More Than Just Make-Up

When it comes to my cosmetics there are two women in my life: Bobbi and Laura.  With an exception of a few products, almost everything I wear on a daily basis is either Bobbi Brown or Laura Mercier. 

At a later date I will share with you my devotion to the Laura Mercier eye pencil, but for now I am going to focus on her Body & Bath Collection.  As famous as Laura Mercier is for her fantastic makeup, she is equally known in the Beauty world for her luxurious body and bath items.

Creme Brulee Hand Creme
$15 at department stores and lauramercier.com To Buy

There are probably more effective hand creams out there, but you will not be able to resist the scent of the Laura Mercier Body and Bath Collections.  Unfortunately most of the body souffles (divine) and bath scrubs are $40 or more, but you can get a piece of the fabulousness by investing in one of the hand cremes.  The smell is so wonderful, you will be tempted to eat it.  The creme almost feels like frosting, minus the sticky sweetness.

The Creme Brulee and Creme de Pistache are my faves and are appropriately seasonal as they are for year round use.  The Creme Brulee is inspired by the bakeries of France with hints of caramel, sugar and vanilla while the Creme de Pistache is a delicious combination of pistachio, whipped cream, praline and hazelnut.  See what I mean about wanting to eat it?  Both scents are also available in candles for $32.

My Mom loves the Almond Coconut Milk because it reminds her of the beach.

Another holiday favorite is the annual Laura Mercier holiday candle.  This year the candle is Warm Roasted Chestnuts.  A warm and comforting blend of spiced berry, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla sugar and of course chestnuts.  It makes me cozy just thinking about it.

Warm Roasted Chestnuts Candle
$32 at lauramercier.com To Buy

Like I have said before, my favorite gifts to give are special indulgences people do not normally treat themselves to.  When a $40 bath scrub doesn't feel like enough, try one of the equally divine hand cremes instead.  The scent alone is gift enough, well-moisturized hands is a bonus.



Men...Drink Up

It is always hard for me to think of exciting gifts for the men in my life.  This year I came across this glassware that while may not be the most exciting gift under the tree, I know said men will certainly enjoy using their glasses.

Monogrammed Barware
$45 - $68 for four pieces at horchow.com To Buy

I know a lot of men have their special mug or special glass they like to enjoy their libations in.  Why not help them class up their Millers and Johnny's with a glass that says I am fancy and a distinguished gent?  Perfect for the bar in the man cave or to use when hosting the guys for poker.  Added bonus...two words...dishwasher safe...which means no piling up in the sink.  Throw in a bottle (or bottles) of their favorite spirit, and you have a gift that is sure to delight.

My bet is the barware is the first gift they use.

CC Tip:  The custom monogramming takes 2 to 3 weeks to process so order soon. 

Couture vs. Cheapskate: She Wore Yellow

Can you guess which sweater cost $150 vs. $39?

Sweater A


Sweater B

To see results, click here.


Elegant And Affordable Clutch

Does CC do Black Friday?  Not really...because I am usually working.  I also know after years in the biz, Black Friday isn't all it cracked up to be because prices usually go even lower 2 weeks before Christmas.  That being said, you can pick up some good deals for your home (vacuum last year) or yourself (2 sale skirts).  For me, time is money and waiting in line 2 hours to save $10 just isn't worth it.

However, I did find myself taking a quick trip through Macy's to see if there were any deals I couldn't resist.
Style&co. Sequined Convertible Clutch
$42.00   On Sale Now for $24.99
At Macy's Stores and macys.com To Buy

The convertible clutch is a handbag staple because you get 2 bags for the price of 1.  You get a clutch if you keep it folded over, or you can unfold and carry the bag by it's handles.  For $24.99, the quality of this bag is very respectable.  It does not look cheap and the sequin detailing is actually very luxurious.  I love the combo of gold and black sequins because you do not see them together all that often.  Check out the images in the link to get a better view of it's loveliness.

Keep in mind, I have this super fun (and super inexpensive) gold party dress to which this convertible clutch will be the perfect handbag.  One party dress and 2 purses for just round $50, amazing.

