On Your Own: Cheap Urban Tricks for Fashionites on a Budget

by Kayla Solomon

Last year, in the middle of another dismal, penny-pinching shopping trip, a friend noticing my despair over searching for entirely new outfits gave me some wonderful advice. Whether it's because your saving money or unwillingly to admit that last year's diet didn't quite work as well as you predicted, there was a one-wise-word-fix-it-all: Accessorize. Whether it was with shoes, purse, headgear, belts or bracelets- keep the outfits but adapt or scrap the extras. So, I have compiled yet another list on how to look snazzy while fighting off heat-waves and saving some dough while you are at it!

Don't let summer become a slummer; use your C.U.T.s (Cheap Urban Tricks) to slash prices on all sun-fun fashions:

  1. Heads Up - Head doo-rags block your scalp from harmful rays and are the perfect cover up for a humid hair day. Instead of forking out $20-$50 bucks for the designers (especially in NYC), dig up your old bandanas and grandmother's scarves. Look for clean detail, flowering stitching, and juicy colors that bring out your eyes and lips. If you can't track down any headpieces hiding out in your "been-there-done-that" bathroom basket, go to your nearest fabric store or even a discount chain like Kmart and pick out what appeals to you most.
  2. Adding Sticks to the Mix - There is no better use for chopsticks than a spicy tuna roll, moo goo gai pan, or... your hair! Although sticks are making a come back this summer, I have seen girls wearing chopsticks in their hair-dos since the early 1980s (did Cyndi Lauper liberate us all enough to use eating instruments for hair architecture?) Obviously, these need to be clean to hold hair up into buns and French twists. I recommend the plastic ones instead of the wood, which can often splinter off into your hair and break. Pull out that glue gun that is left over in the garage and attach whatever Five & Dimers you want to. Get creative: if you are going to a baby shower, attach baby trinkets; if you are going to a picnic, paint lady bugs. Less money means more sass!
  3. Foot Fetish - Flip Flops are back! Even in urbane, urban New York City, summer bunnies are hopping around for $10 gap sandals. But here's a cheaper alternative: buy the flip flops at your local discount chain or dollar store, use your glue gun and attach plastic flowers, beads and baubles. Paint and polish your nails for cheap glam and color. Remember to let both your slippers and your toes dry for at least thirty minutes before dipping either into the H2O!
  4. Belt it Out - Summer is the perfect time to tie things up- you don't want anything to go to waist! (Forgive me, I had to write it). Take the bandanas you were going to use for your hair and loop it through your jean shorts and/or capri pants; take a piece of rope and do the same when you go fishing, tubing, or taking a hike. The rope can always come in handy in an adventure and you may just be making a new fashion statement as well. Just remember that you want both "belts" to be tight enough to hold your pants up and loose enough to breathe comfortably.
  5. Last, but not least, bracelets and necklaces should not be overlooked! Those cute, eastern-influenced jade "luck" bracelets can start to cause your wallet to become very unlucky. My grandmother has been making cool jewelry for years using a little fishing line, beads and baubles from local and visiting gem shows, and some jewelry latchers or closers that you can buy at most craft stores. When you have a little extra money in your pocket from building your necklaces and bracelets, you can give yourself double the "luck" bracelets. If you really find yourself creating a lot of jewelry, you may want to invest in a jewelry-crafting book or jewelry sales. A hobby, as we all know, can certainly provide a little extra income over time.

With these cheap urban tricks, you will find an entire plethora of new, inexpensive copycat fashions that will take you from the pool to the Cool in a matter of minutes.
Embrace the fact you may want to follow the fads, just don't let pay for them. Here's to living on the cheap!

Kayla Solomon is a transported Texan who lives in Brooklyn, NY. She is a freelance writer and theater director and has become an economic consultant for many other artists. You can reach her at krs9d@rocketmail.com.

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