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Deal Divas

Stephanie Hayes, Katie Sanders, Shelley Rossetter, Kameel Stanley, Keeley Sheehan & Keyonna Summers

Can you handle The Limited's 'Scandal' collection?

Maybe this drop collar wrap coat would play better if you're a Tallahassee lobbyist type, or an anywhere-that-has-a-real-winter type. It looks cozy but serious. ($248)

| Screenshot from The Limited.

Maybe this drop collar wrap coat would play better if you're a Tallahassee lobbyist type, or an anywhere-that-has-a-real-winter type. It looks cozy but serious. ($248)

Like many a Mad Men line at Banana Republic before it, I couldn't wait to see The Limited's Scandal-inspired collection since it was announced in early summer

Good news: It's finally here.

The line includes somewhat predictable but nonetheless glamorous Olivia Pope capes, coats and pants, plus some awesome tailored dresses and classy tie-neck blouses that don't scream "I'M FROM THE SCANDAL LINE AT THE LIMITED." Like this plaid cape.

The collection sticks to a color palette of light pink, sage green, black and white, and pearly hues.  Prices range from $49 to $248, so there's pretty much no way we are snagging any looks until they are on sale.

The line is a collaboration between designers from The Limited and Scandal plus show star Kerry Washington. In a short video on The Limited's site, Washington says the looks allow women to feel "fabulous and fearless" (and also, we're guessing, torn between two powerful, conflicted and dangerous men).

Check out the collection and browse my favorite looks in the slideshow. Then tell us: Do you like the items tailor-made for a goblet of red wine (a la huge draped cardigan) or the ones with a more subtle connection to the show?

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My Outfit Monday: Florida's version of fall fashion

Not content to merely drool over all those Pinterest pics of autumn wear, I celebrated the first day of fall with my very own Florida version. Because non-sheer items acquired at Labor Day sales count, right? Right?!

Keyonna's iconic iPhone selfie skillz

Not content to merely drool over all those Pinterest pics of autumn wear, I celebrated the first day of fall with my very own Florida version. Because non-sheer items acquired at Labor Day sales count, right? Right?!

Anyone who knows me can be sure of two things: I love both September (the entire 30 days of which I claim for my month-long birthday celebration) and autumn (Florida sunshine mixed with a break from the unrelenting summer heat).

So of course you know I just HAD to bring in the first day of fall in style.

Today's shoutout goes to the Ann Taylor Outlet store in Ellenton, which I visited for the first time on Labor Day.

I fell in love y'all.

Not only were the individual stores' holiday sales on point, especially at Ann Taylor, but my shopping companion tipped me off to the Ellenton Premium Outlet's VIP Club for extra savings.

Take advantage, divas. I can't recall exact checkout prices. But I walked away with this printed pencil skirt (originally $89.99) plus another and a maroon silk blouse with lace detailing for under $50 -- which in Ann Taylor Land is virtually unheard of. Thank you, clearance rack gods!

Both skirts are lined (meaning no need for a slip ... as if you can really find those these days anyway) and made of a thicker cotton weave, which will be perfect when we hit those cooler months. …

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Meet the Tampa Bay finalists in Martha Stewart's American Made contest

A clutch from Spathose.

Spathose

A clutch from Spathose.

Congratulations to some local designers who are finalists in Martha Stewart's American Made contest. It's Queen Martha's attempt to recognize the best locally-made products around the nation, from fashion to food to crafts. Florida fared pretty well out of the nearly 1,000 finalists, and the bay area is well-represented, too.

First up, St. Petersburg's Scott Durfee and George Medeiros, who you probably better as the Spathose brand of wearable sculptures. Spathose was featured in Tampa Bay Fashion Week a few years back and now you can find their purses, neck ties, cuffs and more everywhere from the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts to Urban Body Clothing in Tampa. Scott and George make Spathose products in their local studio, creating each piece by hand from the spathe of palm trees, a material you have certainly seen if you've spent any time in Florida. Every piece is unmistakable, and I can always spot them in a crowd.  …

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I was blind but now I see the awesomeness that is Warby Parker

So dainty! The cost of eyeglass manufacturer Warby Parker's Annette (shown here in petal tortoise) starts at $95.

warbyparker.com

So dainty! The cost of eyeglass manufacturer Warby Parker's Annette (shown here in petal tortoise) starts at $95.

This lass recently got new glasses and, despite there being what appeared to be an awesome and totally Diva-like BOGO Free deal, I ended up shelling out nearly $500.

You already know. The Deal Diva in me complained about the cost. I denounced the lack of selection, which meant I ended up with one frame I wasn't the most fond of. I used all kinds of words unbecoming a family publication.

But alas! A coworker heard my (foul-mouthed) plea.

