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Earlier this month, I attended the 2016 DC Chamber of Commerce Choice Awards and Gala. It was a little last minute, so the first thing I did was log into ASOS.com to try to grab a few dresses to choose from for the gala. Unfortunately, I totally overlooked the shipping timeline and the dresses I ordered weren’t expected to arrive until the day after the gala! Luckily, I had a backup plan.

First, I decided I would check out the Nordstrom Racks in the area. I visited the new Nordstrom Rack Downtown on 12th Street, which is brand new and does not carry evening gowns yet. Then I tried the Nordstrom Rack off of 18th and L St. NW and…

Total for Dress and Earrings: $42!!!

I found this dress and guess how much it cost: $27!!! I’m sure the price has something to do with the slight damage I found on the dress (pictured above). The strap was only hanging by a thread. However, I am OK at hand sewing and took on the small project. This leads me to suggest a BARGAIN SHOPPING TIP: When shopping in clearance, ALWAYS inspect the item carefully for damage. If there is damage, determine whether the damaged product can be easily fixed with a simple mend before deciding not to purchase. I also picked up these beautiful chandelier earrings for $15.

Hair: My favorite price…FREE!

For my hair, I styled it in a very simple updo. This style is sooo easy to create! I will post a full tutorial on this style soon. For a quick run through, the steps are as follows:

  1. Shampoo and condition with your favorite products.
  2. Dry hair with a t-shirt to discourage any frizz .
  3. Separate hair in 4 sections with fingers (I don’t like to part my hair). Distribute a generous amount of leave-in conditioner in each section. Seal your ends with your favorite oil.
  4. Two-strand twist your hair. I did about 16-17 twists for this style (Sidenote: This is the same process I’d follow for a normal twist-out).
  5. When the twists are 100% dry, untwist the twists. If you want more volume to your hair, you can separate the twists further, but I only untwisted my hair once.
  6. Pin the top sides of the hair to the back until it looks as if you have a low pony tail.
  7. Flip the “ponytail” up and over so that you have what looks like a bun and pin the hair down until everything feels secure.
  8. Dip toothbrush in edge control and apply to edges.
  9. Voila! You’re done!

I was so happy with how easy it was to create this style and I got tons of compliments. I love how versatile and how easy it is (SOMETIMES) to create awesome looks with my natural hair! *sigh*

Even though I didn’t purchase my makeup products specifically for this event, they total: $58

For my makeup, my focus was on my purple lipstick. I LOVE lipstick to the point that I sometimes choose my entire look based solely on the shade of lipstick I’m in the mood to wear. Some disclaimers: Nope, I’m not a makeup artist nor do I claim to be the best at doing my makeup, but practice makes perfect! 🙂 For  this look, I used all brands you can find at any drug store except for the contour kit, which is more of a small investment ($20, nothing crazy). My favorite place to pick up makeup is CVS. Seriously, it’s bad. When I was looking for an apartment, I found one across the street from CVS and I was sold on the apartment! LOL Anywhooo, below are the products I used:

  1. e.l.f. Poreless Face Primer: $5
  2. Maybelline Fit Me! Liquid Foundation in Cappucino & Coconut *(I mix to get the right shade): $5
  3. CoverGirl Queen Collection Matte Pressed Powder in Golden: $6
  4. e.l.f. Loose Powder Eyeshadows in Seductive & Socialite: $3 each
  5. L’Oreal Paris Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liquid Eyeliner in Carbon Black: $7
  6. Maybelline Falsies Mascara in Very Black: $6
  7. Ulta Powder Contour Kit: $18
  8. Milani Matte Lipstick in “Matte Glam”: $5

If I include all the makeup that went into this look, the total I spent on this entire look was $100! This just goes to show that you can go to fancy parties without blowing through your budget and without looking like you are on a budget! So get creative, think outside the box, and don’t forget to check that clearance rack for super savings!!

Sidenote: My shoes were previously purchased, which is also something that I took into consideration when I chose the color of my gown.

Disclaimer: I was not paid nor am I affiliated with the owners of any of the products listed other than I LOVE THEM! My mentioning the product brand was for information purposes only. Be on the lookout for product reviews of many of the hair and makeup products that I use!