Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Look Cute in the Kitchen (For a Great Cause!)

Breaking news: I love all things Pujols. Oh, wait, you already knew that? Oh, OK then.

To catch my new friends up, the Pujols I'm referring to is Albert Pujols, former star first basemen of the St. Louis Cardinals. (He plays somewhere else now, but we won't talk about that.)

Me and Albert. No big deal or anything.

My favorite thing about Albert Pujols is all of the amazing work he does through his nonprofit organization, the Pujols Family Foundation, which benefits families affected by Down syndrome and people living in poverty in the Dominican Republic.

Last year, his wife, Deidre, began a new venture called Pujols Kitchen, a cookware company that uses its profits to provide impoverished families around the world with cookware and non-perishable food. The company sells pots and pans modeled after ones used in the Dominican, plus other kitchen accessories.

Pujols Kitchen products are available on their website, as well as on Kohls.com

This week, Pujols Kitchen and Pujols Family Foundation have teamed up to launch a new line of adorable aprons made by Dominican women. PFF developed a "micro business" with a group of nine women from Batey Aleman, a village that the foundation works in frequently.

The adult reversible baseball apron.

Each apron is handmade with fun themes and comes in both adult and kid sizes, so you can get a mommy-and-me set if you want! The ribbons and frills on the child aprons are so cute that I kind of wish I could fit into one. ;)

The kids' Lil Feliz BBQ Apron.

But more importantly, each apron represents a second chance for the woman who made it. Pujols Kitchen says the goal is "to create an atmosphere with certain job skills to help the women provide for their families. The women have mastered their sewing skills, and we will continue to provide certain projects pertaining to the Pujols Kitchen." (I mean, doesn't that totally sound better than getting your next apron from Anthropologie? Stylish AND meaningful!)

If you know me at all, you know that along with "loves Albert Pujols," another top Joanne fact is "can't cook worth anything." But I'm halfway decent at baking these days, and I LOVE all the Pujols Kitchen products I have, both for their practicality and their unique designs. The spoon in particular is huge and super helpful for mixing and scooping.

Making Butterfinger cake with my Pujols Kitchen spoon, spatula and baking dish.

I've also had the regular Pujols Kitchen apron for a while now, and I love what it represents! I'm excited to get one that kicks things up a notch. Because, you know, I can't even bake without worrying about whether my outfit works or not. ;)

Realizing this is probably not my best look...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fashion in a Flash

So. It's time for us to talk about flash shopping sites.

I almost felt like it wasn't necessary to tackle this topic because flash sales have been around for a few years now. But then I'm reminded that not everyone is an online shopping addict like I am, haha.

Flash shopping sites are kind of like a combination between outlet shopping and sample sales, but far more accessible than either.

It works like this: Each website launches a number of different sales per day. Each sale is either centered around a designer or a theme (summer shoes, kids' dresses, etc.) and only goes for a limited number of days. If there's a brand going on sale that you're a big fan of, it may be a good idea to log on right when the sale starts, because quite often, there's only one or two of each item available. Once you put an item into your cart, you usually have 10-15 minutes to buy it before it's released back to the sale.

You can find everything on these sites from basics for under $20 to vintage Chanel bags and Christian Louboutin heels.

There's many flash shopping options out there. I'm signed up for quite a few of them to make sure I never miss a good sale (and I'd advise you to do the same), but here are some of my favorites. Since many of them offer the same brands and types of sales, they're ranked by value and ease of shipping and returns.

Hautelook

Hautelook is my No. 1 for a very important reason: They're owned by Nordstrom, and all items are returnable for free at Nordstrom Rack. I've take advantage of this many times! In fact, since they offer free shipping over $100, I've sometimes ordered several things I'm on the fence about to try on, gotten the free shipping and then returned all but one to our local store.

Best current sales: Betsey Johnson, Vivienne Westwood, TOMS

Vince Camuto dress - $59.00


RueLaLa

Confession: I once went through a period where I bought the same pair of Sevens in three different colors. (You know how it is. I finally found THE PERFECT PAIR OF SKINNY JEANS. And they kept going on sale!!!) This is where RueLaLa's shipping policy came in handy: You pay a $9.95 flat fee on a purchase, and then get free shipping for another 30 days. Returns can be made for a full RueLaLa credit or cash back with $9.95 shipping deducted. That was useful when I made the mistake of trying Sevens in a different style. #sadface (Note: RueLaLa is the one site that doesn't e-mail you daily, for some reason, so I use their app and get sale notifications pushed to my phone. Most of the other sites also have apps you can check out if you want.)

