Every time we gas up the car, we kiss goodbye to a new pair of shoes. The pain is real. But we have a guilty confession about our gloom-and-doom economy: We've never seen pickings so good. • Fifty percent off is the new full price at the mall. The newspaper has become a treasure trove of coupons for department stores. Even discount stores feature high fashion lines. • We know — negotiating bulging clearance racks can be exhausting. The St. Petersburg Times has assembled a team of crack shoppers to do the work for you — the Deal Divas. • Check out some of their favorite summer finds that won't leave you in the soup kitchen line.
Shopping bloggers find the deals for you
m Maxi dress,
New York & Company, $49.95
Floor-sweeping dresses are in for summer. This is the first we've found not sized for an NBA player on stilts. On a tall person, it grazes shin. On a shortie, it hits ankle. Either way, you're fierce. Bonus — no one will know you haven't shaved in two weeks.
m Flip-flops, Old Navy, two pairs for $5
Speaking of disgusting shower shoes, isn't it time to restock? There's really no excuse not to at this price. They come in every color in the spectrum, and they're from reputable retailer Old Navy, which should ease fears about the icky skin infections populated in ye olde Internet chain mail of yore.
m Bracelets, Body Central, three for $12
It's best to stay chunky when it comes to inexpensive accessories. Plastic and wood bangles won't tarnish the way of cheap metal ones. Look for details like hand painting. Folks will think you scored it on vacay in Guadalajara — not at the mall with change from your couch cushions.
n Scarf, New York & Company, $16.95
A nice mix of casual spunk and spoiled class. Swoop it around your neck, throw on some big sunglasses and get ready for the comparisons to Grace Kelly. Also, brace for whispers that you're covered in hickeys.
m Madden Girl Sicilly Gladiator Sandals, Rack Room Shoes, $34.99
The hottest trend for summer takes inspiration from sweaty, hairy dudes who beat each other to death for sport. These gladiator sandals are a feminine interpretation of the gross Russell Crowe kind. They're a rich-looking alternative to the repulsive flip-flops you've worn to the pool for three summers.
n Polka dot bag, Anchor Blue, $22
Big enough for magazines and sandals, but small enough to tote to the office on casual Friday. It's made by surf brand Roxy, so you'll feel like a sinewy beach girl, even with Snickers and self tanner tucked inside.
n Deal divas
Clockwise from top left, Nicole Hutcheson, Colleen Jenkins, Stephanie Hayes, Letitia Stein and Carrie Weimar are on the hunt for sales in Tampa Bay. They report their bargain finds and dole out fashion advice on their blog.
m Tank dress,
New York & Company,
Behold the possibilities! Pair it with a denim jacket and a long necklace. Smack on a belt and you've got a tunic. Throw it over your bathing suit, but dry off first: Solid colors are a canvas for humiliating water spots.
m Straw hat, Dillards, retails $28, found on sale for $18.76
Let's be honest. Floppy hats scream Kentucky Derby. Dump the julep and modernize your summer chapeau. This one by Betmar New York has a structured menswear twist, but in raffia, it's still right for the beach.