Shopping tips for the budget-conscious Essence Festival fashionista

In early March, Cherie Hargrove began planning a trip to her hometown of New Orleans from Birmingham, Ala., where she has lived since 2005. Her destination: Essence Festival on Fourth of July weekend. When asked what she would be looking forward to the most she responded, “wearing my fabulous outfits. I plan months in advance. Oh, and seeing BEY perform” (that’s short for Beyonce).

Fans of the Essence Festival can bear witness to the fact that fashion always been woven into fest-goers plans for the four days of empowerment seminars at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the big-name concerts at the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

After all, Essence Festival was launched as “the party with a purpose” in 1995 by Essence Magazine, to celebrate African-American fashion and culture. African-Americans have long embraced the latest fashions — from Annie T. Malone famously inventing the “hot comb” in the early 1900’s to the ‘80s Adidas-wearing mega trio group Run DMC debuting bold frames and gold chains, which moved hip hop beyond music into fashion and paved the way for street wear fashions today.

The Essence Festival is projected to attract more than 400,000 people in July 4 through 7. With so many fashion-conscience party people in one place at one time, the ever-growing fashion business in New Orleans is sure to be one of the attractions. But, like any other shopper, Essence Festival attendees want to stretch their fashion dollars.

“Everyone wants to achieve a great look at a low price,” said 10-time Essence Fest attendee Hargrove. “With so many festivals and events in New Orleans, you learn from a young age how to shop in a clever way.”

So where can fashion-minded Essence Festival-goers head to “shop in a clever way?”

UAL sales associate Hadley Bernstein expects fashion-conscious festival-goers – both locals and visitors — to make a pilgrimage to the store on Chartres Street.

“I love my customers, I get to see all of my clients who come from Atlanta, New York and even California,” she said. “These women, I mean they have amazing style and they love designer fashion. They love UAL because everything here has already been discounted, so they walk away feeling fabulous while being frugal.”

United Apparel Liquidators (UAL) is packed from the ceiling to the floor with discounted runway designer frocks and accessories — everything from a discounted $3,000 leather Chanel bag to classic discounted $15 forever stylish 501 Levi’s.

It’s one of the budget-friendly stores in New Orleans where high fashion won’t break the bank. Here’s a look at it and a few others we’ve rounded up.

Share your best tip for pre-Essence Festival shopping in the comments below.

1. United Apparel Liquidators518 Chartres St., 504.301.4437


UAL, United Apparel Liquidators, came to life nearly 30 years ago. The boutique offers current and past season new clothing and accessories at 70 to 90 percent off retail value.

The Fashion Doctor’s tip: Having a last minute fashion crisis? Ask for Hadley, she is a fashion rock star with amazing style.

2. Shoe Nami, 3102 Magazine St., 504.895.1717; Shoe-Nami Outlet, 18 Westside Shopping Center, Gretna, 504.366.0177

Want runway inspired shoes on a budget? Look no farther. Shoe Nami is a great source for high fashion inspired shoes at a friendly price.

The Fashion Doctor’s tip: The West Bank location is an actual shoe outlet. Shoes at this specific location range from $4.99-$19.99.

3. Funky Monkey3127 Magazine St., 504.899.5587

The ultimate one-stop shop for fabulous vintage finds and recycled fashions. This store is filled with new and old budget-friendly goodies. Everything here has character.

The Fashion Doctor’s tip: Be sure to check out their fashion forward and über affordable sunglasses collection

4. Hemline, 3308 Magazine St., 504.269.4005; 609 Chartres St., 504.592.0242

Opened in 1994 by Brazil native Brigitte Holthausen and her husband Luciano, one store quickly turned into 14 locations throughout the south and southwest. Offering diverse lines such as Free People, Hudson, French Connection, and Tracy Reese among many others.

The Fashion Doctor’s tip: Once you are shopped out and reach the register make sure you stop and smell the gardenia scented body lotion called KAI, it’s been a staple at the modern luxe boutique since the very beginning.

5. Confidence: It’s free and you can find it within!


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