I was born and raised on deal shopping. Most of my childhood was spent at Thrift stores, garage sales and clearance racks in search of low cost high style. My mom, who happens to be one of the most stylish women I know, was a real pro and I have to thank her for teaching me her ways. She’s known to have expensive taste but knew how to translate that on a budget. Of course in certain seasons of life like many other families, this budget buying lifestyle was generally out of necessity rather than preference. Looking back I wasn’t able to appreciate it, wishing I could go on shopping sprees in fancy department stores and buy the latest and greatest instead of waiting for it to hit the sale rack, or find it at a resale store a year or two later after somebody else wore it.
Fast forward to today, and I am grateful for this upbringing. I’m glad that I learned that Style can’t be bought. Style is about conveying on the outside, what is on the inside. It’s about cultivating an authenticity in the way that you see the world, how you see and express yourself and the creative ways that you make the most of what you have. Though money helps, its not about how much you have but what you do with it. Since I’ve been on my own I have gone through many economical phases. I remember when shopping at Ross or F21 was a splurge. I also remember a short phase when I was in a pinch and needed something to wear for an event, I made a quick stop at Barney’s and picked up a designer dress. Those days are in the rearview. These days I live somewhere in the middle… conscious of my spending, with the very occasional splurge on something that is special, one of a kind or built to last. But, ninety-five percent of the time you will still find me at the sale rack, looking for ways to stretch my dollar. It’s in my blood.
These days however, there are retailers such as Forever 21, H&M, Old Navy or Target that make current fashion affordable before it ever hits the clearance rack. Last weekend I was out and about searching for some fall clothes for London that would fit her growing little bod. Of course I had to swing by Forever 21 just to overwhelm myself with a million options. That’s a challenge popped up in my brain “I wonder if I could put 5 fall looks together for $100″, and I think I might of said out loud “oh you bet I can”. With a baby in tow I started to quickly rummage through clothes looking for complimentary pieces that could mix and match. This is the key in buying on a budget: find classic items that maximize your options.
Ok, so technically I went over my $100 limit by fifteen extra dollars in the store. However, I found 7 classic and yet on-trend pieces in a color pallet that I was able to mix and match into about 15 different combinations, going 10 looks beyond my original expectation; therefore I don’t feel so bad about going a little over budget : ). This being said, when I went on forever21.com to find the same items I bought in the store, I was able to find most but not all the exact pieces I purchased. For example, the incredible faux leather jacket that I found was $15 in store!!! It hardly looks faux, I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was definitely the deal of the day, however it is no where to be found online, so I replaced it with another similar jacket, however it costs $24.80, putting me an additional $10 over (sorry, so much math in this paragraph.) So the grand total of the pieces and prices you see below is $126.50 (not including tax).
Here is the breakdown according to this detailed image above:
1. FAUX LEATHER TRIM MAXI SKIRT – PURCHASE AT FOREVER 21 $24.50
2. PEACE LOVE & ROCK N ROLL BURN OUT T – (unfortunately this exact t-shirt is no longer available online, find a similar t-shirt great for layering here) PURCHASE AT FOREVER 21 $10
3. BOHO BABE CARDIGAN – Also a little different then the original that I bought, but very similar. PURCHASE AT FOREVER 21 $19.80
4. CLASSIC SLIM DENIM JEANS - PURCHASE AT FOREVER 21 $7.80
5. DESERT PLAID SHIRT – PURCHASE AT FOREVER 21 $19.80
6. STREET CHIC MOTO JACKET- PURCHASE AT FOREVER 21 $24.80
7. BE SEEN FAUX LEATHER LEGGINGS- PURCHASE AT FOREVER 21 $19.80
On with the show! As I mentioned before, here are 15 combinations of these seven fall staples. Of course there will be repetition, but with some mixing and matching, and a few different easy accessories, each look stands on it’s own. All of these pieces would likely be able to work effortlessly with some of your own existing pieces from previous seasons.
So without further ado, here are the looks!
LOOK 1: CLASSIC ROCK 1 of 16
This look is just the right combo of classic and rock, and who doesn't love Classic rock? Clapton anyone? I paired these clean dark denim slim jeans, cuffed with a loose fitting white rock T. Notice the slight half tuck to give a bit of attention to the waistline keeping it casual but shapely. Then I layered this perfect faux leather jacket on to stay warm, and yet... cool.
