Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The $4722 wedding: I prove it can be done

Despite all the shameless self-promotion I've done recently, I'm actually more comfortable as the observer, rather than the observed.

But since I'm passionate about bargain shopping and helping others get the look for less, I'm truly proud of the budget wedding story I wrote for the New York Daily News. The positive comments were sweet and unexpected, and hopefully I gave other atypical brides ideas on how to cut costs for their big day.

Here's a link: The $4722 wedding: One Brooklyn bride proves it can be done (NY Daily News, Sept. 21)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Let's Swag: Fashion Week and Fall Freebies

The Fall season is a great time for swag. I struck goodie bag gold several times during Fashion Week and the freebies keep on coming. Here's a list of my favorites:

1. The Ottavia et Emma party at the Bryant Park Hotel: I went on a whim with my party-hearty friend Adena. I'd been invited by the event publicist, but neglected to RSVP since the 9 p.m. start time was past my self-imposed party curfew. When we arrived at the hotel entrance, we were greeted by a long line of hopefuls. That didn't stop us. As soon as the security guard turned his back, we bypassed the line and slipped in. So far so good. Once we reached the actual doorway to the party, however, a second imposing security guard asked to see our wristbands, which of course we didn't have. A bit dejected, I started up the stairs and was homeward bound. Then I saw Bryce, the publicist who invited me to the event. I told her I forgot to RSVP and she said no problem.

She asked, "Did you get a gift bag?"

"No," I replied, shocked that she would so freely offer a gift bag.

"Did you want a gift bag?" she responded.

"Are you kidding?" I thought to myself, and said "YES" aloud.

We followed Bryce past the security guard who turned us away just minutes ago. Bryce motioned, "They're with me." I've rarely felt so V.I.P. Inside, the scene was impossibly crowded and we didn't linger long. A photog snapped our picture holding our generous gift bags, which included a black Ottavia et Emma canvas tote (I've been carrying it nonstop); a cute, long sleeved black Ottavia et Emma t-shirt; a Chambord sample (love those); and beauty products from Elizabeth Grant, O.P.I., and Gotham Skincare.

2. The Budget Fashionista fifth anniversary bash at Housing Works: As soon as I got in, a friend told me free jeans were being given away in the back of the store. I nearly knocked a couple girls over as I made a bee-line for the jeans, courtesy of Fashion Bug's "Right Fit" line. The jeans cater to each woman's body type ("Right Fit Red" is for moderately curvy women; "Right Fit Yellow" is for women with a straight shape from hip to waist; and "Right Fit Blue" is for curvy women with full hips), and using the forgiving system I'm a comfortable size 7. The night was full of other fun giveaways including an "I Love Shoes" canvas tote bag from Payless filled with plush thong slippers, Dashing Diva nail polish, and a copy of "How to be a Budget Fashionista."

3. Bond No. 9 "Andy Warhol" samples: I can't express how much I love Bond No. 9 perfume. I discovered the brand's popular "Bryant Park" scent a few seasons ago and have been a fan ever since. So I was thrilled when I scored a handful of samples of the brand's newest fragrance, "Andy Warhol," outside the tents during the Spring 2009 shows. I sounded like Britney as I pleaded with the kids handing out the samples to "gimmee more!"

4. Bag Trends "Arm Candy" party at Union Square Ballroom: Fashion Week is over, but the swag keeps on coming. I went to this handbag event and came home with a $50 gift certificate from Bag Borrow or Steal (renamed Avelle) of "Sex and the City" movie fame. You can rent designer bags for a week, a month or longer for a reasonable fee. You can also purchase used merchandise from the "Outlet" section on With my gift certificate I "stole" a gently used gold clutch bag by BCBG (marked down 75 percent to $45). I also received a $25 gift certificate for and ordered a much needed pair of stylish and sensible loafers by Naturalizer. My Mom will be proud.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Eco Chic Fashion

Eco-friendly fashion is trendy and good for the environment. Garments made from bamboo, organic cotton, hemp and recyclable materials are popping up in boutiques from Coast to Coast. This week I went to an Eco designer showcase in the Fashion District sponsored by Boho Magazine.

Here are a few of the featured designers:

Threads 4 Thought tees made with 100 percent organic cotton and recycled fibers.

eco Skin, chic, smart and sexy dresses and separates made from bamboo, naturally grown with no pesticides, insecticides or fertilizers.

Lilikoi, a Canadian company named after a Hawaiian passion flower specializing in garments made of bamboo, soy, organic cotton, and linen.

Smartglass Recycled Jewelry handmade from beer and soda bottles.

gg2g ReVinylized bags made from recycled billboards and lined with organic cotton. The company estimates that they have prevented thousands of pounds of billboards from ending up in the landfill.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New York Fashion Week: Black Girls Ruled the Runway

New York Fashion Week Spring 2009 is a wrap. But I was pleased that so many designers used black models in their shows. America's Next Top Model Cycle 6 winner Dani Evans burned up the catwalk at Style 360's Jordache show; Rubin Singer's sleek and modern show featured four gorgeous black models; and Gottex's swimwear presentation showcased several leggy women of color.

Although I didn't have the pleasure of viewing her show, I was blown away when I read that designer Sophie Theallet's presentation was modeled entirely by black women. Her explanation in Fashion Daily: "It came totally naturally, because I love colors and I think they look beautiful on dark skin. These girls are like princesses and I want to show that!" Right on.

Spring 2009 Fashion Week Recap and Slideshow

Read my insider's recap of Fashion Week on and check out Doucette Duvall's website

Clothing Swap Frenzy: My You Tube Video on the Freecycle Freemeet

Malan Breton's Sophisticated Spring 2009 New York Fashion Week show

Monday, September 15, 2008

Designer to Watch: Zulema Griffin

I've been a fan of designer Zulema Griffin since her stint on my favorite reality TV show, Project Runway (a tie with America's Next Top Model). Zulema's designs are always bold and innovative. Check out her Fall 2008 collection video presentation, "Revelations," featuring "Hostile Gospel" by Talib Kweli and jewelry by funky jewelry designer, Issy Salomon: