Stayin' Stylish... On A Budget

I can never keep track of what is trendy now, what used to be trendy, and furthermore, what should I spend my cash on. Just when I think I have it figured out, the silly trend changes again.
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"I don't do fashion, I am fashion." -- Coco Chanel

Suede suits. Lace dresses. Faux leather jackets. Old school tennis shoes. I can never keep track of what is trendy now, what used to be trendy, and furthermore, what should I spend my cash on. Just when I think I have it figured out, the silly trend changes again.

I live in Los Angeles, and yes, I fall prey to the overwhelming desire to stay stylish. Come on now, I know I'm not the only one out there who has labored in front of my closet trying to find the "perfect" combination to stay trendy, and to look, well, fantastically awesome. Let's face it, trendy costs money... big bucks if you're trying to keep up with the Joneses. As with everything, I argue there is a better way to stay stylish without going bankrupt.

You Look Marvelous Darling...

I sat down with celebrity stylist, Inanna Bantu, who is a part of the styling team Afropeaux and asked her how to solve this seemingly unsolvable crisis. Inanna is a style maven who has styled so many A-list stars including Tom Cruise, Betty White and Matthew Perry to name a few. She has an air about her that is infectious and makes me want to scream, "Please, come and make me marvelous!"

Shannah: Inanna, you've styled so many celebrities for movies, TV and print adds. Can you give me a list of your top five items that men and women should have as staple items in their wardrobe, on a non-celebrity budget?

Inanna: Yes, this is a great question. Just like building a financial foundation, having signature or staple pieces will pay you back time and time again because you can mix and match and really create your own style. Here is what I suggest:

Slim-fitting white dress shirt
Lapel accessories for blazers
Brown Monkstrap shoes
Blue Blazer, NOT navy
Colored Demin

A unique little black dress
Embellished coat
Statement heels
Investment bag
Variety of scarves from neutral to vibrant

Shannah: Great, I'm a personal fan of men's white dress shirts. Something very timeless and classy about a man in a white shirt. Ok, so I've got $500 to spent this spring on additions to my closet. Where do I go and what am I looking for?

Inanna: Oh, good question. You can do a lot with $500, even less. For men and women, hit the clearance sections at Zara, H&M and discount retailers like Nordstrom Rack. I would buy statement pieces -- off-the-rack clothes that fit your body well and allow you to be well-dressed.

Women spring items for less:
Neutral to vibrant scarves
Full skirts
Cut-out Tops/Dresses

Men spring items for less:
Casual pastel dress shirts
Low-top sneakers that look like, but are not from a fashion house
O ring belts and fedora hats

Shannah: Love it! I am a huge fan of Zara, but particularly like the Zara's overseas. I think their buyers have a different knack at finding new trends. Let's talk about how being properly styled can help you get a better job, bigger salary and get ahead. Do you have any examples of how being properly styled can result in a bigger bank account?

Inanna: I see this all the time. In fact, a high-profile client of mine needed an image makeover and we spent time recreating her look -- by the time she hit the red carpet, she ended up booking a major film role due to her new look. So yes, ladies and gents, image IS everything in Hollywood... and your job market.

Shannah: Lastly, and honestly, who wouldn't want to hire a stylist to go through their closet? I've always wanted someone to come in and magically wave a wand and totally change my style with the clothes I have. I've always heard that hiring a stylist is something that only A-listers can afford. Am I wrong?

Inanna: Yes, stylists have typically been considered a luxury; however, personal styling can be affordable, depending on your needs and wants. Often, a personal stylist charges by the hour with a minimum. This rate can vary per client. With my personal clients, I offer everything from closet overhauls, to shopping new looks to creating their signature style... even on a budget.

Shannah: I love it. So in a nutshell, you don't have to spend a ton of money to update your look once you have your staple pieces. This can be done with a small investment and you can keep building from there. What I love even more is the importance of styling yourself even when you can't afford to hire a stylist, because at the end of the day, being put together well leads to more money in the bank. It really is that simple.

Inanna: I couldn't have said it better. Work with the money you have, build a piece at a time, and always leave the house believing you are red-carpet ready.

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