Reinvest in Modern Basics

The idea that fashion is going back to basics thrills New York fashion expert Bobbie Thomas.

"We've been in a down economy," she explains. "We're looking to be frugal. It's exciting to me that being frugal is stylish."

Thomas uses grocery shopping as an analogy for clothes shopping. As women, we are programmed to search out dessert first, she explains. In fashion, that translates into going for the trends, the sparkly, the glitter. As a result, we bypass some of the best stuff, which is a modern basic.

The key to spending wisely on fashion is to add your own twist to the basics.

Thomas offers several examples of updated classics:

  • A button-down white shirt that might be cut in a new way (the crisp zip-top three-quarter sleeve shirt featured here by Foxcroft is available at Nordstrom.com);
  • A T-shirt that has a different neckline -- instead of the high tight crew neck, it's a v-neck that's a little loose;
  • A blazer that's been exaggerated to look like men's wear, but with a feminine collar.

Thomas suggests that women ask themselves a question: "If you have a black dress, the white shirt, blazer and/or trousers in your closet and you haven't been wearing them, is it because you need them to be updated?"

If so, she has a cost-conscious fashion tip: Consider taking them to the tailor. For a relatively small amount of money, you can turn has-beens into must-haves by updating hemlines or re-shaping jackets.