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Mixing high and low fashion: What to invest in

My reality, like most hardworking women I know, is that not everything that would complete my wardrobe (an ongoing saga) is within my budget. So I mix higher priced items with total scores.

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Winners slipper flats

Winners slipper flats

Old Navy pink jeans

Old Navy pink jeans

Botkier bag

Botkier bag

BCBG blazer

BCBG blazer

Frye boots

Frye boots

Michelle Obama

Photo credit: Keystone

Mix n’ match
I firmly believe in the saying ‘money can’t buy style’. Just because you can afford to deck yourself out in the latest designer duds doesn’t mean you’ll look good doing it – you don’t need a trust fund to look fashionable. My reality, like most hardworking women I know, is that not everything that would complete my wardrobe (an ongoing saga) is within my budget. So I mix higher priced items with total scores. It’s an approach endorsed by today’s J.Crew-lovin’ Mrs. O, who is certainly a style icon in both the high and low choices. The trick is knowing when to dabble in investment dressing and when to cheap out.

Invest in great boots
When it comes to investment dressing, you can’t go wrong with classic pieces. These are items that will always look chic. I tend to stick to the three B’s: boots, blazers and bags. These are items I wear often, and always make me feel stylish. Plus, in these categories you really get what you pay for, so they need to be well made and stand the test of time. A chic pair of tall flat boots cost a pretty penny, but if you take good care of them (seasonal re-soling is mandatory), splurging on sumptuous Italian leather will practically pay for itself. Stick to black or dark brown shades and stay away from anything that’s telling of a particular trend or season. It might be hard at the time, but you’ll be thankful you said no to boho-inspired fringe. Think clean lines and minimal details.

Try: Frye Melissa Button Back Zip Boot in Dark Brown, Revolve Clothing, $328. 

Blaze a trail

The second B-item is one half of my favourite foolproof outfit: wearing a blazer with jeans. I rely on decent fabric, well thought out details and tailoring to carry this look so I don’t mind splashing out on a pricier jacket. And when it comes to bags, well, one really nice one is worth ten cheapies. Such a highly visible item should be of the best quality you can afford. It doesn’t have to be a recognizable name, by any means, but it shouldn’t be plastic.

Try: Blazer, BCBG, $348.

In the bag
Tie the look together with a chic bag that will go from work to play and match every wardrobe item in between!

Try: Bag, Botkier, $595.

Jean therapy
So what am I wearing with those costly classics? Trend-inspired tops or skirts, jewelry, fashion-forward flats and jeans (surprise!) are the items I love to save on. To keep my go-to blazer and jeans uniform looking fresh, I add in low-priced tops in the latest colours or prints of the season. An animal print blouse for $18? Yes, please!

Try: Pink jeans, Old Navy, $45.

Twinkle toes

Another instant update: a piece of on-trend jewelry. With almost every brand offering an in-house selection of accessories, stocking up on standout necklaces (or earrings, or rings) doesn’t come close to breaking the bank. When it’s time to put away my aforementioned expensive flat boots, I have an arsenal of flats ready for rotation. I like to mix it up between colours, prints and textures, but the common theme is that they all carry a small price tag. This is the opposite of my position on bags: I’d rather have a dozen pairs of cheap flats than one pricey pair. I wear them all week long and they just make me, and my wardrobe, happy. And, finally, I find I don’t really spend a lot on jeans. It’s not a hard and fast rule and I’d do so if needed because when it comes to jeans finding a flattering fit is priceless.

Try: Slipper flats, Winners, $50.