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Deal Divas

Stephanie Hayes, Katie Sanders, Kameel Stanley, & Keyonna Summers

Always, always, always check out a liqidation sale

I never expected to find this cute dress at Cache's liquidation sale among the sequins and bling.

I never expected to find this cute dress at Cache's liquidation sale among the sequins and bling.

I'd never even put my big toe into Cache before Saturday. I'd passed the shop a million times at various malls but always thought the dresses were a little to bedazzled or short and tight for me.

When I passed the Cache at a mall in Raleigh, N.C. where I was on Saturday, it wasn't a dress that lured me. It was the neon orange sign screaming "70 percent off." The chain is in bankruptcy and closing its stores.

The racks were almost bare. The whole store probably held 40 dresses, 15 purses and five pairs of shoes. Even the light bulbs were for sale. But I found what I think may be one of my favorite dresses ever. It looks much more like Audrey Hepburn than Mariah Carey.

It's the perfect dress for my daughter's high school graduation, any work function and the family cruise I'm going on this summer.  It was originally $148. I got it for $44.

So there are two lessons to be learned here.
One: always check out any going-out-of-business sale once the discount is lower than 50 percent off. I don't care if it's hazmat suits or fly fishing gear.

Two: don't judge a store by it's windows. It's worth at least one look well before it closes to see what else is hiden inside that may suit your style. …

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J. Crew Factory flash sale happening NOW, go!

Screenshot from the J. Crew Factory website

This morning in Tampa Bay, the land of sunshine and seabreeze, the sky is a drab grey, the ground soaked and soggy, the air chillier than usual. If ever there was a day when we needed some online retail therapy, today is that day.

Enter J. Crew Factory, a beloved Deal Divas discount site that is having a flash sale today AND TODAY ONLY. Everything is 40 percent off, and clearance merch is 30 percent off. Plus, you get free shipping, which makes this sale at least 75 percent more appealing to my wallet. Use the code POPPING.

Being a Deal Diva, I do not shop often at J. Crew, as I see no need for a $40 T-shirt in my closet. But I do frequent the Factory, typically shopping only from the clearance section and generally only when there's an additional discount. The results are good. I've snagged many articles of clothing, including this awesome-fitting navy dress and this wool mini skirt in navy (which I'm wearing today, IT'S A SIGN), for around the $20 mark. …

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Watch: John Oliver takes on dark side of cheap clothes

John Oliver focused his HBO show on the fashion industry's issues with cheap labor Sunday.

Screenshot of his HBO show.

John Oliver focused his HBO show on the fashion industry's issues with cheap labor Sunday.

Let's start Monday with a little real talk from comedian journalist John Oliver. He devoted his most recent episode of HBO's Last Week Tonight to criticizing cheap-o clothing brands (many of which we blog about here at Deal Divas for obvious deal-related reasons) for the often-ignored human toll that goes into producing cheap-o clothes.

This week marks two years since a factory building collapse in Bangladesh killed more than 1,100 people, and some of the garments produced in the shoddy building were for brands familiar to the USA. So-called fast fashion is produced almost entirely overseas now, Oliver said, so much so that companies should rename themselves to reflect the origins of their clothing.

American Eagle? Oliver suggested, "Bangladeshi Swamphead."

Banana Republic? "Actually, that one is fine, they got ahead of themselves there."

Oliver called on viewers to stop buying clothes from the likes of Gap, H&M, The Children's Place, Joe Fresh and Walmart because the cheap labor will only keep happening "if we let it," he said. …

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Contouring: A guide to doing it without looking like a pinched Real Housewife

The Women's Health Britney Spears cover that sparked a thousand G-Chat debates. Contouring? Probably.

The Women's Health Britney Spears cover that sparked a thousand G-Chat debates. Contouring? Probably.

"I have concerns about Britney's face," I told Hilary.

