You may remember my post a few weeks ago about checking out Edmonton’s thrift stores; well, my thrifting experiences convinced me to submit my “style doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny” theory to a rigorous and somewhat objective test – putting together an entire outfit for $50 or less … for someone else. I enlisted the help of Robyn, who is not only always game for my style experiments (no matter how hare-brained), but is also a fantastic model (looks great in anything, doesn’t mind trying it all on). With styling zeal in our heart and a whole afternoon before us, we headed out to test our fortunes at the Value Village on 82 Ave., where I’ve had the most luck sourcing brand names on past excursions. The rules were simple: we had to stay within our budget, and Robyn had to legitimately like the clothes we ended up picking, since she would actually buy (and wear) them.

For anyone who prefers a quick-and-easy approach to shopping, thrifting is probably not for you. It takes patience; a whole lot of it. And plenty of optimism, too – all those racks can be disheartening when there’s no guarantee as to what you might find, if anything. If you’re looking for something specific, you could very well be disappointed. So we started with an open mind, rather than a definite idea of an outfit. The dresses rack was our first stop, since a dress can often be an outfit in itself. Then we worked our way through jackets, then bottoms (skirts and jeans only, since the pants selection was rather woeful – although if anyone is looking for a pair of powder blue, faux suede, high waist pants, I can point you in the right direction), and finally tops. In each category, we took a divide-and-conquer approach, since two eyes are always better than one. For the sake of being comprehensive, we also took a stroll down the footwear aisle, but quickly abandoned any hope of putting together a well-heeled outfit. However, the rest of our search was anything but hopeless. How did we fare?
An hour of browsing, a cart-full of clothes, and an extensive changing room session later, Robyn walked away with not one, but two outfits (minus shoes).
The first one is great for work, and it can easily transition to a drinks-after-work type of event minus the jacket. These are also pieces that will easily integrate into Robyn’s existing wardrobe, and work with other things in her closet – a pair of jeans, some black pants, a cardigan, etc.
Jacket, Esprit ($5.99); skirt, RW & Co. ($5.49);
blouse, RW & Co. ($4.49)

Total outfit cost: $15.97. Technically, this would leave us with just over $30 for a pair of shoes, if we had to fulfill the terms of original challenge to the letter. I think that’s more than feasible, no?

The second outfit is a great take on one of my favourite casual looks – the jeans, T-shirt, blazer combo. These Parasuco skinny jeans were a total steal, and the faded wash is definitely “in” this season. They fit Robyn to a tee, no hemming necessary.
Jeans, Parasuco ($4.99); tank, H&M ($3.99);
jacket, Jacob ($7.99)

Total outfit cost: $16.97. Throw in a pair of ballet flats from Joe Fresh, and this whole look could easily come in under $25. And that is how you can do “style” on a budget!