Cheap to Chic: How to make your clothing look more expensive than it really is

Being a stay at home Mom means my family lives off of my husband’s salary. This means I don’t have the luxury of buying my dream wardrobe full of designer labels and costly price tags. Now there are certainly pieces I feel are worth investing a little more money in, like a great fitting jacket for example. Things that will not fall out of style and will be worn for many years. Yet, for the vast majority of my closet, investing in higher-end pieces just doesn’t make sense. Just because I can’t spend a lot of money on my wardrobe doesn’t mean I want to look frumpy or cheap. I figured I can’t be the only Mom on a budget so, I decided to share some of my go-to secrets in how I make my affordable, and sometimes down right cheap, clothing look more expensive than it really is. 

To illustrate these tips and tricks, I decided to show you what a cheap dress (less than $10) can look like styled poorly and styled well.

There are a few rules I generally follow in order to enhance the appearance of my cheaper articles of clothing. In this first picture, I’m breaking all the rules!  The dress is fresh from the dryer but is super wrinkly. Undergarments were chosen poorly and visible bra straps are distracting. My accessories are presenting conflicting messages. I have a glamorous bracelet and earrings, but my flip flops suggest a casual style. The long necklace draws focus to the fact that the eyelet lace is wrinkled and misshapen. The soft structured bag accentuates the softness of the dress, but not in a positive way. And lastly, my hair is a mess which just reiterates the whole idea that my outfit is messy. 

Now, let’s look at the contrasting photo. Right away you notice the dress doesn’t even look like the same dress in the previous photo. A little starch and a hot iron go a long way in making clothes look their best. This is the first rule: take care of your clothing. Cheaper articles of clothing tend to be made with cheaper fabric. This can mean that the item won’t hold up well to washing or drying. Wash only when necessary and wash according to the stated directions on the tag. When in doubt, gentle cycle and hang dry. After washing, iron that sucker. Again, read the care tag! It will tell you if your specific item can’t be ironed or needs a cool iron setting vs. a hot iron setting. 

Rule #2: choose the right undergarments for you clothing! White dresses, or sheer dresses warrant a slip. In addition to a slip a nude bra & undies set will eliminate the see-through appearance. Choose the right bra style for your article of clothing. Seeing a rouge bra straps detracts from the overall quality of your outfit presentation. If you want the best bang for your buck, make sure your wardrobe has a nude convertible bra. That baby will have you covered  no matter what you choose to wear.<pun intended>

Now, let’s talk accessories. Rule #3: choose cohesive accessories that work for you. Think about the overall aesthetics of the outfit you’d like to create. Are you going somewhere casual? Somewhere more formal? Or perhaps somewhere in-between? All your accessories should correspond to where you’re going and what you’re going to be doing. You wouldn’t wear a ball gown to go gardening would you? Well, maybe you would, but be consistent in choosing cohesive accessories!
For my second, well polished look, I chose well-constructed but understated items to help make my dress the star of the show. A simple set of earrings and matching bracelet. A well structured bag, and well kept, detailed wedges help boost the level of chicness. By choosing not to wear a necklace I leave the focus on the pretty eyelet detail of the dress along with the crisp boat neckline. 

1. Ironed, well kept & well fitting dress 2. Cohesive accessories 3. & 4. The correct undergarments for the outfit 5. Cohesive accessories

Lastly, let’s talk fit. When choosing something to wear, regardless of price, it should fit your body. Go ahead, be picky! Do not fall into the trap of only buying it because it’s a bargain. If it doesn’t fit you well, and you don’t feel great in it… it’s just not worth it – no matter how cheap it is.

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Park Adventures: Exploring Florida Style

We’ve been exploring lately: finding new parks, new playgrounds, and new beaches. Exploring is why moving can be so exciting. You never know what you’re going to discover! Lately though, thanks to the mid-August heat and the overwhelming humidity, we have been finding ourselves saving our outdoor exploration until the sun is lower in the sky. There’s something about packing up the family after dinner for some dusk exploring that makes you really appreciate life. 

