11 Frugal Fashion Tips From Covert Affairs
One of my favorite sources of frugal fashion ideas is the television series "Covert Affairs." Having watched the show for three seasons now, I’ve had a chance to observe a tip or two. (See also: Fake It Till You Make It — Thrift on the Sly)
1. Dresses Are Divine
This particular frugal fashion tip comes from the character Joan Campbell, played by Canadian-born actress Kari Matchett. As a long-time fan of the show, I’ve noticed that this character almost exclusively wears dresses in the office. Not only does she always look sharp, but when you think about it, this is also an extremely affordable fashion choice. Even if you bump up your dress choices to the higher end of mid-range, you still only have to dish out for one wardrobe item. Compared to a skirt or slacks with a top and jacket, that’s pretty good. You can still keep an extra cardigan or duster at work to handle spills and temperature changes, and packing a single piece of clothing is a great precision packing strategy.
2. Varying Necklines Offer Layering Options
This one comes from Christopher Gorham’s character Auggie Anderson, or at least the people who choose what he wears on camera. Fairly frequently, I see him dressed in a crew-neck shirt layered under a V-neck one. While women can technically use this idea too, I think it’s a great men’s fashion solution for those who spend a lot of time on the road. Not only can it be used avoid packing a heavy sweater in your carry-on bag, it also allows the guys a wardrobe-stretching option if a dress shirt gets something spilled on it between meetings. If the collar and cuffs still look good, you can layer your shirt and tie under this same sweater to keep things somewhat corporate under challenging circumstances. You can also keep this same strategy casual by going with a couple of different colors of short-sleeved crew-neck tees under a long-sleeved one.
3. Pencil Skirts Are a Perfect Wardrobe Choice
Spy Annie Walker wears these throughout the series. Pencil skirts are a great addition to your list of classic wardrobe items and work with blazers, short jackets, sweaters, and more. What’s more, they’ve been in style since the 1940s and don’t show signs of falling out of fashion any time soon. Purchasing a lined one in black wool is a savvy way to add to your selection of career separates.
4. Straw Tote Bags Are a Simple Staple
Piper Parabo carries a large straw tote often in season three. While I’m not sure what brand the "Covert Affairs" team chose, I am quite certain I have seen such totes available for a song at various department stores and markets around the world. They may not have a bunch of compartments or other functional features, but they hold a ton of stuff and can be affordably organized with the use of smaller, zip-up pencil pouches and other convenient containers available at places like Dollar Tree, Walmart, and Marshalls. Larger totes can also hold smaller clutch purses, hanging toiletry bags, reading material, padded camera inserts, and more. They allow you to carry what you need on the plane and still pull off a corporate look when you get where you’re going by pulling a wristlet or leather file brief out of the bag and leaving the rest in your hotel room.
5. Black Heels Are a Basic Must-Have
While we can’t all afford the designer version worn by Annie Walker, it’s safe to say that a high-quality pair of black pumps will take you a long way in this world. Indeed, the show’s wardrobe people have her wearing them with everything from cocktail dresses to business suits and a number of outfits in between. Kari Matchett’s character also wears black pumps in nearly every episode. Ladies just out of college can purchase a pair now and use them for interviews, dates, and day-to-day business appointments for years to come. They are one of the most important wardrobe basics a woman can purchase.
6. Simple, Straight Hair Cuts Provide Serious Style Options
I’m not sure why more women aren’t hip to it, but maintaining an uber basic and slightly longer hair cut is a great way to have great hair for less. This is another fashion concept demonstrated on "Covert Affairs." Beginning in the first episode, both Joan Campbell and Annie Walker transition from sleek ponytails to straight over-the-shoulder dos. There’s even an impromptu French twist that makes it into the mix, demonstrating once again the power of having a few bobby pins on hand.
7. Black Suits Are a Wardrobe Essential
Both men and women can use this wardrobe staple for job interviews and office fashion that never goes out of style. Piper Parabo wears them in numerous episodes, sometimes with a skirt, and other times with slacks. The point is that a great black suit in a classic cut will never go out of style, and it will leave you ready for everything from career changes and corporate presentations to family funerals and friends’ weddings.
8. Sweaters Can Help Solve Fashion Emergencies
During the third episode of season one, Piper Parabo uses a basic cardigan to cover a bleeding bullet wound when she needs to enter a bank without drawing attention. While few of us deal with her sort of wardrobe malfunctions on a daily basis, the tip is a sound one for lunch mishaps and leaky fountain pens. Stashing one in your work locker will keep you prepared for minor emergencies and let you cover up spills until you can get home to deal with the problem.
9. Crisp White Shirts Are Critical
I may not be the slickest person when it comes to keeping them clean, but I know a high-powered wardrobe staple when I see one. Crisp, white dress shirts are a critical fashion basic for both men and women, and one that the "Covert Affairs" wardrobe team puts into play with its characters on a regular basis. They let you look chic all year, and pair with everything from a stylish vest to a business suit, as well as blue jeans and dress shirts.
10. Trench Coats Are Here to Stay
Trench coats are another one of those classic, unisex wardrobe items that have been in style for quite some time, providing three-season coverage from mild to moderate weather. Considering how long a good one will last and the amount of flexibility it provides, purchasing one is a solid frugal fashion purchase that you can feel confident making.
11. Form-Fitting Active Wear in Thin Fabrics Is a Frugal Choice
This wardrobe choice saves you money on multiple fronts. First, it’s a great strategy for travel clothing, because these items take up less space than heavier, loose-fitting terrycloth sweatpants and hoodies. This saves on baggage fees while allowing you the ability to maintain your exercise routine while on the road for business. They also dry quickly by air whether at home or on the road, making them perfect to take back and forth to use at the gym after work and air dry in order to save on electricity costs.
Do you watch "Covert Affairs" on a regular basis, or do you have favorite frugal fashion tips from other popular television shows?