Why would your rent when you can buy for less?

As I was deciding what to write about a few things crossed my mind, like Tax-Free Week.  But then I started wondering, why do people bother with the hassle of renting dresses, when they can buy and own them for almost the same price?

RentTheRunway: the website where you rent an item of clothing or accessory for 4-7 days, and then return it.  I can think of one reason to use this site – you live in a studio apartment in the City and don’t have a closet.  If you don’t fit that description – then I would definitely steer clear of RentTheRunway.

While I’ve never actually rented from the RentTheRunway (and never will), I have browsed it quite a few time.  While I understand the concept, I just don’t understand why anyone would use this site to rent clothes for four days when they can own the same exact product.  Maybe you’re thinking, “Some of these are $1,000+ dresses that I can’t afford.”  Well, yeah there are some $1,000 dresses (original price!).  But they are also most likely on sale at Saks, Bloomingdales or Neiman for just slightly higher, the same or even lower than the rental price.

Lets take a look at a few examples from some of my favorite dress designers (dress photos below):
ML Monique Lhuillier & Carmen Marc Valvo

Example #1:
A gorgeous cobalt blue ML Monique Lhuillier sheath which originally retailed for $398 can be rented on RentTheRunway for $75 (4 day rental) or $120 (8 day rental). 
The dress is actually selling for $398 at Bloomingdales.
The same exact dress is currently on sale at Lord&Taylor for $298.50, free shipping, free returns, plus an additional 20% off with code SUMMER, bringing it to $238.  But, that’s not cheap enough.  Keep looking.
Guess what, the same exact dress is on sale at Saks Fifth Avenue (online) for $148.06, free shipping, free returns – almost every size is still available too.  If you sign up for e-mails you get an additional 10% off bringing it to $133.26 to OWN – plus if you shop with your discover credit card through Saks on shop discover, you’ll get an additional 10% cashback bonus toward your credit statement.  So if you’re doing the 8 day rental, wouldn’t you rather own this dress, for only $13 more!  Don’t need it right away? Wait until Saks has an additional 25% or 30% off their sale items, it’ll be even CHEAPER than renting for 8 days.

Example #2
A long flow-y Coral “Ella” Toga Neckline Gown by Carmen Marc Valvo that originally retails for $1,075 can be rented for $160 (4 day rental) or $256 (8 day rental)
Saks wins again.  Same exact dress = $266 to own in either the coral color or royal blue.  Use that 10% coupon from signing up for e-mail bringing it to $239.40 and it’s CHEAPER than renting for 8 days.

(I could go on and on.  There are plenty more examples with Kay Unger, Teri Jon, Badgley Mischka, Kate Spade, ect.)

 

 Another reason I don’t understand RentTheRunway:
Normally, when I buy a dress or jumpsuit I need it altered in some way to fit perfectly: taken in through the waist, shortened, or taken up in the shoulders.  Unless you are 6′ tall or going to wear 4″ heals, don’t count on a maxi dress, ball gown or jumpsuit from RentTheRunway fitting you.
And since you don’t own the item – you can’t alter it anyway.  Plus, who wants to deal with making sure the mailman delivers it on time and making sure it gets back to the company by your deadline!  If you don’t even see it until the day you wear it, or one day before how do you know what shoes & accessories work well?

At least if you buy a dress from a department store and it doesn’t fit, or if you don’t end up wearing it, you can simply return it for a refund.  If that dress you rented doesn’t fit you, or if you end up not wearing it, you’ve lost your expensive rental fee!  Next time you consider renting – take the time to check a few websites and find it on sale – for cheaper than the renal fee.

Only end up wearing the designer dress once?  Bring it to an upscale consignment shop (such as Second Time Around) or sell it on e-bay or Tradesy.  You’ll most likely be able to sell it for the sale price that you paid.
(If you keep the original tags, that helps the resale value when selling!)

Act Fast – Free Item Alert!!

I’ll get to the point and make this post short and sweet.  If you don’t like free stuff, then move on to another blog – otherwise keep reading, then head over to your local CVS.