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Grilled Artichokes

When it comes to culinary creativity I like to think that I’m a level above a “Boring Betsy.” I’m not afraid to try cooking outside of my comfort zone: Indian food, Mediterranean, Thai and even vegan dishes. I’ve tried them all – some with more success than others. So, when our close friends asked if my husband and I would enjoy grilled artichokes at our weekly dinner & game night, I found myself taken aback… we didn’t know! Artichokes were one of the lone veggies we had never explored.
We said, “let’s go for it!” and our friends brought them over, prepared, cooked and then taught us how to eat them like artichoke connoisseurs. We were both hooked! Even Emmie got in on the action, and she was a natural at artichoke eating.

Fast forward to today and we now incorporate artichokes into our dinner veggie repertoire. We tend to use this recipe, since we’re a big fan of the nice finishing flavor grilling gives the artichokes. The recipe’s simple garlic & olive oil base is perfect on it’s own or easily enhanced with your family’s favorite spices. If you’ve ever been too intimidated to cook an artichoke I urge you to try! They’re quite easy, and truly delicious. 

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Sunday Funday: New Camera, Splash Pad Adventures & Keepin’ it Casual

As the weekend wound down we found ourselves looking for a quick adventure. After a few sudden showers it turned into a beautiful evening. We decided to take advantage of it and head to the local shopping plaza so Emmie could have some time playing in the plaza’s splash pad. Oliver joined in on the fun too, mainly laying on the brick wall watching all the kids running around.
I was keeping it comfy & casual with a thrifted over-sized tee, my Thred-Up* J.Crew shorts, and some clearance booties I recently picked up from Ross. I was also wearing my newest pair of sunglasses. I tend to wear my sunglasses straight over my regular glasses. While it definitely limits my selection of sunglasses, it’s a really affordable option while still being able to see. Prescription sunglasses can get very expensive! This way, I can frequently change up my sunglasses style. 
I also received my new camera over the weekend! I’ve been practicing a lot. I have been challenging myself to only use the manual setting. All these photos were taken on my new camera. I’m looking forward to capturing some great photos. Hope your weekend was a relaxing one! Now, please pass the coffee because MONDAYS, am I right?

*This is a referral link. You will receive a $10 shopping credit to I will also receive a $10 credit if you purchase an item. 
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Emerson Claire: Interview With A 2 Year Old

My Dearest Emerson,

You are now 2 years old! You love to dance, you love being tickled, and you absolutely love when I share my Orgain with you. You and Oliver are still best buds. You constantly pat Ollie’s back and tell him,”good boy!” even if he’s trying to steal your chicken nugget straight from your hand. You are still pretty reserved when it comes to meeting new people and you’re still very attached to me. You get pretty upset whenever I leave. We’ve been working on this though, by going to the gym! While I workout you play/cry in the playroom. Every day gets better. 

You love jumping on your “pam pam pampoline” and get very excited to “pay” in Chic-fil-A’s play room. You’re still very much a sweet girl. You love to dole out kisses and seek out random body parts to smother, such as elbows and knees. You can pull on tutu’s and put your sandals on all by yourself. You’re really starting to communicate with words instead of grunts and sounds. You have even decided to start potty training yourself. Some days you go pee on the potty all day long, even when we’re out running errands. Other days, you couldn’t be bothered.

I decided to try to interview you so I could capture just how cute you are at this age. I’m not even sure this video does you justice. I will love you forever, you silly girl.


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Weekend Adventures: Swimming in the Gulf Coast

This weekend we decided to try our luck out by going to the beach right around 11am Saturday morning. While the Hubster was convinced everyone else in the town was also going to the beach, it turned out not to be the case. It took us less than 20 minutes to get from our house to the beach parking lot. It takes me longer to get to Target! And let me tell you, the beach did not  disappoint.
Last time we went on a weekday afternoon and there were hardly any people there. This time, while there were more people than a Thursday afternoon, it was still pretty empty. We found a spot and hopped right in. The water was impeccably clear. It was so clear you could see all sorts of fish swimming around. I’m pretty sure we even saw one of these little guys:
The water was so clear that within the first few minutes, I spotted a pair of goggles drifting around underwater in the sand. I managed to grab them and we took turns swimming around with our new goggles looking at all the fish.

