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How to Shop: eBay

For a long time, I was terrified of eBay. I didn’t understand it, and felt that I could easily be scammed by sellers who were passing off fakes as authentic, taking my money and not sending me items, pretty much getting screwed by the whole process.

A few years ago, I fell madly in love with the Sandhurst hobo bag from Banana Republic. I went into the store often to drool over it. I would stand in front of a mirror, hold it in my hand, sling over my shoulder, and admire my reflection. However, I just couldn’t afford the price. A friend suggested I look for it on eBay. I did, found a seller who had the exact style and color I desired and was able to get the bag brand new in its dust cover for 30% off the retail price.

After that I was hooked on eBay for brand-name accessories. If I loved a certain necklace from J. Crew or bag from Rebecca Minkoff, I would get the style number and name, the color, the measurements, and then head to eBay. Often times I could find it, and for far cheaper than retail.

I don’t claim to be an eBay expert, but many of you have asked about how I go about shopping on the site. Here’s some of my tips and tricks for navigating eBay:

Accessories on eBay

Shopping for Accessories on eBay

When You Know Exactly What You Want
So you want the Essex bag from Kate Spade? Before you buy retail, head to eBay. There are lots of reasons why people are selling items on eBay. Maybe they got it as a gift or won it in a contest, possibly they are thinning out their collection, maybe it’s a store sample, and yes maybe it’s hot or a fake.

The search function on eBay is pretty robust. I usually start by typing in the brand and style name into the search function (you can often find this info on Google if you don’t already know it). If that doesn’t give me the results I desire, I will make the search broader and just enter the brand name, and then the type of item (handbag, jewelry, sunglasses, etc.). Often times sellers do not know the style name or number, so by adding that to your search you may end up with zero results.

I then search through the selections and in a separate browser tab/window, open any that fit my criteria. I then look at each different auction. Are they really the same item and color? What is the condition of each? Who has the better options and price for shipping? What are their return policies?

I look at the seller – I care less about how many thousands of sales they have had, and more on the quality of their feedback. I go and read the feedback; I am especially interested in negative and neutral feedback. Recently I purchased a blouse from a seller who claimed the item was New Without Tags, never worn, pristine condition. When I received it, it was missing a button. I left neutral feedback, as that the blouse was as described except for the fact that a very important button (cannot be replaced) was missing and this was not in the description. The seller contacted me, angry about the neutral feedback and asked for me to return the blouse and remove my feedback. I again looked at her feedback and saw that in the past six months she had two other neutral feedbacks from folks stating their items were not quite as described. I chose to leave that feedback to warn future customers; I wonder how many either didn’t notice their purchase’s flaw or accepted the seller’s offer to return the item and remove the feedback.

Once I find the item and seller that I like, I stop and think, what is the maximum amount I would pay for this item? I then write it down so it is more concrete. I bid, and I NEVER go over that number. eBay will let you know when you are close to being outbid and when you have been outbid, and it’s so tempting to add a couple more dollars just to stay in the game. DON’T. I have a friend who admitted she spent $50 more on an item on eBay than it cost in the store just because she got caught up in the thrill of the auction. I feel that if you are bidding within 30% of the actual retail price for something on eBay it’s usually not worth it. Wait until you get a store coupon so you have the customer service to go with the item in case there is an issue/need for repairs or a return.

Nine times out of ten what you are bidding for on eBay you don’t need in the first place, so if it’s not in your price range, let it go. Seriously, let it go.

Once you get your item, carefully open the shipping package and inspect it from head to toe. Does it match the photos and description of the item? Were you extravagantly overcharged for the shipping? If you are happy, leave quick and detailed feedback about the shipping, the price, the quality, the communication of the seller. If you find an issue, let the seller know; she may offer a quick solution. If you’re wildly unhappy, don’t keep it to yourself – let the seller know and let the world know with your feedback. Feedback isn’t just for the seller, it’s for future customers, future yous who want to buy and know they are getting their money’s worth.

When You Don’t Know What You Want
You can search more general terms like “Stella and Dot ring” or “Ann Taylor” and then use the eBay-offered categories to break down to jewelry or shoes or bags. From there you can usually break it down even further by color, size, and specific type of item. I usually don’t, and let my mouse do the walking through dozens of pages of auctions while I eat my lunch or wait for a friend to arrive. If you don’t know what you want, it’s good to really take a tour because you may be pleasantly surprised with what you find. A search for peacock-feather earrings ended up finding me a great dress for Bonnaroo; a search for a charm bracelet got me my Anthropologie crystal bracelet.

As with others, investigate your seller, and write down a final price. Be sure to check shipping prices – sometimes they are so high (or coming from overseas) that it’s not worth it to wait for it to arrive, or you might as well buy it retail.

Clothing on eBay

Shopping for Clothing on eBay

I hardly ever go outside my brand comfort zone on eBay. I shop brands whose fit I know is consistent. It is either something I have already tried on in a store, or a designer with whom I am very familiar (hello Ann Taylor). Keep in mind, even your go-to brand (hello Ann Taylor!) changes its sizing over the years – you may be an 8 at that brand, but if the item is five years old you may find an 8 to be a bit snug.

The only time I will go outside my complete comfort zone is with vintage clothing, and then I have to have very detailed clothing measurements in the description. If you have questions, ask them! Ask the seller for a photo of the back view of the dress, ask if the skirt is lined or what type of slit it has in the back. Ask if it’s more of a midnight navy or a dark blue, and ask for the fabric content. If you are unsure of the year, ask to see a photo of the label (most retailers slightly change the logo or look of their label every couple of years – you can often Google to find a timeline of the brand’s logo). It sucks to receive an item that isn’t want you believed it to be and go back and realize the seller didn’t misrepresent, you just filled in the blanks without asking.

I prefer a seller who has multiple pictures of an item, and of the actual item, not a JPEG lifted off of Google Images. This way I really know I am getting what I desire.

eBay Shopping Support

PayPal: If you don’t already have a PayPal account, you will need one to shop on eBay. I prefer PayPal to credit cards for online shopping because I have less chance for identity theft. PayPal is very user secure and friendly, and you can easily set it up to your checking account (or multiple bank accounts) so when you have a $0 PayPal balance, it will just withdraw right from your bank.

