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Deal Divas

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

Wedding Week Shopping Planner: Perusing is for lovers

Just one of the stunning gowns that will be available this weekend during the Nicole Spose trunk show at The Dressing Room in St. Pete.

Courtesy of Nicole Spose

Just one of the stunning gowns that will be available this weekend during the Nicole Spose trunk show at The Dressing Room in St. Pete.

Are you somebody's better half? If so, this week's edition of Shopping Planner is for you. Perhaps you've noticed that it's Wedding Week here at Deal Divas HQ, but prepare to have your minds blown because it is also Valentine's Day Week. Here are some darling love-centric events coming up this weekend and beyond: …

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Wedding Week: Should you go off-registry for that wedding gift? Brides weigh in

Did you get your gift off the registry -- or did you go off-registry? Inquiring minds.

screenshot via pinterest

Did you get your gift off the registry -- or did you go off-registry? Inquiring minds.

So you're thinking of going off-registry.

You've eyed the toasters, the salad tongs, the tasteful linen tablecloth. You've considered cash, but it feels too... impersonal. Your mind starts to wander. What could you give the bride and groom that's special, unique?

I've recently had success going off-registry for friends' weddings. I gave Diva Katie a painting of the Lyceum, her wedding venue, which now hangs in her living room. Katie and I, in turn, gifted friend Eve the framed blueprints to the St. Pete Shuffleboard Club, where Eve said "I do" last month.

Both gifts felt special and personal to the brides I was giving them to, and they were happy (or so they told me!). But going off-registry can actually be quite dicy and divisive if you're not careful about it. And in the Otherworld that is Wedding Season, the wrong gift can be a guest faux pas up there with wearing white or getting too sloppy at the open bar. …

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Wedding Week: Bridesmaids can save big bucks by renting

What to wear, what to wear?

Wikimedia Commons

What to wear, what to wear?

In 2009, my first year as a bridesmaid, the drill went like this: The bride picked out our dress (floor-length Dessy gown, style 2726, Christmas red skirt and ivory bodice). I ordered it (and saved 15 percent by paying $200 in full). I found a string of pearls as I waited on dress alterations. On the day of the wedding, I received a half-up, half-down curled hairstyle in synch with my fellow maids and put on dyeable satin sandals from Payless in the exact shade of red as my dress.

Everything was so deeply coordinated then. These days, bridesmaiding feels more loose. You don't have to buy your dress. You can mix-and-match necklines and buy whatever jewelry. And no one cares about your shoes because no one will see them anyway. (Or if they do, people may think, Ooo, what personality.)

In the past year, I've been a bridesmaid in three awesome weddings, plus my own. The bridesmaid role, and how to save money doing it, has been on my mind a lot. Don't take the advice that follows as a diss on tradition, because that's a very fine way of doing things, too. But if you want to save money as a bridesmaid, here are some tried-and-true options.

RENT THE RUNWAY …

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My Outfit Monday: An engagement party ensemble to kick off Wedding Week

Me & Phil & my outfit.

Me & Phil & my outfit.

Today marks the start of our second annual Wedding Week, a time-honored Deal Divas tradition in which we answer very important questions like Am I terrible person if I wear a black dress as a wedding guest? and What the heck does "black tie optional" mean?. Last time we did Wedding Week, Deal Diva Katie was getting married. This time, I am. So to kick it off, here is a very special My Outfit Monday from the engagement party some friends held for my fiance and I this weekend.

The party was a low-key affair held at 3 Daughters, a brewery in St. Petersburg, because it's hard to do much in St. Petersburg that doesn't involve a brewery right now. They have a great warehouse space out back, and the vibe was decidedly chill. I wanted to dress up, obvs, but given the setting I didn't want to get too overdressed. I briefly considered a fitted long-sleeve leopard-print dress but found it hard to picture myself sipping an Oatmeal Stout in such an ensemble.

The other thing to consider as I waded through my closet Saturday afternoon: weather.

Not sure if you've heard, people schlepping through snow storms up north, but Florida has been having a cold January. Some days, it does not even get out of the 50s. How we go on, I do not know. But for this particular outfit, that meant no bare legs, no sleeveless, no open-toe shoes. (Guys, I am a native Floridian. Brr.) Oh, and did I mention it was raining?

