by Jenny Schooley

The task was tough, which made it all the more fun. My mission to create an outfit for under $40 had me scouring the inventory at several of my favorite shops. This outfit excursion challenged my ability to locate cute clothes on a reeeeally tight budget. I skipped the accessories and went straight to the basics. I’ve wrangled up a three-piece collection.


Smocked Satin Dresses

I like variety, and when I’m not wearing skinny jeans and a top, I opt for the tights-and-dress combo. I spotted this Old Navy dress on the clearance rack at the North State Street location for just $14.99. The barswallow color falls into my penchant for a chocolate brown and warm taupe, and it pairs well with black tights. Elements such as fabric, detail, and proportion all play a role in your outfit. The dress’s mandarin collar, elastic drop waist, V-neckline, four-button placket, and 3/4-length sleeves give this clothing character. Tricot lining and satin fabric helps the dress move.


Keep Toasty Tights

Forever 21 is a sure bet when you need an item on a budget. The store’s a staple for all seasons. Go when you’re in the mood to sift through dozens of racks and a myriad of rooms. There’s nothing I love more than pairing tights with just about anything – long and knee-length dresses, wool skirts, and over-sized tops. I couldn’t decide between a pair of “Toasty Tights” in black for just $6.80 or the Textured Argyle Tights for $7.80 – both within budget but ultimately I ended up with the Textured Argyle.


Zipper-Bow Faux-Leather Flats

Looking stylish and at a cheap price tag takes strategy, so I once again I found myself back at Old Navy. I am a sucker for hardware on classic pieces. The metal zipper trim on these flats gives the shoe the right amount of extra style. It’s important to stay true to your signature style and parade around in shoes that make you feel confident. Adding a bow to accessory items, and in this case shoes, amplifies the femininity. Rock the faux-leather upper sole, oversized bow detail, rounded toe, and 1/4-inch heel and best yet on sale for $17.50. Another cheaper option I found at Forever 21 is these Glittered Flats for $16.80, but seeing as I had already bought the Old Navy shoes I stuck with those.


Final Look

Starting out with a great dress to build off of, I was then able to pick up some fun tights and a classic pair of shoes all for under $40.

How do you put together outfits on a budget? What are your tips and tricks to getting a great deal?

Share your opinions with a comment or two below! We’d love to hear from you.

 Jenny Schooley is a Chicago-based writer and editor. She currently works as a communications analyst for a financial corporation.