Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Forward Fashion on a Budget

Looking to inject your closet with a little more fun — like trendy diaphanous dresses and boho beading — without stretching your budget? These looks can be yours for the taking, New York City stylists say, if you know where to look and what to look for.

But first, a word of shopping caution: For good coats, boots or other items that you’ll wear for years to come, stick to the classics. For up-to-the-minute fun, shop on!

Hit the racks. Stylist Laura Maffeo makes a point of popping into some of the fast-fashion retailers that have made a mark in recent years with their spot-on, yet affordable apparel. “Stores like Target and H&M have designer lines,” she notes. “These lines are very fun, very fresh and very inexpensive.”

Think ahead. You’ll always find the best deals on clothing that is out of season, says Jay del Rosario, another New York stylist. “I tell people that the way to save is always to be shopping.” The rewards can be great. “I love finding leather jackets in the heat of summer and swimsuits in winter,” del Rosario says.

Accessorize. Want to try out a new trend without committing to it? It’s easy with accessories, says stylist Kayte Terry. “Add a bangle or two in purple or citrus — the hottest shades of the season — or a scarf with an interesting ethnic print and you’ve instantly updated your look.”

Shop sales. Even the best stores have regular sales. “Don’t miss out,” Maffeo says. “Call up your favorite store and find out when the next one is.” You may have to wait only a week or two to get a terrific deal on, say, new hothouse floral motifs.

Think two for one. Don’t shop solely by event or season, del Rosario says. Instead think broadly to get more use out of your apparel. For example, he says, consider buying lightweight cashmere separates rather than bulky winter knits or light summer sweaters. “When it’s cold, layering cashmere can be warm and cozy and add a touch of luxury,” del Rosario says. “In spring a cashmere knit is perfectly lightweight and always appropriate.”

Surf for coupons. You’ve found the perfect coral clutch for spring while shopping online; before you check out, take a moment to Google for an online shopping code or coupon. “Often,” del Rosario says, “you’ll find a savings, ranging from free shipping to a good percentage off, that wasn’t offered directly on the site.”

Get thrifty. Another great way to update your wardrobe on the cheap is to hit your local flea markets and thrift shops. “New trends are often recycled from eras goneby, so it makes sense to buy pieces secondhand,” Terry says. This spring, for example, Terry says she’ll be on the hunt for dirndl skirts, romantic blouses, wide-leg trousers and anything patchwork — all now-fashionable looks that were also in a few decades ago.

Be unique. Consider buying an artful item directly from an indie designer or crafter. You’ll get something unique for a price that’s right. Websites that group crafters together, such as, are a great place to start. Also, Terry notes, springtime means a new craft fair season: “Fairs can be the perfect places to find that special new skirt or one-of-a-kind necklace.”

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