TIP: When wearing a prominent leather piece of clothing (i.e. leather jacket) try a patterned flat or pump instead of a leather boot in the same color. Of course I chose leopard!
LOOK 2: PEACE LOVE AND LAYER 2 of 16
With this 2nd look, I did a simple switcheroo, I ditched the jacket, and put the red plaid shirt the first layer, I brought back the Rocker-T and slipped it over the button down. I love the pop of color beneath the t-shirt with the collar also popping over the neckline. Notice how the black stripe in the button down compliments the lettering of the t-shirt. Don't forget to give your sleeves a little roll or two.
TIP: When pairing a longer looser fit t-shirt over a button down, avoid looking sloppy or disproportionate by tying a little side knot just above hip level. Keep that underneath layer untucked for a fresh day look!
LOOK 3: BUTTONED UP 3 of 16
If you are looking for a casual yet more tailored look, you can forget about the t-shirt and keep that button down. Except this time, button it all the way up, and tuck it in nice and tidy into the classic slim jean. I found this colorful beaded belt in my closet with a nice saddle tan leather. I had a pair of short boots from last season that seemed to compliment the red tones in the shirt and leather in the belt. I kept the small cuff at the bottom of the jeans, as well as the roll in the sleeves. I also love my turquoise ring with this top, a very complimentary yet subtle color combo.
TIP: When accessorizing with this look, consider a bold black wool hat. The hat literally tops off the look and gives it originality. Not to mention, you will be right on trend, and you won't have to do your hair... BONUS!
LOOK 4: COZY PLAID 4 of 16
This look feels just right for a chilly fall day. Similar to the last look, just untuck, unbutton a few of the bottom buttons and knot up the shirt into a tie. Unroll the sleeves and button the cuffs. I found this cozy cardi at Forever 21 and never wanted to take it off ever again. Snuggle into this sweater and pull up the arms a bit, allowing the plaid sleeves to pop out. Oh yeah, no hat on this one.
TIP: To keep this look from looking too librarian (which is a sweet look) put on a pair of ankle boots with a little bit of edge. I find these black ones with silver studs and a small stack heal, add just a touch of rock.
LOOK 5: TOO COOL FOR LUNCH 5 of 16
My go-to look for a fall lunch date with the girls. Keeping it laid back with the plaid button down untucked, and not to mention comfortable after eating one too many french fries. Throw back on the leather jacket to tie the look together and keep it modern and tailored.
TIP: Quickest easiest way I know to change up a look, wear a bold pair of sunglasses! If the sun is still out in your neck of the woods, step outside of your comfort zone and into a pair of dramatic inexpensive sunnies for insta-style!
LOOK 6: Tee Skirts 6 of 16
Skirts aren't reserved just for church and dressy occasions. When I found this black maxi skirt on the rack I knew it had infinite potential and possibilities. From a Sunday sermon to a rock show on a Saturday night, this updated classic scores high in versatility. In this ensemble, I tucked in the graphic T, allowing the leather waistband detail to shine!
TIP: Remember that old rule about not pairing black and brown in the same outfit? You can go ahead and throw it away! I decided to pair these brown peep toe booties (super on trend for fall) with this black and white look and it mixes things up in a fresh unexpected way that works! You can try it too!
LOOK 7: T.J. Maxi 7 of 16
I'm calling this look T.J. Maxi... as in T-shirt, Jacket and Maxi skirt. At first I wondered if it would be a little over the top to wear a black leather coat with a black skirt with the leather waistband. When in doubt, just try it on, you may be pleasantly surprised! I know I was, this happens to be one of my favorite combos and will be sure to wear it often this Fall! The skirt keeps the look soft and sweet, while the jacket makes it just tough enough. The rock T offers contrast to break it up.
TIP: When opting for a jacket and a dress, try wearing your hair up in simple, messy bun or braid. Why? Because with your hair out of the way, you can reveal a large pair of hoop earrings! My go-to accessory since the 8th grade. They just work! Throw a simple necklace on with some length. Key word, simple.
LOOK 8: LADY IN PLAID 8 of 16
There's nothing complex about this look. Keep it simple, no layers. Just the bold plaid red button down tucked into the Maxi skirt. I swapped out my silver hoops for an even larger pair of Gold ones that could double as hula hoops, and play off of the leopard flats. This combo isn't rocket science, it's common sense.
