November 24, 2017

5 Minutes: 10 Looks – Frugal Fashionista Accessories


Are you new to my Frugal Fashionista series?

Find out how I dress in designer clothes for less. Yes,  for mere pennies on the dollar, my outfits are less than $15, and did I mention…all second hand?

One of the key factors in developing a Frugal Fashionsta wardrobe is learning how to accessorize.

Learning how to accessorize is the best way to spruce up a tired wardrobe.

We all wear plain shirts. I guarantee that any of you reading can find a solid colored shirt for $1 at a yard sale (or a bit more at a thrift store), but my request of you this week is to try a simple experiment and make your basic top “pop”.

From many women, the complaint I hear over and over is, “Jen, I don’t know how to accessorize, please help.”

It’s so much easier than you think.

Don’t get caught up with whether your accessories are “right or wrong.” This week, throw any preconceived rules out the window and just experiment.

On a whim, I decided to spend five minutes and see what I could throw together to make a basic black top pop. I just grabbed. I didn’t think about it. As I type, I know there were so many other alternatives I could have chosen, but it was about showing you that it can be done quickly, with no stress.

Remember, just have fun.

I am not trying to “model” the best of the best. I didn’t worry about redoing my make up, photo shopping the pictures, fixing my hair, or even putting on different earrings because quite honestly, this is about a mom just trying to make it out the door looking presentable in minutes, and invite you along for the journey.

My goal is to take a shower and be all ready to go in less than a half hour. On those days that I don’t wash my hair (yes, I know there are some of you out there like me), I can get ready in five minutes, thanks to the wonders of accessories.

If all else fails with your outfit or hair, accessories that are pulled together well can make anything look great.

That’s what I want you to know. These ideas are for anyone.

The very top photo shows you what a great jacket can do. I could wear the same black T-shirt every day with a different jacket and you’d never know. Isn’t that zebra print fabulous?

Think outside your comfort zone. As a Frugal Fashionsta, you can dare to dress different, because you can afford to experiment. I would NEVER have thought of myself as a zebra print kind of girl, but I love that jacket. I’ve learned to experiment because some of my favorite outfits I would never have given a second thought on the rack.

One of the best ways I have gotten mileage out of my necklaces is by layering them.

Layering, with both accessories and clothes, is very popular right now. The first picture shows how you can mix a very traditional strand of pearls with some silver. I then made it quite contemporary by adding another one of my long necklaces. It totally looks like it’s one big necklace, but it’s not.

Since great necklaces are harder to find at yard sales, I will buy then new. You can find some great costume jewelry with coupon codes for under $10. Often, I’ll get a $1 yard sale necklace that pairs well with one I bought at the store. It’s a perfect fit.  On this post, I showed my two “ordinary brown necklaces” that when paired together, they look great.

Many of you are wary of trying big, chunky jewelry. You think it’s not “you.” Remember my “Red Carpet” earrings? I owned those for over six months before I wore them. I know the fear, but just try one new piece and live with it for a bit. Wear it. See how you feel. I think once you get over the “it’s not me” feeling, you’ll love it.

This is the first summer that I have worn scarves and I will never go back. This $1 yard sale pink scarf was really cute with a white Tshirt, but I the pink/black contrast works as well. Again, it’s just a simple scarf with a tied knot that took 20 seconds.

We’ve all done it, but with a few extra seconds, there’s no reason to leave the house in just a plain shirt. (Ok, have I just offended you all with that statement? ;))

Did you notice my big silver hoop earrings? My very adorable, conservative dressing mom saw them and mentioned, “I never would have thought that I would like big earrings like that, but I do. They look great on you.”

You never know until you try them.

Simple purple scarf.

Again 20 seconds, but now that I see the picture, I would have taken another 20 seconds to fix it a bit more. In the second picture, the scarf is too puffy for my liking, but the contrast of black and purple makes a sophisticated look. Add a black blazer and you are good for the office or a night on the town.

The transition from the classy purple to this casual plaid shows a great word picture.

Isn’t the difference in the two looks amazing? It’s still the same shirt, but with different scarves. You could wear this back to back days, and I doubt anyone would give it a thought that you were wearing the same shirt. The looks are that different.

And yes, the plaid scarf is tied two different ways, if you are trying to see.

$2 – Equador market, but I saw them lining the streets of NYC for only $5

(If you aren’t sure how to tie a scarf, I have two videos showing some of my favorite ideas. Be gentle, I need to reshoot these. :))

Accessories don’t stop at the shirt.

I’ve seen more and more cute scarves and head bands lately than ever before. I haven’t personally been daring to wear many in my hair, but I contemplate it regularly. 🙂

(Scarves and hat with matching mittens) – yard sale: $2)

Sticker shock hit me with the price of quality, leather belts. So, I am always thrilled when I find that at yard sales.

As my recent weight fluctuates, I tend to stray away from belts, but I shouldn’t. Belts give a polished look to outfits, as well as give this black shirt a pop of color.

So that is my five minute experiment. I put together ten looks, and that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all we can learn about accessorizing.