Best current sales: Tory Burch, Jimmy Choo, Juicy Couture

Badgley Mischka heels - $59.90


Ideeli

Ideeli is basically tied with RueLaLa in my book. They also offer a $9.95 flat rate shipping with 30 days free afterwards. Their cash return is slightly cheaper at $8.95, or you can get full credit. Ideeli also offers something called a 1st Row Membership, where you can get access to sales an hour early and also be invited to exclusive sales. It costs $23.97 per quarter or $83.88 a year. They used to give out these memberships for a month after you bought something; honestly, I didn't find the benefit to be worth paying extra money for.

Best current sales: Balenciaga, Betsey Johnson, BCBGMaxazria shoes


Vince Camuto dress - $39.94


MyHabit

I don't shop as often with MyHabit (owned by Amazon), but they offer free shipping and easy $3.99 returns, making it another favorite. It works much the same as any other Amazon order.

Best current sales: Rebecca Minkoff, Kate Spade Saturday

Michael Stars Indian silk scarf - $39, Vince Camuto sandals - $39


Gilt Groupe

Gilt has been my go-to for feeding my addiction of Swarovski and other designer accessories, although they have plenty of sales of shoes, clothing and home goods as well. They charge a very reasonable flat rate of $5.95 for shipping on most orders. My only complaint is they seem to take a lot longer to ship items to you than other sites. You can get a full refund on items with Gilt credit or get cash back with $7.95 deducted for shipping. Gilt also has a rewards program where you can earn points through purchases, logging in every day or referring friends.

Best current sales: Laura Mercier makeup, French Connection, Zac Posen

Diane von Furstenberg sunglasses - $28



Friday, June 6, 2014

The Outlet Games

As any good shopping addict knows, the outlets (Gilroy, Napa, whatever) are like the mother ship - the place to get the designer goods you covet at much more affordable prices. Outlet shopping is nearly a sport - but what you may not know is that some shops are trying to cheat a bit.

When you buy designer, it's about paying for the name as well as the craftsmanship. One of the biggest appeals of the outlets is feeling like you're getting something quality at a steal. But the thing is, you may be getting exactly what you pay for.

Most outlet or factory stores are no longer simply selling castoff items from full-price designer lines. Instead, they're producing lower-quality items specifically for their outlet stores. A recent Buzzfeed article offered a peek into the strategy, used by companies such as J. Crew, Kate Spade, Coach, Michael Kors and many more. Even department store outlets such as Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off Fifth are in the game, with brands manufacturing items to send directly to those stores.

Often, the differences in quality are subtle and vary by product. How can you tell something is made-for-outlet? For purse companies such as MK and Coach, it's all about the details - or lack thereof. During a trip to the Michael Kors outlet in Napa, a bag caught my eye. A salesclerk approached and started singing the praises of the "Hamilton tote." I've been coveting a Hamilton tote - and that huge MK lock dangling from the front - for years now. (Have I mentioned my obsession of all things lock to go with all things key?)



One problem: this particular Hamilton tote did not have a lock, but a simple plate that said Michael Kors. It was about $100 less than a real Hamilton tote goes for on sale, but it was stripped of the bag's signature piece of hardware.

Coach has got this strategy down to an art. If you walk into a Coach Factory store, there's about two shelves that are authentic, full-priced Coach products. How can you tell them apart? Most bags from actual Coach lines have the metal coach and horse symbol on it or have the name and logo stamped in the leather. Bags made for Coach Factory have much different logos, generally plastic pieces that say Coach on them.



So what does this mean to you and me? I'm not saying you should stop buying things that are made specifically for outlet stores. It just means you should go into shopping with your eyes open.

Don't buy something just because it has a designer name on it and has a relatively low price - only go for it if you really do love it! This is something I have to remind myself of constantly! I didn't buy that wannabe Hamilton tote - but I did get a cute purse made just for Coach Factory. ;)



Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Key to Encouragement

One thing I didn't mention in my introductory post: I love key accents. As in actual keys - on my jewelry, on my clothes and anywhere else I can get them. So I was delighted when I found a company that not only makes amazing key jewelry, but has launched a couple of amazing ideas along the way.

