Cheap Thrills

I just finished Nina Garcia’s book, The Little Black Book of Style. I won’t label it a must-read for style lovers; it’s a lot of material you’ve read elsewhere.

Nina goes through the checklist for wardrobe must-haves, the rules for editing your closet, and suggestions for what to wear to specific life events. There are some super-short interviews with designers, but it’s truly a “Little” book: lots of white space and (very charming) drawings by Isabel Toledo. I only paid a few dollars for a used copy on Amazon, so no regrets.

I enjoyed the section titled “Cheap Thrills”.  Nina thinks “Fashion is expensive, style is not.” I’m with her on this one. Sometimes the priciest outfits look too studied, too predictable and way too label-heavy. Creativity, a good eye, and a little energy can create fabulous looks. Many of my favorite bloggers have proven you don’t need a lot of cash to be chic and of-the-moment.

From her book, here are some of Nina’s Cheap Thrills, and I’d love to hear about your own:

  • Hanes white tee shirts. She recommends the guys’ version. I’ve never been able to get these to fit me quite right but I know many women do, and they cost less than cappuccino.
  • L.L. Bean classic tote. I love these for their sturdy simplicity.
  • White button-up shirt. On every list in every style book. They can be found inexpensively, although I think the higher priced ones generally look “worth it.”
  • Flea-Market finds. Hello, Nina, where have you been? We bloggers are all over this one, and thrifts, op-shops, estate sales, consignment stores . . . did I mention the Cub Scout fundraiser yard sale?
  • Anything H&M, Target, Uniqlo. I am trying to move away from this version of “Cheap Thrills”, for the impact on the environment, labor fairness, and for general quality. But I do like a handful of Target tees for summer.
The classic L.L. Bean canvas tote. Always in style, and cheap.
The classic Hanes tee. Looks very good on him.

Over to you: any cheap thrills to add to the list? And Happy Thursday, the weekend is almost here!

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  2. If you want a fresh look in your closet, you can also experiment with your old, plain tees into printed or dyed ones. There are a lot of tutorials online about these processes. There are also a lot of online shops that sell extremely cheap trendy items.

  3. Blogger swaps are a recent cheap thrill, so cool when peeps fall in love with something the other person is loving less and switch 🙂

    Also, Forever 21's costume jewelry. Inexpensive but gets the most comments of most of my jewelry.

  4. I enjoyed Nina's book too. A lot of basic info I was able to share with my clients. I've been wearing men's Hanes v-neck tees for years and I love them!

  5. I do love a basic white T, and shirt- like you the men's version doesn't fit me well as they are too high in the neck, long in the sleeves, and alas tight in my middle. But I get it. I eshew the "fast fashion" as they in the long run are neither "cheap" or "thriliing." Hurrah for you for staying away from that brand of thrill. 

  6. Pattie,  I have never heard anyone say it better than you. …"priciest outfits look too studied, too predictable and too label heavy".  My sentiments exactly.  I love Cheap Thrills and why for me shopping is a sport.  The thrill is in the hunt.  I find our local boutiques have the most interesting items.  I stay away from the so called cheap thrills like sales, coupons, and especially dislike the buy two get one free approach.  Marketing to the human nature to be greedy turns me off royally.  Great post Patti!!!!

  7. Spot on review!  Love the Isabel Toledo illustrations, but I almost always crave more content in this kind of book.  Particularly from such a visible authority on style.  Am looking forward to Tim Gunn's new book.
    Jan Graham-McMillen

  8. Your boyfriend's closet that is another cheap thrill for you

    Have a good weekend

    Ariane xxx

  9. Thanks for sharing about the book. My cheap thrill is my Just My Size jeggings from Walmart. They are so comfortable and so inexpensive.  The other cheap thrill is inexpensive drugstore cosmetics.

  10. I have this book and while it is lovely I have to say I have learned more about style from reading blogs of people who live the same kind of life as me but stil look fabulous – yours included.

