Using Accessories to Update Your Wardrobe on a Budget

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Webster’s dictionary defines the word “accessory”, in its fashion sense, as “an object or a device not essential in itself but adding to the beauty, convenience, or effectiveness of something else.”

I define accessories as a surefire way to expand upon an existing wardrobe. So many Budget Fashionistas make the mistake of purchasing a new outfit to add some panache (love that word) into their drab wardrobe mix. However, a quick trip to the accessory department of your favorite store will uncover ways to add some cheap changes to your wardrobe.

Example: The only suit you own is a nice, conservative, black business suit. You are going to an interview/event/social gathering/funeral that demands something a little spicier. Your first instinct is to go out to your local TJ Maxx and purchase a new suit, even though you do not have enough in your bank account to buy a Grande Mocha at the local Starbucks.


March into the accessory department of your favorite store. Almost every major department store has an accessory department, and accessories are almost always on sale. Do not limit yourself to earrings, necklaces, etc. It is amazing what a good scarf can do for an outfit.

The trick to wearing accessories is to focus on one piece as you “center” and make sure this center is placed near the part of your body you would like to highlight. For example, chandelier earrings continue to be a hot accessory, but if you aren’t particularly fond of your neck or want to wear an attention grabbing necklace, then you shouldn’t wear the earrings.

Some of my favorite places to buy cheap accessories are Target, Wet Seal, Forever 21, Payless (great trendy purses for cheap), Sears, and Claire’s. I’m always looking for new places, so please send them along.

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  • Accessories definitely gives your dress a much-diversified look when worn correctly. It also helps when you are short on dress and have to wear the same dress. You can never go wrong with buying of accessories but well buy them for cheap as their sole purpose is to compliment the dress.

  • Julie Deeds

    Love these accessory ideas! I’ve been watching Reckless and have picked up some more great fashion tips! If you’re looking, they have a lot of different characters with great style- Sundays CBS 10pm

  • outlaw

    Etsy has some gorgeous super affordable jewelry as well 🙂

  • Nikita K

    So true! It’s amazing what a cute statement ring or necklace (the latter is my fave) can do for an outfit. My fave accessories stores are H&M, Zara on sale, and Charlotte Russe!

  • Charming Charlie, Ebay, my favorite consignment shop in Atlanta…Finders Keepers and also the thrift stores/garage sales.

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  • Courtney

    A great place to buy accessories on the cheap is Charming Charlie. I think they are pretty new, but they are basically a mega store of inexpensive jewelry, scarfs, hats and some clothing.

  • Renee

    I like They have a wide range of really cute jewelry.

  • I always forget to shop the sale section of Internet shopping sites, but they’re well worth the visit, especially for accessories. I also think that the right accessories can completely update a classic suit or dress. In Style mag gives good examples of how to do that.

  • helen

    I think accessories are definitely a major investment. It makes a whole lot of difference even to the plainest of outfits. Sally, you are my kind of girl.

  • CM

    I love the clearance section in Robinson’s May—$5-10 gets me a nice neckless or 2.  I’ve even got something for a dollar there once!

  • sally

    accessories, accessories are so fun.  they can take the simplest outfit and make it completely unique.  i shop for all my accessories at thrift stores/garage sales/attics/street vendors.  you can find the most wild stuff and no one else ever has it.  plus, it’s cheap, so you’re not spending a fortune on stuff that is going to go out of style in a month and you dont’ cry if you lose it.  jewelry is waaaay overpriced in stores.  go thrift and turn your friends green with envy!

  • Mary M.

    I’m always searching for the perfect accessories.. Also try a store called Laila Rowe ( They have great accessories for a wide price range.