SWF seeks sassy clothes
"I have a bit of a fashion dilemma. I'm an unemployed college student looking to update my wardrobe from mostly jeans and cartoon character tees to something a little more sophistcated/grown-up, but still comfortable and reasonably casual. Do such things exist?"
Claire, we feel your pain! It seems so recent that we were in your shoes, struggling to make the grade both in the classroom and the fashion arena! Never fear--it's possible to mature your fashion style without breaking the bank.
The trick to dressing both stylishly and cheaply is to stick with basic pieces that can be interchanged with many other pieces. For example, I just purchased a black pencil skirt from the clearance rack of that little French boutique, Le Target, for only $9. What a steal!
The first thing any well-dressed girl needs is a little black dress. You can dress it up with a sweet sweater and pointy-toed shoes, or you can dress it down by wearing a jean jacket and casual shoes. Take a look at what Ze French Boutique has to offer.
The next key item this season is a pair of black boots. A word of warning, though: stay away from trendy details like studs, buckles, or ruched-style boots. For example, these boots are nice and all, but will you really want to wear them next season? I give this style five months before it hopefully dies a quick death at the hands of more feminine trends. You want your boots (and any shoes, really) to be classy. You shouldn't be able to tell in what year you purchased an item. It's fun to wear trendy things, but it's a bummer for your wallet if you have to constantly keep updating.
I love these boots! I wear them with everything-skirts, slacks, jeans, and denim trousers. Available at Le Target.
A sassy spinoff of a classic style. Wear with jeans or trousers. Available at Bakers.
Also available through Bakers--but unless you're willing to drop $60 every time a new style comes out, this is not the boot for you. The badass-style studwork combined with a jeweled buckle is the sure sign of fashion adolescence. This boot doesn't know what it wants to be, and the designer doesn't know either. STAY AWAY.
Now that you've got your feet under control, let's turn to your bod. How about a nice pair of denim trousers? I personally adore The Editor Denim Pant, available through Express. In my experience these are the some of the classiest and best-fitting pants I've ever bought. They give you an exellent clean line, and are definitely worth every penny. They're a worthwhile splurge and surprisingly comfortable to boot!
You may find these pants too expensive for your taste. Never fear-there are knockoffs everywhere. In my experience, however, pants that fit correctly are one in a million. I have yet to regret spending good money on a pair of pants that hug me in the right places.
Tops, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen. Stick with solid colors and clean lines, like This sweater. It can go with a wide variety of things. Versatility is key when you're on a budget. Don't waste your time on pieces with limited matching potential, it's not worth it at your stage in life!
In the arsenal of every well-dressed woman is a great bag. Start with a basic black bag, but feel free to branch out and try something new. This green number is not likely to go out of style anytime soon since it's more of a vintage look.
If you want to save money, you have to be willing to be a browsing shopper. Check the clearance racks. It may seem like a futile effort at first, but you will find some gems!
Whatever you do, don't feel like you have to go out and buy everything at once. Changing your fashion style is a conscious choice that takes place over time. View it as a fun and ongoing process instead of a one-time dramatic event. Maybe start with a new pair of pants. Then later, progress to boots and a sweater. Still later, accessorize the outfit with a nice bag and a killer pair of earrings. I always used to ask for gift certificates for my birthday and Christmas. Everyone knows college students are poor, so my friends and family were always happy to comply.