I also love giving fun bags like this for gifts.  Most times if a woman is going to buy a bag, she is going to put her hard-earned money towards an everyday basic.  Or she buys something either cheap or boring because she feels guilty buying a frivolous bag for one outfit.  Like me, she may have nowhere to wear it right away, but half the fun is dreaming all the places you could go because now you have the perfect evening bag.


8 Stila Lip Glazes for $25

Are you looking for a gift that says fun and stylish but don't want to spend a ton of dough?  Or perhaps a little extra stuffing for a stocking? Looking for a little gem that just tells someone you think they are fab?

Stila Lip Glaze Color Set
$25 at Ulta stores and Ulta.com To Buy

Let me start out by saying Stila lip glazes are pretty great.  They are my second favorite lip gloss only to be outdone by one Miss Bobbi Brown.  But what I actually do like about the Stila lip glaze better is the tube it comes in.  For some reason it is just more user friendly.  I think it is the brush and the handy dandy twisty top?  It is fun to hear it click.  

Kitten Lip Glaze

But what this gift set has to offer is amazing.  You get 8 lip glazes for the price of what one normal lip glaze would cost ($22).  All in this is a $110 value for a quarter of the cost.  And per the Ulta website, you get 4 more glazes than last year's set.  The set is made up of 4 best sellers and 4 limited editions -- perfect gift set combo.  It also includes the color "Kitten" which is the shade Stila is famous for -- it is award winning.  There is also a sparkly red color called "Merry Merry," how festive!

If there was any doubt, this is something I am definitely gifting myself. 


Happy Thanksgiving...Early Bird Special

Happy Thanksgiving from Couture Cheapskate!

Decorative Turkey
$6.50 at Sur la Table stores and surlatable.com To Buy

If you thought CC took a break for the Thanksgiving holiday, then I hate to say it, but you are a turkey.  Shopping knows no holiday!  I wanted to give everyone a few days to shop in case you were looking for the perfect hostess gift to take with you to Thanksgiving dinner or to create your own tablescape.

These decorative turkeys are made out of natural materials like pine cones, sticks and corn husks.  So natural one could perhaps envision the Pilgrims having similar decor at their Thanksgiving feast.  Your hostess will get a kick out of it and these turkeys will be a hit with other feasters.

And who wouldn't love a ceramic gourd salt and pepper shaker?

Ceramic Gourd Salt & Pepper Shaker
$7.50 at Sur la Table stores and surlatable.com To Buy

I recommend if you can before Thursday, visit Sur la Table in-person to check out their super cute Thanksgiving merchandise.  You will not be able to resist some of their Christmas offerings either.  If you prefer to go the more traditional route, try the Yankee Candle "Be Thankful" candles.

Be Thankful Yankee Candle
$9.99 -- $24.99 at Yankee Candle stores and yankeecandle.com

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!  May Thanksgiving be the one day you indulge in excess!

CC Challenge: Lace Skirt

'Tis the season for the ever versatile and equally elegant lace skirt.  Your lace skirt can be your BFF during the holiday season because it is more festive than your usual black pencil skirt but works back to most of the basics already in your closet.  Mix and match your pieces for a modern and sophisticated take on a seasonal staple.

Start with your lace skirt that you can find at almost EVERY retailer right now:

Charter Club Lace Pencil Skirt
$39.99 at macys.com To Buy

Add these three pieces from your closet for all 3+ outfits:

Vince Camuto Leopard Print "Rues" Pump
$98 at macys.com To Buy
Leopard print pony hair pumps will be your wardrobe's most valuable footwear.  An easy way to make any outfit more modern. 

Grab your favorite statement necklace and black opaque tights to get your outfit started.

Option #1:  Simple Drama

Rosette Sweater
$19.80 at forever21.com To Buy

An easy outfit to put together when you are crunched for time and you don't feel like putting a ton of thought into what you are going to wear...but no sacrifice on style!  A dramatic sweater is a must for any woman's wardrobe because it lets you be a little lazy but makes all of your basics more interesting.  This sweater in person is much more attractive and when I saw it on a co-worker I thought for sure she had spent 5 times the cost.  I love the color combo of dark hunter green and black.  And poofed sleeves add youth.  If you bought the dramatic ruffled sweater, earlier in the season, another perfect option.

