Today’s interview is one that I’ve been excited to share for a while. I first heard of Lilliana Vazquez from the beautiful Jean, and absolutely loved her style. A commenter later suggested her for an interview, and thus I reached out to Lilliana, who was kind enough to spend almost an hour on the phone with me while I furiously transcribed our conversation. She was fascinating to speak with, and her philosophy on shopping and style is definitely worth a read. I know you’ll really enjoy getting to know her – I certainly did! I’d like to note here that I did make some edits to the below to make it “read” more easily, but tried to keep everything intact and as close to the original as possible. Enjoy!
Hi. I’m Lilliana and I live in Philadelphia. I kind of do two things full time. I work on a show called New York Live – it airs on NBC 4 in New York – where I’m a host and correspondent. On it, I cover anything in the lifestyle space – food, fashion, entertainment, Broadway, anything cool happening in New York. That’s what I do most of the week. The second part of what I do is Cheap Chicas. That encompasses not just the blog, but a ton of stuff like my appearances on TV on shows like Nate Berkus and Anderson Cooper, etc.
I think you have an amazing job. Can you speak more about it and share how you got there?
I’ve been working on television for most of my adult life. I first started on radio in college – and then when I went to New York, I ended up at a TV station called NYC TV – high end public television. Most people start with small channels, in small markets. I started there and then also did a ton of general hosting stuff for web videos, etc. After that I moved to Philadelphia, and started working for the local affiliate here.
I am on TV because it is my background and it is my profession. I think something that a lot of people don’t know, is that you don’t just show up for TV and call yourself a style and media expert . Just because you have a blog and maybe call yourself “expert” on what you write about, it doesn’t mean that you’re an actual expert and that you’re good on TV. And just because you do YouTube videos at home, doesn’t mean that you are going to be good in front of a live audience in front of 250 people. You don’t know where to look, how to talk, etc.
TV came first for me. I graduated college in 2002 and during that time had already produced hours and hours of radio programming. It wasn’t an easy journey – I didn’t just write a blog and then get on TV. The majority of my experience has lead me here.
When did you first start paying more attention to really getting a good deal on clothes? Was there ever a period where you just spent, spent, spent?
No. I’ve always been really really frugal. Growing up it’s not like we didn’t have anything – but you know, we didn’t have endless amounts of money to shop at the mall with. So for me, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, department store clearance sales – that’s where I grew up shopping. And so for me that’s always been a way of life. For me that philosophy applies to everything. I will spend weeks finding the best rate for a hotel in Miami – I deal hunt for everything in my life.
What % of items do you buy on full price now vs. sale? What are those items?
Oh wow, that’s a question. Well, I did buy a pair of Steve Madden boots on full price and the only reason I bought them was that I had tried them on early fall, in August, and I just kept trying to find versions on sale. I went through two pairs of boots trying to get the same look and feel and comfort level. So I went back and bought them. But it was after a ton of research. That was the only full price item I’ve bought in a while. Sometimes I buy J.Crew full price. I’m really petite and sometimes they have great sales – but rarely do the super cool statement J.Crew pieces go on sale and never to the point where they are on sale, and in my size. For J.Crew I end up paying either full price or 20% off on sale. There are never petites in the clearance section.
What are your favorite and most treasured items in your wardrobe?
At the moment, my absolute baby is a Celine luggage tote that I treated myself to. That was a present to myself. I bought it used and bought it off of somebody who had multiple totes and didn’t want this color. So I didn’t even pay full price for it. I felt like it was classic enough and not trendy.
I don’t buy trendy expensive things, ever. If it’s expensive it has to be classic and I want to wear it ten years from now and give it to my kid when I have them. This tote is really functional for me. I’m obsessed with it and wear it all the time.
I also have a pair of orange patent Prada shoes that I bought at Nordstrom Rack – I was on my way to the airport in Los Angeles, saw a Rack and did a 180 and went to it. It makes my outfits look so much better, and I got them for $200. I tend to buy everything on eBay or at consignment, and I take advantage of friends who work at high end stores (and their employee discount)!
What items would you like to get one day? When do you feel comfortable splurging?
I have a couple Chanel bags for me that are really classic. There’s another one that I’ve been wanting. If my savings are okay, and my 401k contributions are where I am, if I feel that my financial position is in place, my goals are met, etc then I will splurge. It is physically hard though, for me to throw down $2500 for an item. To me an experience is worth so much more than a designer item. I am more than happy to spend money on travel and vacation…you actually enjoy your time there.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Lilliana today as much as I did – her amazing background, great style and utter honesty makes for such a fantastic interview subject and I am so happy to be able to share our chat with you. Check back tomorrow for some of her thoughts around money management, where to splurge vs save, and more – and in the meanwhile, check out Cheap Chicas, here.