Quick Fix Fashion

By Sharon Mosley

January 4, 2012 6 min read

Mick Jagger may have said it best: "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need." And when it comes to spiffing up your wardrobe on a budget, you have to know where to find the great deals.

"Consumers are smarter about where they shop in today's economy," says Sonya Cosentini, national spokeswoman for T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, two chains of off-price merchandise that are famous for offering customers great deals on current designer duds. "They can find the same styles and designers seen in top fashion magazines and on the runways for up to half-off mall and boutique stores.

"At T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, shoppers can find designer accessories and fashion pieces at prices that are up to 60 percent less than at a department or specialty store," says Cosentini. "That means you can likely completely re-accessorize a look with those coveted designer pieces. As opposed to just being able to add one piece at under $200!"

Cosentini suggests starting your budget wardrobe makeover by adding a few statement accessories. "Accessories and color are always fabulous ways to update a wardrobe without spending a fortune."

For women, she suggests adding pieces such as statement necklaces, new, sparkly clutches, patterned scarves or even colorful heels. "They can completely change the look of an outfit," she says.

To update a man's wardrobe on a budget, she suggests adding a new patterned tie or a dress shirt in a color such as purple or red. "It can add new life to an old staple, like an everyday office look."

She also recommends adding a designer handbag to revive fashion basics. "A new handbag always changes the look and feel of an outfit -- and a wardrobe, since if it's in a basic color (Try black.), it will stretch across many looks already in your closet!" This year's new styles include large front flap bags with top handles, structured frame totes, hobos, saddle and bucket bags with an equestrian flare and cross-body messenger shapes. The must-have colors are blood red, olive green or teal and brown tones.

Stretch and wide belts create new silhouettes when worn with chunky sweaters. Light and featherweight scarves in various prints and patterns add flair to any sweater dress. Wool, floppy and vintage hats with feathers and flowers are another way Cosentini likes to dress up a look on a budget.

She also suggests taking last year's coat and making it more exciting by wearing it with a new pair of Italian leather gloves in a bright color or with details like ruffles, buttons or bows. "Throw on an infinity scarf with ruffles, fringe or even faux fur for a whole new look," she says.

"Jewelry can also add character to any outfit," Cosentini says. Look for bargains on shoulder-length earrings and long, thin necklaces, as well as watches adorned with animal print details on faces and straps. Big, bold stones on cocktail rings can also add major style for little money.

And of course, don't forget shoes and boots. This is a quick and easy way to update both men's and women's wardrobes. For her, tall wedge riding boots with faux shearling trim, lace-up or hiker-stacked heel suede booties and motorcycle style boots with buckle details are the must-have trends. Shoes are dressy with strappy satin or animal print heels, flats feature toe embellishments and platform styles boast colorblock heels.

For men, fashionable boots are a fast way to dash into the new year. Think rugged and outdoorsy but sleek and stylish, from chukka boots to distressed utility boots to leather lace-ups with retro appeal. Perfect to go with that new tweed coat you bought on sale that will last you for years.

Here are some more tips from Cosentini on mixing and matching this season's must-have trends to create your own unique looks:

--A georgette style, printed blouse layered with a faux fur vest and belted boot skirt can be topped off with a long, feminine necklace and burgundy satchel for a sophisticated look.

--A Nordic sweater coat, leather riding boots and bucket shaped handbag in a neutral tone make a classic fashion statement.

--Try a belted sweater dress with opaque tights and platform ankle boots. Accessorize with bold leather gloves with feminine details such as rosettes, ruching and a chunky knit scarf.

--A cropped, fitted, shearling trim jacket is perfectly paired with the loose style of wide leg trousers. An oversized watch with an animal print face makes the outfit pop.

--A cropped sweater with a roomy silhouette complements a knee-length pencil skirt that is updated with zipper detailing. Leopard print pumps, shoulder-length earrings and stacked bangles dress this look up.

--To keep warm and look chic, look for sweater-style, down jackets, leather with faux fur or shearling trim, Chanel-inspired trench coats and colorful wool jackets.

--Layer capes and ponchos over dresses or with denim jeans for a more casual look.

--And guys, why not splurge a little when you're updating your wardrobe? If you always wear a button-down shirt, why not layer it with a red or purple cashmere sweater and create a whole new look? Or try a colorful pair of corduroy pants topped off with a shawl sweater. Think color, even when you're shopping for bargains to update your wardrobe. Mick would be proud!

Sharon Mosley's column, "In Fashion," can be found at creators.com.

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