Option #2:  Classic Cardi

L to R: Long Sleeve V-Neck Cardigan $49.90 To Buy
Shawl-Collar Belted Cardigan $59.90 To Buy
Both from Express

If you go with Option A, of course I would recommend adding The Most Amazing Belt Ever.  All you need underneath your black cardi is a simple ribbed tank.  Black or white will do depending if you want to go more evening or more dressed down. Why I recommend this as an option, is take off your cardigan and you have an outfit all ready to go for a night out on the town.  Perfect office to evening combo.

Favorite Ribbed Tanks
$10 each at Gap and gap.com To Buy

Option #4:  Leather and Lace

Tinley Road Zip Moto Leather Jacket
$198 at piperlime.com To Buy

Keep your ribbed tank from above and throw on your favorite leather.  Can't splurge on the real thing right now?  Well you are in luck because there are tons of faux options out there.  A leather jacket takes your sweet skirt into street chic.  If it was me, I would throw on a scarf, zip my jacket and bunch the scarf around my neck for an eclectic and stylish look.   Make sure you wear some simple earrings because now your statement necklace is hidden.

Metallic Gauze Scarf
$7.80 at forever21.com To Buy

Obviously there are infinite options out there for your lace skirt in the upcoming holiday season.  Your lace skirt can go back to the millions of silky, ruffled tops and blouses out there for the holiday season.  My intention is to show you how you can take your lace skirt, work it back to the basics already in your closet and play with the styling using your accessories.  Try different necklaces, bracelets and shoes for completely different looks. 

My favorite option with my lace skirt, statement necklace, black tights and leopard print heels?  A simple white blouse.  So easy yet so chic.

No need to reinvent the wheel but work with what you probably already own to save time and money.  Who doesn't need more of each during the hectic holidays?

CC Tip:  Avoid velvet tops with your lace skirt...too many holiday fabrics in one outfit.


Shoe Stock Up At Forever 21

If there is one thing I can say about Forever 21 is they actually do a nice looking shoe at a very affordable price.  As far as cheap shoes go, I would say they do it best and can fake out even the most discerning fashionista.  My zipper cuff boots circa last year continue to be a "did you get those here?" question at the upscale workplace.

Here are three footwear options that would make great gifts...even if the gift is for you!

Sedate Chunky Heel Boot
$29.80 at forever21.com To Buy

Some people are are scared of the "shootie" because they fear it will give them cankles.  The cuff on these prevents that from happening.  You know I love a stud so of course the detail is right up my alley.  Best yet...the chunky heel and lower heel height keep this stylish shoe comfy.  A rarity in footwear.  The perfect footwear choice with all your skinny bottoms and a great way to toughen up frilly dresses.

Rhinestone Bow Flats
$22.80 at forever21.com To Buy

Switching gears to sweet and girlie, these rhinestone bows invoke Parisian chic.  This week I have already expressed my undying love for all things embellished and flat when it comes to footwear so this flat is no exception.  Again, the perfect footwear for the stylish hostess or festive party-goer.  Further into the winter, these flats, a great tweed jacket and jeans...oh la la.

Buckled Leatherette Boots
$34.80 at forever21.com  To Buy

If you are sick of me going on and on about my whiskey riding boots, then don't get me started on my love for my black biker boots.  I wear them all the time because they make me feel cool and tough (neither of which I actually am).  These boots would are so stylish with black leggings and a black chunky cardigan.  Or jeans and a plaid button down.  So simple but worth every penny.  You will wear them with everything in your closet, if not on a daily basis this winter.

Although you may not be getting leather or a label, you are getting 3 pairs of versatile shoes for around $150 -- arguably the cost of 1 pair of boots at your local department store.  Trust me, no one besides you will know the difference and you won't care when you have extra dough to spend somewhere else.

CC Tip:  When buying shoes at Forever 21, order online.  There is not a lot of selection in stores and you may have trouble finding your size.  Not to mention, the stores run way behind in their delivery compared to online.  Size up, their shoes run small.


I Think I Like...But I'm Not Sure: Part 1 Follow-Up

If you recall I shared with you all my desire to own things that ride the line between ugly and cute in I Think I Like...But I'm Not Sure: Part 1.  Needless to say, my first venture did not go so well as I went 0 for 2.

