Less Than Challenge

Living life with less than…


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Makeup in Less Than a Minute

If you’re a regular visitor to the Less Than Challenge, you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting with my usual frequency this week. I have been working long hours in preparation for a highly anticipated, 12-day vacation I’m starting on Friday, so I’ve been crunched for time. But a simple summer change to my morning makeup routine is making it much easier for me to get out of the house every day, and I figured this was definitely worth sharing.

BB Cream & Baby Lips

BB Cream and Baby Lips…
simple as can be.

From what I’ve seen and heard, BB creams are the hot trend in makeup right now (though CC and DD creams are right on their heels, I guess). I’m already sort of a minimalist when it comes to makeup, especially during the summertime, so I was very intrigued by the prospect of a product that would provide coverage, moisture, and SPF protection all in one. I read bunches of reviews (like this one from The Budget Babe) and I talked it over with a friend who has much more cosmetic expertise than I do, and in the end, I decided to buy Rimmel’s 9-in-1 BB Cream in Medium.

Let me just say, I’ve been thrilled with it! I’ve been wearing it everyday and absolutely loving the simplicity it brings to my morning rituals. No more separate applications of moisturizer, concealer, foundation, etc. I now get it all in a single step. On the weekends, it’s the perfect amount of makeup for the light, casual look I’m going for.  And on work days, I’ve been dabbing a little powder over top, adding a quick bit of mascara and lip gloss, and…voila!  My face is ready for the day in less than a minute (maybe two if I’m being extra careful about the mascara).

Weekend Face: Nothing but BB Cream (and Baby Lips)

Weekend Face: Nothing but BB Cream (and Baby Lips)

If you’re interested in trying out this trend, but you want to check out some serious reviews first, I’d recommend looking here, here, or here.  I have been very happy with the Rimmel, which I picked up at Target for less than $7. Based on my limited knowledge, I’d say it’s a great option for a drugstore brand.  I liked that there were light, medium, and dark varieties and it’s got an SPF of 25. But there are certainly plenty of options on the market, so do your research and take your pick.  Whatever your preference, I’d love to hear some of your time-saving makeup tricks, too.

On an unrelated note…I’ll be sharing the highlights of an awesome day of garage sale-ing soon, so stay tuned!  Trust me, if you like awesome deals and huge “less than” successes, you won’t want to miss this one.

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What I’d Rent: Day-to-Night Designer Style for Less Than $80

About a week ago, I got an email from Rent the Runway offering me $50 off an order of $100 or more for my upcoming birthday. For those of you not familiar with Rent the Runway, it’s basically an online service that allows you to borrow pricey designer dresses and accessories for 4-8 days at a fraction of retail prices. I originally created my account when searching for a dress to wear to a fundraising gala, but to date, I’ve never actually rented anything.

It’s not looking like this is the moment to experiment with fashion rentals for the first time, since I don’t have a big celebration planned for this year’s birthday.  But just for fun, I’ve picked out three dresses (and coordinating accessories) that I would totally consider renting under different circumstances.  With all shipping, taxes, and insurance fees added in, and my $50 taken off, each one of these looks would cost less than $80 to rent for four days, compared to retail costs that reach upwards of $600!

OPTION 1: Bold & Bright

Option 1 Bold & Bright

Felana Dress by Tina Turk | Rental $50; Retail $248
Crystallized Salmon Drop Earrings by Kenneth Jay Lane | Rental: $15; Retail: $125
Keep  Your Cool Clutch by Rebecca Minkoff | Rental: $35; Retail: $325
Total Rental Cost: $76.63 | Total Retail Cost: $698

OPTION 2: Color Blocks

Option 2 Color Blocks

Rhombus Shift Dress by Trina Turk | Rental: $50; Retail: $298
Gold Bangle Stack by AV Max | Rental: $15; Retail: $110
Clean Break Necklace by Kate Spade New York | Rental: $35; Retail: $228
Total Rental Cost: $76.63 | Total Retail Cost: $636

OPTION 3: Perfect Print
(my personal fave)

Option 3 Perfect Print

Derek Dress by Slate & Willow | Rental $50; Retail $298
Keep  Your Cool Clutch by Rebecca Minkoff | Rental: $35; Retail: $325
Gwen Blue Agate Earrings by Kendra Scott | Rental: $15; Retail: $100
Total Rental Cost: $76.63 | Total Retail Cost: $723

I really love the dress in option 3, and I think Rent the Runway offers a cool concept that I’d love to try someday. But I don’t feel like my birthday is the right occasion to spend over $75 on an borrowed outfit – even if I were planning a huge soiree.

When the next gala on my schedule rolls around, or if I just can’t find a suitable wedding shower/bachelorette party/rehearsal dinner dress…well, that will be a different story.  🙂


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TKEES Knock-Offs from Forever 21

After developing a total obsession with TKEES last month, but not having the will to spend $50 on flip-flops, I was thrilled to discover super cheap knock-offs at Forever 21 thanks to Knock Me Off!

Forever 21 vs. TKEES

Apparently I missed the boat on getting a pair in black, but $6.80 seems like the right price for trendy knock-offs in crazy colors anyway. I particularly love Forever 21’s teal option (a choice the real TKEES don’t yet offer), so of course I had to order a pair. They arrived on my doorstep last night, and I am quite pleased with this new addition to my shoe collection!

20130716-191033.jpg20130716-191046.jpgThe soles are significantly more cushioned and comfortable than I expected, and the reviews online were spot-on in suggesting a sandal one size bigger than my actual shoe size. I normally wear a 7 but I went with an 8 in these they seem to fit just right.

