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There’s something you should know about me: Despite having worked in fashion for well over a decade, my closet isn’t very expansive. It’s full, sure, but I generally wear some version of the same thing every day. The only thing that varies, mostly, is the season.
In winter, it’s usually a flowy black pant with a cropped sweater and boots, topped off with a longline jacket. In the summer, it’s either a dress that barely skims my body, or some version of a shorts-and-crop-top outfit that doesn’t feel particularly novel, if we’re being honest. Spring and fall bring some iteration of the same, mixing and matching a few pieces that make each outfit weather-appropriate.
But having a simple, seasonally specific outfit formula works for me. While I’m not afraid to invest in a few outliers — like a bag I absolutely love or a chic leather blazer that I can throw on from time to time — I generally stick to affordable, minimalist basics. Think a ribbed white tank that I can layer underneath a blazer or a leather jacket; a pair of comfortable flats that are both chic and comfortable; a pair of straight-leg, rigid jeans that I reach for every day. The good news is that I’ve realized you don’t have to spend a ton of money to find pieces that’ll nab you tons of compliments. I’ve probably recommended my favorite pair of $16 sunglasses to dozens of people, and the little black dress I swear by is usually a conversation starter for its simplicity.
Ahead, check out the under-$100 spring staples that get me the most compliments.
Mango Knots Heel Sandals, $59.99
Mango makes the simplest, chicest spring heels — and this cream-colored pair grounds all of my outfits.
Ribbed Skinny Racer, $66
Sure, $66 may feel a bit pricey for a simple white tank — until you realize that it washes like a piece that should cost $150. It’s perfectly form-fitting, never stretches out and makes any outfit look instantly put-together. I’ve had mine for almost two years, and I’ve worn in at least a hundred times — less than $1 per wear isn’t so bad.
Kotn’s Cropped Long Sleeve Tee is great for transitional weather layering. I like to wear mine with baggy jeans for a casual look, or with denim shorts and a leather jacket on breezy spring nights.
Reformation’s Marlowe Dress is a perennial favorite for multiple reasons. First, I’m 5’2″, and the dress hits a touch lower on my thigh than it does on the model, making it appropriate for everything from a wedding to a casual dinner date. Second, based on how it’s styled, it can feel like an entirely different dress every time I wear it. And lastly, it’s just one of those pieces that feels good to wear — slim-fitting, but not snug.
I love a pair of baggy jeans for spring, and this pair from Urban Outfitters’ private label boast my favorite quality in a pair of jeans: They’re non-stretch.
These scrappy sandals are somehow equally chic and comfortable.
Donni Terry Bralette, $76
This terry bralette from emerging brand Donni is one of my favorite pieces. I like to pretend it’s more of a crop top by pairing it with high-waisted jeans and a blazer. It might not be exactly office-appropriate, but add a short kitten heel and you’ve got a full date-night look.
Manner Market Scarf, $55
I love throwing this scarf on when my outfit feels like it needs a little extra… something.
Oak + Fort is one of my favorite places to get on-trend items at affordable prices. These wide-leg pants are a go-to of mine all season long — and they look way more expensive than they are.
Aritzia’s Mini Slip Skirt comes in 11 colorways, including this off-white hue that manages to make any outfit more elevated.
These cut-offs are the only thing I wear when the weather gets truly sticky. Size up, though: They’ll shrink in the wash.
If we’re being honest, I lose my favorite pair of sunglasses every year. It’s a terrible habit, but I’ve since switched from $300 frames to these $16 ones — and I get more compliments than ever.
This oversized vegan leather blazer looks like a vintage score — and feels like one, too.
This simple pleated top has come in handy more times than I can count. It’s a great layering piece — and even makes for an elevated beach cover-up.
This criss-cross tank, which is structured without feeling restrictive, looks like it should be triple the price.
I love a good plain white tee, but this Kate Moss iteration from Anine Bing is a hit with all my friends.
These flats from Iris & Ink are the perfect throw-and-go sandals for spring.
Zara Flowy Jacket, $69.90
Zara sells some version of this flowy blazer every year, and for good reason. It makes any outfit look instantly put together. I like to wear mine with short shorts and a tank.
Mango Linen Shirt, $59.99
An oversized linen button-down is a spring essential. I like to size up for a roomier fit.
Lo & Sons The Bond, $98
I have this fanny pack in the sheepskin leather, but the recycled poly version is an even more functional all-weather option.
Sure, this dress is inherently saccharine, but it’s easy to toughen up with a pair of chunky sneakers, black sandals or a lug-sole boot.
If you enjoyed this story, check out Lauren Caruso’s weekly workout essentials!
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