Friday, August 29, 2008

Ross Dress for Less: Success and Randomness

So, if you asked me to name the most random store in Richmond, I'd probably come up with Ross Dress for Less. Since this store opened at Willow Lawn, I've stopped in occasionally to varying success. One an early trip, I picked up a glamorous metallic sea-foam-green Calvin Klein leather purse for about $70. On subsequent trips I've found no name brands I recognize with the exception of teeny-bopper lines like "Hot Kiss."

It was with a wary eye that I dropped in earlier this week. It was after work, I didn't feel like making the drive out to the good TJ Maxx or Marshall's, and I needed shoes for a wedding I'm in next weekend. It's about 3 minutes from my office so I decided on a walk-through. First off, I found a super-cute and elegant pair of Nine West satin slingbacks for $17.99. Perfect! The issue I was having with other shoes I'd seen around town was that black satin tends to go toward matronly or juniors department. These hit the middle of the road with a touch of upscale. Read: I will actually wear them again. Hooray!

With one good find in hand, I couldn't leave without a loop around the rest of the store. Other checkout-worthy inventory included an entire rack of BCBG sweat suits priced at $21.99 per piece with the original $140 price tags still attached; brown leather Banana Republic handbags; white leather Francesco Biasia handbags; Calvin Klein work-ish clothes, Tahari suits and Nine West suites. What a great selection. I guess Ross may have to become a regular on my bargain-hunting rotation.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Amuse Bouche Spoons: So Cute!

One of the things I actually did get for my friend were these fabulous stainless steel appetizer spoons from Crate & Barrel. How cute are they?! For a look that exceeds my iffy photography skills, search "appetizer spoon" on the Crate & Barrel site. Whether she decides to cook herself, or get bite-size treats from a caterer, these spoons will make any soiree stylish.

For those who are unfamiliar with the amuse bouche or tasting spoons, the package gives a great description. It says:
"12 Tasting Spoons (The other 11 wait neatly below). Just a taste: Inspired by the restaurant trend to serve a culinary amuse bouche ("amuse the mouth"): a one-bite tasting sent compliments of the chef as a little unexpected extra to greet the table, preview the talents of the kitchen, and spark dinner conversation. Part dish, part spoon, these clever servers offer a creative way to present a playful first tiny bite to entice the appetite. Or a final sweet something to add surprise after dessert. Use your imagination to spoon up: soup, caviar, pate, tartare, seafood, ceviche, crostini, salad, sushi, pasta, polenta, sorbet, chocolate mousse, creme brulee, truffles and various delicacies, entertaining miniatures."

I hope she loves them as much as I do!

Saxon Back Room Never Disappoints

I got two pairs of shoes for less than $100! Yes, I was supposed to be shopping for a wedding present. Yes, I wasn't supposed to be spending money on myself. But hey, in my defense, had I bought these babies at retail, I would have paid $264 plus tax. My total came in at $101.54. I didn't have any coupons. My secret: the back room at Saxon. Any time I hit Short Pump Town Center, I end up walking through this hidden gem, and today there were diamonds aplenty.

My two pairs: Luichiny gold strappy sandals with thick, sculptural heels that will go perfect with a one-shouldered dress I'm wearing to a rehearsal; and a pair of black snakeskin A B S by Allen Schwartz sling backs with hidden platforms that make me feel very Lauren on "The Hills." The Luichiny sandals were 70 percent off and the A B S kicks were 60 percent off. With those deep discounts, I just couldn't leave them behind.

Other brands on super sale that I managed to skip included Nanette Lepore, Chinese Laundry, Stuart Weitzman, Coach and Betsey Johnson. I don't know if it's just because fall's coming, but it seemed like the selection of super-cute must-buys were extra plentiful.

Also on a shoe sale note, Que Bella is having an end-of-season sale as well. I haven't made it in yet, but this is usually one of my favorite sales to hit as it's one of the few times I can afford to load up on the oh-so-stylish and comfy shoes they sell. With shoes marked between 50 and 75 percent off, you'd better stop in soon before all your size is sold out. I'm hoping to make it in soon!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Has Anyone Tried Row House Soaps?

