Aug. 27, 2009 -- Nina Garcia, the fashion director of Marie Claire magazine and a judge on the popular reality TV show "Project Runway," has written a book called "The Style Strategy: A Less-is-More Approach to Staying Chic and Shopping Smart."
She shared five of her own style secrets for looking great without spending a bundle with "Good Morning America."
Her last book, "The Hundred," gave readers a guide to the classic pieces they should have in their closet. Now she's showing us how to stay stylish using what you already own and occasionally adding a twist or embellishment, or mixing things up in a new way.
Garcia's new book begins with a quote from fashion icon Vivienne Westwood: "Buy less, choose well, and mix it all," and she says that sums up her style strategy.
Style Secret #1: Make a 'Before You Shop' List
There are three questions that help you strategize and economize, Garcia says. Ask yourself: "What do I have? What do I need? What do I want?" When you make your list of what you have, she says to take a thorough inventory of everything you own -- actually go through your closet and drawers and write it all down. The goal, she says, is to focus on what you need and get rid of anything that's poor quality or that you don't wear anymore.
Focusing on what you need means making sure you have the basics: good undergarments, layering shirts, classic jeans, jackets and bags that won't go out of style. Only when you have all of these can you move onto the things you want. Garcia's book has advice on identifying the necessities and learning how to enjoy yourself while shopping for the luxuries, without overspending.
Garcia advises purchasing versatile items, such as a blazer that could be worn with a short dress, a weekend casual outfit and a cocktail dress in the evening.
This is how you want to think about each and every purchase, she says. Do these pants go with at least three shirts? Do these shoes go with at least three outfits? That's how you get the most out of your clothes.
Nina Garcia's Style Secrets
Style Secret #3: Keep Up With Trends but Don't Spend a Fortune
Garcia says there are great stores where you can pick up the trendy stuff very inexpensively. She recommends Forever 21 for accessories, where you can sometimes find a pair of earrings for as little as $3.
H&M, Target and Urban Outfitters all offer limited edition lines from top designers, so you can get trends from some very high end names at a tiny fraction of the usual cost.
Also, H&M has a very quick turnover, so you see new things there all the time, she says.
Style Secret #4: Don't Spend a Bundle on the Basics
The best places to get basics without breaking the bank are probably at your local mall, Garcia says.
Garcia recommends: T.J. Maxx for Hosiery, Denim
Old Navy for Tanks, Sundresses
Target for Bags, Sandals
Rainbow for Plus Sizes
Style Secret # 5: Shop Your Mom's Closet
Garcia says a great way to save money is to recycle old accessories as something else. Use your mom's clip-on earrings to decorate your shoes, or attach your grandmother's brooch to a chain or pin it to an evening clutch.
She says shoulder pads will be in this fall, but you don't have to buy a whole new jacket or dress. Just use some shoulder pads from another outfit or buy them at the store. They're a very inexpensive way to be on trend for this season, but you can take them out when they go out of style.