How to Rock Your Style on a Budget

Face it, ladies: we don't all look like Nicole Richie, and, perhaps more importantly, we don't all have Nicole Richie's budget. (How can you get her budget? Unless you find a rocker dad and snag a Hilton as your best friend, it probably won't happen). But something much more achievable? Look like a fraction of the cost. (An important note: that's fraction of the cost, NOT fraction of the effort. Beauty takes effort--anyone who tells you it doesn't is lying). Read on to become the next fashion icon in your neck of the woods:

1. Take inventory of all of your stuff. Who doesn't wake up occasionally and proclaim that you might have to go to work naked because you just have nothing to wear? Not to sound like your mom, but come on, open up your closet--do all those shirts and those 16 pairs of jeans count as "nothing?" Didn't think so. Are there certain pieces that you wear at least once every two weeks? Put those aside in a pile. And if your dog is anything like mine, shut him out of the room--this requires concentration and won't be helped by him burying his favorite bone within your carefully created pile.

2. Now, look at those pieces you wear often, and pull out a top that you normally pair with the same jeans every time. Is it long enough to be made into a dress, with a belt maybe? If not, take inventory of your cardigans/sweaters and see how it looks with a contrasting colored layering piece over it. if it'll long enough to be a dress and it's chilly out...get wild and crazy and make it a dress AND add the cardigan. Now examine your jewlery box. Remember that string of pearls your Great-Aunt Sue gave you for graduation? Have you ever worn them without a suit? Well, now's the time. Throw em on. The # one rule of fashion-on-a-budget--there are no rules. When it's your own style comprised of your own pieces, things you already own and feel good in, you're bound to look great--plus, you'll have that happy glow that comes from saving your hard-earned pennies, so you earn double fashion-goddess points.

3. The pearls are looking good, you dug out an old pair of cowboy boots you wore for Halloween six years again but suddenly feel tres-chic with your ensemble, and you're totally rocking the shirt-as-a-dress look. But something is missing. What could it be? Well, this is where the fun part comes in. Dig through your favorite fashion mags (People StyleWatch is the absolute best, in my opinion) pick out a celeb you love, and take note of her accessories. Whatever it is--maybe a fabulous yellow fringed bag, a trendy floral scarf--shamelessy take the mag with you and search the racks at Target or Forever 21 and find something similar. Then buy it and add it to your fabulously unique new ensemble. (After all, spending a little bit of money gives you a shiny, happy glow too, but at least you didn't spend this month's rent on one little black dress).

4. Go out on the town! You're looking hot and you've got money to spare for a martini night with the girls. You probably won't have to use it, though...the boys will be buying you those martinis just to get a chance to say hello to the girl in the fab little shirt-dress and killer accessories. The moral of the story? Accessories make the woman....and the woman makes the rules!


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