I'm talking about The Giving Keys, a company that employs people transitioning out of homelessness to make unique necklaces, bracelets and more stamped with inspirational words and phrases, like "strength," "courage," and "let go."


You're supposed to wear your key for as long as you need that word in your life - whether it be a few days or a few years - and then give it away to someone you encounter who needs it more than you do. After you give your key away, you can go on The Giving Keys' website to post your story. If you have a moment, go check out some stories. The page is chock full of stories guaranteed to make you cry!

I came across The Giving Keys after one of my favorite singers, Jana Kramer, posted an Instagram photo of her visit to the company. Other other key wearers include Zac Efron, Lea Michele and Selena Gomez. (I can't decide if the Hollywood-cool element makes me like the keys more or less, but I guess I'm just glad such a good company is being publicized. Sorry. My whole "I like things less when they're trendy" thing is rearing its ugly head! haha)

I bought a delicate-style pendant for myself with the word "faith" stamped on it. It's been cool to see the kinds of conversations sparked by my wearing of the key. I've gotten to talk about my faith in Christ, and why I need to be reminded of it at this time in my life. I've gotten to talk about The Giving Keys. I've also been asked by my dad whether I'm house-sitting for someone and guarding the key with my life. HA. (Side note: Expect the infamous Keith Lui to become a fixture on this blog.)


Keys also make great gifts even when you're not giving them from around your own neck. I recently gave one to a friend who's been through a hard time. It's emblazoned with "hope" and "faith" to remind her that God is with her no matter what!


You can get each key customized with whatever word or short phrase you want (within reason). So get Giving and come back here to let me know what you created!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Old Navy Does Designer

OK, the title of this post is a little misleading. Old Navy is not doing designer anything. BUT it's parent company, Gap, owns my go-to site for designer deals: Piperlime.



Piperlime sells shoes, bags, clothing and accessories from some of my favorite designers, including Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman. They frequently have sales of up to 30% off sitewide, not to mention great deals in clearance and final sale.

But the real kicker? If you have an Old Navy, Gap or Banana Republic credit card, the reward certificates you earn while buying your basics can be used here. Plus, in the past year, Old Navy has really stepped up their game when it comes to earning points on your card.

You can currently get two points per dollar on any purchase outside of Gap brands through 5/31 (groceries, gas, restaurants, whatever). Before Christmas last year, they were offering 200 points for every outside purchase. Which means five purchases earned you $10. At one point, I racked up $50 in one billing cycle. Those kinds of rewards lead to deals like these:


Other Piperlime bonuses: free shipping & returns, and 10% off every Tuesday for Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy credit card holders. You can apply for an Old Navy credit card here. (Insert obligatory warning about being responsible about credit card debt here.)

So yeah. I'm kind of obsessed with this site. Links to Piperlime and other shopping sites I love are on the right side of the blog. I'm going to be doing in-depth posts with tips on each of them as time goes on.

Hello There.

How to introduce myself to you?

I love Jesus, fashion and baseball. Those three often have a strange way of mixing themselves together in my life. I'm going to write about them here in the form of my favorite things to talk about: charitable clothing companies, discount designer shopping and baseball fashion for women.


If you're looking for news on the latest trends, well, you probably won't find that here. I don't tend to care about those sorts of things, unless I think they're ugly. I just do whatever I want. In fact, I'm more likely to shy away from something if everyone's wearing it. I'm kind of a brat that way. 

Other random facts and quirks about my style: I love quality shoes & purses. I tend to be a little less picky when it comes to clothing, mixing high-end finds with basics from Target and Old Navy. I vacillate between quirky and classic. Love silver accents ... HATE GOLD. Favorite accessories include Swarovski necklaces and BCBG wrap bracelets. I worship Michael Kors. Other designers you'll always find in my closet are Vince Camuto, Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch and Anthropologie.


I'm kind of an online shopping ninja. Constant requests for my bargain-hunting secrets are one of the reasons I decided to finally start this blog. Whatever designer items you covet - you're probably either paying too much for it, or wrong about not being able to afford it. Hopefully, I can help you!

Oh, and I don't wear make-up. I know that's weird for someone who prides herself in always looking  put together, but I'm too lazy to get up in the morning in time to put a face on. So you probably won't find any product advice here either. Sorry!

Have questions? Blog suggestions? E-mail me at shoesoffmyfeet@gmail.com! I'm so excited to start sharing with you!