She said several friends and relatives have absolutely raved about Warby Parker, a hip relatively new eyeglass manufacturer that keeps costs down by cutting out the middle man.

Essentially, you send Warby Parker your Rx and they send you back a pair (…or two or five...) of chic spectacles made to your lens color, face shape and other specifications.

Final cost? When the free shipping and exchanges are considered, you could end up paying on the low end a nearly-unheard-of $100 or so for one pair of super stylish frames and lenses. …

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$10 suits and $5 clothes at Dress for Success sale this weekend

My holding pile from last year's Dress for Success excess inventory sale. Those boots? Nine West beauties for $5.

My holding pile from last year's Dress for Success excess inventory sale. Those boots? Nine West beauties for $5.

There are many choice reasons to shop at the Dress for Success Tampa Bay excess inventory sale this weekend, not the least of which is the good cause you will be helping. Full disclosure, as I've mentioned, I volunteer for Dress for Success as a personal shopper. The organization connects disadvantaged women with clothes for job interviews and other professional resources they need to land and keep jobs, like computer training and networking. I could go on about that, but you can just read more here.

HOWEVER. Today I want to focus on all the clothes I bought at the last excess inventory sale in February, for peanuts on the dollar. I AM FASHION AND SO CAN YOU.

I scanned my closet recently and realized a healthy portion of it came from this event. Twice a year, Dress for Suceess sells off extra items in order to buy plus-size suits for clients, always a hugely depleted area in the boutique. Anyway, the stuff they sell is NICE. I have compiled a slideshow of my scores above, with a bonus picture of Times writer Michelle Stark in an outstanding White House Black Market dress she found at the sale last year.

Want to go? Here's what you need to know: …

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Our Outfit Monday: The Deal Divas go to Tampa Bay Fashion Week

This photo required more attempts than we are willing to admit. (Keeley had to work, like, really work.)

Photo by Luis Santana.

This photo required more attempts than we are willing to admit. (Keeley had to work, like, really work.)

Here's just one reason we love Tampa Bay Fashion Week: We get fancy.

It's not every Wednesday we get to leave our basic work wardrobes behind and exit the newsroom in heels, black leather and fancy outfits we haven't worn in years.

We had a great time at this year's runway show (here's our recap from the front row) and hope you enjoyed our Instagrams and tweets. 

I'm already thinking of what I'll wear next year (am definitely taking some notes from tbt writer and Deal Divas bestie Robbyn Mitchell, show in the slideshow). Until next time, here's what we wore. …

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ICYMI: Fanny packs are back and more stylish than ever

SJP and her Chanel fanny pack.

via Glamour on Pinterest

SJP and her Chanel fanny pack.

Sarah Jessica Parker recently rocked a Chanel fanny pack at an event, prompting Glamour to declare a few days ago that they are officially back. As I read the post, I couldn't help but wonder... are they really? (See what I did there?)

As Glamour also notes, people have in fact been rocking the fanny pack all summer long. My friend/Times reporter Caitlin has on several occasions made use of one.

They're easy to mock but I think there's definitely a case to be made. Caitlin scored hers with the American flag motif you can see in the slideshow on Amazon for less than $20. On the value and virtues of the fanny pack, Caitlin says:

There's nothing more convenient than a cute or personalized fanny pack. I first got indoctrinated to the fanny pack fan club in college. During our infamous Little 500 (an epic bike race immortalized in the Oscar-winning film Breaking Away) many of the sororities would order stylish ones with our letters.

You could store your race ticket, phone and other essentials in an easily accessible manner while still having your arms free to cheer on your team. With a purse, you're constantly worrying about holding it or setting it down somewhere.  …

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Tampa Bay Fashion Week runway show wrap-up

This piece, from KalaExpress, had us all literally gasping and reaching for our phones at this year's Fashion Week runway show. Deal Diva Katie about swooned.

This piece, from KalaExpress, had us all literally gasping and reaching for our phones at this year's Fashion Week runway show. Deal Diva Katie about swooned.

First, our apologies. We've been having a blast popping into Tampa Bay Fashion Week events (another reason September is a favorite month). But with this week's main runway show being in the middle of the week, our schedules were thrown off, and we just got a chance to pulling this together.

Can anyone say "fashionably late"? (Too cheesy? It's Friday; cut us some slack.)

This year's show was at the Hilton in downtown Tampa. Someone told us the president was also there around the same time, but you can probably read about that on another blog ;) Our focus was on the fashion.

Click the slideshow to see highlights, keep reading below for some of our overall impressions, then finish your night by re-reading our tweets from Wednesday!

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Tampa Bay Fashion Week: Where beer and bling meet

This is technically stuff for men, but that doesn't mean a handcrafted cotton flower lapel pin by French Pilot wouldn't look awesome on your blazer.