PayPal can be used at so many other sites online (hello Etsy,,Lands End Canvas and Zappos and more!) that it makes sense to have an account with them.

eSnipe: I haven’t used eSnipe in a while, but loved it back when I was looking for my Sandhurst bag. My hairdresser told me about it, and it has helped me score some great prices on eBay auctions. Instead of having to constantly stalk your auction to ensure you have the highest price, eSnipe will do it for you. Tell them your maximum price that you are willing to pay and in the last couple of seconds of an auction eSnipe will bid on your behalf, helping you win the auction, and not go above your budget.  FYI, eSnipe is now only free for a trial period, and then has a slight cost.

Ebates: I have a love affair with Ebates.  Sign up for free, visit Ebates before heading to most online shops and get cash back on your purchase.  They have popular online retailers like Sephora, Nordstrom, Target, Ann Taylor and Old Navy, but Ebates also gives you 1-4% cash back on all purchases on eBay! 

Ebates gives you an actual check once a quarter, no points to redeem, no gift cards, actual cash.  No spam, no strings, just 30 seconds for money back.  Be sure to sign up and visit Ebates each time before you head to eBay!

Some eBay Acronyms to Know:

  • NWT – New with Tags. This means the tags should be ATTACHED unless otherwise stated in the description
  • NWOT – New without tags. This means new condition, an item could be found at a store like this. No perfume, no dog hair, no creases from wear.
  • NWOB – New without box. (everytime I see this acronym I think NKOTB)
  • NRFB – Never removed from the box
  • EUC – Excellent used condition. Means like-new, though not as perfect as NWOT.
  • MNT – Mint condition (again doesn’t mean new, but is closer to NWOT)
  • VGC – Very good condition.  This means the item was worn, but is still in wearable condition (no stains, holes, etc.)
  • GUC or GU – Good used condition. This description has many shades of gray and it’s important to know details, see detailed photos and ask questions to fill in the blanks.
  • NBW – Never been worn
  • TTS – True to size
  • S/S or SS – Short-sleeved
  • L/S or LS – Long-sleeved
  • FB – Feeback
  • DBL – Double
  • FP – Fixed price
  • GBP – Great British Pounds
  • ITF – Impossible to find (often used in title for limited-edition pieces)
  • VHTF – Very hard to find (ditto, often in auction titles)

eBay Etiquette
Leave feedback. No matter what you purchased, or how many times you shopped from the same seller, leave feedback for every individual purchase you make. Many people make their living off of eBay auctions, and your feedback supports their livelihood. Feedback also helps your fellow shoppers, letting them know who to trust, and who to avoid.

Pay promptly. If you don’t have the money, you shouldn’t be bidding in the first place. When I win an auction, I pay within 24 hours. I have sold on eBay and it’s frustrating to have to chase down a customer to beg for your money. Not paying promptly is like being rude to your waiter – he will care less about pleasing you and you may get spit in your soup… or a delayed shipment.

Pay. Again, if you don’t have the money, you shouldn’t be bidding. Winning an auction and then never paying won’t just give you negative feedback, but will also screw over the seller. There is a lot of steps a seller has to take to prove that you didn’t keep up your end of the bargain, to get back their selling fee, and finally be able to re-list the item. A good month could go by and that’s possibly the rent or grocery bill for that seller.

If something unexpected happens where you just can’t pay… contact the seller. Let them know as soon as possible. Don’t hide and ignore the invoices you will receive. Bad things happen to good people, we have all been there. Don’t leave your seller high and dry.

Accept the seller’s terms. As a previous eBay seller, nothing is more frustrating than having a person from Belgium try to bid on an item when I clearly stated I only ship to the US. I have had sellers try to pay via money order when I write that I only accept PayPal, ask me to ship FedEx when I use USPS, request I take the item off auction and just sell it at a reduced price to them. Read the description, all the fine print. It doesn’t hurt to ask if it’s a small change (offer to pay additional for expedited shipping or delivery to Canada from the US), but remember these are people, not major corporations. They don’t have the time, resources, money or desire to be your personal valet.

Have you had success shopping on eBay?  What are your tips and tricks for navigating the site and getting great fashion deals?

Please visit my other “How to Shop” posts:

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Allie & eBay

Okay, so you guys have seen I have been doing some shopping on eBay. I have had some luck, a few not-so-good purchases, but all in all it has been successful.

I had done minimal eBay shopping in the past – bought my Banana Republic purse there last year, got some tools back when I was a Body Shop at Home consultant, and got my husband a pair of sunglasses he loved at a fraction of the cost. All of these, I did my homework, had style numbers and a price I was not willing to go past. I bid, I won, end of story.

I got back into eBay this year because of the Banana Republic fall/winter collection. It seemed that almost every dress they made fit me like a dream. I decided to look to eBay to find dresses in my size at a price cheaper than the store. I had some success (my gold and olive dress arrived still in the sealed shipping plastic with all tags and it fit) and some mehs (got a black wool blend sheath that was the size and condition pictured, but the picture didn’t fully show how darn FITTED the style was or that it was two seasons ago and so a different cut).

Having success with Banana Republic, I decided to branch out. I knew I loved the Maggy London line of dresses, so I searched that brand. Saw a dress I liked (well actually owned) in a size I knew I could fit due to past experience, and bid. And won.

So no real science to all this. I choose sellers who have a great history (good ratings and have sold more than 75 things) and provide multiple pictures of the item and very detailed descriptions. It may be cheaper with another seller, but I am willing to pay for quality. I haven’t bought from the same seller more than once, so I can’t tell you who my favorites are.

A tool I have used in the past is eSnipe. My stylist Kathleen actually told me about this. It bids for you – put in the item you wish to have and the dollar amount you’re willing to spend and it will track for you and bid last minute to ensure the best price possible. If the bidding goes over your amount, it will notify you, asking if you’re willing to up the ante.

I haven’t used eSnipe lately because… well because I am working on fate. If I lose an auction, it is fate telling me that I didn’t need that item in the first place. However eSnipe was great for my purse last year – I knew it was the exact color and style I desired and I got it at over $50 less than retail price. I had the toolbar on my computer at my last job but this job… well I have been too busy to bid while on the clock!

My rule is that I don’t even open up eBay unless I need something specific. Then once I am at eBay, I only look for what it is I came for. eBay can be dangerous, anything you heart desires can usually be found and you can either end up spending a bunch on many items you don’t need, or a bunch on one item because you get too into the thrill of the chase. Too many times I see people purchase items on eBay for almost the same price as it would be at a store… sometimes more. If you are a competitive person, eBay can be terribly dangerous.