Speaking of fish. I ended up catching one! Don’t ask me how… pure luck, I imagine. I had been joking with Kyle that I wanted to catch a fish since it was so clear you could see them all around you. That and they’d swim right into your feet. Well, while floating around I sat with my hand out in a school of tiny little fish, which attracted the bigger fish, and ended up catching one of the bigger fish! It caught me so off guard that I immediately let him go, but it’s still a pretty cool story.
Emmie had a great time “swimming” with her Dad. Her favorite was when they would sit in the water and float/jump over the waves. The water itself was the perfect temperature. Just cold enough to cool you off, but warm enough to stay in without feeling chilled.
The crystal clear, blue, warm, seaweed-free water paired with the super fine, soft, white sand got Kyle’s stamp of approval. In fact, at one point he even exclaimed, “This is by far, the nicest beach we’ve ever been too… and that includes our Caribbean honeymoon!” We ended up leaving after about an hour since it was getting close to lunch time and nap time. It’s so nice to know that we’re incredibly close to an amazing beach. We can just hop in the car for a quick beach trip, and it’s not a big deal.

If we don’t end up staying in this area long term, I can definitely see ourselves coming back to vacation here. What’s your favorite vacation spot?

PS: Those saggy bottoms kill me! The struggles of dressing a tall, but skinny, 2 year old. The bottoms fall off but the shirt’s too short.

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30 Minute Dinners: Chicken Tortilla Soup

I don’t love to cook. Dealing with my demanding toddler, and often fluctuating energy reserves, cooking has evolved into a source of anxiety for me. I loathe the question, “what’s for dinner?” To ease my cooking anxiety I search for fast, easy and healthy meals that ideally take less than 30 minutes start to finish, including prep time! This means minimal steps and minimal dishes, but I don’t want to sacrifice flavors or nutrition. While I know it sounds impossible, it can be done. I’m here to share one of my go to 30 Minute Dinners with you: Chicken Tortilla Soup.
Before we get to it, there are a few tricks I use to help minimize the number of dishes I wash and the total amount of time this recipe takes. First trick is chopping chicken last. I chop everything that needs to be chopped on one cutting board with one knife. I make sure to do any meats last so that when everything’s done I still only have to wash one knife and one cutting board.
Next, is all about the onion.  Anytime I need to chop an onion for a recipe I chop one or two HUGE red onions. I dice that sucker right up. Then, I use what I need and stick the leftovers in a bag and toss it in the freezer. I use this frozen pre-diced onion for most of my cooking. Normally any recipe calls for cooking the onion so having it frozen doesn’t affect it’s taste/texture. It cuts down on dishes, time and best of all how many times I am forced to cry at the mercy of an onion. You can also apply this philosophy to many veggies. Celery, carrots and peppers are some of my other favorites to prep in one go and freeze for later.
Another time saver is using leftovers. This soup is best the day after having rice and beans for dinner. I plan ahead and make a big batch of R&B’s and use leftovers to throw in the soup. No leftovers? No problem, throw your rice into the rice cooker and add it at the end of the recipe. Pop open a can of beans, and you’re done. But remember, I’m all about cleaning as few pots as I can, so leftover rice works great in this recipe! Have leftover white rice from takeout? Toss it in! Any leftover rice will do. 
Lastly, I use a chicken broth concentrate. This stuff is amazing. It’s a liquid so no annoying paste to try to dissolve, you just squirt in a tbsp or two into a cup of water and you’ve got delicious and easy broth. It also comes in beef and vegetable. If you can find it, buy it. It lasts up to 6 months in the fridge but I usually use one every 2 months or so.

Now that you know all my time saving tricks, let’s get cooking.


  • 1.5 cups rice & beans
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion chopped *
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn
  • 1/2 cup chopped peppers
  • Chicken breast (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Cilantro
  • 3 cups chicken broth/ chicken broth concentrate
  • McMormicks Mexican seasoning **

  1.  Chop onion & toss in soup pot with some olive oil and frozen corn. Saute over medium heat.
  2. While onion cooks- chop tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. Put chopped ingredients in a soup bowl then you can just rinse the soup bowl to use to eat the soup when you’re done cooking.
  3. Chop chicken breast into small cubes. The smaller the cube the faster it cooks!
  4. Add chicken breast into the soup pot with onions and corn, continue sauteing until chicken is almost all the way cooked through
  5. Add McMormicks seasoning to desired taste. I add a bunch, probably close to a TBSP. I like to make sure it gives a good coating to the chicken, onion and corn mixture.
  6. When the chicken starts to brown, slowly add in some water and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. [Replace water with broth if not using a broth concentrate.]
  7. Add in chicken broth concentrate, stir.
  8. Throw in peppers, tomatoes, rice & beans and cilantro: bring to a simmer.
  9. While the soup is simmering, wash the one cutting board and knife, and rinse out any bowls used to corral ingredients.
  10. Take soup off heat.
  11. Serve with fresh avocado, a squeeze of lime, and some tortilla chips if you’re feeling fancy.

