Last month, Valerie Elizabeth subjected herself to any good fashionista's nightmare: She got up every morning and put on the same dress.
The Dallas stylist wanted to show how easy it is to look glamorous on a budget. She aimed to have a new look each day with one little black dress and some creative accessories — belts, shoes, scarves, jewelry and even jeans.
Elizabeth said her "Little Black Dress Experiment," which she documented at societystylist.com, helps her reach more people with the advice she's found herself giving women on a budget: Take a good look in your closet and get creative with the pieces you already have.
"If I'm telling people this, I should show that I can do this too," she said.
A new day, a new look
So she set out with a versatile little black dress — actually two identical Elli Grace dresses, so she has time to wash them — and started digging in her closet.
She wore the dress to everything from a performance at the House of Blues to media interviews to a visit to an arcade with her son on a day she had paired the dress with a pair of steep Prada wedges — "I certainly was the most dressed up," she said.
And while she did not necessarily swear off any new purchases for the month, she found most outfits came from items she already owned.
Each day she posted on her Web sites a picture of herself, a listing of everything she's wearing, how much it cost, where you can buy it and where she wore it that day. She said she made an effort to put together outfits that wouldn't necessarily be her personal style just to give people inspiration.
She found she can dress it up with heels and jewelry and dress it down with flip-flops or jeans.
"It's been a challenge to see how many things I can put together," she said.
31 different looks
She's incorporated everything from Miu Miu sandals she got on sale for about $234 to a lace top she picked up at Target for less than $10 to necklace she picked up at a vintage store for $8.
Lamarr Nanton, who designs Elli Grace along with Sojung Yang, said he logged on to Elizabeth's Web site each day to see what she's created.
Elizabeth, who charges $150 an hour to help people go through their closets and develop a personal style, said that as a dedicated outlet and thrift shopper, she's been well-equipped to deal with the economic downturn, which hit around the same time her Web site launched last fall.
"It really has gotten me back to the roots of actual styling," Elizabeth said. "There's a difference between spending and actual styling."