Guest Blogger: Brandi of The Daily Nickel

(We asked some of our friends to cover our blog for a few weeks! We hope you enjoy getting to know the people that we love working with every single day. We will resume regular blogging Monday, May 16th.)

Guest blogger: Brandi
Blog: The Daily Nickel

Hello again fellow b&b lovers! Its Kyle’s friend Brandi back again for what I am sure will be a thrilling guest blog post 😉 This time around Kyle asked us to maybe come up with a craft or something. Well I was stumped because while I am a decent enough baker and could have went on and on about my current love of homemade Lara bars I wanted to be at least slightly more entertaining and have more directions than put the stuff in the food processor and blend together. And plus it takes 2 seconds on Google to find a million easy peasy recipes anyway (I suggest you do it!). So I finally realized I should just go with what I know. Oh don’t worry it’s not the law! I’m not that cruel…

I have been seeing this American Apparel clutch all over the internet. I immediately loved it. And while $50 isn’t that much to pay for a bag, it was way more than I was willing to pay, especially for something I didn’t know how often I would use. So when I came across this tutorial with Kyle’s challenge in the back of my mind I knew I had to give it a go. And from there this entire post was inspired. Kyle speaks often about voting with your dollars, a sentiment I hold dear to my heart. So today I’m here to let you know how you can dress like a million bucks while supporting the Earth/real people and leaving most of your money right in your wallet.

First, DIY! Things will always be the best when you can chose what goes into it and your two hands create it. Prime example is this clutch! I absolutely love it. I mean don’t look too close, it was my first ever sewing adventure, but it really didn’t turn out too bad. And best of all its easy and for people who know what they are doing it would take nearly no time at all. I chose not to use leather because for me personally I try to use animal friendly products. I plan on making more out of vinyl and corduroy and other more sturdy fabrics. I also used a tee that I had recently discovered a tear in as a liner. If you are looking for a fun way to spice up your wardrobe I really recommend giving this a go with a fun colored fabric and/or zipper. It’s cheap and nothing that takes a lot of skill. A good way to change your look without really changing anything. I only have one piece of advice that you might not initially think of. Use a fully separating zipper. The real ugly area on mine is because the zipper had one of those metal stoppers so I couldn’t really maneuver.

Second, think secondhand! I am a shop-a-holic. I use it to mask my emotions, I use it to socialize, and I use it to curb boredom. It can be bad. But I have discovered that it’s really not all that destructive when I go to the thrift store on half off day (almost every store has one!). I can come home with a whole bag of new clothes for the price of lunch. On this outfit the jacket (Ralph Lauren), scarf (authentic Japanese, 100% wool), chain necklace, and skirt (100% wool and I think vintage…it has that typical tight vintage waist) are all thrifted. And together they cost me less than $20. I have a ton of thrifting tips, but I’ll try not to talk your ear off. 1) Never buy a belt or scarf anywhere but at a thrift store. There are tons of them there and they are way more unique than you’ll find anywhere else, not to mention probably 20% of the price. Also, make sure to check out the jewelry section. You can find some good things there. Just make sure to do a quality check. 2) Shop trends first at thrift stores. A lot of trends have been around before. Don’t waste a ton of money on a brand new seasonal product when you can get it for $2 at your local Goodwill. For example, right now maxi skirts and dresses are HUGE. And you know what? Thrift stores are like maxi skirt Mecca. It’s almost like every maxi must make a pilgrimage there. 3) Don’t expect to be in and out in 15 min. Thrifting takes time. You have to feel the fabrics (don’t spend good money on something you could get at Old Navy) and make sure the items you buy are in good condition and look everywhere to find the good stuff. But when you do its awesome. This weekend I found a vintage Burberry skirt and because it was half off day got it for $3. I mean, come on! 4) Look outside your size. Don’t just stick to the size you think you are, because great things can be found a few isles away. The boys section is a great place to find shrunken jackets. Vintage sizes tended to run smaller, so you probably need to look a few sizes up. And sometimes a too big shirt can be the perfect thing. (Think belts and skinny jeans and sky high heels). 5) Make sure you check out Jentine’s blog. She has the best thrift tips….including how to clean anything you pick up so you don’t bring home any visitors!

Third, support real people. Buying handmade items makes a difference. My bracelet, which is really a necklace, was made by women in Uganda who recycle old magazines into beautiful jewelry. By buying this item I am supporting women trying to support their families in an area where that is not always possible. Likewise, the ring was handmade. It was a gift from a very dear friend who got it in Nashville. She decided her money was best spent fostering a local artist. And she knew I would feel the same.

Fourth, sometimes it’s ok to hoard. I mean not like 30 years of newspaper piling up in the living room hoarding, but more like allowing a few key pieces to remain with you even though they aren’t always in the regular line up. For example, my shirt, shoes, and necklace have all been around for at least 7 years. I know that sounds crazy, but think about it. There are a few things to keep around because they are constantly coming into style. And let me preface this by saying you shouldn’t keep things that are poorly made or ill-fitting, this only applies to items of good quality that work for your body. I personally rarely get rid of jackets, jeans, jewelry, or shoes. Jean shapes are always coming and going. And now that wide legs and flare legs are back in style people are scrambling to lay out a ton of cash for new jeans. Not me. I still have mine from a few years ago (take that hubby who says I own too many pairs!). And when military jackets were big in the fall, I had one around that I had bought early on in college. As for shoes, I’m just obsessed and have every style imaginable, but again I’m not on the hunt for espadrilles this season because I kept mine. Plus, a classic style shoe (like my nude sandals) will never go out of style. And my leaf necklace? A gift from my grandmother probably 15 years ago. Being a snotty pre-teen I hated it back then, but turns out the lady has good taste and I wear it all the time now. Plus it’s a piece of nature! This also works for your significant other. Give some of their items a second life. The tee I’m wearing used to be my husbands. Instead of getting rid of it I snagged it. I did the same with a bunch of sweaters he was no longer attached to. For things like that just throw them on high in the dryer and shrink them a bit. And even if they are still big you can rock it. You really are only limited by your creativity!

Lastly, borrow! My sister’s and I are around the same shoe size. My college roommates and I were all around the same clothes size. We all borrowed like mad. I mean it triples the size of your wardrobe. I say swap til you drop! I mean I am a shoe freak. In all earnestness I own well over 60 pairs of shoes (see above). But I don’t necessarily have such a collection of other items. So share among friends. I pass along my shoes (Kyle has actually borrowed some before!) and maybe will borrow a dress from you. Let’s face it, there are some things that we don’t get rid of even though we don’t wear them a lot. Well why not save your friend the hassle of buying something new and loan her what you already have. Honestly, it saves you both.

Phew…..I am sure I have officially worn you out! I know I fell asleep like halfway through writing this novel, so I don’t blame you if you did too. At the very least I hope I helped assure you that you can make your money count without breaking the bank and look your very best while you’re doing it!

And let’s all let out a collective “Good luck Kyle!” while we’re here why don’t we….

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