Pat yourself on the back as you enjoy your delicious soup knowing you only have 1 pot, 1 ladle, and 1 stirring spoon to wash after dinner.

** Substitute a blend of  paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin & cinnamon for McMormicks Seasoning
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Phone Life

We’re mostly settled in our new house down in Florida, but we’ve been experience quite the fluctuation with our internet. Until we can really resolve the issues behind the elusive internet, it will probably continue to be pretty quiet on the blog. Hopefully these issues won’t take too long to fix since I’ve got lots of fun things to share with you! For now, here’s our life according to my phone. 

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The House That I Call Home

We’re in the depths of moving here at my house. I’m scrambling to comb through every nook and cranny. I’m a whirlwind of sorting: purging left and right. “Sell this, donate that, throw this out.” And on the craziness continues.

The move doesn’t seem real yet, even with all the drastic downsizing. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet that I’m leaving the house I call home. I’m packing up our belonging and with them our memories. This is the house that taught me so much. This is the house that witnessed our successes and our failures. The walls bare witness to our laughs and our tears. This is the house where I became a wife. This is the house I brought my first child back to. This is the house I call my home, and goodbyes are just not my thing. So, until I ninja across your squeaky floors one last time, I’ll just pretend you’re mine forever.

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Summer Capsule Wardrobe for the Stay At Home Mom

While I haven’t actually done a strict capsule wardrobe since the fall I do enjoy having a limited wardrobe.  What I found most helpful about having a capsule wardrobe was it really highlighted the pieces that I felt were missing. It gave me a lot of time to hunt down that perfect shoe that I felt would be a useful addition. I’ve carried that over to my limited wardrobe. When I think of something that I’d like to add to my wardrobe, I take my time and really look for the right style, right fit, and right color. That way, when I do finally find it, I know the purchase is well warranted.

When doing a capsule wardrobe you need a palette of colors that are easily mixed together. Everything should be complementary to one another. I find that the main pieces should all be neutral colors with a few select pieces of color. You can bring dimension and variation to your wardrobe with textures of fabrics, interesting details and flattering cuts. As a stay at home mom, your clothes also need to serve you functionally as well. No sense in wearing 5 inch stilettos if you can’t chase your toddler around the playground. I look for shoes that will stay on my feet. I gravitate towards wedges for their stability & sturdiness, and I make sure there’s an ankle strap of sorts.  By simply choosing a smarter shoe to fit my needs, I’m able to wear my heels comfortably all day long, weather I’m chasing Emerson around the playground, grocery shopping or simply running errands.

Following the same philosophy of making your clothes work for you things like skirts and dresses will tend to be longer length so I can easily bend over without flashing everyone my undergarments. And pockets? Pockets can be your best friend. Comfortable and easy to care for fabrics such as knits, chiffons, rayon etc. all help my clothing work for me. Things like silk are nice, but stay hidden in my closet knowing they’re dry clean only and wouldn’t stand up to a PB&J shit-show. When all is said and done, there’s no rule saying as a stay at home mom your wardrobe can’t be fierce. What’s in your summer wardrobe?
SAHM summer capsule wardrobe
This is what my limited summer wardrobe is likely to include:

2 jackets ::: 1 cardigan ::: 1 blazer
1 long sleeved blouse ::: 1 chambray shirt
4 sleeveless blouses ::: 5 short sleeve t-shirts
4 dresses ::: 3 pairs of denim ::: 4 skirts ::: 3 pairs of shorts
3 wedges ::: 2 sandals ::: 1 pair of sneakers ::: 1 pair of booties ::: 1 pair of heels

Like this post? Be sure to check out Fall 2016 Capsule Wardrobe!

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