Nothing can kill the buzz of shopping for new, colorful spring fashion faster than a limited budget.
The good news is that you likely already have many of this season’s faves in your closet. Not convinced? MainStreet went to Marjorie “Dree” Harper, on-air fashion expert for HSN and owner of the online vintage boutique TheUrbanCollection.com, for her signature shopping-your-own-closet strategy.
“Get down to the skeleton pieces, which become your foundation of timeless classics,” says Harper. “Once you get to your ‘yes’ pieces, then go through trendy items with a fine-tooth comb.”
Four Key Questions for Every Closet Item
To more effectively sort through a closet, every piece goes through Harper's four-step jettison process:
1. Does it fit?
2. What is its condition? If it's pilled, faded, overwashed or stained, it's out.
3. Does the color work for you? It should flatter, not wash you out.
4. How versatile is it? A good piece will work in several ways.
“Be ruthless,” she advises. “I usually go through my closet with a friend, because you can get attached to pieces and become disillusioned about what really works.”
What to Keep
Harper shopped her own closet just before we called her and here’s what she discovered and brought into her current spring rotation:
The ubiquitous scarf. You have to have at least one buried somewhere. Harper hunted for silk prints, long layering styles and rich solids in unusual textures. “They can change the whole direction and attitude of an ensemble,” Harper explains. “They’re fluid and relaxed accessories. Pair one with a little black dress and instantly you’ll have a more relaxed, confident attitude.” Plus, they’re multipurpose: Harper likes tying them in her hair, on her bag or as a belt.
Statement belts. Instant update! She seeks out styles that can completely transform a look, like a wide croc-embossed belt in a bold color, skinny belts in prints or stretchy corset styles that cinch in the waist. “You can wear the most simple outfit and have a rockin’ belt and you’re done,” she says.
Bold jewelry. Harper raided her jewelry stash for long, layering necklaces, and divided them into silver and gold to shave time off pairing pieces together. Other treasures to keep? Artsy cocktail rings "are the power players in the fashion world,” she says. “You can add a lot to a simple dress with an interesting piece. Add a turquoise pendant necklace to a tank and you’ve raised the style ten notches.” The key? Don’t wear them all at once!
Wow-factor bags. Oversized clutches, hobos, totes. Drag them out of hiding if they make you stop and take notice. Look for something that takes the style from blah to ah-ha. For Harper, that means a fab color, embossed patches or rocker studs. “The point is to let this single piece take center stage.”
The white button-up top. They’re always classic and easy to customize to current trends. “Every modern woman needs this piece,” Harper says. “You make it funky with a rocker necklace or pair it with a high-waisted pencil skirt. It’s always effortless and powerful.”
A classic blazer. In this case, older may be better. Her go-to blazer is a 1970s YSL number that works over jeans, dresses, pants, etc. When you’ve got a beauty that works with everything, you don’t need to keep shopping.
Layering pieces. Think camis, tanks and fitted Ts. Harper keeps a steady stash of black, ivory, gray, pale pink and jewel tones, especially romantic styles with draped necklines or those made from finer fabrics. She sports them under cardigans, jackets or paired with skirts and shorts and long, layering necklaces.
Classic spring styles. Florals, safari and nautical styles scream spring year after year. “Highlight timeless earthy elements with scarves and jewelry. You’ll look well-traveled,” Harper advises. “And every woman should have a sporty-chic navy, red or black-and-white striped boat neck. It’s very versatile and so Parisian. Wide-leg sailor pants in black or navy with a simple tank top is also simple and beautiful.”
—Interested in more budget fashion tips? Farnoosh Torabi brings bargain and deal scoops to MainStreet each week in the Recessionista Chronicles.