I did want to work some bling and some white into my outfit, because, bride, so I chose this J. Crew Factory flare skirt, purchased during one of their extra-percentage-off-clearance sales last year for around $20. It's white with navy, light blue, silver and gold embellishments, plus it has an exposed zipper to cut the fanciness a bit. I paired that with black tights and black boots (see above weather complaint) and a chambray shirt. Now, I tried on many shirts before the chambray saved me from being swallowed whole by my closet. I tried on sweaters, which paired with the tights and boots looked a little too My So-Called Life. I tried on a sleeveless Peter Pan-collared shirt, then stepped outside and promptly turned into an icicle. Finally, I Goldilocks-ed my way into this shirt, which I bought on Macy's clearance years ago for no more than $15. It's super light-weight, and normally buttons all the way down, but I left two or three buttons undone and tied it to give the outfit some shape, and for some added edge. I decided to get really dangerous and top the whole thing off with my black "leather" jacket (inspiration: this) and some very sparkly earrings that I wished I had remembered to take a separate photo of. …

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Unlimited blowouts for $99? Where's my wine?

When you get your hair blow dried by a professional, you're able to strangle annoying men with it!

AP

When you get your hair blow dried by a professional, you're able to strangle annoying men with it!

A few weeks ago, I had a beauty chair revelation. Getting a blowout is the actual best.

For our friend and co-worker Eve's wedding, I had to consider my guest-status hair. I didn't want to get an updo or anything too formal (that's reserved for bridesmaids, IMO, or the bride's Crazy Aunt Lucille with the birds in her basement). But I was also chilling on the lazy tip that weekend and wanted some help. I decided to book a blowout at the mall. 

I've had a blowout once before, and I don't mean the one that comes at the end of your regular hair appointment. I mean a specialty blowout designed purely for styling the hair you come in with. Perhaps I didn't fully relax through that one at BlowBar in Tampa because I was busy paying attention and reporting for this in-depth blowout narrative.  …

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A Divas guide to sophisticated fangirling

The gang's all here. My desk starring (clockwise from top left) Annie and Erin of Attack on Titan; Sailors Mars, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Jupiter and Mars again of Sailor Moon R; Fuleco Mascot of World Cup 2014; Ravenclaw House prefect pin from Harry Potter, Kirito, Leafa and Kirito from Sword Art Online, BB-8 of Star Wars: The Force Awakens; and baby Groot of Guardians of The Galaxy.

Robbyn Mitchell/Times

The gang's all here. My desk starring (clockwise from top left) Annie and Erin of Attack on Titan; Sailors Mars, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Jupiter and Mars again of Sailor Moon R; Fuleco Mascot of World Cup 2014; Ravenclaw House prefect pin from Harry Potter, Kirito, Leafa and Kirito from Sword Art Online, BB-8 of Star Wars: The Force Awakens; and baby Groot of Guardians of The Galaxy.

Way back in the '90s and early '00s, I might have been labeled a nerd.

I watch anime and collect figurines. My Hogwarts house is Ravenclaw -- I'm sure because I've taken both versions of the Pottermore Sorting Hat Quiz. All my imaginary boyfriends are lead actors in Korean dramas. 

Back before geek culture became de rigueur, people like me were weird. Now, we're just considered fans -- and we're driving the economy. #truefacts

Don't believe me? Think about your friends. How many of them have never been to any sort of fan convention? How many of them haven't seen the new Star Wars or Star Trek films? How many of them can't name at least one principle character (aside from the titular hero) in the Harry Potter universe?

I rest my case. 

But just because us fans are legion, doesn't mean we have to be the same. I fangirl my obsessions just about every day without looking like I'm on my way to enter a cosplay contest.

Getting older doesn't mean we have to change our tastes. It just means we don't need those choices validated by others. I fangirl for me.

Here are a few tips to letting your geek flag fly in the working world: …

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Free TLC for you and for me

This photo beckons me.

Pure Natural Nail Lounge

This photo beckons me.

