6 Essential Beauty Tips For The Busy Thrifty Modern Lady


1. DIY nail polish touch-ups

Here in New York, it’s possible to find a salon in almost every neighborhood that offers a combination manicure/pedicure for $20, plus tip. For those of us who lack the coordination or patience to do our own nails, these deals are especially welcome. They’re also a bargain, unless you’re prone to chipping your nails within hours of exiting a relaxation oasis, in which case any dollar amount seems like too much to spend on beautifying digits.

After years of toiling with this dilemma, I’ve discovered a wonderful workaround. All you have to do is commit to a few colors (in my case: Geranium, Sole Mate, Perky Purple, Ballet Slippers, and Big Apple Red). Next, purchase a spare bottle in each of your favorite shades to keep at home, or to carry to and from the salon. It’s relatively inexpensive to do this ($5 – $9 for Essie and OPI bottles), and the payoff is great. When you have the exact varnish you need on hand for emergency touch-ups, your manicured hands and pedicured feet are guaranteed to look perfectly painted for several more days than otherwise.

2. Be a basics bitch

Like oxygen, food, and water, the perfect solid t-shirt is a necessity to the classy modern lady. Unfortunately, even the best cotton basics are bound to fade or to grow limp from repeated washings. This means it’s essential to replenish your stash of tanks and t-shirts, short and long sleeved, at least once a year.

Luckily, it’s possible to do so without smashing your childhood piggy bank in search of extra funds. As tempting as it may be to save up for the $120 plain white “Hiphop” t-shirt by Kanye West for APC, there are other ways to squander your hard earned disposable income—drugs, strippers, and impromptu road trips come to mind—that won’t leave you feeling like a complete fool. So slide past the rip-off aisle and head over to your computer, where you can buy quality basics in bulk from mass retailers like Old Navy and H+M for no more than $10 a pop.

3. Go digital coupon clipping

Before you make any online purchase, it’s worth doing two things. First, conduct a Google search for “[relevant retailer] + coupon code.” This might lead you straight into some frustrating dead-ends marked by expired vouchers, but it will work out on occasion.

Second, search for a “newsletter signup” button on the applicable store’s website. Typically, signing up for a company’s mailing list earns customers a 10 to 20 percent one-time discount on their total order. The beauty of this system is that there’s no limit to how many times you can sign up for the same newsletter using different email addresses, and it takes all of 30 seconds to create a new, pseudonymous email account. Trust me that it doesn’t matter if a redemption code was allotted to you (the person whose credit card is to be charged and to whom the products will be shipped), or to Maryanne Goliath. Just plug that randomly generated set of characters, letters, and numbers into the appropriate field on the checkout page and watch the subtraction action happen.

4. Get over your label hang-up

A little vomit collects in the back of my throat whenever I see someone toting a poorly constructed handbag in the likeness of a genuine design by Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Hermes, etc. If you don’t think it’s relatively easy to spot the differences between faux bags and the real deal, you’re just not well versed in purses.

The problem isn’t that people buy inexpensive things, but that they’re spending money on copycats rather than purchasing perfectly good bags without insignia or the other trademarks of luxury labels. From my experience, you can procure fashionable accessories manufactured by less expensive brands (e.g. Topshop, ASOS, and Zara) for the same amount it would cost to secure a couture replica. So tear yourself away from the fallacy that labels matter. The truth is that quality styles aren’t necessarily costly. And there’s nothing less chic than forgery.

5. Invest in blue chip items

Some wardrobe items are guaranteed to withstand the test of time, remaining popular throughout every turn of the fashion cycle: jeans, a little black dress, cutoffs, a pair of round toed pumps, ballet flats, etc. Since personal taste varies, what qualifies as an investment worthy essential is bound to differ from person to person, but generally such items are marked by neutral, versatile tones and classic structures.

In these select clothing categories, it’s cost efficient to spend money on one or two blue chip items—garments made by companies with a reputation for quality and reliability—instead of buying a slew of cheaper stuff more likely to unravel. For instance, I will happily pay a couple hundred bucks for well-tailored jeans by Rag & Bone, knowing that I can rely on them for at least a decade or so. The high-end version of something you’re going to wear again and again might cost a lot up front, but the effective price of something that lasts decreases significantly over time.

6. Snap an almost-there selfie

As you approach the location of a date or a party, it’s natural to wonder whether your makeup and hair are still in tact. Especially on windy, or hot and humid days, a lot can happen between the final at-home mirror check and the front door to a gathering. Sweat beads can collect on your forehead, the cover-up carefully applied to a blemish can melt away, and strands of hair can affix to glossy lips.

While the laissez-faire lady in you might wish to go forth without a care in the world, it can be exhausting to quiet the nagging voice of vanity. And even a hint of self-doubt can be hideous. So why not risk some eye rolling from passersby and snap that on-the-go selfie to make sure that all is in order? If your appearance meets your standards, proceed with renewed confidence. If not, make the bathroom your first stop upon reaching your destination, or just use the opportunity to work on your personality.