As for selling, I haven’t done that yet. My good friend has been slowly cleaning out her closet on eBay and has scored funds to buy new clothes for her slimmer bod and more professional career. I figure if I get the notion, I’ll ask her for tips and will be happy to share with you guys. Until then, I may just post another “Allie’s Wardrobe” blog like I did last year and sell the best of my wardrobe that no longer fits or excites me. I was going through my closet and do have a few things that are in great condition but just not what I wear any more. Also have a bunch of dressy purses that don’t match a single thing I own or plan to own. If I do decide to do this, you guys will be the first to know!

A few more things:
– I have a PayPal account. I buy everything through PayPal. PayPal is easy, safe and free ti register. Good to have for other things outside of eBay as well. I have used it to sell things outside of eBay, donate to charities and even my high school is accepting PayPal payments for our reunion this summer. Hook it up to your checking account, then you will be far less likely to bid outside your budget.

– I always leave feedback. You are rated as a buyer as well as a seller on eBay; if you provide prompt payment and feedback, sellers will be happier to work with you. This also is a good thing if you plan on selling in the future – you will have more credibility at eBay with a good rating.

– Feel free to ask the seller questions. Is the hardware on that bag gold or brass in color? What is the length of the inseam? Are you a smoker? Is this returnable, and if so what are the stipulations? If I win two items, can I get a deal on shipping? Asking intelligent questions also makes you look like a respectable buyer, and ensures you get exactly what you are bidding on.

Ask Allie: Where to Sell Used Clothing?

I’m wondering if you have any resources or suggestions for someone who is trying to minimize their closet. I’m moving towards capsule wardrobes and limiting my shopping, so this is leaving me with some very high-quality items (though not necessarily designer) already in my closet that I’d like to sell to get some money back, especially since a few of them have never been worn or worn only once! Over the years I’ve donated bags and bags of clothing, but for these purchases I thought putting a little extra time into it could get me some money back. Tips? Where to start?

selling used clothing online tips how to

This is a post where I’d like to ask you, the readers to share your suggestions. I have my suggestions but even I am wondering if there’s better ways to pare down one’s wardrobe and recoup some of the original cost. Here’s some suggestions:

Selling Clothes on eBay

eBay has been my most successful avenue for selling quality clothing that isn’t necessarily designer or a recent season. I make sure to have multiple photos of the item in natural light without a flash – full front, full back, photo of the tag (proves the brand, proves the size, and also many brand loyalists can recognize a year or season by the style of the label), photo of any details (fly, style of buttons, cuffs, close-up of applique or fabric texture), and a photo of any flaws. When it comes to flaws, be upfront from the get-go; it’s not worth it to sacrifice your rating on eBay. My description has as much detail as possible – the fabric, length of skirt in inches, size and how it fits me with my measurements, and I also offer styling suggestions (I wore it with X, it looks great with opaque tights and tall boots in winter but also with sandals in summer).

When it comes to listing price, don’t assume a bidding war will happen on your piece, especially if it’s a lesser known brand or more than a season or two old. Don’t price it any lower than you’re willing to take; nothing worse than having to go through the process to ship out an item for 99 cents, especially when you know you could have received more in a tax write-off for a charitable donation. eBay often has promotions where you can also offer Buy it Now for free; when that happens I always choose that as well and offer it for a price I hope to get but not an unrealistic one. To get an idea for prices, search eBay for similar items and brands and see what they’re going for. If you see one is sold by an eBay-er with a lot of sales, click on their profile and you can see recent sales and prices likely of similar items to what you’re hoping to sell.

Be firm with what you are willing to do and not to do in your listing. For example, I state no returns or exchanges and shipping only to the United States. However, I do offer other methods of shipping they can request it upon winning the auction

For shipping, I use the eBay calculator and labels; I can print the labels at home, go to and schedule a pickup, and not have to wait in line at the post office. If you wish to ship Priority Mail, you can order shipping containers for free from While it’s tempting to get an item out in the smallest and cheapest packaging possible, don’t scrimp and sacrifice the quality of a piece. I have received leather skirts shoved into tiny boxes that are bent and creased and necklaces broken upon arrival because they were barely wrapped in newspaper and mailed in a standard envelope. You’ll end up losing money if you have to return payment for an item that arrives unwearable, so take the time to pack carefully. I have a box in my closet that’s full of shipping supplies I gather from online purchases. I save plastic shipping bags, tissue paper, bubble wrap, and useful sizes of nice-looking boxes just for eBay sales and in my storage box I also have a Sharpie, packing tape, and a pair of scissors so I have everything I need for an afternoon of shipping. If you wish to do this long-term, I recommend adding a little something extra to the packing – wrap in the same color tissue paper, safety pin a business card to the garment tag, show a little care and it can help your customers actually leave reviews, leave better reviews, and come back to see what else you’re selling.

Selling Clothes on Poshmark

I haven’t used Poshmark… yet. However, I know my friend Alyson at The Average Girl’s Guide uses it often and raves about it all the time so I asked her to share her thoughts on the site:

“I’m obsessed with selling on Poshmark. There are definitely pieces you know will sell fast, and others you need to wait for the right buyer. I personally don’t post anything under about $10 because I find that the time it takes to post (though just 2-3 minutes), plus any back and forth, packaging and dropping off, is not worth the eventual payment. I rather donate. That said, items from J. Crew, Lululemon, Tory Burch, Rebecca Minkoff all do really well, though I’ve sold everything from Gap, Target, Old Navy, TJ Maxx pieces, you name it. Think about posting the right time of year… posting a sweater and boots will probably not sell now unless you mark it really low, where going through your closet for springy pieces you’re no longer into could result in extra spending money.”

“If possible, take photos of yourself wearing the item — it really helps! — and be sure to label everything accurately and thoroughly. Lastly, be mindful of price. It’s just like how they say people who try to sell their homes on their own always have unrealistic selling prices; I’ve seen the same on Poshmark. Remember, you’ve likely worn something or it’s not brand new. If someone can go into J. Crew and buy a similar brand-new item for what you’re selling your used button down (and remember, buyer pays shipping) then you’re too high.”

