Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cheap Chic

Finds for under $40
A fabulous new fall look for under $40
As a single mother with four tech monster children, once I’ve paid my phone and broadband bills I rarely have any money left over to spend on myself. Unfortunately, given my chronic lack of funds, when it comes to fashion, I’m a brand snob who only wants the best. Fortunately, one of my most formidable superpowers is an uncanny ability to create something from almost nothing. 

My mission: find five distinct outfits that could fit in a backpack (I’m headed to New York in a couple of weeks, and I like to travel light).
Cute but conservative

The rules: 
  1. The clothes had to be washable.
  2. They had to make me feel like a comfortable cross between Sailor Moon and Condoleeza Rice—in my life, I routinely transition from soccer field to boardroom with just minutes to spare.
  3. They had to meet a $40 budget.  
Yes, I will be running this meeting!
Yep, you heard me. I had exactly $40 to spend clothes for myself this fall. I started with one piece—a funky black and pink BCBG Max Azria knit poncho/skirt I inherited from a friend who has lots more money than me and amazing taste in clothes (cheap chic fashion tip number one: never turn down your friends’ hand-me-downs!) 

Three hours later, I had assembled the following:
  1. Black leather Nine West knee high boots, Deseret Industries, $5.00
  2. Hot pink Betsey Johnson tights, Ross, $5.99 (also included black herringbone patterned tights, not pictured)
  3. Pink polka dot Italian scarf, Ross, $3.99
  4. Adrienne Vittadini black scoop neck sleeveless dress/jumper, Ross, $13.99 (clearance)
  5. Black and white striped elbow length Talbots t-shirt, Savers, $2.39 (I used my 20 percent off coupon when I recycled a bag of clothes).
  6. Pink Ralph Lauren short-sleeved cardigan, Savers, $4.79
  7. Channeling my inner Sailor Moon
  8. Fun crocheted necklace, yard sale, 25 cents

Grand total: $36.40. With a long sleeved black t-shirt and a pair of black Ann Taylor slacks I already own, I am totally set for the Big Apple—and beyond!

Skirt or poncho? You decide!
The fun thing about these pieces is that they can go from casual to dressy, from edgy to conservative, depending on how I combine them. And they illustrate why I shop almost exclusively at thrift and consignment stores—for big brand fashions at budget prices, you are not going to beat a second-hand shop.

But this Thursday, I won’t be wearing any of these outfits. I’ll be all dolled up in a little white dress (for the 
second time) as I sign copies of Little White Dress: Women Explore the Myth and Meaning of Wedding Dresses. Proceeds benefit the Boise Valley chapter of Dress for Success. See for more details about how your second-hand clothes can give women a chance at a first-class life. Happy fall shopping, y’all!