How-To: Refresh Your Basic Wardrobe Pieces For Under $5 (Part 1)

Tania Tonello is a fashion stylist, personal shopper, and regular contributor to STYLE Canada based in Downtown Toronto. On #WardrobeWednesdays, she gives you fun yet practical tips and tricks to mastering the art of dressing and expressing yourself in a functional, economical, and more sustainable way. You can read last week’s instalment here

What if I told you that it’s possible to create seven new looks for under $5? No, that’s not a typo you’re seeing. Adding an accessory or statement piece to an existing outfit can turn it into a whole new look. You don’t need to drop hundreds of dollars on new tops and bottoms to update your basic wardrobe pieces. You just need the right embellishments and styling techniques to refresh them. In this edition of #WardrobeWednesday, I let you in on some fun, affordable, and creative ways to reinvent the essentials I outlined last week. Let’s dive in.


1. Plain White T-Shirt

Scarf It

There’s something about a scarf that adds a level of sophistication to any look, and wearing one is a great way to incorporate seasonal trends without breaking the bank.

Simons Sheer Tie-Dye Scarf, $29

Knot It

A front, side, or back knot can transform the look of a plain tee, creating a more playful and casual aesthetic. You’ll want to ensure that you have enough stretchy fabric to comfortably knot your t-shirt, so don’t be afraid to size up.

Jewel It

Adding a statement necklace instantly elevates a basic t-shirt. The contrast between these two pieces creates interest and some neck bling turns a casual tee into an office or date appropriate item.

Weekend Max Mara Rada Multi-Beaded Necklace, $175

2. Dark Denim

Cuff It

A little cuff goes a long way. If you haven’t played with cuffing denim, now’s the time. With newfound ankle space, your prized hosiery and footwear can soak up more of the limelight.

Gap Mid Rise Best Girlfriend Jean, $109

Cut It

If you’re on the verge of purging or donating denim, consider whether a D.I.Y. project will still allow you to enjoy them. Fabric scissors and five spare minutes can transform old jeans into your new favourite pair of shorts. Just remember to cut conservatively, because we know there’s no turning back after making that first cut.

SINGER Heavy Duty Bent Scissors, $29.99

Distress It

If a pant-to-short transformation feels too risky, play with distressing options like knee rips. Scissors, tweezers, sandpaper, and a razor are key tools required for completing this task.

3. Black Blazer

Belt It

The easiest blazer transformation involves an accessory you already own: a belt. This styling tip has duel benefits – it’ll accentuate your waist and add some edge to your outfit.

Zara Straight Cut Double Breasted Blazer, $159

4. White Sneakers

Know that awkward moment when your ‘all-white kicks’ start looking 50 shades of beige? Let’s be realistic – it’s next to impossible to keep sneakers completely clean when you’re getting mileage out of them. Whether you’re looking to mask sneaker dirt or seeking a full shoe makeover, here are some creative ways to freshen things up.

Patch It

We’ve seen them revamp denim pants and jackets, but what about sneakers? For non-committal application, use double sided tape. For longer lasting love, apply patches with a glue gun. Depending on your footwear fabric, you might be able to remove the patch and glue without a trace.

Misscrafts Embroidery Applique Patches, $18.19

Lace It

A quick and inexpensive way to renew your runners is to switch up the laces. You can remove laces altogether for a more relaxed and minimalist look or incorporate seasonal colour trends with a new set.

Sport Chek D-Ring Flat 45 Inch Laces – Neon Yellow, $3.99 

Sketch It

Let your sneakers reflect your personal style through customized art. If you’re feeling inspired, dust off your art supplies and get creative with your kicks. Better yet, why not collaborate with a talented local sneaker artist?


Pom It

Another inexpensive and fun way to alter the look of your runners is with pom poms. Use laces to thread and secure them, then play with positioning to determine what looks best.

M-Aimee 24 Pieces Faux Fur Pom Pom Balls, $26.99

5. Black Pumps

Clip It

Want that designer footwear bling at a fraction of the price? Try shoe clips! They snap on and off with ease and can add a little sparkle to an otherwise understated pair. Your everyday work pump just became that fancy pair of heels you needed for an upscale event. You’re welcome!

Kilofly 2 Pairs Elegant Rhinestone Crystal Metal Shoe Clips, $21.99

Chain It

If Mr. T can rock it, so can your heels. I love the edge that a few chains add, taking your heel from basic to bomb.

4Pcs/Lot Heel Decorations Shoe Chains, $16.29

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

You May Also Like


Check out our summer 2024 roundup! These are some of our favourite picks for the season! Read more below, and shop yours today! Parent/Baby...


Welcome to ‘Faces of FAT’, a captivating series that takes you behind the scenes of Fashion Art Toronto 2024. Dive into the compelling narratives...


Welcome to ‘Faces of FAT’, a captivating series that takes you behind the scenes of Fashion Art Toronto 2024. Dive into the compelling narratives...


Welcome to ‘Faces of FAT’, a captivating series that takes you behind the scenes of Fashion Art Toronto 2024. Dive into the compelling narratives...