Let's be real: Usually, the one "tip" to dressing better or the "secret" that every street style star knows will get her photographed isn't a tip or secret at all. It's money. With money comes fame, freebies, lots of help, and free time, and — voilà! — you've got style. It's easy to be considered well-dressed if you're shopping the designer floor at department stores. It's much harder if you aren't.
Stylist and image consultant LaTonya Staubs has made a career out of giving women advice about how to revamp their wardrobes or create a new look without operating under the assumption that her clients also have access to a Scrooge McDuck-sized money pit. For the most part, these women have jobs, have responsibilities, have hobbies, and have budgets — but they don’t have a lot of time and money. If this sounds familiar to you, prepare to fall in love with Staubs, who's a mom of two, an entrepreneur, and has a packed calendar that could rival yours.
Below, Staubs tells us all about how she puts outfits together that — save for the shoes and accessories — cost her less than $50 each. Plus, she lays out tips about how to continue finding inspiration in your clothes, tips for making normal clothes look not-so-normal, and practical solutions for real-life issues (like how to still look awesome when you've got to lug a stroller up the subway stairs a few times a day).
"Bandanas are easy. They are an easy layer to any look. We're often running out the door, and if I just wear a dress, I'm just wearing a dress. That isn't styled enough for me. And yet, it doesn't take that much energy or thought to add something little. So I always have a bandana handy or a hat or something small that can make a large statement. Just imagine this dress alone; without a hat or a bandana, it would look like I was going to some fancy dinner, which I am not. I just want to feel fancy while also being practical, while also being me. Little details help with that."
"For a while, I wore bohemian dresses all the time, and I realized it made me feel bigger, to the point where it actually became difficult to move around in and get errands done. I was hiding behind dresses, and I don't think anyone has a reason to hide. And even though I do love a bohemian-style dress now and again, I think it's imperative that we as women love our bodies and find them attractive and sexy. It doesn't mean we have to walk out in a stiletto."
"Scarves are a way to play around with outfits. Wearing one around my waist with this form-fitting dress pulls the attention to my waist, not to my midsection, which can be a spot of insecurity for a lot of mothers. Here, it's worn as a belt. Tomorrow it can be a headscarf, the next day it may be a top. Who knows!"
"I think we often make the mistake of identifying staples as neutrals. Blue jeans, black jeans, white shirts, etc. But I like to tell my clients that staples can be anything that will turn up an outfit or is a vibrant starting point for one. If we always pull out blue jeans as our staple, chances are, the rest of the look will flow with that neutral uniform. That's great some of the time. But if you find yourself getting bored and kind of don't know where to start, I would always start with something vibrant, fun, and comfortable (like these pants) that can be worn often in a variety of ways. They become a staple by simply providing [a base] for a range of looks."
"When I'm around my children, I love wearing dresses, but often, I don't like having to worry about it flying up. Layering a fun pair of pants under it spices the look up. But it's also practical when I need to go up and down subway stairs with two little ones. At night, when I want to turn up my look a little more, I can just take off my pants, and bam. Or, I can just wear the pants with a blazer and large earrings. There are a lot of options in this one look."
"I used this dress a lot during my pregnancy with my son. It allowed me the freedom to be comfortable, especially for a summer pregnancy. I don't wear it often, unless I'm on vacation or it's super hot. The color and texture lends itself to an everyday pop, if I don't feel like putting an entire look together. Belted and lifted up or worn off the shoulder, it becomes slightly sexier, which is good when you've been running after kids all day.
"I recently started to mix pink and red. I've owned a lot of red pieces for years, and never thought about mixing the two. My skirt was like $10 at a vintage store. It's real leather and super comfortable."