November 24, 2017

One Dress, Wear It Three Ways: Frugal Fashionista


Are you familiar with my Frugal Fashionista Looks for Less series? If not, scan the archives and join me as I show you Designer Outfits for Pennies on the Dollar. Did I mention that 90% of the items are second hand? That’s a Frugal Fashionista at its finest.

frugal fashion thrift store blogThis past month, the typical “clothes switch” began as I put away some summer clothes, and brought out the snugly long sleeves.  One little, lonely, sleeveless dress caught my eye as I realized I hadn’t worn it the whole summer season.  Poor thing, it had been neglected and that situation needed to change before I packed it away once again.

As I put it on, the Frugal Fashionista creative side took over as I thought through just how many looks for less this one $2 yard sale dress could sport.  So often we look in our closet and ask “What Should I Wear?” bound and determined there’s nothing there.  Trust me. I actually thought this as I was preparing for a conference in Chicago. I kept hearing all the people planning their attire. The majority of attendees were buying new clothes for the trip, but I remembered my mantra in a previous post that encouraged “shop my closet and get creative.”  So, I did just that and saved my money for some great accent pieces and accessories to highlight my core wardrobe this holiday season.

This post should really be title “One Dress, Four Looks,” but I forgot to take a picture of the original dress – an elegant, silverish dress that can be perfect for a fancy night on the town or dressed down like these first few looks. To give you an idea of what it would look like strapless, I took the above one in my hotel room. The strapless sleeves on this dress are adjustable, similar to a bra strap, so that I can make it longer or shorter. That’s a nice little feature to have since this would be way too short for my liking.

different ways to tie a scarf

This first look is a trendy, sporty, business casual.  Honestly, anything can look great if you have either a great pair of tall boots or a scarf. It’s even better when you have both for one frugal, yet fabulous look.

I’m going to have to admit that I exceeded my typical $15 guarantee, but I guess once winter hits, and a few more layers are necessary, I get an extra $5. J

  • Silver Dress – $2 yard sale (last year)
  • The long black shirt/jacket was a new “splurge” at our local Junior League thrift store – $6=
  • The leggings were actually new from TJ Maxx for only $6. I bought two pair in both black and gray.
  • These awesome Chinese Laundry brand boots were from Goodwill – $4 (last year).
  • The aqua scarf was incredibly inexpensive since I purchased it in Ecuador (so that price doesn’t count), but you can find cheap, yet gorgeous, scarves everywhere for $3-10.

Many looks this fall show boots, then skin, then leggings (as in the second picture above). If you want to give a slimmer appearance, don’t break up the line of sight unless you are going for a real fun, casual look. Look at the difference between the first and second pictures above  – there’s a noticeable difference.

ann taylor loft deals

Since accessorizing can give you looks for less by just changing out a few things, this second outfit (taken really late at night…sorry) shows the ease of transforming a look simply by adding a belt and replacing the scarf with a long necklace. Now, this is a simple necklace, but it would be much more dramatic with a few layers of silver necklaces.

This last look for less shows just how elegant a Frugal Fashionista outfit can be for under $10. By adding a shawl and a necklace as a statement piece, it completely alters the casual look to something we can wear for a fancy evening.

The triple strand necklace was a $5 Black Friday steal from two years ago, while the shawl was a $2 yard sale treasure. Pair that with the $2 dress and some $1 yard sale pumps, the total comes to a whopping $10.

how to tie a scarfAnd this picture is just to let you know I WILL do another “How to Tie a Scarf” post or video. This shows you how difficult it is for me to take any of these pictures in peace. Our dog actually was ON TOP of the picnic table trying to get some attention from me. 🙂


  1. Is there a “trick” to balancing the necessary boldness of a statement piece with size, for those of us who are small? I’m very tiny (typically under 100 lbs.), so most “statement necklaces” and such are so bulky as to be overwhelming to my frame. (And normally, I’d stick with a belt as my go-to accessory, but at almost 7 mos. pregnant, that doesn’t really work. 😉 )


    Kerry D. Reply:

    @Rachel R., I think you totally are on track–a bold statement for your outfit would be scaled down a bit, still bold in proportion. Yay!


  2. I LOVE this! I learned this lesson my senior year of high school when my best friend and I, accidentally, bought the EXACT same dress to wear to “Senior Night” on our trip to Disney World as a graduating class. I was 5’7″ about 105 pounds and she was 5’10” about 145-150. I wore my black dress with a white shirt under it and sported bare legs and dress sandals with a heel and she wore hers with a silver shirt under it with black stockings and chunkier shoes. We both wore our dresses beautifully and it was quite fun rocking two VERY different styles of the same dress. 🙂 I’ve never looked at “core wardrobe pieces” the same since then! 🙂


  3. Wow! Fabulous! I think my favorite look is the first one with the aqua scarf with the leggings showing a little skin on the legs. Very cute!


  4. I love your frugal fashionista posts! Gives me tons of ideas, and you look great in anything, by the way! I got 2 adorable dresses on clearance (final sale) + an additional 30% off today from Ann Taylor Loft. So, I ended up paying about $6 each for 3 dresses. They are all sleeveless, but I want to wear them now!! So, I am going to take your ideas and put them with a cardigan and leggings… one of them is a bit baggier than I like, so I’ll add a belt.

    Thanks!!! Keep it coming.


  5. Those all look soooo good! I agree a scarf and boots are great acccessories.
    I’m so disappointed I didn’t get to talk with you at Relevant. I loved your sweet spirit!!


  6. hmm… did you get a good deal on your boots? I’m on a mission now to find some cute boots that won’t break the bank.


  7. Gorgeous! Love the dress and the boots! Nice how versatile it is! Good for you!


  8. Wow, another great frugal fashion post. You look fabulous. Thanks for giving us great ideas. I am now on a quest for cool looking boots and scarfs.


  9. Tina Konegan says:

    I love all the different looks one dress can have! Love it !!


  10. Love the looks! I’ve become a HUGE fan of scarves this season – sometimes, I just don’t want a necklace!! I’m usually drawn to turtlenecks, however, I’m trying to get away from those as well, so a scarf is a great alternative to both necklaces and turtlenecks!

    Love the dog, too – we have 2 black labs and it’s nearly impossible to take any kind of picture w/o one of them in it!


  11. Great ideas. Love your frugal fashion posts and your dog.


  12. Love the looks, love the series, and love your dog! My “babies” are 100 pound German Shepherds and they always have to be wherever we are. One in particular is a foodie, and she often gets stepped on in the kitchen. I tell friends, every woman needs a dog. 🙂


  13. Courtney Jackson says:

    Just a heads up for those of you looking for boots – JcPenny is offering some fashion forwards styles for 30 bucks on black friday. Not thrift prices but really good for those of us with “funny” feet!


    Jens Reply:

    That is still a great price. I am looking for some tall boots and will probably have to cave and buy them new since the pickings have been slim. Now off to see if I can get us a coupon code from 🙂


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