Until I take the plunge and buy those authentic black TKEES I’m still longing for, I won’t be able to compare the knock-off to the real deal, but for now I’m quite pleased with new, designer-inspired flip flops for less than $7!


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Five Fun Bikinis for Less Than $40

With summer well underway, I’ve been wanting to share a few of my favorite swimsuits of the season. After an extensive online search and much deliberation, I give you my top five bikinis of the moment, all available for less than $40.

Less Than Challenge Bikinis
1. H&M Green Patterned Bikini Top and Bottoms ($30.90 for both pieces)
2. Kohl’s Derek Lam Midkini (originally $44.00 per piece; now $30.80 for both pieces)
3. Target Xhiliration Multicolor Print Top and Bottoms (on sale in stores only; $28.00 for both pieces)
4. Aerie Fringed Print Bandeau Top and Bottoms (both pieces on sale now; $34.98 for both pieces)
5. Forever 21 Multi-Wear Bandeau Bikini ($26.60 for both pieces)

I’m very intrigued by the Kohl’s midkini, the fringe on the Aerie suit is super fun, and I think the multi-wear top from Forever 21 could be great. Plus I’m liking all of the patterns, so I think I could be happy with any one of these suits. I have my heart set on getting one before my summer vacation at the start of August, so please weigh in on your favorite looks and help me decide!


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Less Than Look: Independence Day

20130704-115445.jpgHappy Fourth of July, people!! Today is one of my favorite days of the year, what with the sunshine, the hot dogs, and the happiness that are pretty much inherent to the holiday. And the fireworks. I looooove me some fireworks.

I also get a lot of joy out of working red, white, blue, stars, and/or stripes into my Independence Day look, and this year is no exception.

20130704-120138.jpg

I got this tank for less than $3 last summer at Target (thank you, 70% off rack), and I’ve been looking forward to wearing it on July 4th ever since. I did a little hunting and found something similar here in case your closet is short one patriotic racerback tank at this point.

The shorts are one of the two new pairs I was just telling you about, which means you should have no trouble finding them now at Target. (Is it obvious by now that I’m obsessed with Target?!) Whether you’re into the obvious Americana look today or not, a little denim seems entirely appropriate, don’t you think?

Whatever you’re doing to celebrate the Fourth, have fun and enjoy it to the fullest!


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Less Than Look: Super Shorts

I am super excited to share how I got two new pairs of shorts at Target last weekend for less than $25!

By combining a BOGO 50% off deal, a printable Target.com coupon, and 10% off through Cartwheel, I saved $14.90 and walked out with these great additions to my summer wardrobe for a grand total of just $23.08 before tax:

Super Shorts

Mossimo Women’s 3.5″ Denim Shorts | Merona Women’s Chino Shorts in Pink Print

Unfortunately for you, my readers, the BOGO 50% off sale was a two-day thing to start the summer, but you’re in luck when it comes to the coupon and the Cartwheel discount!

Click here to get $3 off any $15 women’s shorts purchase (and maybe print off a few more useful coupons while you’re at it). Then, go sign up for Cartwheel! I had heard about this “new spin on savings” from a couple of friends recently, and now I’m totally hooked. Coupons are all good when it comes to food, toiletries, and household goods, but when I can use them to save on clothes, and I don’t even have to clip anything, well…what a thrill!

Through July 6, you can use Cartwheel to take 10% off Mossimo and Merona women’s shorts, among many other things, so check it out and see how much you can save.

As a bonus, I also picked up two new graphic tees from the 70% off rack at a whopping three dollars each. I almost never wear graphic tees anymore, but between the price and the fun, floral prints, how could I resist? Two shirts, two shorts, less than $30. That’s what I am all about.


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Less Than Look: TKEES Flip Flops

What do Rachel Bilson, Emily VanCamp, and Blake Lively have in common? For starters, they each rank pretty darn high on the list of celebrities I’d love to know/be. More importantly for the purposes of this post, they have all been spotted wearing TKEES – my new obsession in the world of flip flops.

TKEES Sightings

Rachel Bilson, Emily VanCamp, and Blake Lively, all in TKEES

I have been on what feels like an eternal quest to replace the black flip flops that I bought  in high school and continue to wear despite the fact that there are now holes where the heels should be. Not one pair of sandals in the dozens of stores I’ve scoured have come close to being a suitable replacement. Whether they’re too casual or not quite casual enough, there’s always something that moves me to keep wearing hole-filled flip flops in lieu of something new.

In TKEES (pronounced TEE-kees), I think I’ve found what I’ve been searching for:

My Favorite TKEES

Obviously, my first instinct is to go for the Licorice “Glosses” (top left), but I am also really drawn to the Bare White “Duos” (dead center). And as a sucker for all things mint, I am definitely giving the Minty “Lip Glosses” (bottom right) a second look. Did I mention that TKEES are branded as “cosmetics for your feet” and each style is named for a type of cosmetic product?  Love it.

Now normally, I don’t think I’d highlight a plain and simple flip flop that retails for about $50 nearly everywhere I’ve looked as a Less Than Look. But in this case, I would argue that plain and simple equals versatile and well worth the investment. Plus, the reviews I’ve read have convinced me that I would get plenty of quality wear out of a single pair.  And it sure doesn’t hurt that a few of my favorite celebs have shown lots of love for the brand!

I think I’ll give myself a little time to buy in the hopes that a great deal will pop up. But if all else fails, I think fifty bucks would be a pretty small price to pay to keep my feet off the ground and looking good for lots of summers to come.