Selling Clothes on Consignment or to Resale Boutiques

Back when I worked in apparel, before the start of each new season I would take bags and bags of clothing (hello employee discount, dress codes, and the need to wear current pieces) to a shop near where I worked. They would buy on-trend pieces for half the price they’d sell it for on their salesfloor, and a bit more if I was willing to take store credit.  I’ve used stores like this off an on since and know many friends who visit them every season.  I know there’s stores like this all over the country, from Buffalo Exchange to Plato’s Closet.

Appearance matters when trying to sell your clothes at such a store. Dress stylishly, and even if you have enough clothing to put in a lawn and leaf bag, instead choose a nice tote (I used my LL Bean Boat and Tote), or shopping bags from a “cool” retailer (think Anthropologie instead of Old Navy). Make sure the clothes are clean, folded nicely, ironed if necessary, and free of stains and damage.

And seriously, no damage. A tiny bleach dot that never bothered you when you wore it will be too much damage for the store to take. The wearing on the backs of your jean hems is only cool if the rest of the jeans are distressed. All buttons should be in place, tags still in place, linings still attached.

Know the store before you bring in your clothes. There’s no point in bringing in a bag of J. Crew if the store focuses on vintage fashion. Not only that, you’ll know if they already have enough Jackie Cardigans and will likely refuse yours, even if it’s like new.

Where To Sell Gently Worn Quality Clothing?

And now I ask you, what do you suggest to this reader? Have you used Twice, Threadflip, or Tradesy? Had any success with Craigslist or a local listserv? What do you find to be the most successful way for you to sell gently worn clothing?

If you have a storefront on Poshmark, etc. feel free to share it in the comments below, your castoff may be another’s must-have!  Do know any non-fashion related shops or obvious spam links will be deleted.

My Wardrobe Today – Wednesday

Dress – Gap (from last year – similar)
Belt – vintage
Shoes – Sofft (no longer available – similar)
Bracelets – eBay, Ann Taylor, picked up at the DC Sip & Swap

My husband picked up our dry cleaning and it feels as though I went on a shopping spree. I completely forgot I even owned this dress and it’s perfect for hot weather! I was going to wear it with a black belt and my Payless sandals for the life of me I couldn’t find one of the shoes. I obviously haven’t gotten completely unpacked and back to normal after the vacation… what needed to be laundered has been laundered and put away, but my husband’s duffle is still on the bedroom floor spilling everywhere and clean clothes are piled up on the cedar chest at the foot of the bed. I am doing a little bit each evening and hope to have it all cleaned up by Friday!

And I believe this is the first time I have worn this necklace on the blog!  Recently I won a giveaway on Real Girl Runway for a gift certificate to JewelMint.  I have been hearing great things about the company but had yet to buy anything so the certificate was pretty awesome.  The quality is nice – heavyweight, well constructed.  And the packaging is amazing – it comes in this gorgeous heavy box that snaps shut with a hidden magnet.  Open it and there is your piece displayed nicely, as though you were receiving a piece from Harry Winston or Tiffany.  All this for pieces that are only $29.99 and free shipping!   If you haven’t joined JewelMint, you can join here (this is my personal referral URL – if you join and like it you can share your personal referral URL with others and collect points for free jewelry!).

Last Days of Leather

Blouse: Ann Taylor (similar) | Skirt: eBay (similar) | Booties: Miss Sixty (similar) | Bracelets: Nordstrom, Lauren Ralph Lauren, c/o lifetherapy | Necklace: Lillith” c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot

While I do believe in spring and summer leather (especially with the perforated styles that are so popular this season), we’re ending the days where I can get away with my black leather skirts. Today it’s going to be in the ’80s and was 70 when these pictures were taken. This skirt is actually cool because the weight has it stand away from the body and work a bit like a sun umbrella for my bottom half, but the look is just too heavy for the warmer months. I originally was going to wear this skirt with this blouse, but it reminded me too much of this outfit, which photographed nicely enough but made me feel like a box of Crayons. So I decided to switch out the skirt and give my heavy black leather a send-off until fall.

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Thursday: The Kitchen Sink

Tee – Lands’ End Canvas (similar) | Skirt – Talbots (similar) | Necklace – eBay (similar) | Shoes – Payless (similar) | LipstickNARS Heat Wave

Today I felt like throwing it all on. If it wasn’t so hot on, I would have also added a scarf and leopard shoes. Today I just felt like being the crazy lady with too much going on.

Tonight my sister and I are going to see The Chris Robinson Brotherhood at The Birchmere. My sister has adored Chris Robinson for eons, and it will awesome to see him perform in such a small venue. I’ve seen the Black Crowes in concert, and am looking forward to checking out his new group and sound!

How was your 4th of July?  The first part of the day for us was pretty chill – slept in (with a toddler that means 7am), did some cleaning and organizing around the house, finally got around to hanging up a painting by Karl’s grandfather – we originally decided to put it in our bedroom, but it was just too freaky to wake up and see him staring at us from his boat.  Far better in the living room, and it really opens up the space.  Later in the day, three of our friends came over – Karl grilled ribs, corn, and salmon and we had a salad and my friend Nicole’s phenomenal rosemary bread.  We then walked down to the town lake for a drum circle and fireworks.

Emerson survived maybe a minute of fireworks and even with her Peltor headphones found them too loud and scary so my husband took her home.  These were the first fireworks I had seen in person for YEARS and they were phenomenal – my town really knows how to celebrate the holiday!

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eShakti – an Honest Review (and My Wardrobe Today – Wednesday)

Dress – c/o eShakti
Shoes – Payless (no longer available online)
Earrings – Filene’s Basement
Bracelet – Ann Taylor (no longer available)

Lookie look, the tree that was on my house is now in a pile at the entrance to my court! I just HAD to get my photos in front of it. Progress!

This is a bit dressy for my work look, but my wardrobe is still reeling from Hurricane Irene and I have to work with what I have that is clean. Even this dress has a couple spots of drywall mud on them that I didn’t notice until I was already out the door this morning. Such is life!

When eShakti contacted me offering to send me a dress for review, I jumped at the chance. To hear more about my experience with eShakti, why I was excited to review them, and my honest review of the experience and this dress please click on the link below.