"IT'S CONTOURING," Hilary replied angrily, the way she always replies when it comes to matters of instantly aquiline noses, of any magazine title that boasts, "YOU WON'T BELIEVE HER TRANSFORMATION!". While I tend to be suspicious of celebrities who show up with faces that look drastically new, as Britney Spears did on the cover of Women's Health not too long ago, my friend Hilary is a staunch believer that a different demon is on the loose.

There is a contouring maniac ruining lives in Hollywood, she maintains, manipulating starlets' faces into some angular, mystical set of Pick-up sticks where once their cheek fat sat. Kendall Jenner and Olivia Munn have also been attacked by an imp wielding a fan brush filled with deep pigment. The tell-tale signs, Hilary contends, are lines on the side of the nose and/or triangles on the forehead. …

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Dress for Success excess inventory sale this weekend

 Katie McGill, (cq) executive director of West Tampa's Dress for Success, collects clothing and purse donations Thursday afternoon at the non-profit's local storefront. Local businesswoman Kim Washington (cq), left, and friends recently started gathering donations for the program, which helps women in need prepare for job interviews.

Times archive photo by Carolina Hidalgo

Katie McGill, (cq) executive director of West Tampa's Dress for Success, collects clothing and purse donations Thursday afternoon at the non-profit's local storefront. Local businesswoman Kim Washington (cq), left, and friends recently started gathering donations for the program, which helps women in need prepare for job interviews.

This sale is a big deal: It benefits a good cause, and with a little ninja-sifting, it also guarantees big deals.

I'm talking about Dress for Success Tampa Bay's excess inventory sale, a Deal Divas favorite offering $10 suits, $5 clothes, shoes and purses, and $2 jewelry, belts and scarves. A designer section promises Michael Kors, Ferragamo, Prada, Coach, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, etc., for $30 or less.

Rarely does a month of My Outfit Monday posts go by without a shoutout to something really cute that we scored mega-cheap at this sale.

It's cash only, so plan ahead.

Dress for Success is the nonprofit organization that helps disadvantaged women obtain professional clothes they need for job interviews, as well as offering assistance with job searches and resumes. You might remember the organization's cameo in a prison fashion show in Orange is the New Black.

Proceeds from the semi-annual sale go toward buying supplies that aren't often donated, like plus-size suits and larger shoes.

The sale is at Bayshore Baptist Church at 3111 W Morrison Ave. in South Tampa. Doors open at 9 a.m. Friday until 7 p.m., and then 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Just two rules: No kids, and no returns.

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Operation Clean Closet: Four rules to live by

Look, I bought a bunch of hangers! I'm serious about this closet re-organization.

Photo by Michelle Stark

Look, I bought a bunch of hangers! I'm serious about this closet re-organization.

I have a closet problem. Specifically, it’s too small for the amount of clothes I have.  

Okay, okay, so I actually have a clothes problem. Tale as old as time, really: I buy too much, too often, and am bad at wading through my stock every few months to get rid of ill-fitting or barely worn items.  

But I've reached a tipping point that may involve three baskets of clean clothes waiting to be put away, and so I am embarking on a deep cleanse, a spring cleaning for the ages. After some trenchant investigating (i.e., Googling and scouring back issues of Real Simple magazines) and failed first-hand experiences, here are the rules I'm forcing myself to stick to this time.    …

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Surviving #LillyForTarget: How one St. Pete woman walked out a winner

Target handout photo.

Target handout photo.

The quest to buy Lilly Pulitzer, the Palm Beach designer brand, at Target prices caused quite the shopping frenzy across the country and online.

Target's website slowed to a crawl while stores' shelves were wiped clean within minutes when it debuted its limited Lilly P. collection Sunday. The mad dash for hibiscus-covered dresses and elephant-laden shorts resembled the race for supplies and weapons at the Hunger Games' cornucopia.

My friend and retail hero Alice Thompson braved the Gateway Target in St. Petersburg with her 11-year-old daughter Maggie and Maggie's friend, Julia.