Yesterday I headed to Cooper Vineyards for a wine tasting and Mini Cooper rally. Alongside the wine, there was a host of vendors, one of which was Row House Soaps. I've always been intrigued by this brand as in love the packaging and love the varieties, but have never picked one up. Today the Kitchen Soap in particular caught my eye. The package said it would remove garlic and onion scents from fingers. I didn't pick up a bar as I'd already spent enough on Cooper wine to take home, but am wondering if anyone out there has given it a shot, and if I should, in fact, head to the Row House Soaps store or to Nicola Flora and pick up a bar.

Tastefully Simple was the other vendor that caught my eye. To be honest, I'm usually kind of turned off by direct sales companies, but this time the name attracted me. The idea behind the gourmet foods sold by Tastefully simple is that they all can be eaten straight from the jar or prepared with less than two ingredients. While I love cooking from scratch, sometimes you need something tasty in a pinch. Okay, sounds good. Then I sampled a few of the products and fell in love with the Black Bean Salsa. It was chock full of creamy black beans and tangy, smoky flavor. I've had black bean and corn salsas before, but this one seemed to have the perfect flavor blend. It would be a perfect snack as it felt a bit more substantial than your average tomato-based salsa, or it would taste great in a quesadilla. At $7.99 for a 16-ounce jar, it cost a bit more than your average salsa, but the standout flavor was worth the price tag.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why I <3 Susana Monaco

So, a few months ago, I walked to Carytown and was feeling super athletic and all when I decided to cool off and browse through Heidi Story. I wasn't planning to buy anything, but saw a cute halter dress on sale and decided to try it on. On the way to the dressing room, I happened to pick up a black Susana Monaco dress. It was a simple dress, gathered at the top, a-line from under the bust, thick tank-style straps. It was made from a nylon-lycra blend that just felt like a thicker version of the simple, stretchy dresses you see in every store come summer.

When I put this dress on, it was like magic. If I wasn't sure about cut making a difference on simple dresses, this proved it. All of a sudden I went from short and slightly pudgy to long, curvy and busty. Since then, I've worn this dress to work with a jacket, out with heels and a glitzy necklace, and casually with flip flops. I've wadded it up on the floor, and can always pick it right back up and put it on wrinkle-free. I love it. I can't remember the exact price, but think it was somewhere around $160. For a simple dress, that's a little high, but right now I think it was totally worth it. This dress is so versatile and flattering. In fact, I can't wait to get back in to Heidi Story and get another fabulous Susana Monaco dress.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Best Shopping Site Ever

Okay, if you haven't ever logged on to LOG ON NOW. This Web site is awesome. First of all, the site allows you to shop a multitude of online retailers ranging from Saks Fifth Avenue and Shop Bop to Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters all in one spot. So, say you want a silver dress, all you have to do is type "silver dress" in the search bar, and you'll get a bunch of matches from more than 20 different online stores. You can just browse by item, like "shoes" or "dresses," or you can shop by the styles they've made up. Click on "5th Avenue" to browse glitzy, high end brands. Choose "Collegetown" for more affordable, offbeat styles. And so on.

Once you become a member, you can add your favorite clothes to your "stylebook" and put looks together for other members to browse. You can also browse a bunch of celebrity looks where stylists at put together outfits to mimic celebrity styles.

All this stuff is great, but the best part about Shop Style is the "set price alert" button. See something you like but don't want to pay full price? Simply click this handy button and insert your email address. They'll email you when your item goes on sale! As a dedicated sale shopper, I've made a habit of frequently going on this site and setting price alerts for all the items I like. It takes the hassle out of finding great deals online!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Richmond Sale Updates

If you're constantly craving the slightly-offbeat-yet-ultra-trendy clothes and handbags at Lucky Lillibet in The Shops at 5807, you'd better head that way ASAP. Many of the super cute flowery dresses are marked at 60 percent off, as are "summer handbags" including some metallic crock ones with bamboo-style handles.

Also in the near West End, it looks like DM Williams is closing. All the designer clothes that appeal to all ages are marked down. I'll be sad to see this spot go!

Occasionally in Carytown is moving its location totally into The Shops at 5807, and everything in the Carytown store is marked half off. Drop by for cute travel coffee mugs, jewelry and more.

Neiman Marcus Online Sale

If you're looking to pick up any last-minute summer items, or some super cute sale items that you'll be able to wear for a while in Richmond weather, log on to the Neiman Marcus site. All sale items are an additional third off! I couldn't help but order a super cute pair of Stuart Weitzman satin/rope sandals. The prices started at $300, but I got them for $136.50. AND, if you enter the code FALL8 at checkout you can get free shipping!