Today I’m going to create three very different looks from one dress.
Not to get toooo personal, but I was in a total style slump for a good chunk of college. I’ve always been enamored with style, even when I was little (voted best dressed in my middle school yearbook, nbd, greatest accomplishment of my life), but when I went to college, I was surrounded by wealth, designer handbags, and beautiful – expensive – fashion. Instead of using that as a source of inspiration, I got discouraged, and assumed I couldn’t afford to dress nicely. Even Nordstrom seemed unattainable, because I had no idea how to really bargain shop, or what key pieces to look for when shopping. I just gave up.
After making a slew of sad style choices, I kind of started to curb the bad habits when I went into the working world and discovered that J. Crew has amazing sales. I found a small handful of timeless pieces, and it set off a domino effect. What else could I find on sale? If I found good pieces at great prices, I could infinitely expand my wardrobe and actually look put-together and stylish. It was like I started to dig up the old me that had been suppressed by a financial insecurity.
Today, I feel like I’ve managed to find that balance between bargain finds and the occasional splurge. It’s helped me manage a reasonable shopping budget (and still pay my student loans), while looking good and feeling my best.
as for today’s outfits…
I found this dress* on Nordstrom.com, on sale for $27! That $27 has added multiple new outfits to my wardrobe; you can dress it up or down, with sneakers, flats, boots and heels. It’s like a polyester chameleon. Here are three quick ways you could style this dress (or a similar one), with things you probably already have in your closet.
The ambiguity in the title of this look stems from my inability to pin the proper time/place to wear it. In my mind, it is everywhere. I would wear this to work, on a date, getting coffee with friends, etc. Neutral booties, a pretty accessory and a feminine braid with waves make it a good transitional look; you could wear it to work and go straight to happy hour (in a perfect world where you have awesome plans after work).
I wear converse with basically everything, so finding a dress that works with them was exciting! I love dresses, I love sneakers, and when those two worlds collide I am a very happy girl. A messy pony was less of a style choice and more of a ‘being realistic with myself’ choice.
This last look is the fanciest, and according to my boyfriend, “should only be worn at the races.” Noted. However, if you find yourself getting lunch on a yacht (first of all, explain how because this is my life goal), this might be an appropriate outfit. Or for just an ordinary Sunday brunch if you’re feeling fabulous and want to throw on a hat. That’s probably what’s going to happen for me.
The moral of the story: don’t get discouraged by price tags and labels. It is not only possible, but also easy, to dress well on an ordinary budget. Choose versatile pieces that you know will work with a number of things you already own. Find timeless classics that you know will last you more than a few seasons. Don’t be intimidated by higher end stores like Nordstrom and J. Crew, because they have sales all the time that will put you in a price range comparable to F21, H&M, etc.
*Last note, that dress comes in a number of prints and colors, so keep an eye out for when they go on sale. It’s super versatile and reasonably priced.