The under-$100 spring pieces that get me the most compliments

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Lauren Caruso is an In The Know shopping contributor. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for more.

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

Credit: Mango

Mango makes the simplest, chicest spring heels — and this cream-colored pair grounds all of my outfits.

Ribbed Skinny Racer, $66 

Credit: LNA

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 Cropped Long Sleeve Tee, $35

Credit: Kotn

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 Marlowe Dress, $98

Credit: Reformation

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.

BDG Premium High-Waisted Retro Boy Jean, $99

Credit: Urban Outfitters

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.

UO Kendal Strappy Slide Sandal, $49

Credit: Urban Outfitters

These scrappy sandals are somehow equally chic and comfortable.

Donni Terry Bralette, $76

Credit: Donni

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

Credit: Manner Market

I love throwing this scarf on when my outfit feels like it needs a little extra… something.

Oak + Fort Elastic Waist Pant, $48

Credit: Oak + Fort

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.

Babaton Mini Slip Skirt, $78

Credit: Aritzia

Aritzia’s Mini Slip Skirt comes in 11 colorways, including this off-white hue that manages to make any outfit more elevated.

Levi’s 501 High-Waisted Denim Short, $69

Credit: Urban Outfitters

These cut-offs are the only thing I wear when the weather gets truly sticky. Size up, though: They’ll shrink in the wash.

Sausalito Rectangle Sunglasses, $16 

Credit: Urban Outfitters

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.

BB Dakota Madge Vegan Leather Coat, $90.30

Credit: Shopbop

This oversized vegan leather blazer looks like a vintage score — and feels like one, too.

Shop Peche Rosa Shirt, $79

Credit: Shop Peche

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.

Babaton Sculpt Knit Cross Tank, $58

Credit: Artizia

This criss-cross tank, which is structured without feeling restrictive, looks like it should be triple the price.

Anine Bing x Terry O’Neill Kate Moss Ida Tee, $99

Credit: Anine Bing

I love a good plain white tee, but this Kate Moss iteration from Anine Bing is a hit with all my friends.

Iris & Ink Lattice Leather Slides, $100

Credit: The Outnet

These flats from Iris & Ink are the perfect throw-and-go sandals for spring.

Zara Flowy Jacket, $69.90

Credit: Zara

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 

Credit: Mango

An oversized linen button-down is a spring essential. I like to size up for a roomier fit.

Lo & Sons The Bond, $98

Credit: Lo & Sons

I have this fanny pack in the sheepskin leather, but the recycled poly version is an even more functional all-weather option.

& Other Stories Tiered Mini Lace Dress, $99

Credit: & Other Stories

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.

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