reader question: chic on a shoestring budget

Q: I need to update my wardrobe, however; I have one major problem, I have no money! I'm in my second year of law school and have a very limited budget.  My coveted sweats aren't acceptable any more! I would love to invest in versatile pieces for a very affordable price that I can pair with jeans but still be able to dress up.  I want to look classy and conservative jumping between classes and my internship.  I need your help!

A: When upgrading your wardrobe, on a budget, it is important to focus on investing in versatile key pieces that can be easily mixed and matched with one another.  With jeans being acceptable to wear to class and your internship, don't be afraid to invest in at least one pair of dark washed jeans that can be easily dressed up.  Key layering pieces could include a boyfriend or structured blazer, a chambray button up, a striped shirt, and a structured blouse.  A faux-leather skirt or shirt dresses help keep your wardrobe chic and versatile.  

Using basic pieces, I've created three looks below that would transition great from meetings to internships to class.  {All items used to create these outfits were for under $75.}    

Law School Wardrobe Part 1

If you are interested in spending a little bit more for an investment piece, a tip I've picked up through perusing many personal style blogs, is to try and create at least three different outfits with the article of clothing in question. This helps to ensure that you will wear shirt/dress/skirt/pants/shoes more than once and it won't end up in the back of your closet. 

The outfits below utilize a great structured silk blouse from J.Crew for $98.  You can dress it down to go to class with a pair of dark skinnies and brown boots, pair it with a faux-leather skirt and flats for your internship, then spice things up a bit with color blocking for a night out. {All items used to create these outfits were for under $125.}

Graduate Wardrobe Part 2

Skinny cargo pants are very versatile for the graduate student.  I picked mine up at Gap on major sale {see here}.  Do not be afraid to hit the clearance section of stores like J.Crew, Old Navy, Gap.  These stores offer great basic pieces that once on clearance you can hardly say no to!

Once again, following the rule of three, can be mixed and match to dress up or down even these lovely cargos.  {All items used to create this set were under $115 (minus some of the jewelry).}
skinny cargos

Set 1 {similar}
Outfit #2: Shirtdress, Flats

Set 2 {similar}

Set 3 {similar}
Outfit #2: TeeCargo Skinnies, Wedges

Have a question about how to style that skirt you just found buried in the deep abyss of your closet? Need help finding that perfect dress for an event? Can't find the "right" shoe to match your outfit? I can help! Email me at thebrunetteone@live.com!


at the oscars: white gowns

{images here & here}

at the oscars

Kristen Wiig stuns in J. Mendel.

Kristen adorned herself in Neil Lane Jewelry & Chanel Polish.

Get her look now!
J. Mendel/Kristen Wiig Inspiration Oscars 2012

{images 1, 23


menswear: layering


Most men I know have two types of shirts that take up the most closet space. T-shirts & button-ups.  If you are looking to shake things up a bit with your wardrobe, whether it be to work or for a night out, sweaters are a great option. Layering may not be for every man, but when done right, creates a classic, put-together look.  Start with a sweater, something in the same color palette (see here) or stick with something neutral.  Make sure the material is breathable and something you can move in, as layering often brings on the heat.  If you are feeling risky, move a bit further out of your comfort zone with leather boots and a blazer to complete your look! 


patent ballerina

I need these ballet flats in my closet.

splurge vs. steal: luggage tote

splurge vs. steal - luggage bag

After writing about this Celine Luggage Bag Tote here,  I have been on the hunt to find a less expensive version for my readers.  While $328 is still steep in price; this would be a great investment piece for your wardrobe, and it comes in two colors!



Even though temperatures may say spring is inching near, here are a few outfit inspirations I can't wait to wear into March and April.  Instead of layering on a jackets, keep warm with an oversized sweater and fur cowl, rock that leather skirt sans tights, show off those ankles with cropped colored denim, & when in doubt, don stripes. 

{image 1, 2, 3, 4}



I stumbled upon C'est Classique and simply cannot get enough of their NYFW street style photos.  These images are stunning. It's been decided. I need to invest in both a patterned cropped trouser & skinny carmel leather pants.

Mary Kate Steinmiller
Emily Schuman of cupcakes & cashmere
Chiara Ferragni from The Blonde Salad
Taylor Tomasi Hill
model, Jessica Hart

{all images}

president's day

Happy Birthday Mr. Washington! I didn't get to celebrate with a day off, however; spent the weekend over-indulging with wine and desserts, and of course a little retail therapy with my family.  Here's a quick recap of the past week!

 UP! inspired valentine's day treats at my office / valentine's day dinner & dessert / polka dots & my new tobi blouse / a little sparkle from F21/ new on-sale j.crew tee & gap boyfriend jeans / trying on some potential oliver peoples glasses / favorite place to brunch


NYFW Erin Fetherston Fall Presentation

Happy Friday! I am off to do some last minute packing for a quick trip to Minneapolis to see my brother {last minute means throwing at least 5 outfits in a bag for a 2 1/2 day trip}! Just wanted to leave you with one of my favorite fall presentations from NYFW, Erin Fetherston.  Printed pants, feathers, sequins, & top knots? What's not to love?

Hoping everyone has a fantastic weekend! 


feminine detailing

There's nothing more I love in life than the little intricate details. Especially when they involve bows, peplums, pleats, & brightly colored jewels. Katie Ermilio's collection is every girly girl's dream.  You put on any one of her dresses and you will want to do nothing but twirl about town all day long. My favorite outfit is her subtly sweet yet sexy, blue spaghetti strap dress.  What's yours?

Shoes by Walter Steiger / Jewels by Frieda & Nellie / Hair by Britney Batt 
Makeup by Rudy Miles / Model Rosie Tupper / Clothing by Katie Ermilio 


currently obsessed

I was recently invited to join Currently Obsessed. A one stop shop to house all of my latest obsessions.  This website goes hand in hand with the brunette one, as it literally houses my collection of splendid things. 

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