For starters, this lace romper from The Limited did not bode well for my reputation as a fashionista with an eye for cutting edge style, you all voted and said and I quote, "Ewww, gross.  Get it together."  Therefore, I passed to salvage my image with you all.

Unfortunately, I was also unlucky with my floral skirt.  I knew I was taking a risk going into it size-wise and naturally, I was not pleasantly surprised to realize I had not magically dropped 10 pounds despite a weekend of Italian beef and cupcakes.  Bottom line, it didn't fit so now I am either heading to the UPS store for a return, or giving it to one of the skinny minis in my life.

0 for 2 doesn't feel good but there is always next time.  Thank you for your honesty and keeping me on the path of good style.

Couture vs. Cheapskate: Gold Glitter Flat

Can you tell which pair of gold glitter flats cost
$17 vs. $60?

Pair A


Pair B

Click here to see results!


Nothing Says Happy Holidays Like Anti-Bacterial Soap

Another one of my very adult holiday traditions is the annual changing of the hand soaps in the house from Fall scents to more holiday-inspired fragrances.  Obviously the go-to resource for all things holiday scented is the local Bath and Body Works.  To my surprise, B&BW updated their Anti-Bacterial Hand Soap Collection this year to include new fragrances.

Right now I am loving the new Orange Spice Moisturizing Hand Soap and the Snow Mint Moisturizing Hand Soap.  For $15 you can mix and match 4 different scents or do 6 for $20.  The Vanilla Snap and Winter Cranberry are also nice further into Winter.

Besides stocking up for my own consumption (might be considered lame by some) but I also like to give these holiday scented soaps as hostess gifts.  They are festive and functional.  Every time you wash your hands it's like a little burst of holiday cheer.  Plus how many moisturizers and shower gels can one person have?  To Buy


Making My List...Checking It Twice

Whether we want to admit it or not, the holiday season is here.  One of the things that is important to me during the holidays is selecting my family and friends the perfect gift.  I love to get people things they normally would not indulge on or something unexpected that they never even knew they wanted.  Thoughtful gift giving is no easy task but can be less stressful if you abide by two words: get organized.

What this means:
  • Research:  Over the next week your mailbox and inbox will be bombarded with catalogs and emails touting the gifts of the season.  Go through each and either tear out or save anything you think might make a great gift for anyone on your list.

  • Go Online:  Spend 10 to 15 minutes looking online at sites where people on your list might shop.  Get some ideas ahead of time so when you go to the store you know what you are looking for.  Print out the image to show a sales associate for an even more efficient shopping trip.  If you order anything online, consider two things: how can the recipient return if need be and order early to avoid overpaying in shipping costs.

  • Shop Early:  This can mean many things!  The sooner in the season you start your shopping, the sooner you are done and can sit back and enjoy the magic of the holidays.  More important, if you get to the mall in the morning versus mid-afternoon, it is so much less crowded and therefore less stressful.  Most transactions at retailers are done between 2 and 6pm so why waste time standing in line or circling a parking lot?

A Gift To Consider This Weekend

Victoria's Secret Undies 7 / $24.50 To Buy

Maybe in the past I haven't been paying close enough attention, but I cannot recall VS running this promotion ever.  Normally their underwear is 5 pairs for $25, so to get 7 pairs is quite the deal.  Especially because the metallic pairs are $8.50 each.  One of my holiday traditions as a grown adult is to get myself a cute pair of their holiday themed undies.  Don't judge.  And they make festive stocking stuffers.  

They have a variety of styles and the promotion allows you to mix and match from the VS cotton line and the PINK collection.  The sale ends Monday at midnight so if you can't hit the store, shop online. 

Yesterday as I was making my selections at the local VS, it was quite stressful as there was a swarm around the tables.  People were stepping all over one another to get in the drawers.  It was full contact experience and I am not exaggerating when I say I left in a sweat.  The selection was somewhat dilapidated by the time I came through, so all I am saying is the shipping cost might be worth it.

Remember this best promo I have ever seen from VS ends Monday, November 15!