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True Fashionista: E

When publications ask me for an example of true DC style, I always mention E at District of Chic. Our lovely city is often blasted for having no style and being a sea of ill-fitting navy skirtsuits and white sneakers, but in fact we are a city who knows style and appreciates quality. E epitomizes DC style by mixing designer with Zara, flea market finds with tailored classics, simple elegance with touches of personality and whimsy. And for all of this, I consider E to be a True Fashionista.

I love looking to E’s blog for ideas on how to wear work clothes for weekends, or weekend clothes to the office. Her blog is a great resource for ideas on how to look chic yet be comfortable when traveling. She’s also a great example of a woman who purchases quality, not quantity and rewears items over and over, each new ensemble giving the garment a new life.

E has chosen to keep herself anonymous on the blog, and gives enough detail to understand her reasons for her outfits, but maintains her privacy. I had the pleasure of meeting E, and can attest to the fact that she is sweet and charming in person, and completely matches the persona on District of Chic.

At first glance, E’s personal style may seem a bit conservative and preppy, but as you dig into her pieces, her accessories, and her choices of styling there’s a rock star who emerges. Monkey fur, black leather, zipper details and band tee shirts keeps E’s office-appropriate wardrobe from looking too severe and anything but boring. I look to E for inspiration on how to dress in a tasteful and professional manner without sacrificing personal style. She really has the combination down pat, and proves that one can be stylish and about business, can have fun and still be appropriate, can be a rock star and still be tasteful.

As with every other True Fashionista, I asked E to answer the same five questions; here are her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
Eclectic. Somewhat ADD.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
It’s just always been something I’ve appreciated as far back as I can remember. I’m a visual person – I love interesting color combinations and beautiful shapes. I think fashion is something I’m naturally attracted to.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Friends, family, magazines, blogs (duh!), people on the street – you name it!

What is the difference between fashion and style?
I tend to think of fashion as actual creations and style as the method in which those creations are worn.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Play! Don’t be afraid to branch out and wear stuff you wouldn’t normally wear.


The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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Review: e.l.f Cosmetics

Who can resist makeup for a dollar? I have been trying for months since I heard of e.l.f Cosmetics ( I am the type who could drop some serious cash at Sephora (online or the shop), The Body Shop, a MAC counter or store or a fun cosmetics website without blinking. However lately I am trying to be good and frugal – I buy new cosmetics when what I have runs out (or gets snagged by the airport security checkpoint – ladies do not forget that Ziploc baggie with your next flight!). I research my choices so I don’t have to buy twice. I am trying to purchase quality, not quantity.

But Christmas is around the corner, and I love buying fun and frivolous mini gifts for my friends. Good excuse to try out e.l.f Cosmetics! And if I am purchasing for friends and the prices are at or near $1 each, well can’t I treat myself too? So here are my reviews of the two goodies I purchased for myself:

Hypershine Mini Lipgloss Cell Phone Charms
How darn patootin’ cute is this? For $5 you get eight different lipglosses and a cap with a string that loops around the slot on all cell phones that lets you loop a cord. What girl wouldn’t want this for a night out when real estate in an evening clutch (or your pocket) is at a minimum?

The cap holds onto the glosses quite well and doesn’t get loose after switching colors. It’s sorta awkward to apply gloss (the applicator stays attached to the phone), but the convenience outweighs this issue.

The gloss feels more like a balm – not very sticky and seems moisturizing. A more natural gloss look. It holds decently for a non-sticky balm. The fragrance varies from Tinkerbell cosmetics sweet to almost smelling a bit like Play-Doh, though all scents are quite mild. The problem I find is that none of the colors are similar to what I usually wear. They are all pretty sheer, the red leaves a flushed pink look to the lips, the bronze is pretty over a brownish pink liner or lipstick. I found the purple and silver shades to be a bit too extreme for my natural lip look, but could be very fun for a night out or over a dark colored lipliner or lipstick.

In general, a fun purchase for $5 and a convenience for a night out, but nothing that will replace my current favorite glosses for every day wear.

Wet Gloss Lash & Brow Clear Mascara
For years I have been using the Body Shop Clear Mascara to tame my wild brows and keep my brown brow powder in check. I have gotten to the point where I am wiggling the brush like mad trying to get enough gel to get the job done. Time for a replacement! Even with my discount with The Body Shop (I am a consultant), I can’t beat $1. Already purchasing from e.l.f., might as well add this to my shopping cart!

Do note the description and title states “wet.” I had the fear that I would apply this mascara to my brows and look false and weird. No worry. It does show a bit more than the equivalent from The Body Shop, but does not look shiny or wet on the brows. It does a better job at holding brow hairs in place, without being stiff or sticky to the touch.

When applied to the lashes, it does add some gloss and a darker shade. Nothing extreme, but more definition than going au naturel. I am the type who wears heavy mascara when washing the car; I don’t believe I will be using this for my lashes any time soon.

There is a special brush on one side for lashes, and one for brows. I like this, so when I do choose to use it on lashes, the brush won’t be full of brow powder (my Body Shop brow gel soon looks beige from brushing over brow powder).

I find this to be an EXCELLENT buy.

Customer Service:
I found the site to be slow and a bit awkward. You can sign up and make your own account, yet my account wasn’t recognized for over a week.

I received a acknowledgment email soon after placing my order. In the email, it said due to high volume it could take up to 3-5 weeks to receive my order. And five weeks it was. I was so concerned, I placed an Outlook reminder on my computer for exactly five weeks from my order placement so I could call to complain. My order arrived the day before my Outlook reminder blinked.

The order arrived via US Post in a white padded envelope. A white glossy flyer encouraging you to order again, and your packing slip.

After placing my order, I receive almost weekly emails from e.l.f. offering free shipping and percentage discounts. I considered taking advantage for a few more last-minute gifts, but due to the slow delivery, I chose not to. I do plan on checking back in when my next makeup necessity is out of stock – for their prices and decent quality I can afford to replace a basic and invest in a splurge!

Live the Look: Curated e-Commerce with Heart

A couple months ago, I wrote about Live the Look, a site that curates fashion and accessories from independent designers according to your personal style. I must say since that post, I have become a bit of a Live the Look addict. Live the Look is constantly updating the site with new artists and brands, and these are brands that have heart. Small independent artists, USA-based small companies, designers who donate a portion of their profits to charity; it’s refreshing to have a site like this that focuses on fashion I’d be proud to wear.

