Fab Frugal Fashion 101As a mom, I know that caring for kids all day and looking good do not always go hand-in-hand. Between the late nights (teething baby, anyone?), early mornings, myriad diaper changes, meals to prepare, doctor’s appointments, seemingly non-stop breastfeeding… well, let’s just say fashion isn’t usually high on the priority list! But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past five years, it’s that I feel better when I look good. So, here are my top 3 easy tips for looking good – fab, actually! – on a budget. Oh, and they’re kid-friendly too… no snotty noses on a dry-clean-only blouse, I promise!

1. Inject colour into your wardrobe

Why: So often we gravitate to black because it’s the easy choice – it goes with everything, the perfect neutral. But colour also affects your mood, so if you want to up the fun factor of your wardrobe (and your life!), add colour.
What: Budget-friendly tops in fun hues
Try: Gap, Jacob, J.Crew, Lands’ End
Look for: Good quality knits in whatever neckline suits you best. Bonus: you don’t have to iron (who has time anyway?)

2. Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize!

Fab Frugal Fashion 101Why: Just like the first rule of real estate, you can’t deny the simple yet powerful impact of one important element. In this case, I’m talking about accessories. Whether it’s a jewel-tone scarf that accentuates your long neck or a beautiful pair of earrings that sets off your eyes, accessories can make or break an outfit… and make an inexpensive outfit look like a million bucks! Even if you’re at the baby/toddler stage, and are afraid your little one will pull at earrings or a necklace, you can still achieve a polished look – use a colourful scarf as a belt; wear a bold cuff-style bracelet or an embellished hair accessory.
What: Bold, statement pieces in interesting colours/shapes/materials
Try: Foxy Originals (designed and manufactured in Canada!), , Forever 21, Aldo Accessories, Le Chateau, Winners (a lot of stores that you might not normally go into have amazing – and inexpensive – accessories, so give ‘em a try!)
Look for: Big, bold rings; pearls (always a classic!); chunky chains embellished with large stones and of mixed materials/textures; big, over-the-top eclectic pieces…the bigger, the better (go a bit smaller scale if you’re petite).

3. Good jeans

Why: Never underestimate the power of a great pair of jeans! Trust me, I’ve tried inexpensive jeans, and I’ve tried designer jeans… and you really do get what you pay for! I still love my tried-and-true Gap jeans, but from the first time I tried on a pair of True Religion jeans, I knew they’d be my new favourites. Nothing beats the way they elongate my legs, lift in all the right places, and still look great at the end of the day – no saggy knees or butt! Being the frugal mama I am, you won’t find me paying full price – ever. I keep my eyes open at outlet malls, end-of-season sales at department stores such as The Bay (you can score some amazing deals there!) and, of course, online. The trick here is to find your “perfect pair” before scouring the web so you know what brand, style, wash & size you’re looking for. That way, there are no messy returns to deal with.
What: Classic jeans in a dark wash; boot cut or straight leg will always be in style
Try: Canada’s own Dish Jeans / Desi Jeans (their “Trixie” style is one of my faves); True Religion, 7 For All Mankind,Hudson, Paige Premium Denim, Not Your Daughter’s Jeans
Look for: Cuts that are flattering to your curves (no one looks good in baggy jeans!); good quality, substantial denim that won’t bag out (stretch is a must); snug fit at the waist – no gapping when you bend down, aka “plumber’s butt”.

Hopefully these tips will inspire you to take some time for yourself to look and feel your best! And don’t forget that sometimes the best shopping can be done in your own closet. Take stock of what you already own that can either be repurposed (an old scarf becomes a belt; a jeweled brooch can be added to a ribbon-covered hairband to make a new hair accessory, etc.) or traded at a clothing swap. Happy shopping!

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