Business Casual Attire on a Budget

Business Casual Attire

With summer here, it is officially internship season. I, personally, love working. What I love more than working? Business casual attire. I find wearing work clothes to be the ultimate game of dress up. Not only do I get to act older than I feel, but also I get to look the part.

As I get ready to move to New York City for my internship this summer, I want to expand my wardrobe.

Last summer, I actually ran into a bit of a problem. I—for some odd and unknown reason—own mostly business formal attire. My job, however, was business casual. I was in Washington DC and had to quickly buy more shirts and it took a bit of a toll on my spending plans.

In efforts to avoid buying overpriced clothes last minute, I am planning ahead and going to my my local outlet mall. 

Why You Should Shop at Outlet Malls

You save money! Outlet malls sell the exact same clothes as the mall, just on a slightly different time frame. For work clothes, this is the perfect option because you don’t need to be 100% on trend.

What Outlets are the Best for Business Casual Attire

  • Banana Republic: Banana Republic is easily my favorite outlet, as of this past winter. This winter, I realized how amazing their sales were. They will have fabulous shirts marked down from $75 to as low as $2 dollars. It’s pure insanity and bliss. On an average day, they will have many business casual blouses on sale for $10-$12, which is honestly an amazing deal for such stellar quality.
    • SALE ALERT: right now through memorial day they have an extra 50% off clearance. 
  • Loft: Loft is another favorite of mine. At 5 foot 2 inches, I find their petite pants to be a perfect fit for me—no hemming necessary. They also have great sales at their outlets and often offer an additional percentage off the sales price!
    • SALE ALERT: right now through memorial day they have an extra 40% off clearance. 
  • Ann Taylor: The grown up version of Loft, Ann Taylor often has the same fabulous deals and professional clothing. I have found some amazing Work skirts for well under $20 here, and would highly recommend checking it out.
    • SALE ALERT: right now through memorial day they have an extra 40% off clearance. 
  • JCrew: A fan favorite, JCrew is always a good option for professional clothes. I find their outlet to be a bit more expensive that the others, but if you are patient and look diligently, you can definitely find some good deals!
    • SALE ALERT: right now through memorial day they have an extra 40% off clearance. 
  • Kate Spade: I love a good work bag. I think that the perfect work tote bag for a women, is equivalent to a briefcase. At the Kate Spade Outlet, you can find amazing deals on quality bags. I have seen many fabulous tote bags there for well under $100, which is pretty great for a formal leather bag.
    • SALE ALERT: right now through memorial day they have an extra 60% off the entire store with an extra 20% off handbags. That means a $200 handbag is now only $64!


As always on Sophistication and Sparkles, my goal is to help you get great deals and manage your college life! With this guide to business casual attire on a budget, I show you how to get the best summer wardrobe without breaking the bank. As a college student, I know the budget struggle, so I always want to share ways to maximize your dollar, so you too can be like me—ballin’ on a budget. 

~Alana Robin

May 26, 2016

How to Budget: College Summer

how to budget college summer

With finals finally in my rearview mirror, I am starting to plan for my big move to New York City for the summer. I could not be more excited for the adventure that lays ahead, but I am so know that with adventure comes expenses—many expenses. To get the most out of my summer and say yes to new experiences, I create my very own college summer budget plan.

Today, I want to help you plan your own budget! College is a time to experience new things, and I believe that with careful planning you can get the most out of your summer without breaking the bank.

1. Revenue

Before you plan your budget, you need to think about what money you have coming in. For me, I will have one main income stream, and I can roughly calculate the total it will be per week.

2. Rent Expense

After your know what money you have, you will want to take out your rent expense for the summer. This is a fee you don’t have too much control over, so once you know it…put the money aside to pay it.

3. Other Expenses

To kick start your college summer budget plan process, you need to first determine your budget categories. For me these are:

  • groceries
  • restaurants
  • shopping
  • activities
  • travel

Once I have my categories, I like to come up with weekly limits for how much I can spend on each. You can do this by simply by finding your spending money as revenue – rent per week.  That money is yours to spend as you see fit. I personally, allocate the most money to activities and restaurants. Living in the city, I know these will be large expenses, and I will plan my spending accordingly.

I personally, like to allocate only 75% of my spending money. This ensures that I will have some safety cash in case of an emergency, or a really cool (and expensive) opportunity comes up! The best part of this rule, is that you will have some savings at the end of the summer. Last year, I didn’t even realize how much I had saved because it was just a small amount each week.

4. Put it all together

Once you’ve set your weekly spending limits for each category, you need to create a way to keep track of it all.

I have created a sample budget of how I keep track. It is a simple excel sheet that automatically adds my revenue and subtracts my expenses.

Disclaimer: I made up weekly revenue and weekly rent. These made up numbers are just to show how I would construct my budget, not to actually outline my personal finances. The estimates I used for the other categories, are my real estimates. If you are not a college student, you will likely be trying to save a bit more money each week, and should adjust accordingly.

Below is the budget I make at the beginning of the summer. This shows me exactly how much I am spending in each category for the entire summer.

College Summer Budget Plan

Below is the budget, as I would maintain it throughout the summer. Each week, I update the categories. This permits me to adjust my spending and see where I are over spending, and underspending.

College Summer Budget Plan with Updates


In addition to making a budget, I have some tips for how to save money. These will be going live next week!


As always on Sophistication and Sparkles, my goal is to help you get great deals and manage your college life! With this college summer budget plan, I show you how to get the most out of your summer without breaking the bank. As a college student, I know the budget struggle, so I always want to share ways to maximize your dollar, so you too can be like me—ballin’ on a budget. 

~Alana Robin

May 25, 2016

Crutches on a College Campus

crutches on a college campus

So, I have been on crutches for a few days now, and wanted to lend my insight into being on crutches on a college campus. It isn’t easy—especially if your school is as hilly as mine—but it is definitely manageable with these few tips!

Shorten the Length of Pain

Regardless of if you are on a college campus or not, you can shorten the length of a sprained ankle a few simple ways.

  • Go to the doctor ASAP: They will give you crutches, an air cast, and lots of other things the will help you stay off your foot. In addition, they can do an X-ray and ensure that you have no broken bones. To be completely honest, assuming it will get better in a day or two is the worst thing you can do. It will only prolong the healing process.
  • Elevate and Ice: As soon as it happens, elevate and ice your ankle. This will bring down the swelling and help you before you’re able to get to a doctor.
  • Stay in Bed and watch movies (or do homework): Staying in bed all day to deal with a hurt ankle sucks, but it is also necessary to speed up your bodies healing process. Anytime I am in my bed I keep my foot elevated on a few pillows. After the first day, elevation doesn’t help that much with healing, but it will help you to keep the foot held steady and out of harms way!

Getting Around Campus

If your injury is a long one, look for a campus sponsored car service. My campus has a ride program in place to drive you from place to place if you are injured; however, signing up for it is a huge hassle. With only 3 days left of classes, I am coming up with my own transportation. Here are my tips if your school doesn’t offer rides for people with crutches on a college campus.

  • Get friends to give you rides: I will be working around my very generous friends’ schedules this week and spending a lot of time in the library. Even if the timing isn’t right, getting friends to drive you is the easiest way to get around without having to walk uphill one mile on crutches.
  • Taking the public bus: My campus doesn’t have its own bus system, but the public bus goes super close to my apartment and the building most of my classes are in. Anytime I need to, I will be taking the bus this week. It costs a few bucks, but is well worth it!
  • Hobble: Hobbling around on your crutches is a last resort, but you make have to do it. For me, I can walk on my foot with some pain, but it is not worth enduring the pain for a few minutes because it will just make the sprained ankle last longer! Endure the pain in your arms and hobble along…

Have a positive attitude

It sucks. Life sucks. You are feeling super clumsy. BUT stay positive!

Being positive will just make it that much easier to get around and take the necessary precautions. If you are grumpy, you will likely be stubborn about using crutches, icing three times a day, and finding rides. If you are positive, people will offer to drive you and be glad that you are making the most out of a not so great situation!

Having crutches on a college campus will definitely be an inconvience, but you can still do everything you want to do! If you have an event, still go. There is no shame in sitting off to the side. You will have a much better time doing that, than sitting alone in your bed!

If you are reading this post out of more than curiosity…FEEL BETTER SOON! 

~Alana Robin

May 9, 2016

Spring Shoes Cheap: Under $50

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With Spring in the air, I could not be more excited to break out my sandals. Months of trudging through the snow in boots has me more than ready to rock some pastel shoes. As a college girl with a shoe addiction, I am always trying to find trendy spring shoes cheap. I find that shoes under $50 can be very good or decent quality, which is all you need for shoes that are trendy and only going to be worn for two or three seasons.

My Favorite Spring Shoe Trends this Year

Tassels: This year, my favorite trend by far is tassels. I am obsessed with tassel shoes. I have been seeing them all over instagram and cannot get enough. The yellow shoes above seem perfect for a day out or even a night out.

Bright Colors: I love the yellow as a bight pop. Summertime is when you can get away with bold colors, so I like to take full advantage.

Pastels:  I love pastels. To me, they are the happiest colors. Mint, in particular, is one of my favorites. I think it is a fun splash of color that can be worn throughout wedding season, or even just to a day out shopping.

Chunky Heels: This summer, I will be in New York City. I am extremely excited, but realize I will be walking a lot. In preparation, I have been scoping out the chunky heel scene. I think shorter chunky heels have a great spring and summer vibe, while also being comfy for long days!

Spring Shoes Cheap: Where to Shop

When I am looking for inexpensive shoes I always check out different shops based on what I am looking for.

  • 6PM: This is a great online shop for designer shoes. If I want something that is better quality and am willing to spend closer to $50, I will shop here.
  • Forever 21: For inexpensive sandals and espadrilles, Forever 21 is a great option. It isn’t the best quality, but it will get you through one or two seasons. I find it to be perfect for sandals because they are all under $20, and you usually want a different trend the following year so the quality isn’t an issue.
  • UrbanOG: This website is amazing for shoes around $20 that are on trend. I recently ordered a great pair of tassel and ghille heels from here that I could not be happier with.


As always on Sophistication and Sparkles, my goal is to help you get great deals and manage your college life! With these spring shoes and trends, I show you how to follow all of this season’s trends without breaking the bank. As a college student, I know the budget struggle, so I always want to share options that are fabulous, yet affordable for your lifestyle. I aim for things to be well below your average price range, so you too can be like me—ballin’ on a budget. 

~Alana Robin

April 30, 2016