Here are some of my favorite looks that cost very little:
1. Take a pair of jeans or simple black pants, add a white crew neck T-shirt that you get a from a Fruit Of The Loom value pack in the menswear department of Target or Kmart (or a long-sleeved T-shirt or henley top if it’s wintry and cold). Add a waistcoat — they’re always plentiful and easy to find in thrift stores or Goodwill. Add a dash of femininity with a necklace or earrings — a good “Annie Hall” look that always works.
2. Jackets for winter? I just went to a local Army and Navy Surplus Store and bought one of those incredibly warm sage green bomber jackets with the Indian orange lining. It was $45. Much cooler than similar puffer jackets at Gap and Old Navy. With black jeans and boots and a lacy blouse underneath, it’s incredibly cozy but once you take it off, you can still look stylish and cool. At my local Goodwill there are tons of cool men’s overcoats that I love. I always prefer a slightly mannish look for a bargain coat that, once off, can reveal a cute sexy dress.
3. Teenage boys: I recently gave my 16-year-old $50 and set him loose in one of those really big Goodwill stores and told him to concentrate on shirts and sweaters. He was pretty pleased with himself when he found three flannel shirts ($7- $10 each). He wears them almost every day over T-shirts, a Navy cable-knit woolen Banana Republic sweater and a cool college hoodie. He gave me $6 change and I could tell he was really happy. Much cheaper than a trip to one of his favorite skateboarding shops where hoodies are at least $50.
4. If you need something fancy for a big occasion, go to eBay and type in NWT — which means “new with tags” — and you will often find very cool designer clothes that have never been worn. Usually they’re at 10-20% off the original price. Then again, if it’s a big fancy bash and you need something snazzy, chances are you’ll never wear whatever you buy again, so ask your good pals if you can borrow something — with any luck, you won’t spend a dime!
5. Buy socks and tights at the 99 Cents store or a drug store. Never buy them at a department store, where you’ll pay too much.
6. Get into dyeing clothes. Dye a pair of old jeans — or a white shirt — or a pair of faded cords — a fabulous dark purple and feel like you’ve got new clothes. Kids of all ages love to dye their clothes and get a real kick out of it.
7. Have a “clothing exchange” party. Everyone has a million things in their closet they don’t wear. We all know it feels great to put on something that feels new. To escape the boredom of one’s own wardrobe, invite your stylish friends over and have everyone bring five or 10 pieces they want to trade!