  11. I agree about the men's shirts – i'm a petite inverted triangle and several of my go-to tees are from the (young) men's dept.  I really "girlied" one up – cuffed and tacked the sleeves, cut out and sewed down the neck, and cut little side vents at the bottom.  It's hard to find shirts that fit through the shoulder that don't swallow me everywhere else – a men's "slim" cut sometimes does the trick.

    My cheap thrill is looking at Target clearance jewelry – I don't buy often but occasionally I'll try an earring style on sale that I wouldn't at full price.

  12. I steal the Hubs white tees on the weekends. They're a V-neck so they're more flattering than crews. They are cheap and easy to wear. I'm sure I could easily style one up. I do not subscribe to buying black pants or a white buttondown. That doesn't work for my life.

    I have mixed feelings on the realization of thrifting or "recessionista" dressing. It's a lot harder to thrift stuff these days and prices keep rising due to thrift demand. 

    Additionally, I will not buy from Target/H&M/etc any more unless I find it in thrift store. Most people won't buy these pieces, but my Goodwill gets new stock from a lot of stores so I often find those pieces new for even less than the original store priced them.

    The best cheap thrill? Raid someone else's closet. There's always someone looking to get rid of something or let you borrow. Significant others, friends, family, roommates, other bloggers. Just remember to ask permission!

  13. I like Nina's little book.  I can't say I learned anything new, but I agree with you; the illustrations are so charming.
    I can't wear the men's tees…they are too straight-cut for my hips, but I really wish I could because I love the look of them.
    One cheap thrill is an offshoot of thrifting; I purchase pretty satiny nighties with lovely lace detail and cut/hem them to make them into tops.  This started when I purchased a beautiful emerald and ivory chemise that was too tight in the hips.  I loved it so much I couldn't part with it, so I transformed it.  Now I look for little chemises and transform them; they look great with dark wash denim and heels.

    Lisa/Dangerous Curves

  14. Must of my cheap thrills are from H&M and many of them have lasted for ages. However, it is not always easy to know before if the item has good quality or not, but if something loose it shapes you can always return it, they never question it! At least not in Sweden! I like your blog more and more for every post!

  15. Right now all of my cheap thrills are at Goodwill…just can't get enough!  I have trouble seeing NIna Garcia in a Hanes T Shirt…but maybe she does! 

  16. Since shirts aren't my thing, nor totes – my cheap thrill is colourful tights. They can be plain or patterned, in the most trendy colour or sexy fishnet. They can change the look of an outfit in a second, without going bankrupt!

  17. A man's t-shirt doesn't flatter a woman's body. Too boxy.

    Checking my closet, I don't have any all-white shirts. When I wear white tops, condiments and ink just seem to leap onto me.

    Can't think of any real cheap thrills in the clothing dept, actually.

  18. I recently acquired a reseller's permit for making screen printed t-shirts so I'm able to purchase American Apparel t-shirts for so cheap! They have wonderful choices, colors and great fits for every body type. I feel so spoiled.

    I use to buy cheap sunglasses just about everywhere I found them. But I noticed the cheap ones always give me headaches because of their weight so I've vowed to stop buying them.

    I don't let myself buy anything from cheapy stores anymore. They just don't last very long or hold up their shape.

  19. a simple white men's skirt from my grandfather. i think you can also get it thrifted. years ago i used to wear it whenever i do not know how to dress, with black pants or a black skirt, sometimes with a vest or with a belt. while writing I think I should take up again this habit. lieben gruß von sabine 

  20. I LOVE American Eagle jeans – cheap, and so cute & comfy on! I especially love their jeggings!

    And of course, Forever21!

    XOXO-Daisy Nguyen from PS BANANAS fashion blog:

  21. It is so exciting to find wonderful classic pieces to add to my wardrobe!  Nothing better than a white buttondown and a canvas tote!


  22. Stretchy, one-size-fits-all gloves–they  come in a multitude of colors. Great for being outside in cool weather or, in a wild color, under mittens in very cold weather.

  23. I have just discovered my husband's white long sleeve button up shirts! BRILLIANT! I can't believe how many ways I can wear them! What a great post! I think she nails it with the fashion is expensive phrase. It absolutely is and yet, style is available to everyone! Hugs girly! Serene

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