This week (until August 1st) at CVS, the 33.8oz bottle of Colgate mouthwash is on sale for $4.79. You’d be crazy to pay $4.79.

If you received the Sunday newspaper, cut out the $2 Colgate mouthwash manufacturer coupon.  If you didn’t get the paper, I’m sure one of your neighbors or family members did – so snatch theirs.

As soon as you walk into CVS, scan your Extracare card at the kiosk and a $2.79 coupon will print out automatically.  I’ve already harped upon getting this free card – but if you haven’t taken my advice yet (why not?), you can easily sign up for one within a minute at the front desk.

It’s as easy as this:  Bring the mouthwash up to the register.  The cashier will scan your Extracare card, ring up the sale-priced mouthwash,  scan your $2.79 CVS coupon and then scan your $2.00 manufacturer coupon.  Total: $0.00 Free. Free. Free.  

  

Lets just say you didn’t get the newspaper, and you don’t know anyone else who did…. you can still print off a 75 cent coupon from the Colgate website.  Combine that with the $2.79 CVS coupon and you’d get the mouthwash for $1.41 (including CT sales tax)!

‘Till next time.  Don’t wait too long or they’ll be sold out!

Deep into Summer, Deep into Savings

As the hours of daylight get shorter each day, and the nights get just a little bit cooler, stores need to make way for their new autumn inventory – and that’s good news for shoppers! Take Talbots for example: about a month ago, they marked down their entire summer line and added an additional 30% off sale prices soon after.  30% turned into 40% off… and now the sale has deepened even further to an additional 50% off most clothing, and an additional 60% off shoes, accessories & dresses!

Honestly, the longer you wait, the better the sale will be.  By mid August, the sale at Talbots can reach anywhere between 70-80% off the already marked-down prices – and they’ll still have plenty in stock to choose from! Unless you fall in love with an item, and it’s the last one left in your size – be patient!

I was not very patient, but I still got this great summer outfit that will take me into the beginning of autumn for UNDER $50!  Even though it’s stylish, it’s not too trendy – these are classic items that I can bring back year after year!  The shirt was 50% off the markdown at Talbots ($17.50 down from $39.50), the matching sneakers were 60% off the markdown at Talbots ($16 down from $79.50), and the chinos were 60% off the markdown at J.Crew ($16 down from $75)!  I could have paid $194 for these three items, but I ended up saving 74%!  I could have saved even more with the extra savings tip below –

Extra Savings Tip: If you have a Talbots charge card, you will save an additional 5% on top of all the other savings this weekend! Or if you open up a new card, you’ll get an even better deal – an additional 15% on top of all other savings! Be sure to sign up for a free rewards card too, so you can build up points toward rewards certificates with every purchase.

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‘Till next time, be patient … and stay stylish!

Another day, another CVS haul… $30.47 down to $1.97

A little over a week ago, the unimaginable happened.  I couldn’t squeeze another dollop out of the Colgate tube and my normally full stash had diminished to zilch.  Completely shocking.

Even more shocking, I woke up on Sunday, July 12th with the assumption that the CVS app and website had both gone haywire as my drowsy morning-eyes read an error stating “no deals available in your area“.  After cursing technology, I realized it couldn’t be a huge coincidence that the paper boy also forgot to slip a CVS flyer in the Sunday paper.  I had to accept the fact: there were actually NO sales.  Say WHAT?! I unfortunately lived in one of the many test markets that tried a new marketing technique – one week without any sales or promotions. Guess what CVS: it didn’t work for JCPenny, and it will not work for you.

Anyway, since I wasn’t about to go pay full price for toothpaste, I’ve been relying on those tiny travel-sized tubes stashed deep in the pockets of my suitcase for the past week.  Luckily for the long-term vitality of my pearly whites, CVS reinstated their sales yesterday and I was able to replenish my stockpile of oral hygiene products.