They arrived at 7:45 a.m., 15 minutes before the store opened and were behind about 40 people in line. By 7:55 a.m., when the security guard was warning shoppers not to not push or run, at least 50 more people joined the line.

"Once the doors opened, everyone was inside in about 20 seconds. People were running and pushing," Alice told me. "We kind of had a game plan. We decided we would get baskets and not carts because we knew it would be harder to get around with carts."

(Is she a mom of three and highly skilled IT specialist or a Navy Seal?) …

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My Outfit Monday: Black, white and spring mint all over

Reinventing a fun winter outfit for work in spring: It's possible, things are happening every day.

Photo by gifted Tampa Bay Times reporter-photographer Kameel Stanley.

Reinventing a fun winter outfit for work in spring: It's possible, things are happening every day.

The last time I wore this Anthro dress, purchased on sale without regrets like always, I was attending a holiday party with friends. I posed in front of a Christmas tree wearing lace-up booties, tights and statement earrings, cradling a bottle dressed as a reindeer (thanks, Mom!).

That accessorizing strategy would not do for this humid April day at work.

Here's how I lightened it up a bit.

I replaced too-easy black heels with a neutral, aspirational leg-lengthening Kelly & Katie pump with a bow on the back (DSW).

I covered up for the office with a lacy H&M blazer from forever ago. I've probably pulled it from the "get rid of this already" pile twice, and I'm glad I did because my other blazers are too heavy and long for this dress.

I gave myself an arm party by pairing my $1 "legitimate" "Chanel" watch that "works" with a beaded leather bracelet, a pricier-than-I'd-like-to-admit keepsake from the North Carolina mountains (remember, it's wrist companion was $1, let's focus on that, we all make mistakes). …

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Saddest of the sad: Piperlime is going offline

Hurry and get this cute outfit from Piperlime before time runs out.

Piperlime

Hurry and get this cute outfit from Piperlime before time runs out.

It's really real now: Piperlime is going offline.

After April 30, you won't be able to make or return any purchases from the Gap-run site.

I'm sad. Piperlime was my go-to online shopping destination for a couple years after graduation (never the expensive stuff, duh). It's a more whimsical companion to the straight-edge stylings of Banana Republic, another store I used to love but don't visit much anymore (unless it's pajamas).

I bought several unique dresses from Piperlime -- for Vegas, for weddings. I rarely skipped their blast emails, always highlighting some trend I hadn't seen. And looking through their sandals selection, I'm wondering where these laser-cut shooties have been all my life.

Of all its qualities, I will miss this about Piperlime the most: the free shipping. It is a right but rarely recognized as one.

On the bright side, the whole site is on sale. Final sale, that is. Expect larger discounts as April 30 draws near, but if there's something you really want now, you might want to grab it.

Here's the FAQ for more info.

Deep sigh.

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With E-Ink heels, the future of interchangeable shoes is now

Volvorii

Interchangeable shoes have been around for a hot minute. From kicks that offer swappable accessories to heels that transform from chunks to pumps, you’ll have no want for variety when hunting for a shoe that can be reworked as often as you change your clothes.

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Lululemon and Athleta coming to International Plaza

The wares inside an Athleta store. Time to do some squats.

Bloomberg Business

The wares inside an Athleta store. Time to do some squats.

Calling all fans of overpriced yoga pants: Lululemon Athletica is coming to International Plaza.

Sean Daly reports the brand is joining Athleta and jeweler David Yurman, as well as an expanded Michael Kors store in the mall. Lululemon already has a location in Tampa's Hyde Park Village, and it always intimidates me. Anyone a fan of these brands? All my workout clothes come from Target. 

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A white whale no more: second-day hair just as pretty as when it was clean

On Day 1, you washed your hair and styled it just the way you wanted. But are you on top of your Day 2 hair?

screenshot via Pinterest

On Day 1, you washed your hair and styled it just the way you wanted. But are you on top of your Day 2 hair?

It is high time we had a serious conversation, and it is called "What Is Up With Your Day 2 Hair Game?"

