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/ Source: TODAY
By Constance C.R. White

This is the time of year when families like to look their best and let's face it, everyone wants something new to wear whether it's to church, to a holiday event, to a family dinner or to impress an old schoolmate.

But outfitting the family beautifully this season doesn't have to mean experiencing credit-card regret in January.

To start, make a budget rather than making a list of what you need — because if you've ever listened to a kid, you know that needs can get out of control very fast. “I need a PSP.” Right.

Next, go online to research and shop. You're sure to come up with some great buys for everyone. Some sellers offer deals that are only available online. In addition, surfing the web is an efficient way to find bargains.Once you get a feel for what's available on the web, then you're ready to hit brick-and-mortar stores.

Don't stick to the obvious places and don't pre-judge what you will find at discount retailers. Cheap and chic is a cliché because it's true. There are now fashionable looks that cost less than you think in places you'd least expect.

Steve & Barry's, for instance, not only stocks cheap two-fer T-shirts for men, but they also have wonderful outerwear, sweaters and jeans for women. A cool cardigan is no surprise at Target, but would you look there for a beautifully-constructed black wool coat with faux mink cuffs good enough for formal wear?

This brings us to quality. When buying something glamorous or festive, don't ruin the look by not paying attention to fabric and finish. An affordable fashion item need not look trashy. You're still paying good money for it so check that it's well-designed, the stitching is clean, the fabric finish looks authentic, not cheesy.

Finally, shop smart for the holidays by thinking ahead. Clothes that work beyond the season will ultimately be more economical. Instead of reindeer sweaters and Santa ties, incorporate touches like velvet, shine or red into fashion purchases. They're festive, yet still work in the family's wardrobe long after the last bit of tinsel is stored away.

Some great resources for affordable, stylish clothes this holiday:

  • H&M
  • Target
  • Vintage stores
  • Local charity stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army
  • Daffy's
  • Children's Place
  • Old Navy
  • Steve & Barry's
  • Macy's - sale racks
  • The GAP - sales
  • Marshall's
  • Forever 21
  • Payless
  • Walgreens - Pure Allure jewelry

What you saw on TODAY:

The Millers
eBay Black velvet jacket- $40eBay lavender button shirt - $15.99 Pin stripe pants - $24.99 PayLess Black shoes with silver buckle - $10 Total - $90.98

Abaete for Payless black and gold pumps - $25H&M Black dress - $39.90 Isaac Mizrahi brown fur stole from Target - $24.99 H&M Gold hoop earrings - $3.90 Total = $94.78

Daughter (three years)
Little Bitty black dress and coat from Daffy's- $23.99 PayLess black shoes - $12.99 PayLess Pink Socks - $5.99 Total = $42.97

The Vitelli's
Poeta Moda sweater from Filene's Basement- $17.22 Izod White Shirt - $14.22 Kenneth Cole Beige Pants - $29.99 Brown shoes - $34.00 Total = $94.66

Belle De Jour black and white wrap dress from Macy's - $35Metro 7 shoes - $11Pure Allure Heart necklace - $19.99 Pure Allure Diamond studs - $3.99 Forever 21 Faux Croc Clutch - $14.80 Total = $84.78

Daughter (13 years)
Report silver flats FROM MACY'S- $25Sugar Tart gray & maroon tunic from Macy's - $32.99 52 Weekends gray leggings from Macy's - $24.99 Forever 21 grey cami - $5.80 Total = $88.78

Son (three years)
Greendog grey zip up sweater from Macy's - $16Greendog cream turtleneck from Macy's - $8.98 Polo by Ralph Lauren khaki pants from Macy's - $17.50 Payless brown shoes - $9.99 Total: $52.74

The Derienzo's
Steve & Barry pea coat - $14.98 Merona gray zip up from Target - $34.99 Mossimo jeans from Target - $24.99 Steve & Barry boots - $14.98 Total - $89.94

Metro 7 dark brown faux fur vest- $30Steve & Barry multi-colored sweater $14.98 Steve & Barry Jeans - $10.98 Metro 7 Suede boots - $27.96 Total - $82.92

Son (six years)
H&M stripped shirt - $14.90 Children's Place camouflage cargo pants - $19.50 Children's Place olive/cream sweater jacket - $29.50 PayLess beige mountain boots $19.99 Total = $83.89

Son (five years)
H&M red long sleeve t-shirt - $6.90 Children's Place navy cargo pants - $19.50 H&M navy/red/white vest - $24.90 PayLess navy tennis shoes $17.99 H&M navy hat - $5.90 Total = $75.19

Daughter (three years)
H&M pink long sleeve t-shirt - $6.90 H&M denim skirt - $16.90 H&M mint puffy vest - $24.90 H&M flower tights - $5.90 PayLess beige boots - $24.99 Total = $79.59

Daughter (three years)
H&M cream long sleeve t-shirt - 6.90 H&M pink bulky sweater - $16.90 H&M jeans - $12.90 H&M Pink/white pom pom hat $7.90 Payless White/pink sneakers - $16.99 Total = 61.59