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Fashion makeover on the cheap

Farnoosh Torabi

Farnoosh Torabi

Marc Jacobs. Diane von Furstenberg. Michael Kors. Fashion Week has arrived, and the coverage has many people yearning for some new clothes (including me). But, of course, filling your closet with designer duds can be seriously bad news for your budget. I tapped local fashion stylist and editor Amber Stolec for some advice on how to afford the latest trends on a budget.

Bank on basics
Basics such as jeans, trousers, a black dress and a navy blue blazer are worth investing in, as they’ll be mainstays in your closet year round no matter how fashions change. “While everyone wants to be on trend, you still need basic pieces in your closet that stand the test of time, in neutral colors,” Stolec said. Stores such as J. Crew and Ann Taylor offer quality basics for a fraction of designer prices.

Go easy with trendy pieces
“You don't want to spend a lot of money on a dress or pair of shoes that you're not going to want to wear when next fall rolls around,” Stolec said. If you love the polka-dot look from Marc Jacobs’ fall collection, visit a store such as TopShop in SoHo, which is on point with the latest trends for far less than runway prices. Also check out Zara, Mango and H&M for fly-by-night trends that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Amp it up with accessories
You can update a basic look with low-cost — but still stylish — shoes, bags, belts and jewelry. If your black sheath dress is a little boring, add a pair of edgy stiletto booties, a current fall trend, Stolec said. Sometimes your best bet for fashionable shoes is a mid-priced department store such as Macy's, as well as Steve Madden and Shoegasm stores. For jewelry, check out downtown street vendors in SoHo and Greenwich Village for affordable necklaces, rings and earrings to complete your look.

Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance expert, TV personality and the best-selling author of “Psych Yourself Rich.” Follow her at and at


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