Stop  byPure Natural Nail Lounge today between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. for some free TLC. In honor if its one-year anniversary the downtown St. Petersburg spa is giving away free spa services. 

Yes. Free. Spa. Services. I just called over there hear this in person and make sure. Free polish changes, hand massages and foot massages. Products will be $5 off and 20 percent off. 

There will be wine and food. Free samples from Naked FitFoods. Tha lounge will ask for $5 donations for a glass of wine.

All donations and 10 percent of profits will be donated to Heals to Heel, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Pure Natural is also collecting canned goods for CASA's new, filled-to-the-rim shelter.

Happy Birthday Pure Natural !!!

 

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Shopping Planner: It's a St. Pete-apalooza all the livelong weekend

JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times

LOCAL LOVE: GARGANTUAN GUIDE
Attention, St. Pete shoppers: The city will be your oyster this weekend as Localtopia, Crafty Fest, Saturday Morning Market, St. Pete Indie Market and Brocante Market collide. On Saturday, prepare yourselves for screams of “Just take my money!” during what we are billing as the Big Bang of local business. …

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Yes, Valentine's Day is coming up, and your boo needs those Cam Newton pants...

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton photobombs teammates Derek Anderson, Greg Olsen and Luke Kuechly after landing at Mineta San Jose International Airport on Sunday for Super Bowl 50. (TNS)

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton photobombs teammates Derek Anderson, Greg Olsen and Luke Kuechly after landing at Mineta San Jose International Airport on Sunday for Super Bowl 50. (TNS)

But you can't buy those fyre graphic pants anymore. The $849 Versace pants sold out fast after Panthers QB Cam Newton wore them off the plane in San Francisco on Sunday before the Super Bowl.

Newton told the NFL Network the pants had to do with the gravity of the occasion and a shortfall in his closet.

"It's Super Bowl 50. The mantra of the colors are black and gold," he said. "The black and gold attire that I had in my closet was extremely limited. So I looked at my pants, and I said these are black and gold and these shoes are black and gold to tie along with the whole Super Bowl 50 black and gold."

You have to admire his excitement to mark the occasion, and boy was it memorable. Charlie Rose thought so, naturally.

 

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My Outfit Monday: That time I tried on the stuff someone left behind in the dressing room

Hey, this car is neat! Let's stand in front of it!

Eve Edelheit

Hey, this car is neat! Let's stand in front of it!

I have a real problem with people who leave piles of clothes in the dressing room. Like, how hard is it to bring the stuff out and put it on the return rack? The store pays people to put the clothes back for you! You don't even have to do it! You just have to move them from a hook to a rack slightly outside the dressing room. SINCE IT'S RANT TIME, I have the same problem with people who just drop their shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot at the grocery store. There is a cart bay LITERALLY RIGHT THERE!!!!11! PUSH IT TEN FEET! Think of all the good the Publix cart retriever could be doing with his life if he didn't have to squeeze between a Cadillac Escalade and a motorcycle with a side car to wedge a cart out of a bush because you were too busy to move it back to the designated spot! He could be inside kindly helping an elderly soul find an extra BOGO chicken of a similar weight! Pushing the cart into the cart bay and removing the clothes YOU selected and bringing them back out of the dressing room is a small but meaningful metaphor for the eventual collapse of society! This is a minimum expectation, and furthermore it is not at all challenging! Do we have to start leaving cookies near the return rack? I AM GOING TO STROKE OUT. …

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Friday afternoon love note: RMS Eye Polish

RMS Eye Polish in Magnetic

RMS Beauty

RMS Eye Polish in Magnetic

I used DD Katie's RMS eye shadow at some point, though I can't remember when. Maybe her bachelorette party? Maybe one night before hitting happy hour in a desperate attempt to freshen? 

One thing I do remember, however, was loving it. It was a brand I had never heard of that Katie received from a classy friend in the know. I just made the leap and got my own pot this week. RMS's "eye polish" is all organic and non-toxic with ingredients that are purportedly good for skin. It goes on smooth and is very nicely pigmented. I've been swiping the shade "Magnetic" on with my fingers either solo, or packing in darker powder shades from my Urban Decay Naked kit for more dimension.

