Styling a $2.99 Dress Eight Different Ways for Fall

Today I went to Salvation Army to try to find a birthday present for my husband.  I was not successful in that.  As usually happens, however, I found something else: a $2.99 Ann Taylor knit jersey dress.

Ann Taylor dress from Salvation ArmyI’ve been dealing with early-morning wardrobe crises for the past few weeks.  As a fashion grad student, I feel a certain obligation not to wear T-shirts to class.  Summer was easy — I could throw on a maxi dress and some earrings and head out.  But, with very few of my dresses suitable for fall, I now have to think to put together an outfit.  Thinking is not my best function early in the morning.  So this afternoon I pulled out all my fall/winter clothes to evaluate.  And, since I obviously can’t wear this sleeveless number by itself when it’s 50 degrees outside, I decided to see how many different ways I could accessorize this dress.


I stopped at eight looks, although I could do several additional things with it (and would do an entirely different set for summer!).  This is just to demonstrate what you can do with one basic dress, a few cardigans, and some accessories.  If you have a limited budget and/or wardrobe space, here’s what you should look for when shopping:

  • A few simple basics — a pair of jeans, some camisoles, a couple of simple knit dresses (which, by the way, are excellent for traveling).
  • Traditional cardigans in several colors — if you shop carefully, you can find well-made classics that should last for years.  They can be worn with dresses, jeans, or skirts, and they look good every time.
  • Scarves in a variety of colors — multicolored scarves are most versatile and can tie together pieces in an outfit that might otherwise look mismatched.
  • Belts in a variety of colors.
  • A good assortment of costume jewelry.  You can accomplish a lot for a little money if you make it yourself — basic fishhook earrings and necklaces can be made easily with very little experience.

About Charity

I have an inexcusable number of cookbooks (and like to experiment with them), have worked in architectural antiques, and have been sewing most of my life. I recently graduated with a Ph.D. in Apparel, Merchandising, & Design from Iowa State University. Doing household things (except for cleaning!) and hunting for antiques are my favorite pastimes.
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