The concept of Live the Look is brilliant – shop with your closet. Live the Look doesn’t expect you to toss what you already own, but add to your wardrobe to enhance your personal style. Live the Look started because they felt women deserved more from an e-commerce experience. There wasn’t any option that took into account that we women already have a lot of clothes, that we want a way to make our wardrobes cohesive. Live the Look strives to democratize fashion commerce by making it reflective of real women and real choices.

When I shared Live the Look last time, some of you commented how you wished they had plus sizes. Francesca Helina, the founder of Live the Look listened, and the size ranges have extended on some pieces and she is on the search for brands who fit the ethics of Live the Look and offer extended sizing.

The site launched their new look TODAY, and you Wardrobe Oxygen get an exclusive first look!  Check out the new look, including more features to customize and improve your shopping experience.

When you first visit the site, you’ll complete a short survey that will ask what sort of wardrobe staples are in your closet, what size you wear (tops up to XXL, dresses up to 16, pants up to 16/33, and shoes from 7 to 11.5), and then what style or styles you gravitate towards (Bohemian, Edgy, Glamorous, Preppy, Modern, Casual, Sporty, Ladylike). Don’t worry you can choose as many or all of the styles if you wish! With this information, Live the Look provides you with a customized landing page offering suggestions on what to pair with your wardrobe staples.

These are a few of my favorite things currently on Live the Look

The collection is constantly growing and updates with the seasons. I love just roaming though the collections and then reading the stories that go with the products, seeing that these carefully curated pieces stand out from the crowd. For example,

I believe in shopping thoughtfully, and giving your hard-earned money to brands that deserve it. It’s great to see an e-commerce site feel the same way, and choose to partner with brands that have heart. Have you checked out Live the Look? What’s your favorite part of the site?

While this post was sponsored by Live the Look, I chose to partner with them because I truly believe in the company. All content in this post is my choosing, my thoughts and words.

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Best of 2014: Beauty Edition

I tried a lot of different beauty products this year. Working a good portion of 2014 with one hand (and it being my non-dominant one), it forced me to switch up my beauty routine. I also had a decision to stop trying to look young. While I still baby my skin and use products to prevent wrinkles and discoloration, I allowed myself to enjoy makeup trends that may not be the most youthful. I’m not ashamed of my age, and don’t want to miss out on fun trends and techniques that better fit my personal style because I’m trying to look younger than my driver’s license. Speaking of age, maybe it’s being 39 or maybe it’s the toll 2014 has taken on me but I feel my skin and hair has aged dramatically this year and that too affected the products I’ve chosen and ended up loving. So without further ado, the best beauty purchases I made this year:

best beauty buys 2014

Garnier Fructis Texture Tease Spray

I don’t like polished hair. More than once I have gone to my stylist with a picture of Fearne Cotton in my hands. I like that slightly rocker/just had sex tousled look but my hair is too fine, too slippery, too curly in places and too smooth in others to really make it work. I’ve tried all sorts of products to make hair look dirty and it just makes my hair look… dirty. I saw this video on Tammy’s blog A Loyal Love and decided to give Garnier’s Texture Tease a try. The pricepoint is low enough that if it’s a fail I won’t have too much buyer’s remorse. Well no remorse, I LOVE this stuff. It makes my hair look messy and dirty but in a sexy way, not an unshowered way. I can still manipulate my hair and it doesn’t look ashy on my dark tresses. I can’t make it work Day 2, it gets really gummy, but it’s still a favorite when I want to make next-day hair look purposeful or have a bedhead look.

Revlon ColorStay Foundation

I raved about the whipped version last year, well this summer I got the combo/oily skin version and it’s my jam, even more so than the hydrating version. I wrote about it here, but it deserves more rave.  It’s a touch thinner in consistency which I think gives a more natural feel. I also find the colors to be slightly warmer in the oil free version, better matching my skintone. This stuff stays put all day, through crying and sweat and allergies and rain.

TIGI Bed Head After Party Smoothing Cream

This product is great for smoothing the ends of my hair. When I curl my hair it can look a bit Shirley Temple; if I gently brush it out with a wood-bristle brush (love this one), it makes it natural eaves but the ends (especially when I’m in need of a trim) can get fuzzy. I put a tiny amount, smaller than a pea on my finger and rub it on my finger tips and grab each curl and smooth it. This will separate the curls without making them look greasy and helps them keep their shape. I also like it on the ends of my hair when I style it straight; it keeps humidity and frizz at bay and adds a touch of weight to keep the look polished.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pads

I wrote about these here, but I don’t think I properly explained the awesomeness of these little pads. I was reading Man Repeller this early fall and she made a comment about how her dark circles were more prominent which meant her summer tan was fading. It was an aha moment and I realized I looked so exhausted because my tan had faded, making my lifelong undereye circles stand out. So I used one of these pads that night and the next morning I looked well rested for the first time in weeks. Not only that, when I use these pads, my skin is happy and it seems to clear up the little bumps I get on my chin. I don’t use these more than twice a week or else I look like a Real Housewife; I usually use them on a Friday night so the change in skintone isn’t as obvious to coworkers, and then another used on Monday night will keep the glow going with a subtle fade through the days. I use one pad, I do my face, being sure to swipe up into my hairline and over my ears, then get my neck, and do the whole décolleté using my bra straps and cups as a template. I then take the pretty-much dry pad at this point and do quick swipes over my hands and forearms. Then I wash my hands very well, apply my regular eye and night cream and go to bed. I don’t look fake, I don’t get streaks, and my skin is happier for it. Heads up, you can get 50-packs of these pads on Amazon for much cheaper than other sites; if you shop at (which I love because great GWPs and free shipping and cash back on future orders and combo your order with you can often get one of these pads as a free sample at checkout if you’d like to try before you buy.

OGX Coconut Water Conditioner

Another item I have already raved about. This was the only product I used to cleanse my hair until about mid-October when the weather finally went cold and my hair went from full and wavy to limp and straight. Still, I use this as an actual conditioner on my ends and Karl uses it as the sole cleanser on his hair. Great price, great smell, look forward to using it again as my main hair cleanser this coming summer!

e.l.f. Studio Mist and Set

I raved about this before but it really is a phenomenal setting spray for your makeup and the price can’t be beat. I received a similar spray from MaryKay during a partnership with them and while their setting spray works, smells better and has a finer mist and better quality bottle, it doesn’t compare to e.l.f.’s in regard to holding makeup in place through EVERYTHING. I keep the MaryKay for the work week and e.l.f for long days, nights out, and the summer heat and humidity.

