A thrifty Mother's Day gift: Treat Mom to personal style makeover

Every year, I struggle with finding the perfect Mother's Day gift. What material object could be worthy of showing appreciation to my heroine? (That's her on the right of the photo.)

After I began pondering my sappy dilemma, I got to thinking about the way personal style can reflect the inner strength and confidence so many pass onto their college-aged daughters and sons. But maybe your mom is still sporting some mom jeans with a look that overlooks her fabulous self.

A former personal shopper at Nordstrom, my mom, Gina Dalessandro, is a style icon of mine. Now she's an owner of a small business, and while she still looks fierce, she has little time for indulging her style and beauty desires.

So here's a few tips on how you can force your mom to take some time for herself and if needed, punch up her personal style this Mother's Day on a reasonable budget.

CONSULT THE PROS
I mentioned my mom was a personal shopper; those kinds of services can be found at stores such as Nordstrom, Macy's, Bloomingdale's and J.Crew. These experts shop their stories for the pieces you request and take the hassle out of scouring the racks. The best part? It's almost always complimentary!

If your mom's needs you go beyond a simple shopping trip, try enlisting a professional style consultant. Think What Not to Wear, but hopefully not so brutal. Darcey Howard runs Lifestyled, a fashion consulting business, with locations in New York and Seattle. In an interview with Money College, Howard describe the range of her services from "individuals in-home consultations" to "virtual programs" conducted by phone, e-mail or Skype. Howard's services begin at $300, but her DVD, "Personal Branding Through Appearance", takes your through the steps of program and can be purchased for under $30.

Howard offered Money College readers three tips for awakening mom's style:
  • Organize her closet by color from light to dark -- Identify the three prominent colors (excluding gray, black and white) and you've got the basis for Mom's color palette.
  • Find a color trend that would work with your mom's palette and purchase three different accent pieces or accessories in that color. This is the easiest way to "breathe life into a tired wardrobe" said Howard.
  • Help your mom find her "inner hottie" -- Style doesn't stop with clothes, said Howard, so treat Mom to a mani/pedi or take her for a makeup consultation.
WAKE UP STYLE WITH MAKEUP
If your mom still only thinks of Mac as a kind of computer, it may be time to take her in for a MAC Cosmetics consultation, available at stand-alone stores or in department stores. Both online and in-person, their make-up artists answer questions and assist you in putting together your look. Consultations are free and although common courtesy says you should buy at least one product, it's not required. During a consultation, artists will describe how to use the products and even provide mock-ups like these of your new look.

HAIR-DO!
To tame your mom's tresses, try supporting your fellow students studying cosmetology. These students have to fulfill a certain number of hours in the field cutting hair and thus may are already skilled while still in training. Due to their student status, their visionary haircut will come at only a small fee to you. At the Aveda Institute Chicago, you can get a hair cut for as low as $14.

SKIN DEEP

They say beauty is skin deep so consider indulging your mom in a spa day. These are usually pricey purchases, but many spas offer Mother's Day specials and discounts. SenSpa in San Francisco offers complimentary makeovers and aromatherapy appointments for the holiday. If you can't find a deal to fit your budget, purchase a gift card from SpaFinder. This option allows you to still treat Mom to a spa treatment, but helps you stay within your price point.

IN HER HONOR
If your mom is already looking sexy fierce, consider making a donation in your mom's honor to non-profit organizations like Chicago's Bottomless Closet which provides professional wardrobes to women on welfare interviewing for jobs or to the worldwide Dress for Success with a similar mission. I think I know which one of these ideas I'll be getting for my stylish mom.

Style and fashion really not your mom's thing? Check out WalletPop's other Mother's Day gift suggestions.

Clothes to Free, appearing Thursdays, is a weekly fashion-on-a-budget column by Money College blogger Alysse Dalessandro. Send Alysse column tips at MoneyCollege@walletpop.com

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