After a weeklong hiatus from CVS shopping, I strolled in, flyer & coupons in hand: A $10 ExtraBucks coupon from buying P&G Products a few weeks ago and $4 worth of manufacture coupons for Colgate products and Arm&Hammer Laundry Detergent (one of only 3 brands I can use for my extra-sensitive skin).

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There were some great in-store deals too: for every $10 you spend on Colgate, you get $5 back, plus the detergent is B1G1Free! So to make the most of my money, I decided to split my purchase into two transactions.

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Todays outcome: two tubes of Colgate Total, one bottle of Colgate mouthwash and two bottles of Arm&Hammer laundry detergent.  Without sales and coupons, my total would have been $30.47.  And I paid $1.97 total for both of my transactions combined! That’s less than what the cheapest item in my shopping bag would have cost!  Not too shabby.

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‘Till next time, keep your wallet full and your shopping bags fuller!

Semi-Annual & Anniversary Sales Galore (Promo Codes in Contents!!)

Recently, Athleta (among most other stores) announced their much anticipated Semi-Annual Sale!  Athleta has an amzing product guarantee – you could literally wear an item, wash it, and they’ll still take it back if it doesn’t fit right, if it has a defect, or if you can’t let go of your buyers remorse (I wouldn’t recommend admitting the latter to the sales person processing the return…)

I had been eyeing a few items throughout the season, but I knew I should be patient: tick, tock, tick tock. Sure enough, today (a meager one week after the sale was announced) I got the e-mail announcing an additional 20% off sale items in store and online.  Definitely worth the wait.  Gap recently sent me a $10 reward certificate too, which can be used at any of their brands including Athleta – perfect timing.

I feel in love with a black&white striped rash-guard with matching baithing suit bottoms and a pair of matching swim tights (leggings made for water sports – with sun protection!) The outcome: A three-piece matching outfit originally totaling $187+Tax.  Free shipping. Sale Prices. Additional 20% off. $10 Rewards Certificate.  All brought me down to $65+Tax = 65% off!

  

Want to save an additional 20% off sale items at Athleta?
Use current Promotion Code Extra20 until 7/20/15 online, or it’s automatic in store!

I’ve also had my eye on a few items at Lands’ End: their swim tee’s in particular.  Honestly, they are perfect for beach days, paddle boarding & kayaking – they keep you warm when it gets chilly, they keep you cool when you’re sweating, and they prevent sunburn with built in UPF 50 protection!  The shirts went on sale a few weeks ago but I just couldn’t get myself to buy them at JUST the sale price.  Again, the waiting game begun: tick, tock, tick, tock.  What arrived in my inbox today? A good ol’ coupon for 20% off my entire purchase, PLUS free shipping.  The coupon is online-only, because it is celebrating their 20th “cyber” anniversary – but there is actually an advantage to ordering online: more color and size selection as well as extended sizes (I love the extended sizes to get the perfect fit.  Even though I borderline the petite section for some items, I end up ordering the shirts in the “tall” version, so that they are longer in length!)

Outcome? A $39 pink swim tee for $15.99 (60% off!) and a $35 navy&pink swim tee for $9.59 (73% off!).  After adding the dreaded tax, I still only paid $27.20 for BOTH.  As if that’s not enough, for an added bonus, I made my purchase through the Discover Card website, and earned an additional 10% cashback bonus that can go toward my billing statement!

Want  free shipping and 20% off your entire purchase at Lands’ End too?
Use Promotion Code YEAR20 and PIN 2020 until 7/20/15

‘Till next time, stay stylish!  Follow me on instagram for the latest pics of my finds! @VJean25

July 31st Update: Athleta has reduced some sale prices and also reinstated the additional 20% off sale items in-store (not online) between July 31st – August 2nd.  Don’t miss out!

Neiman Marcus is On Fleek for High-End Items at Low Prices!

Neiman Marcus. Once viewed as elite, once viewed as a store that I shouldn’t even peruse.  Well, I’ve completely changed my mind.  Yes, while scrolling through the sale items online I did see a $17,990 Zac Posen gown marked down to $10,749, but don’t let that scare you.  Not all of their items cost as much as used cars.  Keep browsing, and sign up for their e-mail – as soon as you finish reading this post!