Give it a try. When women ask, “What should I wear,” I reply, “Just Shop your closet for starters.”

This week, have fun shopping your closet for your accessories experiment. Pull out things you haven’t worn for awhile. Can you mix and match necklaces? So many looks are being featured these days: beads and metals, varying colors, various patterns that I know you’ll find something fun.

I can’t wait to hear the new looks you put together as you learn how to accessorize.


  1. I’m just going to say what I know all of us are thinking – you are so stinkin cute everything looks good on you! 🙂 Have a great weekend.


  2. I picked up a black-and-white costume jewelry necklace at a thrift store — I’m surprised about how well it ties together a (black-white-beige-red) print skirt with a black t shirt.


  3. Jen, Thank you so much for all these wonderful ideas! Love, Bettie


  4. I really enjoy reading your ideas. Using the idea of “three” in dressing, I wear alot of vests. I live in Colorado so it is for warmth as well as appearance, but a vest changes a plain outfit into something a little more put together. Also you can open it or take it off if the temperature changes.


  5. I have a 15yo daughter, and one who enoys off-beat fashion. I have been trying different accessories, throwing separates together I never would have before, etc. I know that if she raises an eyebrow at me I have probably gone too far, and if she likes it, I am probably being cutting-edge 🙂


  6. This is such a good reminder for me – and it makes me want to go shopping – or thrifting! I have so few accessories (1 necklace and 3 scarves – I’m no fashionista) and I am tired of my same old plain tops and sweaters but I don’t have the energy to go shopping very often. I just really need to keep my eyes open for some better accessories when I do get out to shop – usually for the children!


  7. You look great and I think your hair looks beautiful tied up in the scarf. I think using accessories is a great way to better utilize the clothes in my closet….I get bored with the clothes I have and you’re so right that changing up the accessories and being a little bold can completely change the look of basics. I agree about the jacket too….especially in the colder weather I always say it’s “all about the coat and shoes!”…you could be wearing anything under a great coat and you instantly look put together with a great jacket and shoe or boot. As always, I love your frugal fashionista posts….so inspiring (as are you!)


  8. Love the frugal fashionista posts! Accessories make such a difference, and I like the scarves especially. Thank you for such an interesting post!


  9. Love it! Since the dress code recently changed where I work (less casual to more professional), I have been stumped with what to wear. It can be so depressing wearing black pants everyday — ugh! I love variety so I think accessories will be the key. I’m going to keep my eye out for some fun, inexpensive pieces to mix in. Thanks for the tip!


  10. I’m loving your fashionista posts! You’ve inspired me to make more of an effort in my appearance. I love your ideas for accessorizing 🙂


  11. This is great. I have two daughters, and we pass accessories around, which is a fun thing to share with them.

    That knit hat looks adorable (and warm) on you. Very “Annie Hall”.


  12. I’m trying your advice and shopping at the “rich” Goodwill in my area. Today I was successful. I got a black Vera Bradley purse in great condition and two Gap scarves for $5.09 including tax.


  13. Jen, I also love your Frugal Fashionista! 🙂 And you are too cute – I wish I looked half as good as you do in my clothes.
    Anyway, I’m attending a wedding this weekend and wondering what to wear. I have to shop my closet, as we can barely afford to go, much less eat while there (!) and so I’m just hoping for some inspiration on style. The mother of the groom is my cousin, she’s wearing chiffon pants (not sure of the top). My mom was going to wear velvet pants (black) and a flow-y top she likes, black & white graphic print (but she’s staying home now, some mysterious pain in her back). Either way, I am thinking pants since I’ll be corraling the small boys but maybe a skirt.
    Help! 🙂 And thanks for all your suggestions – they are always spot-on with the current trends.


  14. Jen,

    I have a couple of questions for you, but first I have to say I love your site! Anyway, where did you get your jacket in the first pic? Then when you mention Equador market for your scarves (which I am growing to love more thanks to you!) did you purchase those when you went there, or is there a website that we can order them off of because I love that plaid one?

    Thank you for your time!!


    Jen Reply:

    The jacket was from a consignment store and if you are going to Equador, you will find them EVERYwhere in the open air markets. Make sure you negotiate with them. They start high and always come down. I think I got them for about $3, if I remember and then some of the other styles, I bought multiples ones and got them for $1, but that was with a lot of walking away first and having them call me back. 😉


  15. Thanks Jen!

    Love this!! And like your first poster said “You look so stinkin cute in all of them” I agree!! You’ve certainly given me some new ideas–black and pink….I wouldn’t have thought of that–tomorrow that’s what I’m wearing!!!!


  16. OMG, I just stumbled on your blog and I love it. I am a thrift store Queen. That’s the only place I shop and everybody compliments me on my fashions. I found a real mink coat at my local goodwill for $8. I have been trying to teach my daughters to look at the labels and the garments themselves to see if it is good quality. Thanks for the tips.


  17. Good morning,

    I am new to your website and loved reading it. Thanks so much for all the tips, I am not a creative person and this gives me great ideas.

    Thank you



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