How to Look Fly on a Budget

For those of you who don’t know me well, in addition to being a fitness coach, I’m a true Fashionista! I love looking good on the outside as much as I love feeling good on the inside. But if you’re like me and don’t have a gazillion dollars to keep up with the ever changing fashion trends, here are a few tips and tricks for looking fly on a budget.

My secret weapon for staying fly without breaking the bank? Buy clothes at discount stores and rock them with a mix of fashion jewelry and expensive handbags!MaShelle Dean, Fashionista

Accessorize with Statement Making Pieces for Impact

reese necklace A little accessorizing goes a long, long way. It’s the final touch that pulls your look completely together for the ultimate “wow” factor. Use the proper mix of colors, prints, and textures and select accessories that accentuate and compliment your total look. Whatever your style, looking fabulous entails your complete visual package.

In the words of actor John Witherspoon “you gotta coordinate!” I’m a chunky necklace, statement making bangles kinda girl. But whatever your flavor, go for jewelry “sets” or individual pieces that compliment your wardrobe. They don’t have to match exactly as long as they share complimentary qualities (tone, texture, etc.) Inset picture: Reece necklace ($68 – Chicos)

I get tons of compliments on my jewelry. But most jewelry in my collection are inexpensive pieces I find any and everywhere, from discount stores to high end department stores. Although I do splurge on higher priced items at times, I get more styling options by buying affordable pieces I can mix and match to create more looks. When buying fashion jewelry, look for pieces that are structurally sound (won’t fall apart at the dinner table in front of your date!), look more expensive than they really are, and compliment pieces you already own.

I’ve found some of my favorite jewelry at Chicos, Target, Aldos, AmericasMart, Macy’s, White House Black Market, and the Coach store. Chicos is one of my favorites. They have the most GORGEOUS pieces and you can get a great deal if you catch them on sale. Sign up for their online newsletter for advanced notification of sales.

Items in album: Gem necklace ($48 – Dillards), Gedala stretch bracelet ($34 – Chicos), Gedala short necklace ($48 – Chicos).


Splurge a Little!

Wanna instantly step up your image game? Rock an expensive hand bag! No, this doesn’t fit in the “budget” category, but all you really need is one good designer bag to increase your wardrobe stock value 10 notches.

My absolute favorite splurge accessory is Coach. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE me some Coach! – hand bags, hats, shoes, scarves, jewelry,– you name it. Why Coach? It’s well made, relatively inexpensive, and is always fly and in fashion! The Coach stores have the most up to date styles, but you can find some great deals at the Coach Outlet stores at up to 80% off the retail price – sweet!


Items in album: Coach Adrienne op art hat ($98), Coach Daphne multi-strand flower chain necklace ($178), Coach op art sateen Maggie bag ($298).

Some of my fave “ultra-splurges”:

Louie Vuitton handbag and wallet, Gucci handbag and wallet, and Chanel shades. Again, all you really need is one great piece to make your whole outfit look expensive. Can’t afford to buy your own? Rent them at

Did you know you are projecting a particular image–everyday, in every way and everywhere you go. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to or not. Your image follows you, kind of like your shadow. Chloe Taylor Brown, Image Consultant.



wardrove When building a wardrobe, select quality wardrobe pieces and keep them well maintained.

Your staples should be centered around classics that will stand the test of time, never go out of style, and will look fabulous every time you put them on (i.e., A line skirts, cardigans, dress pants, suit jacket, etc.).

My absolute favorite pair of dress pants is a pair of charcoal grey, wide-legged cuffs I got from Caché for $118  6 years ago. I had to pay extra to get them hemmed and tailored in the waist, but they fit, never wrinkle (so they’re great for travel) and still make me look and feel like a million bucks every time I wear them!

Shop on a Budget

My favorite place to shop? Target (a.k.a. Targié). The Merona clothing and shoe line is surprisingly well made, feel and look expensive, but are a fraction of the cost of department store brands.  Benefit? I get more looks for less for countless mix and match options that make it look like I have a larger wardrobe than I actually do. I buy everything from Target – blazers, suits, skirts, dresses, pants, blouses, shoes, and cardigans.  Although Merona has blowout end of season sales, it’s best to buy at the beginning of the season so you can get your size.  Need a little help pulling together your fly look? Try the Merona My Look Maker on Facebook.

My favorite brands: Merona, I.N.C. and Barami. I used to buy at Caché, but hate their return policy, so I only buy from Caché if I can get a DEEP discount.


Items in album: Merona Paige Cardigan ($29.99), Merona Cherie top ($19.99), Merona Vianne Dress ($39.99).

Wardrobe building tips:

  • Select a color scheme
  • Invest in classics
  • Plan your wardrobe around separates
  • Choose year-round fabrics
  • Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize!
  • Wardrobe maintenance
  • Quality & fit
  • Mix prints and textures

More style tips:

  • Get More for Less. I buy most of my clothes at discount stores and accessorize with expensive hand bags and accessories.  Have a favorite clothing line or department store?  Sign up for sale notifications and friends and family discounts and take advantage of the end of season sales!
  • Get Tailored. Get your pants and skirts tailored so they fit your curves just right. They’ll look custom made for a fraction of the cost.
  • Keep your clothes clean and in good repair. Get zippers, buttons and hems fixed immediately. Find a dry cleaner that also does tailoring and you’re good to go. A tip I got from my colleague, former fashion model and image consultant, Chloe Taylor Brown: never hang pieces in need of dry cleaning or repair in your closet. You’ll forget about them until the moment you want to wear them to that special event.



I’m so hard on shoes, I’ve learned not to buy the expensive ones (or find great deals!)  Shoes are tricky because they inexpensive ones can look cheap, so it’s important to find affordable shoes that are well made. Most of my shoes are from the Target Merona line. They look good, I can wear them all day without hurting my feet, I can get A LOT of them at a good price.  But no matter where you purchase your shoes, make sure they feel good on your feet, you keep them clean and shined, and you replace the heels (or taps) about once a year.

Items in album: Merona Mena Croc Pumps ($24.99), Merona Evelin Faux Turquoise Thong Sandals ($10.50 – clearance!), Merona T-strap Pumps ($32.99).

Written by MaShelle Dean
Hey Fam! I'm MaShelle, your Fit & Fabulous Coach. I'm an AFAA Certified Fitness Instructor and lifestyle blogger living in Atlanta with my husbae, Ron. The Jiggle Free Zone is the place to come for fitness inspiration, product reviews, and workout proof hair tutorials. Be sure to sign up for the Fit & Fab newsletter so you never miss my tips on living a #fitandfabulous life!