It's pricey at $28 but I can already tell I'm going to use this all the time. Katie does, too. Check RMS's website for a 15 percent discount on your first purchase. 

 

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Real Simple makes recycling old clothes Real Complicated

My clothes, after being shunned by Ann Taylor, knew they had better places to go.

kss

My clothes, after being shunned by Ann Taylor, knew they had better places to go.

As I walked toward the Ann Taylor Loft at International Plaza looking like a bag lady, I promised myself I’d get a wardrobe basic. A cream shirt or black sweater that I could wear with anything. No patterns, Katherine. No patterns. After all I’d just cleaned out two Trader Joe’s bags worth of clothes I hadn’t worn in the past year. Or longer.

The latest Real Simple gave me the impetus in a story on "closet editing." The article said Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft and H&M gives discounts on new clothes to shoppers who bring in any brand of used clothing. It didn’t say how much, but I was determined to trade in all the things I didn’t wear for a deal on at least one (discounted) practical purchase.

I told the sales associate I was donating both bags then asked how much of a discount I’d get.

“Ummmm. We don’t take used clothes here. I think you can go to Salvation Army,” she said.

“Ummmm,” I countered. “It said in Real Simple magazine that you do."

“Ummmm. What’s Real Simple?” she asked.

“Ummmm, it’s a national magazine that tons of people read.”

“Well, they are wrong. We don’t do that.”

“How could they be wrong? They said so in thousands of magazines."

“Ummmm. I could ask a manger.” …

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The future is now: Design a Zac Posen dress using code (It's easy!)

MadeWithCode.com

Confession: I am insanely jealous of my better half who took time out of his life to study web development and is much better off because of it.

Confession: His foreign work talk now bores me into a trance.

Solution: Made With Code, which aims to inspire girls (and in my case 31-year-old women) to make tech happen.

Here are some stats from the site created by the genius minds at Google (shoutout to my brother):

"In the United States, 74% of girls express interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in middle school."

"By high school, only 0.3% girls plan to major in Computer Science."

"CS jobs will be the highest-paying sectors over the next decade, paying almost $15K more than average."

"Encouragement from adults and peers is the #1 contributor to a girl’s decision to pursue Computer Science."

This hits home for me because I have a daughter and a son. Guess which one received a coding robot for Christmas. …

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PSA: Gap stores are closing, there are sales to be had

Bye, Felicia.

Bloomberg News

Bye, Felicia.

Gap is closing 70 stores across the country today, including the stores at Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg and Citrus Park Town Center in Tampa (and a store in Melbourne, the only other Florida closure). Ace Times biz reporter Justine Griffin has more details:

"As part of a comprehensive strategy to position Gap brand for improved business performance and build for the future, Gap Inc. recently announced it would reduce its North America specialty store fleet by about 175 stores over the course of the next few years," the retailer said in a list of store closures.

Gap Inc., the parent company of Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy, posted poor sales results for the fourth quarter following the holiday shopping season. Overall sales were down 4 percent, and sales at Gap stores declined 2 percent for the quarter, which is traditionally the busiest time of the year for brick-and-mortar retailers. …

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My Outfit Monday: Wrapping myself in a 'Thriftmas' miracle

Here I am doing my best Carmen Sandiego in the Times hallway.

Stephanie Hayes/Times

Here I am doing my best Carmen Sandiego in the Times hallway.

Thrifters we are in the golden times.

The final month of the year is where people reassess their lives and closets and part with the slightly worn and impractical items wearing them down. For us, it is Thriftmas. 

"Historically, January is when we get the most donations every year," said Chris Ward of Goodwill Suncoast. "December is the no. 2 month  and then March comes in third with Spring cleanings."

Every weekend this month, I've hit a different thrift store to pick up items to get me through this cold snap and into our upcoming eternal summer. At a Goodwill in St. Petersburg, I thought I'd peruse the coat racks to see if any new cute cardigans came in and happened across this gem of a trench coat. 

The blue Yoki New York coat is a little thin, and two sizes too big, but still for the low price of $10 too fab to have been abandoned. It's practically new and screams "international woman of mystery."  …

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