Tip: Notice the silver bracelet... Mixing metallics is all the rage, and keeps things interesting! Try out a couple options, going with a bold gold ring on the right hand? perhaps a silver watch on the. When it comes to jewelry and accessories, I usually adopt the less is more mentality... but you never know until you try!
LOOK 9: MAXI COZY 9 of 16
Transitioning from the last outfit to this look couldn't be easier. Roll down the sleeves and button the cuffs, then snuggle into your cardigan. It's amazing how quickly throwing on a sweater, a pair of sunnies and a top knot can transform you into an entirely different vibe and look. The cozy texture plays off of the plaid of the button down tucked into the slim waistline of the flowy long skirt.
TIP: When layering with bulky sweaters , particularly with skirts and dresses, make sure that your body doesn't get lost! Create definition in the waistline by keeping the shirt tucked in! If you have a skirt that doesn't have a strong waist, you can belt it.
LOOK 10: COMFY COOL 10 of 16
Another subtle change that makes a big difference. Switch out the button down for the white graphic T shirt. Instead this time, knot the T-shirt to the side and then wear the cardigan with the sleeves bunched up. Keep the leopard flats on your feet and your hair on top of your head to elongate your look. This is the perfect opportunity to wear a bracelet. This has a more casual comfortable vibe, but yet is still very style conscious!
TIP: Try a bright white pair of Sunglasses to brighten your look. See how this pair makes the T-shirt pop! These are currently my faves.
LOOK 11: GRUNGY CHIC 11 of 16
We're really changing things up now! May I introduce the perfect legging for fall! If you aren't ready to roll full steam ahead into leather pants, these are for you. I tried these on and found the faux leather leg details to be smartly placed and flattering. Also, they have ankle zippers, which are always a bonus in my book. This look is great for those not too hot, not too cold fall days. Wear your button down open as a lightweight layer to keep your arms warm from the breeze. Another look I was pleasantly surprised by! Channel your inner 90's grunge rocker, just less grungy.
TIP: When wearing leggings, check out your backside? Make sure that they aren't paper thin or see through, that the fit is flattering, or that you have a top long enough to cover your fanny, literally.
LOOK 12: SHADES OF GREY 12 of 16
Let your hair down, it's starting to get a bit chilly out there. Replace your button down jacket with the warmth of the cardigan. Rummage through your closet for a scarf to wrap around your neck to keep it warm and fashionable. I opted for an old lightweight grey infinity scarf and it changes the whole thing. Really it's that easy!
TIP: Before you dive into your chunky yarn scarves, find lightweight options in neutral shades like grey, tan or creme to transition just about any look. It's a simple piece that will be both practical and pretty.
LOOK 13: ZIPPERS AND BOOTS 13 of 16
Look who's back! Our trusty plaid pal! Pair it as a shirt underneath the Cardigan, and roll the sleeves slightly together. Paired with the faux leather insert leggings and ankle booties, this is just the right look and feel for running errands. Find a longer silver necklace to add a little pizazz to the ensemble.
TIP: When you have a zip detail on your pant leg, feel free to unzip it a bit! A fun detail to play around with when wearing a bootie that comes higher up on the ankle!
LOOK 14: BELTED CARDI 14 of 16
There is nothing over the top about this look, just another creative way to rock the Cardi. Overlap the cardigan, or button it up and then simply wrap a skinny belt around your waist to give definition. I paired this with the classic dark denim slim jean and ankle bootie. Pop the plaid collar out for a bit of color around the face!
TIP: The cuffed jean look is still happening for fall! However, try rolling just a hems lengths up twice for a cute little cuff. This look is great with booties, flats or heels! Go ahead, show a little ankle!
LOOK 15: MMMMONOCHROMATIC! 15 of 16
Last but least, back to the skirt and jacket! Another trend that I am loving this fall is the monochromatic look! Zip up that black faux leather jacket as a top of it's own (I still wear a layer beneath to stay warm) and pair it with the long black skirt for a chic fashion forward look for fall. Another very subtle change that has quite a bit of impact.
TIP: Monochromatic looks can help to elongate your frame! Find separate pieces with different textures and prints in the same color pallet for a subtle yet sophisticated presence! Just an idea :)
WOOHOO! 16 of 16
Woohoo! We did a lot with a little, and there are probably even more possibilities! Give it a try for yourself !
Happy Fall Shopping!