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True Confessions: My Entire Outfit Cost Less Than $100

I admit it. I have a little debt problem. I know you’ve seen Confessions of a Shopaholic, and while I won’t admit to shopping designer boutiques with the reckless abandon of heroine Rebecca Bloomwood, even for a budget shopper, things do add up over time.

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I mean, you can always use just one more skirt from the clearance rack or that one-of-kind top that’s a steal, and you know you will wear the heck out of it next season, right? This is where I heave a big sigh and face the fact that I am broke.

Luckily, it’s summer and there are record-breaking heat waves being recorded all over the country, which means little clothing is required. It seems that day after day, when I mentally add up what my outfit cost, it is remarkably little. Putting together an outfit for under $100 is a piece of cake when you don’t have to include pricey, cool-weather musts like boots, jeans, sweaters and the perfect outerwear. And honestly, I don’t think anyone would guess that I’m on the skids at the moment.

Here are a few tips for looking great when you are pinching pennies.

How to Put Together a Complete Outfit for Less than $100

Think classic. When you are doing your closet cleanout, hang onto things that fit you well and are timeless. The little black dress, well-cut shirts for work, basic skirts, horts that actually look good on you–these are worth their weight in gold. That really goes for any classic piece that fits you well and can be livened up with the right shoes or a few accessories. I’ve got a chocolate-brown linen sheath dress that I bought last summer at Marshall’s that will never go out of style and fits me to a T. This summer I paired it with the requisite wedge sandals in strappy, burnt-orange leather and it looks fantastic. Outfit: Brown linen dress from Marshall’s: $59.99, Franco Sarto wedge sandals from Marshall’s: $24.99 = $84.98.

Don’t fear consignment. One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Those designer pants that got too tight for Mrs. Society may be the perfect fit for you, and she probably wore them only once or twice before she ate too much on a cruise and the sight of them was too much to bear. You do need a certain amount of fortitude to browse the racks of cast-offs, but once you find the right consignment shops with quality items, it’s a breeze to stop in and see what’s new in your size.

Shop summer sales. Let’s face it, it’s barely past the Fourth of July and everything summer is way on sale. There is still a lot of summer left and there are tank tops, flirty skirts and strappy dresses (not to mention sandals) on sale everywhere. The caveat here is to choose with discretion. Look for must-have pieces to fill in your classic wardrobe, or one trendy piece to jazz it up. Outfit: I.N.C. sleeveless print top from Macy’s: $36.99, white linen skirt from Buffalo Exchange: $14.99, Jessica Simpson sandals from Nordstrom: $38.90 = $90.88

Summer accessories are simple. A great pair of sterling silver hoops and a stack of turquoise and silver bangles keep me going in the summer. I’ve had them for years and they just seem to fit with a little tan and showing more skin. To me, that’s what summer’s all about, so I don’t stress about accessorizing. Target is a great place to pick up inexpensive fashion sunglasses, earrings, scarves and more if you feel the need. Outfit: Black t-shirt dress from H&M: $14.99, print scarf from Target: $14.99, wedge sandals from Marshall’s: $29.99, sterling silver hoops from Target: $29.99 = $89.96.

Good taste is priceless. I’ve always said that if you have good taste you can shop anywhere. And I mean anywhere. Trust your eye and go into any bargain-hunting situation with confidence. If there’s a treasure there, you will find it.

One final thought– attitude is everything. Keep those shoulders back, chin up and walk in like you own the place. After all, you look great and you are shopping smart. Whether you are financially strapped or not this summer, take the challenge–what perfect summer outfit can you put together for less than $100?

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