Skip to main content

Break the Rules, Not the Bank

This column is for the bohéme on a budget. The loan-laden student. The frugal fatale. The penny-wise professional woman. I’ll stop with the alliteration, but seriously I could do this all day. Basically, it’s for anyone who’s sick of shopping (and dressing) in conventional ways. Our clothing should never be so expensive that it limits us—financially—from pursuing the life we as women want to live. With an economy on the ropes, I’m excited to kick off this series for Verily onmoney-saving strategies.

To build your closet, you don’t need to break the bank. But you do need to break a few rules. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that we’ll only stand out by wearing impressive brand names. This isn't true! To be honest, store brands stamped across people always reminds me of those stickers on chickens in the frozen food aisle—pre-wrapped, uniform, and cold.

When fashion gets too serious or self-important, it feels silly. Getting dressed in the morning with the sole purpose of making yourself (and those around you) laugh may not always be the best strategy to employ, but I've found it's well worth a try. While writing for Seventeen Magazine, I got a phone call that couldn’t have made me happier. It was from an editor, and she was mad. To be more specific, she was mad at me. She’d just read my recent article, and said, “Courtney, we need you to give fashion advice. Not give fashion advice and make fun of it in the same sentence.”

Today, I offer a challenge that doesn’t involve buying anything: Find the most stubborn article of clothing in your closet—the piece you don’t think “goes” with anything—and create three looks around it. Rethinking clothing combinations in your closet can triple your wardrobe without costing you a dime.

Here’s an example. ENTER: my Madewell sweater, which my sister unaffectionately nicknamed ‘The Nightmare on Sesame Street.’


I bought this for next to nothing on what I call a double-dog dare (twice marked down, but "final sale"). It’s a tough piece to pair with things, so I take the opposite route and wear it with whatever on earth I want.


Never shrink from playing around with clothing you already own. Riff on off-radar patterns. Let your personal humor shine through. Be your own. People will never hold you to conventional, sartorial rules if you clearly don't bother to follow them in the first place.

chill out music

Courtney Kampa

the bachelor, reality show