Everything they sell is top notch. The best brands, the best quality.  Unfortunately, we all know that high-end designers come with a high-end price tag.  Personally, I do think the better fit and the higher quality fabrics warrant paying a little bit more, but that still doesn’t mean I’d pay full price.  Luckily, it all goes on sale!

Reasons I love Neiman Marcus:
1. Free Shipping
2. Free Returns
3. I live in CT, so when I ship things to my house, there is NO SALES TAX!
4. Their promotions.
5. The Midday Dash.

So, let me explain.  We don’t have a physical Neiman store in CT, so we don’t have to pay sales tax when we order! Say you see something at another department store, but it’s pretty pricy – the sales tax will add up.  Well, check online to see if Neiman has it, and if they do, you just saved yourself 6.35%!  They also constantly e-mail promotions – yesterday for instance, if you spent $200, you received a $50 gift card back.  The more you spent, the more you received! And last but not least, the Midday Dash. Every SINGLE day, an e-mail is sent out around 11am.  Click the link at 12:30 eastern time, and there are daily sales up to 80% off – only valid for 2 hours.  It’s hit or miss, but you can find some amazing deals!  Plus, if you have their credit card – you get $100 back for every 10,000 points you earn and complementary two-day shipping (5 points per $1 with additional point promotions).

The current sale? Up to 70% off thousands of items – apparel, shoes & accessories for the entire family.

Currently, there are 2280 dresses on sale on their website, so it doesn’t matter how picky you are, you can find something that fits your style, and your budget!  Some of my favorite finds on the site right now: A $595 Carmen Marc Valvo floral cocktail dress marked down to $178 = 70% off – perfect for a guest attending a summer wedding.  Need something more formal, say for a black tie event? How about a $998 Monique Lhuillier black gown marked down to $349 = 65% off.  If you need something more causal, how about picking up the Indikka Floral Maxi dress that was $225, now only $78 = 65% off.  And my personal favorite: a $700 tea-length Kay Unger dress marked down to $245 = 65% off.  If you keep looking, there are currently dresses as low as $44.  The options are endless.

Searches are easy.  Search by price, size, designer, color, length – you name it.  So next time you’re looking around for something, don’t rule out high-end department stores – or else you might miss out on finding an amazing designer item at an amazing price.

UPDATE: As of 7/20 all clearance is an additional 30% until 7/23!!!

‘Till next time – stay stylish 🙂

Patriotic Red, White & Blue Jean Shorts (at 84% off!)

The 4th of July has come and past.  Unfortunately, that means summer is almost over – even though it only ‘officially’ started 20 days ago.  That also means we only have 4 solid months before it starts to snow, yikes.  I’m definitely going to take advantage of summer while I can – and a trip to the orchard to pick delicious berries was the perfect weekend activity.

Between Memorial Day and the 4th of July, summer in general is about being patriotic.  The star & stripe True Religion shorts I found this weekend scream patriotism (but they’re still subtle enough for non-4th activities).  Saving money is pretty patriotic too – I could easily argue it’s just one step closer toward the so-called “American Dream”!

True Religion shorts (or jeans for that matter) are pretty great.  They’re soft, comfortable, wash well…. and they’re actually made in the USA.  How many items in your closet are actually made in the USA? Probably not many.

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I went into Marshalls to check out the home goods section.  Clothes weren’t even on my agenda but I happened to walk by the clearance rack.   I quickly pushed through last seasons rejects, and these awesome shorts were just waiting for me.   They were marked down to $29 from $178 – which was 84% off the original price! (Plus they fit perfectly!) #fabfound

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‘Till next time, stay stylish!

Sale on Sale on Sale…

It’s a great time of year.  The first day of summer was one week ago, and that means it’s finally warm enough to wear those cute crop tops, shorts & sundresses.  The beginning of summer also means that the autumn styles are making their debut and it’s time to clear the racks of this seasons top picks that came out in February (when it was still snowing in half the country)!

