Breaking Down The Formula Pt II & A Few Budget Friendly Back To School Shopping Tips...

Ciao Bellas,
My school semester starts up again in a couple of weeks so it's back to the books and long hours studying all in the name of higher education. I'm not complaining at all though Bella's, I gotta do what I gotta do to move onward and upward. I also intend on looking incredibly fabulous while doing so. Since a lot of people seem to be going back to school around the same time, I thought that this would be a good time to do a post on back to school shopping tips:

1) Never stop playing dress up. How many of y'all remember playing dress up as a little kid and putting together random outfits (feeling extra fly because you were expressing yourself and being creative)? Even if you looked tacky as all get out, you were having fun. I think that we should never lose that (the creativity and expression, please say buh-bye to the tackiness), because that's what makes fashion fun. So go ahead and have fun and be creative when you're putting together your outfits, and keep playing dress up. Now that we're all grown up, the only difference should be that we're properly coordinated, and wearing clothes that actually fit our body, style, and wallet =)

2) CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET. I can't stress that enough, go through your entire wardrobe (for all seasons, accessories, shoes, underclothes, everything) and see what you have. Ideally you should be able to organize things into about 4 piles: Keep, Donate, Trash (if it's in no condition to donate), and Tailor/Fix (things that would look a better if perhaps you changed the buttons, took up the hem, etc.).
Be sure to try everything on as you go along, and be honest about whether or not something fits you properly or no longer suits your style. If you haven't worn it in at least the past year and a half, chances are you're not gonna start now all of the sudden. This is probably the most extensive part, and it can be rather tedious...I suggest having a good friend over to help you not only clean and organize, but to offer a second opinion on how things fit when needed.

You should then be able to subdivide the "Keep" pile into 3 more: What you're going to keep out for the fall season, What you're going to put away for next summer, and then Summer pieces that you can use to transition into the fall.

Friendly Tip: Space Bags are a good way to store clothing that you wanna put away for next season. They're my best friend when it comes to closet organization.

3) Identify Your Aesthetic. Figure out what kinds of things suit your style, and what looks you're going for this season. There are a few ways to do this, and one of my favorite tips that I heard from a celeb stylist is to tear out pictures from magazines of looks and pieces that you like (you can also print out pics online) and put them in a binder. This way you can sort of identify what kinds of things you're attracted to, and it serves as outfit inspiration when you're out shopping and cleaning out your closet. Once you figure out what you're main style is (and what kinds of things your attracted to like tailoring, stuff inspired by a certain era, or certain kinds of detailing or embellishment), you can figure out how to use it to filter other looks you like.

For instance my style for the most part is feminine, fabulous, and glam. However I also like the sort of edgy rocker vibe, collegiate prep, girly and romantic, etc. So I try to find a way to make those different looks work for me, in a way that still remains to true to my style (by incorporating things like leather jackets and vests, leather fingerless gloves, letterman sweaters, varsity jackets, lace shirts and skirts, etc). This is an instance when those "Elle Collections" magazines come in handy, or any magazine that features ready to wear runway looks...because then you get to look at everything and see what inspires you. Sometimes it can be a color, a detail, or just the overall look that was achieved.

In terms of celeb style, it's helpful to identify which celebrities style you're inspired by and take a look at some of their outfits and figure out how to interpret it in a way that suits your style and wallet =) For the record more often than not I find myself inspired by people like: Kimora Lee Simmons, Victoria Beckham, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, and Vanessa and Angela Simmons.

4) Figure out which stores cater to your specific style needs. For instance, I know that if I need a good basic dress the best place for me to find one would be H&M or New York & Company...but if I'm looking for one that's on the cheaper side of things I'll stop by TJ Maxx or Marshall's. I also know that if I'm looking for decent quality basic tops, H&M is the place to go...or Rainbow if I can't get to H&M. Fun shoes and boots at a decent price? Burlington Coat Factory or Charlotte Russe. Cute trendy inexpensive pieces? Rainbow, Dots, Wet Seal, Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, H&M, Marshall's, or TJ Maxx. Fun inexpensive costume jewellery? Charlotte Russe or Forever 21 all day every day. Best place to shop that has discounts and whatnot on a regular basis? New York & Company or Charlotte Russe (Happy Hour, etc). You gotta know where to find what you need Bella's.

Friendly Tip: Locate your nearest premium outlet. You can thank me later.

5) Timing is everything. In my opinion there are 2 times that are ideal to shop for fall clothes / back to school shopping. The first would be during the summer when all the fall stuff is on sale, so nobody is really paying it any mind and stuff is ridiculously cheap in EVERY store (especially in places like Burlington Coat Factory). This is probably the best time to stock up on basics, and odd pieces that strike your fancy. It's rather tedious, and you will have to comb through clearance racks but it's worth it in the end...and it's kind of fun if you bring a friend.

The second best time, is right about now... early to mid august, because that's when all the new fall stuff comes out so you can get pick up some nice fun and festive pieces that you may be lacking in your wardrobe.

Friendly Tip: If you have AAA, remember the wonders of the AAA member discounts (as mentioned in this post) =)

6) Sign up for text message and email alerts from your favorite stores, especially the ones that you frequent the most. This is a good way to find out about sales and discounts that aren't always highly advertised. Not to mention most stores send out a lot free shipping promotional emails, so that helps with stuff that are online exclusives.

Hopefully this was helpful for those of y'all out there doing back to school or fall wardrobe shopping =)

Check Out Breaking Down The Formula Pt. I here

Stylishly Yours,
Ms. Fab

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