Revlon LacquerBalm in Enticing

Revlon’s Just Bitten BalmStain in Romantic has been my go-to for quite a while, and I regularly use many other colors and consistencies of these chubby lip crayons from Revlon. But none held my heart like Romantic did… until Enticing. Enticing is a more intense, higher pigment red with a glossy finish. I like it alone for a more polished version of bitten lips – red, glossy, but not too perfect. However it is an awesome product layered over a matte lipstick or stain. I love the Revlon matte lipsticks and will wear Enticing over them to increase the pigment and add shine without losing longevity; Enticing will wear away gently and naturally leaving the lipstick below and preventing a ring around the lips or completely bare lips come the end of lunch.  You can see this combo when I was featured at Style IT.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Mousse

I wrote about this product here, and it is still my favorite brow product. I no longer use the brush that came with it, feeling that it gave too harsh and obvious a line; I now use my Trish McEvoy 32 Eyebrow Brush because it has shorter, stiffer bristles letting me get in color without a harsh obvious line. This color stays put until I wash it off with soap and it looks very natural.

Ben Nye Banana Luxury Powder

Yep, I tried the contouring trend that was hot this year. I didn’t want to look like Kim Kardashian or someone from the ‘80s, but wanted to try a more subtle version. Everyone had been raving about this powder and I found it new on eBay and decided to try it (you can also find it on Amazon). I watched a couple YouTube videos and did contouring… and looked ridiculous. Completely lovely for a photo, but insane IRL. However, I really came to like the Banana powder. On a normal day, I apply foundation and then use this over the foundation under the eyes and it diminishes puffiness and darkness without looking cakey or false, and I think it does a better job than concealer. I apply it with the MaryKay Liquid Foundation brush because I had it and it was clean when the powder arrived in the mail. And I continue to apply it in that manner because the brush is soft and fits under my lower lashes nicely while blending the powder beautifully.

So I’d like to hear from you, what were your best beauty buys of the year?

My Wardrobe Today – Monday

Skirt – Ann Taylor (bought on eBay 5 years ago for $14.99, no clue how old, label style unfamiliar to me)
BootiesCole Haan
Scarf – c/o Nordstrom Rack
Silver cuff

I forgot to set my alarm last night. My body woke me up at 7:15 (glad it wasn’t 8:15) and I had 45 minutes to get myself together and out the door. I had pulled this skirt out of my stash of potential winter things and a month ago it was just too tight, too short, and I thought I would re-eBay it. I pulled it on this morning since it was sitting on the cedar chest at the foot of the bed… and it fit! Only thing wrong is I guess the hem dry rotted and has fallen out while wearing (easy to fix). Very excited to have another leather skirt in my arsenal!

New bag – I had $40 in Nordstrom rewards, saw this bag for $129 and decided to try it.  I have wanted a bigger bag to carry my netbook and such, and wanted a soft black purse (currently have my Banana Republic one which is that textured hard leather like a football). Love the bag, so soft, holds so much, necessary front pocket (with magnet closure) and hey… gotta love such a quality bag for only $89!

Sorry for the delay in posting, work has gotten really hectic. Glad I stocked the office fridge with Lean Cuisines because that’s the only way I get to eat anything. The only time I have left my desk is to hit the printer or the bathroom (and refill my water bottle!). Whew, what a crazy couple of weeks!

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My Wardrobe Today – Tuesday

Black Knit Moto Jacket – Gap (no longer available online but you may find in their stores in black or gray)
Black Ponte Dress with Exposed Back Zipper – LOFT (no longer available online which is a shame because I LOVE LOVE LOVE this dress!)
Belt – Ann Taylor (bought a couple years ago)
Black Patent Mary Janes – Nine West (see below)

Shop your closet, folks. Shop your closet!

I have been spending this week doing a hardcore closet clean-out.  I dumped everything out of my bureau and only put back that which I like.  I made one bag of things to donate, and one bag of things to put on eBay.  Now I am working on my closet.  I took everything out that is too small, too big, too ugly, too worn.  There’s a pile of items to repair, and then I added to my two bags.

I am putting all my shoes in boxes on the shelf, because the floor of the closet it a bit of a No Mans Land. My dogs sometimes like to take a nap in there, my husband uses it as a place to throw things and close the door when people come over, I often find Emerson’s books and toys hidden in corners… anyway it’s a bad place to keep shoes. I opened each box to ensure the shoes inside match the label on the outside… and found these shoes!

Long-time readers may remember them. I saw them at Nordstrom a couple years ago and HAD TO HAVE THEM. They only had them in 7. I ordered them, and they were far too small. I started searching online for these shoes from another retailer and found then for half the price of Nordstrom, but only in an 8. I ordered them anyway… and they were too big. I think I wore them twice, both times bad experiences with rubbing, blisters, and carefully shuffling from Metro to office. After that, I shoved them in the box, stuck them in the back of the closet and figured I would eventually put them on eBay.

Well last night I found them and tried them on… and now they fit! Not only do they fit, they are pretty comfy! I am so excited because on my shopping list I had a pair of patent Mary Janes. Granted, I wanted all black with a pointy toe and a slimmer heel, but these are pretty stellar. I had a stranger stop me on the street and ask me who made my shoes and two coworkers said they are “Fierce.” Hooray!

Tonight I hope to finish the closet and this weekend hope to tackle the attic. After that I will be posting even more stuff on eBay – check it out!

Thursday: Dressed to Party

Tee: Old Navy | Skirt: eBay | Tutu: eBay | Bracelets: Ann Taylor, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Nordstrom, etc. | Necklaces: eBay | Shoes: Pour La Victorie c/o The Shoe Hive | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Jacket: Ann Taylor (similar) | Scarf: Collection XIIX (similar)

The other day I was chatting with Kat from Ginger, Adorned on Twitter. She got this tutu and I mentioned this skirt and she suggested wearing them together… and so I did! Adds some fun volume and I love how it peeks out from under the skirt.  I often get all hot and uncomfortable at social events and decided to prepare accordingly with a short-sleeved top.  Speaking of social events…

Tonight is the opening night party for The Shoe Hive‘s pop-up shop Hive on the Hill at Tabula Rasa on Barracks Row. The event starts at 7pm and there will be drinks, noshes, and tons of gorgeous shoes and accessories. Alison of DC Celine and I are co-hosting and we each made a gift list of some of our favorite pieces from The Shoe Hive. It would be great to see you there!