Photo by Katie Sanders.

This is technically stuff for men, but that doesn't mean a handcrafted cotton flower lapel pin by French Pilot wouldn't look awesome on your blazer.

Local jewelry, hat and handbag designers greeted fashion-curious beer-lovers Thursday night from their pop-up shops on the grassy lawn of Green Bench Brewing Co.

I arrived on the early side of the Baubles & Beer fashion party, part of Tampa Bay Fashion Week events, and chatted up several talented accessories designers from around the area. Featured were Kenzie Lee Vintage Bijoux, Eugenia Woods, French Pilot, Strands of Sunshine, Monstruosite by Dolly Donshey (remember her designer hat collection?), Arabella Jane, and Ella Bing.

I loved this hand-painted partial flamingo bag (see which part) from Eugenia Woods and several one-of-a-kind, reinvented necklaces incorporating vintage broaches and earrings from Kenzie Lee and Arabella Jane. 

I was impressed with th designers' drive. The vendors are a mix of store owners and tiny Etsy shop operators, meaning not all can afford to do this part time. The force behind French Pilot's cotton flower lapel pins and pocket squares told me she is a nurse -- talk about left brain, right brain. 

Browse the slideshow and learn more about what each designer brought to the table.

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The Altuzarra for Target collection is modern, fierce and available

"This crane dress is everything," said everyone, apparently, because it is sold out.

Photo from Target.

"This crane dress is everything," said everyone, apparently, because it is sold out.

The problem with the Altuzarra for Target line that rolled out in stores this week is not that we want all of it, which we do.

Bow blouses and snakeskin wrap dresses? Crane sweaters and floral floor-length gowns? We're there, duh.

No, the problem is some of the dreamiest looks appear to have already been snatched up. Things like this crimson ruched dress and this tailored dress with crane embroidery, bummer).

If you want something, go and get it now (though Deal Diva Stephanie says the same thing happened with Missoni, and then styles came back and "you couldn't walk into Target without seeing Missoni." So maybe all is not lost.).

The line from designer Joseph Altuzarra, 31, is just one of the high-profile store collaborations we've been waiting for this year (we're looking at you, Scandal line for The Limited, coming out next week.)

Prices range from $24.99 to $89.99. Trench coats are on the high end, of course, for any of our readers planning a trip to anywhere-but-here this fall.

BTW, Altuzarra recently won the Council of Fashion Designers of America's Women's Wear Designer of the Year award. Too early to call it his Best Year Ever?

Shop the looks at Target.com and Net-A-Porter.

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St. Pete Art & Fashion Week kicks off tonight

FANCY. Photo via St. Pete Art & Fashion Week.

FANCY. Photo via St. Pete Art & Fashion Week.

Things are a-buzzing on the local fashion scene lately. We just wrapped up Haute Accessories Week and are getting ready to dive into Tampa Bay Fashion Week. But that's not all! If you want to focus your fashion pursuits in St. Petersburg, there’s an option that also weaves in other kinds of visual art. St. Pete Art & Fashion Week kicks off today and runs through Saturday at locations around the ‘burg.

The opening night party is from  7-10 p.m. tonight at Moscato’s Bella Cucina on Central Avenue. Wednesday, you can catch Dis-connected: A showcase of Contradictions at the Raw Studio, exploring physical connections in an electronic world.  There’s another art show Friday at the Duncan McClellan Gallery, all capped off by a fashion runway show Saturday at One Progress Plaza. Designers and boutiques in the show include Curb Gear, Helen Gerro, Cerulean Blu Swim & Resort Wear Boutique, Purabell House of Fashion, Be-Bops Custom Swimwear and Boutique La Rochelle.

For a full lineup and tickets, visit stpeteartandfashionweek.com or the St. Pete Art & Fashion Week Facebook page here. Be sure to share all your fabulous snaps from the events with us on Twitter @dealdivas!

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My Outfit Monday: An official stance on rompers

Outside the cafe at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete a couple weeks ago.

photo by fiance/location scout Ren LaForme

Outside the cafe at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete a couple weeks ago.

A few years ago I took the very staunch position of anti-romper, asking who in their right mind would actually wear one?

My fiancé reminded me of this a few weeks ago when I brought home... a romper.

Whatever. I'm allowed to change my mind.

After seeing them all over my favorite fashion blogs the last year or so, I was intrigued, so I started searching. A cute blue one at TJ Maxx fit weird. H&M had a funky orange one but they didn't have my size so the straps didn't fit right.

