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Catch up on parts 1 and 2 of this style tutorial.

When we first met Emily, she looked like this:

Emily beforeDon’t worry. She normally walks around with her hands on her face.

We decided that the clothes needed to fit three criteria — versatility, quality and functionality.

We also identified three problems with Emily’s current style rut — she doesn’t know her sizes, has a skewed body image and creates self-imposed style rules that don’t exist in reality.

Armed with this knowledge, I created a plan of action that narrowed in on consignment shops.

We visited locally-owned Rave Reviews and chain-owned Plato’s Closet. Plato’s tends to consign clothing that is on trend. I didn’t want Emily’s style to go out of season shortly after the fashion show. This would not be a wise investment. For this reason, I chose the main pieces at Rave Reviews and accessorized with pieces from Plato’s Closet.

IMG_0508Emily decided on a skirt for the big night. We found this sequined Ann Taylor Loft skirt at Rave Reviews. Emily is 5’3″, so this skirt adds length to her frame. We also defined her waistline a bit. Remember, Emily loves oversized baggy shirts.

We opted for a different top. This top isn’t bad. It wasn’t the style aesthetic I wanted. The velour material with sequins makes the outfit look too evening. It’s fine for certain events, but she wouldn’t gain a lot of mileage out of it.

IMG_0510I love the idea of a patterned coat. One of Emily’s style rules is no patterns. She also doesn’t like three-quarter length sleeves either.

Baby steps.

Emily was concerned that the sequins and pattern didn’t match. Sequined clothing is textured. Sequins are not a pattern. The skirt is black, which is a neutral. We could’ve paired any jacket with the skirt.

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Another Emily rule was no heels. I originally intended to put her in a pair of wedges or flats. To her credit, she chose these heels.

You can pair heels with a casual outfit to add chicness. You don’t have to reserve heels for nights out. I wear heels with joggers and jeans all the time. Invest in good shoes. Your feet with thank you.

I’m not a staunch defender of heels. If you can’t walk in them, by all means wear something else. There are many practical stylish options like boots, wedges and flats.

IMG_0515I love pairing casual items with dressy items. This white V-neck tee was a keeper. Rave Reviews was having a 60-80% off all green and red tags sale. This tee cost $1.

IMG_0517This skirt after discounts was $3.20.

IMG_0521The final price on the heels was $2.80.

The final tally at Rave Reviews with tax: $7.70.

Most of the clothing has little wear. It should last Emily a long time with proper laundering.

I’m not sure how much we saved. Judging by the brands, the original price could easily surpass $100 or better.

So far, we are way under the budget of $50. We couldn’t settle on a jacket. Emily has wider shoulders, and the jacket selection either didn’t meet her satisfaction or fit too tightly. Shopping thrift and consignment is always an adventure.

This means there was more money for accessories.

We were unable to take photos or film in Plato’s Closet. We were forced to improvise. We hung up the clothes in the back of her car for photos.

IMG_0547I was determined to incorporate a pattern into this outfit somewhere. This scarf has a minimal pattern. It adds a little color to the outfit. I love that we mixed sequins, satin, wool, cotton and faux suede. Mixing textiles is a great way to make an outfit more fashion forward.

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This grey short trench works for casual and dressy outfits. The necklace adds a little shimmer and acts as an accent piece for the scarf.

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The coat cost $10 on consignment. The scarf was $4. The necklace was $6.

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The grand total of Emily’s outfit with tax was $29!

She has six pieces, mostly in a neutral color palette, that can convert easily from casual to business to evening wear, depending on the accessories and corresponding pieces.

Drum roll, please…………….

Em before afterWe created the coveted hourglass shape by defining her waistline and added length by raising her hemline a bit. We tested the skirt, and she was able to bend. If she was concerned about the length, she could wear patterned tights or leggings.

The cotton tee is breathable. This is important on job sites. It was exceptionally cool the day of the fashion show, but the tee prevented the sweating that can happen during movement and hauling equipment while wearing a thicker coat.

The scarf not only accessorizes, but it also tricks the eye to perceive a longer horizontal line, adding length.

The heels add height as well as accentuate the calves.

Neutrals — black, tan, brown, white, navy, and grey — match with all colors and with each other.

Emily’s sunglasses are pictured but not added to the price. She owned them previously. I thought it added an extra element of chic and empowerment. She looks like a woman on the move.

So here’s the takeaway:

  • When budget-minded, choose neutral pieces with crossover style appeal to broaden your choices. You want re-wear value.
  • Shop consignment stores for higher-quality items.
  • Shop in January when stores advertise higher markdowns to move inventory.
  • Use accessories to update classic pieces for each season.
  • Create the shape you want with your clothing.
  • Patterns are not evil.

Happy shopping!