Over the next few weeks I will be giving you some more shopping tips and highlighting this year's must have Couture Cheapskate gifts.  If there is anyone on your list you could use some help with...email me!

And to the people on my list...don't get any ideas!  I will NOT be featuring any of your gifts:)



Veteran's Day Chic

I remember seeing this picture of Hilary Duff this summer and thinking her scarf was so cool.  I found myself particularly drawn to this scarf because the camouflage pattern is more abstract and not your typical camo.  However, the price tag of $175 clearly was not in my CC comfort zone.

Tolani Wool Crepe Scarf With Suede Fringe
$175 at shopthetrendboutique.com To Buy

Of course my CC instinct kicked in and I became determined to find a suitable alternative.  Earlier this Fall, as luck would have it, when at the Mother Ship (Mall of America) I found a similar scarf at Forever 21.

Lame Camo Scarf $8.80 at forever21.com To Buy

There are two things I really like about this scarf.  First, like the more expensive version above, the camouflage is more abstract and subtle.  Second, the mixture of colors includes black, grey, ivory and gold so it coordinates with a lot in my closet.  If I had to mention a few other things I like I would say it is cozy for wearing with outerwear, is nice and long and above all else, a bargain!

Happy Veteran's Day!

Fab Holiday Dress at Insanely Fab Price

Run!  Don't walk to your nearest H&M because this dress won't make it through the weekend especially if you are not a size 6 or smaller.

This dress was actually featured in a lot of Fall fashion press and I had been on the hunt for it but never could find it in stores.  I chalked it up to being a very exclusive item or that it was never actually made.  Lo and behold.  It is part of the Holiday collection.  Lucky for me I stumbled upon it today only to then find out it is only $19.95!  2 gifts for the price of 1!

For $19.95 the quality and styling is insane!  The fit is pretty true and it has cute little pockets in the front to keep your hands warm or a tube of lip gloss in.  I was also impressed in the tailoring... the bodice even has boning.

Literally my co-workers made me show them the price tag because they did not believe me on the price. Truth. I have nowhere to wear it yet but am happy just having it in my closet knowing it is there if I should need it.

I feel like Christmas come early!

In the spirit of the holidays, I wanted to share H&M’s theme of togetherness with you! Here is one of my favourite items from this season.
CC Tip:  H&M does not have an online store so if you think you might want this dress, you will have to go to an actual store.  If something is cute and a good price, H&M will sell out fast so act with a sense of urgency!


Embellished Tank in Every Color Imagineable

An embellished ribbed tank is the perfect foundation for any CC outfit.

Rib-Knit Embellished Tank
$14.50 at Old Navy and oldnavy.com
To Buy

This tank top makes putting together a stylish outfit so easy.  Literally you could grab just about any basic in your closet and layer one underneath...the perfect underpinning to make your basic cardigans and blazers pop.  What I appreciate even more is how lazy of an accessorizer you can be because the tanks have built-in jewelery...no necklace necessary.  And all of this for $14.50 a piece?  What a bargain.

Of course you know me, I will be sporting a tank with a black cardigan and belted with the World's Most Amazing Belt...with black pants for the office and jeans on the weekend.  You can even wear the tanks on their own with jeans or a black skirt for a more dressy look.

I am happy with the quality of these tanks -- they do not look cheap or cheesy.  Before you leave the store make sure you check for any loose strings in the decoration to avoid any at-home catastrophes.  Old Navy also runs big so take that into consideration when sizing.

I know most are not in this mindset, but what a stylish and affordable gift for the women in your life.


I Think I Like...But I'm Not Sure: Part 1

Unfortunately one of my fashion weaknesses is my inability to resist things that I believe to ride the line between really cute or sort of ugly.  Sometimes in my head I cannot reasonably assess which of the two it is...therefore sometimes ending with a follow-up trip to the UPS Store.  Case in point:

Strapless Lace Romper $24.99 at thelimited.com To Buy

Let me say going into it I think the model is wearing a size too big for her, and if that is the case I am hoping it will be much cuter in person?  I just have a vision that I will be the envy of fashionistas everywhere when I wear it with my dark black tights, platform heels and some super cool belt.  I don't know why I always want a romper, because in all honesty, they drive me crazy, especially when you factor in tights underneath.  In my head this is an "Online Only" treasure that has not been discovered and is waiting for me to rescue it from Sale Section purgatory. 

