dress $28 (plus shipping) $6.20 (plus shipping) internet internet
Banana Republic 3/4 Sleeve Shirt $70 $1 swap meet Huntington Beach
Carlos Santana Pumps $89 $25 Ross Los Angeles
Liz Claiborne Patent Belt $26 $1 swap meet Torrance
Outfit Total: $185 $33.20

Friday, May 13, 2011

What Could Have Been...

I had a nice, long leather dye tutorial for you today, but Blogger managed to lose the last saved version during whatever maintenance/chaos caused them to shut down earlier. Hence, no post today. I'll redo it soon. :T

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

work outfit: embracing the bow blouse

Right after I heard that bow blouses would be big this Spring and Summer. At first, I didn't think the look was for me, but I found this olive-hued piece for a buck, and figured I could try out the trend without breaking the bank. I liked it so much that I recreated its inaugural outfit to share with you today... also, I hadn't picked out my clothes the night before, so it was easier to go with the old tried-and-true. ;) Also featured are my favorite blazer, my favorite pants, and my shiniest shoes.

In other news, a friend of mine thought it would be fun if I contrasted the retail prices of my clothes with the prices I actually paid. The Asian side of me tsk tsks and warns against being a braggart, but the blogger side of me thinks people might find it helpful to see how much of a "discount" one can get by shopping outside of the normal retail realm. The latter impulse wins out for now, so here's a fun chart depicting price details (but please do let me know if you think it's too much):

Item Original Price My Price Vendor Type Location
Ben Sherman Cotton Blazer $200 $1 swap meet Huntington Beach
Merona Polyester Blouse $22 $1 swap meet Huntington Beach
Ann Taylor Slacks $88 $1 swap meet San Fernando
Carlos Santana Pumps $88.99 $25 Ross Los Angeles
London Fog handbag $150 $0 (X-mas money) Marshall's Costa Mesa
Outfit Total: $549 $28

Because of the secondhand nature of my clothes, some items are no longer available in stores. In these instances, I've done my best to find the closest approximations (considering brand, material, size, et cetera) for the purposes of price comparison.