Hunting deals with the Budget Fashionista

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Shopping with Kathryn Finney

Budget Fashionista Kathryn Finney looks for deals on colorful spring looks at Forever 21 in downtown Chicago on Sunday, Apr. 17, 2011, in Chicago. (Shauna Bittle/for the Chicago Tribune / April 28, 2011)

•Don't think you can't leave without buying something.

•An expensive item (like her own Burberry trench) might be a good value: Consider "cost-per-wear."

•Designer labels (especially purses) retain value and you can profit by re-selling later on eBay.

Thrift store Ever since I found a pair of Manolo Blahniks for $6.99 there, I've been a regular at the well-organized Goodwill store at 1201 W. Washington Blvd. Natch, this place had to go on our itinerary.

Kathryn zoomed to the sale rack, even at this place where almost everything costs under $10. "Dresses and suits tend to be better products rather than pants. I think it's because people don't wear them as much," she said.

I caught her sniffing the arm of a jacket."I always do the smell test. It's very difficult to get the musty smell out." And stains probably won't come out either, she said. People donate stained clothes (like a BCBG Max Azriaorange-and-pink dress we saw for $6.99) because they've already tried to remove a spot unsuccessfully, she explained.

Kathryn bought a $1.99 "old lady bag," a blue faux patent clutch that wouldn't take up much luggage space in her trip back home to New York. I splurged on a $29.99 blue fox jacket with a Marshall Field's label and the previous owner's monogram on the lining. But we passed up some $6.99 Kate Spade evening pumps with mink pom poms.

We hadn't shopped 'til we dropped but almost.

A final Kathryn tip: Recuperate with truffle fries and chocolate like we did.

Kathryn tips:

•A suit or a set can still be a good buy, even if you'll only wear one piece.

•Petite? Shop the boys section, especially for blazers.

•Men can find huge bargains here, especially like-new dress shirts for $4. "The opportunities are amazing."

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