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Having it all for less? It’s a dream for women who obsessively dream about living the luxe life, like yours truly. Okay, “obsessive” may not be the right word, but I do covet the finer things in life and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m no Hollywood starlet, though, nor am I a socialite of Hilton-esque proportions. The best I can do is create my own personal version of luxury — those special little indulgences that make the toughest days easier and generally make life more enjoyable.

Believe it or not, this is easy to achieve without sacrificing my life savings. Though I can’t pretend I don’t love a great designer handbag, a trip abroad or a sexy dress straight off the red carpet, I also love shopping smart. Here are a few tips I adhere to from time to time:

1) Give in to temptation — wisely. If there’s a designer piece I really can’t get out of my mind, I hang on to the name and shop around a few months later, when it’s likely to be sold for less. Discount websites like RueLaLa, Hautelook and Gilt are great sources.

2) Don’t discount “cheap” clothes on the basis of their price. Some of my best pieces are tops and accessories scored at bargain-basement prices, and they’ve lasted me for years.

3) Goodwill is a surprising source of luxe for less. I eschewed this option for a long time until I discovered the retailer’s auction website, ShopGoodwill.com. Spend some time browsing — you’ll be surprised at just how many new (with tags!) items there are, priced obscenely low.

4) Traveling is a huge luxury that usually comes with an equally impressive bill. Popular discount websites like Groupon and LivingSocial make it really easy to find great deals, whether my interest is traveling to a neighboring state, across the country or overseas.

5) Subscription boxes are affordable and fun to receive, especially if you’re commitment-phobic and don’t want to spend big bucks on products you aren’t sure you’ll love. Many are beauty-specific, like Glossybox, and each monthly yields generous sample sizes of makeup, fragrance and skincare products.

6) I am a spa fiend. I’d live in one if I could. But being that it’s not quite an option, I sometimes opt for the next best thing: at-home spa days, which admittedly require a little more energy, but can be equally pampering and indulgent. From facials to manicures to deep conditioning masques, there’s nothing I can’t do at home — for way less than I would at the spa.

7) I’m no longer the beauty snob I once was. Sure, I can’t part with my $70+ moisturizer because it just plain works, but I can easily round out the rest of my routine with drugstore products that do their jobs perfectly. I’m no stranger to $5 face masks, $2 lip balms and $4 body lotions — they’re all phenomenal. And these days, budget beauty offerings feel incredibly luxe thanks to more effective formulas and better packaging.


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image: Gilt, Glossybox

Q. I have so much trouble figuring out what to wear to work this time of year in between summer and fall seasons. Can you help?

A. Summer to fall transition season is tricky for everyone. Post Labor Day, our summer sundresses suddenly don’t seem appropriate, even though it might be 75 degrees out. It’s also too soon for sweaters and other fall clothes — so what’s a girl to do? Here are some ideas of what to wear to your work events in September:

In the first look, pair your floral dress worn all summer long with a lightweight blazer and pumps to perfectly bridge the gap between seasons. Another no-fail idea is a short-sleeve dress with leather detailing. Finally, cropped pants and a blouse are an easy combination worn with flats or heels; add a jacket, sweater or cardigan if the weather is cool.

Q. I like the relaxed style of track pants (Leith woven zip cuff track pants at Nordstrom, or Parker side stripe silk pants also at Nordstrom), but beyond a tank top, what tops are best to wear for end of summer and going into fall. After years of skinny jeans, just not sure what to wear with a looser fitting pant.

A. After wearing skinny pants for so long, a looser silhouette definitely takes some getting used to. The new “dressy” track pants are a fun trend that can be worn many different ways. Whether sleeveless, short sleeve or long sleeve, a slouchy top works best, either tucked in fully, or just a partial tuck in the front. Alternatively, you can wear a slim or boxy fit tip that hits mid-hip or above. I also love the way a cropped jacket or cardigan looks worn over a tucked in top.

For shoes, opt for an ankle boot, pointy pump or heeled sandal for a more dressed up look. Here are some track pants outfits to inspire you.

Q. Are wedge sneakers still in style?

A. If you’re one of the many who invested in a pair of Isabel Marant-inspired wedge sneakers, you knew this day would come, right? A trend that started as cool and different (though I was never personally a fan) has officially gone mainstream, being offered by everyone from high-end designers to Wal-Mart. You know a trend has run its course when every tween at the mall is wearing it. So, grown-ups, it’s time to retire your wedge style sneakers for what we hope is forever. Instead, try one of these chic sneakers with a bit more staying power instead:

Q. My best friend is turning 30 and I want to buy her something special but I have no idea what to get her. Can you recommend something for around $50?

A. You can’t go wrong with a chic accessory. I always like to buy something stylish, but not too trendy, so it won’t go out of style so quickly. Below are some jewelry and wallets that she’ll love for years to come — and all under $50.

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