But I didn't give up the hunt, and lo and behold, I found this one from New York & Co. at Revolve in St. Pete. The fabric is sturdier than the others I tried on, the pant legs are longer and the waist is fitted but stretchy to it's easier to make it look like it's not shapeless. I paired it with a Target belt and wedges I picked up on sale a while ago. The waist has a weird crease in it from sitting at brunch, as one does. But oh well.

Definitely not something I'd wear everyday, but I like it for something fun and casual. I've officially changed my position to pro-romper. What do you think? Rompers, yea or nay?

 

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7 tips for attending Tampa Bay Fashion week (plus a full schedule of events)

Kato Kaelin! Yes, everyone's favorite couch surfer has turned fashion designer. We saw his collection with Rhonda Shear last year, and he'll be returning this year.

Photo by Luis Santana

Kato Kaelin! Yes, everyone's favorite couch surfer has turned fashion designer. We saw his collection with Rhonda Shear last year, and he'll be returning this year.

Going into year seven, Tampa Bay Fashion Week’s organizers were feeling that familiar itch for change.

Our local purveyors of style have tried different configurations since 2008 to see what works best. This year, fashion week has slimmed down to fewer days, and is plotted in reverse. The runway show featuring local and national designers (Kato Kaelin’s pajama line, anyone? Or one from Hugh's wife Crystal Hefner?) is on Wednesday rather than its normal spot on the weekend. Organizer Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency said the swap was an experiment to see if people get more energized for the parties coming off the high of the fashion show mid-week.

The Deal Divas have attended most every fashion week, charting the evolution of our area’s signature sartorial event. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things.

Here are the Deal Divas’ five tips for making the most of Tampa Bay Fashion Week.

1. Pull out the stops …

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Get runway ready at Haute Accessories Week

Jewelry by Tampa's Naje' Designs is among accessories that will be featured at the fourth annual Haute Accessories Week runway show. Other designers hail from New York, Orlando and Jamaica.

Melvin Duncan Photos via The Fashion Movement

Jewelry by Tampa's Naje' Designs is among accessories that will be featured at the fourth annual Haute Accessories Week runway show. Other designers hail from New York, Orlando and Jamaica.

Let's face it: It's almost the weekend. Shopping is on the agenda.

But what if I told you that you could start gorging out on fashion a day or two early, PLUS spread feelings of cheer to others?

How, you ask? By attending Tampa's fourth annual Haute Accessories Week!

The celebration, put on by local style outfit The Fashion Movement, actually launched a few days ago, with events including a kickoff soiree and a jewelry-making workshop.

The fun continues tonight with a Little Black Dress & Black Tie Party, complete with red carpet and complimentary hors d'oevres, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Crumb & Cork, 501 N. Franklin St.

And then there's the main event: A runway show highlighting the latest in high-fashion jewelry, ties, hats, head pieces, bags and shoes, coupled with a designer showcase where the guests can mingle and purchase signature pieces from their creators. That's set for 6 to 11 p.m. Friday at Hunter's Green Country Club, 18101 Longwater Run Dr.

Fashion show tickets are $40 for general admission or $55 for up-close-and-personal seating. Tonight's formal party is $20, or free with the purchase of a runway show ticket. …

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"Nude" news we can be happy about

I wore my "nude" pumps to work today. Except they're not so nude, right? At least when it comes to underthings, that will change soon. U.K.-based Nubian Skin is planning to launch a line of lingerie for women of color. Can we all collectively say "YASSSSSSSSSSSSS, Honey"?

I wore my "nude" pumps to work today. Except they're not so nude, right? At least when it comes to underthings, that will change soon. U.K.-based Nubian Skin is planning to launch a line of lingerie for women of color. Can we all collectively say "YASSSSSSSSSSSSS, Honey"?

Check my shoes today. Cute, right? When I got them, the girl at the counter remarked how she, too, had been on the hunt for a good pair of nude pumps. I smiled. 

But. 

Look at the picture again. These shoes, while I adore them probably even more than most of the others in my current collection, are not "nude" -- at least not on me.

This is not new to me or any other woman of color who has -- pretty much forever -- known that when the latest "nude" or "neutral" trend comes along, it's never 100 percent for us. What most of my friends call nude, whether it's shoes or clothes or underthings, my sistas (yes, THAT "sistas") and I call "peach." Or "light pink." Or "beige."

If I want something that's, well, my actual skin tone, I normally would pore over whatever brown items are in stock, It's usually never a perfect match, and if it's that important, I settle for black.

I cannot tell you how excited I am to learn that may soon change. A few nights ago, I willingly and excitedly signed up for updates from a site for Nubian Skin, a U.K.-based startup that says it's going to offer lingerie and hosiery for brown girls in shades like "cinnamon" and "berry."

This is a big deal.

(Keep reading and click on the slideshow for pics of the products.)

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