For years, I floundered to style my hair on "Day 2" - the day after you've washed your hair, when you know you shouldn't wash it again. As science tells us, washing your hair every day isn't necessarily good for it, and actually makes it greasier over time. That means my Day 1 hair is a perfect blowdry and flat iron job, but for years my Day 2 game has been ratty ponytails, messy buns that look more hopeless than artful, and re-straightened hair that never lives up to the glory of its Day 1 self.

It all changed for me a few weeks ago, when I purchased something I first heard about yonder Christmastime. I'll tell you about that in a minute; but first, I was curious to know how the other Divas approached Day 2 hair dilemmas. …

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Happy Birthday ARTpool Gallery: St. Pete's fashion timeline

ARTpool has great variety from sweet to punk to sexy to mod.

ARTpool

ARTpool has great variety from sweet to punk to sexy to mod.

ARTpool Gallery, a force in local fashion, is turning seven. Owner Marina Williams has proven that Tampa Bay has an appetite for vintage, edgey, hip, funky, and once in a while downright ugly clothes. Her huge store at 2030 Central Ave. is a boutique/museum/time warp/restaurant/bar.

Even if you don't wear vintage, it's worth a trip to ARTpool to see the timeline of beautiful, elegant pieces along with those that pushed the envelope over the years. Prices range from $5 to more than $200.

Marina and her staff help customers hunt thought racks of well organized clothes to find just what you want for a sophisticated cocktail party or a '70s disco bash.

Speaking of bash, ARTpool is throwing one to celebrate its birthday this Saturday from 8 p.m. to midnight. Tickets are $20 and $40 and can be bought on the ARTpool website. It's sure to be an entertaining evening. The 10 p.m. runway show features body painting artists and a burlesque show. The gala will also ahve a fashion show and live music along with food and drinks for sale.

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My Outfit Monday: Teaching girls to be their best

The future leaders of America, everyone. WEE Girls Rock!

Photo courtesy of YWCA WEE Girls Rock

The future leaders of America, everyone. WEE Girls Rock!

Ever feel like standing in front of a room full of middle and high school girls, and asking them to point out what's wrong with your outfit? Probably not.

And yet, Kameel bravely did this over the weekend, and for that, she gets eternal props. She also gets eternal props for getting Deal Divas involved with the YWCA Tampa Bay Women's Economic Empowerment program, which hosted a WEE Girls Rock day camp for girls at All Children's Hospital Saturday. The goal was to get the girls talking and learning about their futures, what jobs they might want, how to make them a reality and what skills they might need to get there.

Part of that, as we all know, is dressing the part. Enter Deal Divas.

Kameel and I brought items from our own closets to demonstrate to the girls how to put together a professional look, or just something cute and polished to wear to school. We dressed Kameel and pointed out what to do, and what not to do. The girls had fun interacting with us and even got some special Deal Divas gift baskets at the end of the session, including a $10 gift certificate to one of our fave stores, Revolve Clothing Exchange.  …

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What to pack for your beach vacation

Just don't go Overboard.

MGM

Just don't go Overboard.

27 days. That’s how long I’m going to be dreaming about my annual trek to Captiva Island — and that’s how long I’m going to be obsessing over my getaway garb, because for me that’s approximately 60 percent of the fun.


Spring has sprung, and if you haven’t been lucky enough to indulge in the traditional weeklong break, hopefully your summer retreat is right around the corner. As Floridians, our closets afford us tons of options when packing for the beach. Here’s how to stay on-trend during your long-awaited and well-deserved escape from reality:

 

Beaching

Light layers are essential for a lazy day on the sand. Toss a bold-colored romper over your bathing suit to stay breezy and covered up, while keeping your tanning game strong. A wide-brimmed resort hat does double duty: keeping it chic while providing sun protection. I prefer the floppy variety. Add a dainty gold necklace and braided flip flops for effortless elegance.

 

Exploring …

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