Banana Republic is on the endless list of stores that has almost everything on sale, plus 40% off the sale price, plus and additional 10% off when you use your Gap/Banana Republic Card!!  I was looking for some versatile traveling outfits that are easy to pack but still stylish (and to keep me cool while I try to endure the heat of the south for a few days).  I ended up finding this incredibly comfortable romper which started at $110.

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I picked it up for the sale price of $40.99… plus 40% off, with an additional 10% off since I used my Gap Card. $22.13 (total discount of 80% off)!

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Since no outfit is complete without accessories, I paired the romper with this Marc by Marc Jacobs leather cross-body bag that caught my eye in Saks Off-Fifth.  I knew it would go with almost any outfit – and what could be more perfect when you don’t have room in your luggage for 5 different purses to match everything.  It was marked down, PLUS an additional 50% off the sale price.

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The purse started off at $328, but was marked down to $233.99, and then kicked further down to $116.99 when taking off the additional 50% off.  At a total of 64% off, it wasn’t the best deal I’ve ever snagged, but definitely worth it for the quality and functionality!

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So to put it all together I added some timeless Ray-Bans and had an easy-breezy outfit perfect for my journey!  Mind the wrinkles… this photo was taken after a 6 hour car ride and a trolley tour in 95degree heat, yikes!

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‘Till next time, stay stylish, and cool 🙂

Dress for success (and savings)!

So I lost count of the compliments I received on my dress today.  I think it’s pretty cute too, but I’m biased since I bought it! Anyway, thought I’d clue you in on my little secret – I got an amazing deal on it (would you think any different by now)?!

Last time I was in Orlando, I had about an hour to kill so I headed to Dillard’s! They were having a huge sale and I went directly to the endless racks of dresses – all marked 50% off the sale price – time to browse.  This particular location seemed to be going out of business, but the sale has been going on for months and they apparently keep getting new merchandise – I just decided to call it a mystery sale and not ask any questions.

After heading to the dressing room, I ended up with this Eliza J. shift with jewels and a gold zipper:

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Dresses in this style are basically my go to: comfortable, easy care and stylish! So the purchase was a no-brainer! (And yes, my pony started off centered…. my hair is just way too heavy and my head is lopsided!)

The outcome? $25.90 from $148 – 83% off! (Half off the lowest ticketed price)

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‘Till next time! Stay stylish 🙂

Perfect gifts at perfect prices.

So, I still haven’t made a decision about which toaster oven to purchase.  I’m really indecisive…. I’ll get back to that another day.

However, I did make a another great purchase this past weekend – for Father’s Day! Now, my father would most likely be more happy if we saved our money and did not buy him a gift.  But I don’t think that’s fair – everyone deserves gift, especially on a holiday that focuses on them!  I had some hints as to what he needed… so I made my shopping plan:

I had a $20 rewards certificate from Marshalls that’s been floating around in my purse for a few months, so I figured I’d finally make use of that.  And where better to go than a store that sells just about anything and everything: clothes, shoes & accessories, home-goods, furniture, even gourmet food!

Enter Marshalls.  The front of the store was Father’s Day central – everything you could possibly think to buy for a man was laid out right when you walked through the doors.  Within 5 minutes, I found exactly what I needed: the perfect gift, at the perfect price… a versatile Brooks Brothers tie at a steep 83% off!  The original $148 tag was still on the tie, but it was marked to $24.99, that’s my kind of discount!

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When I got to the register, after aimlessly browsing the huge store for another hour, I used my $20 rewards certificate.  At a grand total of only $5 and change, what a steal, and what a great gift! That would barely buy you one Frappuccino.  So next time you need a gift, start with a store like Marshalls or TJMaxx that sells a huge variety of items, and you’ll be sure to find something at a great price! (They give gift receipts too!)

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And I promise the tie wasn’t cliché! It was what he was looking for!

‘Till next time… stay stylish 🙂