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Friday – Tangerine Tango

Back-zipper teeAnn Taylor
Skirt – c/o CAbi
Booties – Miss Sixty (similar)
Bag – Sabina (similar)
Necklace – eBay (similar)

I was on the hunt for a red or orange statement necklace for spring – something that would jazz up a simple striped tee and jeans or white pants. I regularly head to eBay and Etsy for such things, not caring if a necklace is currently popular or the brand… just the style and price. Searching eBay, I found this necklace for $24 and free shipping. I thought it was cute, the seller had a good feedback score, I bought it. It arrived… and I realized it’s a fake version of a J. Crew necklace. This necklace even has a gold disc at the clasp that says J. Crew, but based upon real J. Crew necklaces I own, I know this is a fake. I should have known better, and don’t know why I didn’t stop to connect the dots. Pretty clear I have been a slacker with my blog and catalog reading with this mistake.

What are your weekend plans? Tomorrow we have two parties to attend – the first birthday for the son of dear friends, and then an engagement party. So far Sunday is open but I know that will most likely change before the day is through!

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Tuesday – Stripes and Leopard

DressOlivia Moon
Belt – Another Line (similar)
Shoes – Nine West (similar)
BagHobo “Dove”
Coat – LOFT via eBay (similar)
Bracelets – gift, JewelMint, Ann Taylor, Lauren Ralph Lauren
Hoops – Claire’s Boutique

Sunday evening after the Oscars my body decided to form a revolt and without being too gross, I ended up spending about 24 hours within a couple feet of the bathroom.  However as intensely as this bug/food poisoning/hell on earth arrived, it left and I had a sound night’s sleep and woke feeling amazing. 

Felt it was a day to rock my latest eBay score – this adorable jacket!  It was $25.99, and that’s a pretty risky eBay purchase for me considering I had never tried this coat on in person.  However I know how LOFT fits, it was a 12 instead of a Large, and I figured I could get it altered if need be.  The coat came in pristine condition and fits great! Now I have a spring coat to replace my LOFT trench that ended up too large!

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Thursday: Coffee and Cream (and a Giveaway!)

Sweater: Gap (similar) | Skirt: eBay | Shoes: Halogen (similar) | Necklace: c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot | Bag: c/o Fossil

Glad to have the weather cool enough to bring back out this skirt! I think it’s so much fun (though it’s a bit sheer so I got a slip off eBay for $2 to make it more wearable), and I love figuring out ways to make it look appropriate for the office!  And this bag… oh how I love it! And if you love it too, I’m offering a way for you to win a Fossil Vintage Revival bag of your own! Click here to read more and learn how to enter the giveaway!

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Friday – When Life Gives You Lemons

Oxford Lands’ End Canvas
Skirt – Talbots via eBay (similar)
ShoesBorn “Myndy”
Bracelet – Anthropologie (similar)
Bag – Belonged to my mom (similar)

Yesterday and today there is no A/C in our office, and my job requires me to be here in person to use certain technology. While it would be tempting to dress in the least amount of clothing possible, I decided instead to dress in 100% cotton so it would breathe. And really, with such a situation, one can’t think of the phrase, “When life gives you lemons make lemonade.” So I am creating lemonade with this cotton skirt I recently found on eBay!

Have a wonderful weekend, and for those in the US who have Monday off, enjoy the holiday!

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Jacket: LOFT | Tee: Old Navy | Jeans: Gap | Bag: Banana Republic via eBay (similar) | Shoes: Joan & David (similar) | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban via eBay

When the weather is warm enough for the windows to be open but too warm to futz around too much with getting dressed (hate it when I shower and then get sweaty trying to get ready), I gravitate towards effortless pieces, pieces that work without much thought. A standard uniform of mine is a blazer, one of these Old Navy tees, jeans and statement shoes. The shoes keep it from looking too shlubby. And though the heat and humidity makes it less fun to get ready in the morning, it does make for some really fabulous curls and hair days!

And a little thing about sunglasses.  I recommend to everyone that if you love a certain style of sunglasses, look on eBay before you pay full price.   I have a big head and the only Ray-Bans that look good on me are the 62mm style.  I bought my first pair full price, but after that I have been looking on eBay and found the ones I am wearing and another pair with dark green lenses.  People often receive sunglasses as gifts or have too many pairs and want to sell after a few wears, I have found many sellers who only want this season’s styles and sell accessories each season to have money for the new looks.  Heck, that’s likely what happened with this bag, which I got in near-mint condition for a song on eBay – one person’s shopping regret is another’s daily favorite accessory!

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What I Wore: Slithering Snake

Jacket: Halogen (similar) | Sweatshirt: c/o CAbi | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Fitzwell (similar) | Necklace: c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot | Bracelets: Nordstrom (similar), had forever | Lipstick: Revlon Matte in Wine Not | Bag: Banana Republic via eBay (similar)

CAbi recently contacted me and asked if I’d like to style a few of their pieces. Yes please! I have been a fan of CAbi for a long while since my dear friend Lisa became a consultant for CAbi and introduced me to the line. The clothes fit so well, it always amazes me that my petite curvy frame can rock the same CAbi pieces as my tall slim friend Lisa. I decided to take this opportunity to try a few things that aren’t typically me and asked to try their Dressed Up Sweatshirt. Gotta say I like it! It’s sheer so I have a black cami underneath, but not super sheer that it looks inappropriate at the office. I love the mixed pattern, and am always a sucker for any animal or snakeskin print. I originally imagined this top with their Fleather Skirt (which I also got and adore and will feature soon), but today I was feeling more relaxed and decided to pair it with dark denim.

I can’t recommend eBay for bags enough.  There’s so many people out there who buy and baby bags and then tire of them after a season or so.  I wanted a plain black leather tote that could pack into a suitcase if need be, but look nice enough for work.  I found this one on eBay; the leather is super soft, it’s unfinished inside which makes it light and easy to pack but the straps are thick and sturdy.  Single pocket inside to hold keys and cell phone, structured bottom, straps that fit over a winter coat and a magnetic closure.  All that for $20 and it even came in a dust bag.  If you know a certain brand or even style number/name search eBay before paying retail and you can save big.

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