ChicagonistaLIVE! Segment: Affordable Luxury

Fall is here (tomorrow is the first official day), and that is a cause for celebration!! Fall fashion is my absolute favorite, but it takes me quite a bit of restraint not to go crazy on the shopping end. In the midwest, we have two seasons- boiling hot and freezing…and the freezing lasts about 3-4 times as long as the boiling hot stint, so we tend to load up on cool weather clothes around here.

Last week, I had another ChicStyle segment on the ChicagonistaLIVE! show, and I am thrilled to recap it for you! If you aren’t familiar with the show, it is one of the only live social talk shows out there. Nancy Loo, broadcast journalist at WGN, is joined by MJ Tam- my social media maven gal pal and “entrepreneurista,” and Beth Rosen- a podcast pioneer and savvy social media strategist.

This month, my focus was on affordable luxury. Yes, it might seem like a contradictory term, but I truly believe you don’t have to spend a lot to look like a million bucks. Check out my secrets to looking lovely without breaking the bank!


Rent it!

Remember that iconic Pretty Woman scene where Richard Gere borrows a quarter million dollar necklace and presents it to Julia Roberts? Since that scene, I have dreamt of borrowing gorgeous jewels for the night.

Although this company doesn’t quite hit the price point of that in the film, you can borrow THREE pieces of designer jewelry for only $19/month with Rocksbox! They include designers like Gorjana, Kendra Scott and House of Harlow. Want a free month? Just use the code “chicagonistaxoxo” at checkout!

Side note: this scene was a prank on Julia Roberts; the director told Gere to do something to wake her up because she often came to set tired after a long night of partying so he snapped the box on her finger. It was only supposed to be used as a gag reel clip, but her laugh was so genuine and endearing that they put it in the film!

Buy it!

When you are looking to purchase jewelry but not ready for an investment, here are a few tips to still get the luxe look for less:

Pearls– go for an off white vs. brilliant white; since real pearls are naturally occurring, they are never stark white. I purchase my long strands at Salvation Army or Goodwill for just a few dollars!

Diamond studs– I buy a few pair of higher quality ones from Banana Republic Outlet so when I inevitably loose a stud, I just pull one from a new set. My rule of thumb to make sure you don’t go overboard is if you have a diamond engagement ring, keep your studs the same size or less.

High low– I layer an iconic silver Tiffany horseshoe necklace with a CZ-encrusted one I found on Overstock.


Boutique buys 

I do like to shop big box stores (Banana Republic, Zara, H&M are my faves), but I also love grabbing a unique piece that truly fits my style or pulls me out of a style rut. I partner with local boutiques and get to know the owner and stylists. My favorite is Ella Louvi in the Glen- I follow their Facebook page for new items that have arrived, then I message the owner if I see something I like.  

Following a boutique’s Facebook page is key because it is so much easier to update for them than a website. You will usually find new arrivals, sales, style tips and more! Here is a snapshot of Ella Louvi‘s Facebook page, and how they announce new items and how to style them-

Faux vs. real

I won’t spark the debate of faux vs. real items- I will leave that up to individual preferences. Here are some of my personal tips on how to purchase the faux items so they don’t look cheap!


  • Decide if you want real-looking fur or determinedly fake fibers are different lengths, soft vs. coarse 
  • My friend Susan Wagner, who owns Vintage Design and has been in the vintage purchasing industry for over 25 years, told me that a great faux fur, grab a vintage one that is made by an actual furrier.
    You can tell this by checking the label- most have a large, hand-sewn
    one right at the waist inside the coat.
  • Some names are Townsport and Safari, and most coats by furriers will be nicely lined. 
  • The fur should lay flat as opposed to being puffy. Animal prints with light backgrounds are best- cheetah, leopard or snow leopard.


  • When you go faux, patterned/pebbled looks are more believable than a smooth leather and they wear better.
  • Look for pieced together pants that stretch in the back because faux leather that constantly stretches doesn’t last.
  • Instead of faux leather, look for coated cotton/denim for pants.
  • An investment leather piece like a moto jacket or classic satchel only gets better with age. I have had excellent luck with Michael Kors pieces, and you can usually find them on sale at off price retailers like TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack.


  • Ultrasuede was made popular by Halson in the 70s- it is durable, affordable, soft, resistant to stains and discoloration, and even washable.
  • This fabric is IN this season- the 70s are back in a big way, and you can grab ultrasuede skirts, booties, hats, you name it!

LOVE these ultrasuede skirts- they are all over the retail landscape this fall. I snagged the gray from Ella Louvi, but want one in every color. I have seen a similar style at Zara and multiple other retailers as well. I would pair with gray sweater tights and booties, topped with a cable knit sweater!

Here is a gorgeous ultrasuede dress from Ella Louvi that I wore on the show- it is very Chanel-esque with the length and button detail, no??

I paired it with liquid leggings from Old Navy (!) and open toe booties, accented with a gold mesh chain statement necklace from Express. I love going monochrome but with different textures, and this look really hits hard with the edgy factor.

Overall, don’t splurge if you aren’t comfortable with the amount on the price tag. You can usually look just as lovely for less, and I am always happy to field questions on how to do so!

Can’t wait until the next ChicagonistaLIVE! segment! XOXO



  1. September 23, 2015 / 8:38 pm

    These are such great tips Cheryl!! And I'm so excited for you your segment was awesome!

    • September 25, 2015 / 6:56 pm

      Thanks so much Heidi!!! I just love affordable items and am always the one to let everyone know what a great deal I got 🙂 I greatly appreciate the kind words! Much love to you