Like you, we’re firm believers that an incredible outfit isn’t defined by price–it’s more important to have a great eye for style than lots of zeros in your bank account.
That’s why we’re excited to kick off our first-ever fashion budget challenge, where we put our editors to the ultimate shopping test. We sent four editors shopping with $100 and firm instructions not to return until they had picked up a complete outfit worthy of any street style star.
For our first fashion throw down the team tackled KMart, Strawberry, JCPenney, and Mystique Boutique in New York, and returned with a seriously impressive arsenal of outfits–all under $100, naturally.
Keep clicking to see the looks, and let us know in the comments below who you think won the challenge. Who knew $100 could get you so far?
Keep clicking to see what each StyleCaster editor found for under $100.
Sam Lim, KMart, $91.96
Tackling a giant retailer like Kmart felt overwhelming at first, they have three floors and every product you could imagine in their store. I started with a pair of flower printed sandals (that clearly took inspiration from Birkenstocks) and worked up from there. After searching all different departments, I found a cute crop top, classic black maxi, and long sheer blouse for layering. Insider tip: Minimal chic is a good style to master when you're working with inexpensive materials, and dark colors help hide any tailoring imperfections. I topped it off with this pebbled leather bag and got an edgy summer look I would wear for any occasion. Bonus: there was a Dippin' Dots vending machine next to the skirt rack, and I had just enough money left over to buy myself a treat. Ice cream and amazing style? Count me in.
Nicki Minaj for Kmart crop top $17.99, Adam Levine for Kmart skirt 22.99, BONGO blouse $15.99, Joe Boxer sandals $12.99, Attention purse $18.74.
Jessica Teves, Strawberry, $85.96
I'm a big believer in the high-low fashion pairing and as much as I dream of Hermes, I also think about deals and sales and online hunting—lots and lots of them! So, I took this challenge really seriously and marched off to Strawberry with my game face on, ready to kick some fashion butt.
I hit up the Strawberry store right off Grand Central and was prepared for the worst—lots of lycra and pleather but was pleasantly surprised with my discovery. While there's plenty to be found of the former, it's also chock full of divine little finds like this gingham number (seriously reminiscent of the ODLR look from Spring '15.) The hat was also a delightful find that actually fit my oversized noggin. The shoes, sadly, weren't all that comfortable and were completely a knock-off of the Valentino Rock Studs, but for $29.99 I needed to work something in and these had the right price tag.
The verdict: Definitely heading back for fall finds that I can pair with some of my more standard staples.
Hat $8.99, crop top $19.99, skirt $26.99, shoes $29.99.
When I chose New York chain Mystique Boutique I wasn't frustrated: I've shopped there before and knew I'd find good stuff. People scoff, but I've found gems there like these perfectly worn In baggy jeans and this sharp jacket that can be worn with anything. Turns out though, they don't sell shoes which made my challenge harder: I swear I didn't know! The shoes you see are cuties I got on sale for $45 at & other stories--but that's another story.
Blazer $39.99, tank top $9.99, jeans $35.99.
Drew Tillman, JCPenney
I was really excited about this challenge and pleasantly surprised by how many cute pieces I found that I would easily wear outside of this challenge. My main issue however, was sizing. It was difficult to find pieces that were slim enough for my style and also within my budget. Discounts were my best friend, and fortunately for me, Mr Jacque Pennéy did not disappoint. Everything I bought was 20-50% off the tag price. One of those discounts I had to earn though. A crazy Italian woman cut me in the shoe line and wouldn’t stop speaking to me in belligerent Italian (which I don’t speak), so the woman behind the register gave me a knowing look and then discounted my shoes which were already on sale. SCORE!
Fedora $11.99, shirt, $19.99, shorts $24.99, shoes $35.99.