Back to school savings with sensible back to work tips

As a kid I loved the annual “back to school” shopping trip.  New clothes, new shoes, new trapper keeper with Lisa Frank stickers, and maybe a new lunchbox.  Now as a parent, who’s not even into the full on back to school spree, I can see how back to school shopping can really put a hole in your wallet!  Anya is only in daycare, but she grows out of her clothing so fast!  There are many ways to save money for your kids, but how about a new spin, what about you!  Yes you, the moms.  We need clothing too, and yes I know kids come first, but I can give you a few pointers to update and/or extend your back to work wardrobe.

I like to be trendy and dress up, but I can’t afford to stay on point with the labels fashion magazines recommend.  Even when they have a savings spread, it’s still above sensible range, IMHO.  The best tool in my toolbox for staying trendy is to accessorize basic tops and bottoms.  Below you will find some shopping tips on each item as well as some examples of how to extend your wardrobe with just a few basic pieces!


  • Collect tops at the end or beginning of a given year and/or season when deals are at their peak.
  • Watch for Old Navy’s $5 shirt sale.  Now buyer beware, in some cases you do get what you pay for, but when it comes to t-shirts (both short and long) I’ve found that expensive t-shirts aren’t necessarily any better quality than the cheap ones.  I’d rather throw out a $5 Old Navy shirt that is worn and full of tiny holes at the end of a season versus a $35 one from another retailer.  Pick your poison.
  • Check out my other favorite hot spots for deals: H&M, Gap, & ASOS
  • Shop when the sales hit.  I purchase two each of my staple colors, black and white, and then a few bright colors or prints.  In a given season, depending on the price of the shirt and what I have from the previous season, I’ll purchase between five and ten shirts for $50 or less.


  • Shell out the dough for a quality purchase.  These are the items that you want to be able to wear year after year, especially since they are more pricey.  Plus it’s worth paying the price to find something that fits not only well but right!  You know the pitfall of buying something cheaper and trying to “make” it fit.  Don’t do it.
  • I repeat DON’T sacrifice fit or quality for a deal.  When it comes to bottoms, you’ll spend more money on replacements than on a quality piece.
  • You don’t need as many bottoms.  Get a few staples that will go with a lot of tops, even more reason to purchase quality pants, skirts, etc.
  • Can’t afford more expensive bottoms?  Add it to your Christmas List or ask for gift cards to your favorite stores for holidays and birthdays.


  • Accessories are  the golden ticket!  You can take a plain t-shirt and jeans and turn it into a masterpiece with the right jewelry or scarf.
  • Costume jewelry, or what is more commonly referenced as statement jewelry, is more affordable and available than ever.  There are multiple websites that offer these little treasures, but personally I like to see the items in person as they can look a bit different than they do virtually.  My go to locations are Charming Charlie and Francesca’s.
  • Scarves can be worn year around, in the appropriate fabric of course.  You can find these everywhere!
  • Layering, this can maximize your wardrobe.  Wear a t-shirt in the winter by covering it with a cardigan and a scarf OR throw on a chambray shirt.
  • Shoes can really dress up an outfit. I’m a high heels girl, but a cute pair of ballet flats can go a long way too.  My rule of thumb here is go and try them on before your purchase to make sure they fit and feel good OR shop somewhere that provides free shipping on returns.  Zappos is great for this!
  • Don’t be afraid to mix and match colors and prints.
  • Bright colored lipsticks can brighten up your basics and make an outfit.  One of my favorites is Ruby Woo by MAC (it lasts forever!)

Now that you have the tips, let’s see it in action.  Samples below.  Happy shopping and accessorizing!

(disclaimer, my photo skills aren’t the best, but trust me these outfits look great on!) To be fair I just randomly picked items from my closet instead of pre-planning the outfits.  I could have gone on to create more, but I thought 10 looks were a great start.  In fact I realized writing this blog I only used the pink shirt once!

Accessories 3

Gold Belt from Gap: $7, Ombre purple scarf: Gift!, Tan and yellow scarf from Gap: $10

Accessories 2

Nautical Earrings from Charming Charlie: $5, Silver Earrings from Kohl’s: $20



Charming Charlie Necklace: $12, The Limited Necklace: Gift!, Francesca’s Necklace: Gift!


Gracia Skirts: Gift!, Limited Drew Capri: Approx. $60, Express Skinny Jean: $60


Audrey Brooke Purple Flats from DSW: $59.95, Calvin Klein Leopard Flats from Zappos: $53.99, Hot Pink Jessica Simpson heels from Zappos: Approx. $60, Aldo black heels: Approx. $60, Restricted boots from Amazon: $15!




Red Blazer from H&M: $35, Chambray shirt from HM: $18, Striped t-shirt from H&M: $5, Hot pink t-shirt from H&M: $5, White t-shirt from Old Navy: $5, Red 3/4 length shirt from Old Navy: $5





















Outfit 1Outfit 3Outfit 2

Outfit 10
Outfit 5
Outfit 6

Outfit 4
Outfit 9
Outfit 7

Outfit 8

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s