BB Dakota by Jack Prisca Floral Skirt $25 at Amazon.com To Buy
Also available for $41 at lulus.com

I found this skirt when I was looking for pieces I could take with me on my Fall trip to Mexico and then pair with my winter wardrobe when I returned home.  I decided to pass on this skirt originally because I didn't want the hassle of returning it if it didn't work.  Since I have found it for $16 less, it is now on it's way to me.  I love the royal blue top they show it with and in another pic it is paired with a chunky, grey sweater.  So mismatched and somewhat unappealing, how could I resist?

So the skirt is on it's way but you can help save a romper! 

Vote on the Couture Cheapskate homepage your opinion of the lace romper.  The poll is in the upper right hand corner.  Help me make the decision my warped mind no longer has the ability to do on it's own. 

Save me from myself!


On The Sale Rack -- The Loft

I love the first week in November because they are so many new markdowns!  Typically this is when retailers are marking down their Fall merchandise which means you can get 3-season fabrics at a great discount.  If you can get out shopping at all this weekend, it is a good time to do so because you are getting the best selection of newly-reduced merchandise.

Be sure to hit the Loft because they have marked down a lot of their Fall clothes that you will be able to wear almost year-round!

Abstract Jacquard Metallic Skirt $24.99 at Loft

Metallic Tweed Skirt $44.99 at Loft

I really like the Loft's skirts because I think they are cute and interesting without being too school girl.  I think these two are chic because they are more interesting than just a plain basic and you can wear them with a lot in your existing wardrobe.  Great for the office too. 

It is hard to tell in the pics how cute they both are but I love the one on top because it has pockets in the front and a slight metallic finish -- something different.  Plus the color is more of a pewter than khaki and is a thicker fabric that will look awesome with chunky, black sweaters or a white blouse.  The second skirt is a great basic because it is a tweed woven with black, navy and silver metallic.  One of my favorite color combos is black and navy so this skirt has CC written all over it.  Plus navy is the IT color for the holiday season, so get this festive skirt ahead of time at a much lower cost.  You will have it in your closet ready-to-go for any upcoming semi-formal holiday parties.  That is worth the price alone.

Pair your new skirts with your black embellished cardigan, black opaque tights and the World's Most Amazing Belt.  Or opt for a plain black turtleneck and some fancy statement jewelry.

Thank goodness football season is still in full swing so if you have any upcoming game day get-togethers, you can now get the top I recommended as a Great Game Day Outfit for almost $30 less.  Score!

Sequin Bib Tee $14.99 at Loft

CC Tip:  Head to The Loft stores for a better sale selection but go soon because their markdowns get picked-over quickly.


On The Sale Rack -- Cobalt Blue Flats & More

Nothing warms my Couture Cheapskate heart more than when something I have recently eyed swiftly goes on sale and gives me the justification to purchase.

Well let me do you the same favor!  If you recall not but a week ago, I was singing the praises of Cobalt Blue shoes and how they are the perfect neutral footwear hidden in a bright pop of color.  While trolling the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale I stumbled upon these:
"Krowwn" Flat by Steve Madden
$32.90 at nordstrom.com To Buy

These flats are the perfect combo of value and style without a major compromise on quality.  I always suggest going up a size in Steve Madden shoes especially if you have a wider foot.  No offense.  I swear this is the last time I will bring-up Cobalt Blue shoes...I can't help myself!

Mimi Chica Print Chiffon Dress (Juniors)
$21.90 at nordstrom.com To Buy

I love this "dress" but in reality it will be more of a tunic on me which can only mean 1 thing: leggings, belt, chunky ring and boots!  I haven't tried it on yet so I am not sure if I will size-up since it is a Juniors dress. I will probably go with my regular size and only wear as a tunic.

For around $50, you can add 2 new pop pieces to your closet that work with some already purchased items from your Fall wardrobe.  This is how you shop Sale: a great basic and an easy pop piece that brings the cute and the versatility.  Plus the tunic reminds me of Marc by Marc Jacobs so total CC.