Forget random shopping excursions. If you're on a budget -- and, really, who isn't these days? -- you need a serious plan to be "econo-chic," and Nina Garcia is here to help with her new book "The Style Strategy" (It Books, $21.99).
On store shelves today, the guide to shopping smart also offers advice on maximizing items women already have in their closets.
"The global recession has affected all of us, and everyone is searching for ways to budget and economize and remain stylish," Garcia, fashion director at Marie Claire and "Project Runway" judge, says.
"I want women to know that luxury and glamour don't have to cost a fortune. If we all approach shopping and style with a smart strategy, our wardrobes and our bank accounts will come out winners."
We caught up with Garcia to get the dish on her favorite shopping advice, the challenges of staying stylish when you're a working Mom and, of course, the latest season of "Project Runway."
Garcia's three favorite shopping tips: My absolute favorite tip for smart shopping is never, never buy anything unless you have at least three items in your closet that it will go with.
Ask yourself the three core questions that are the DNA of my style strategy: "What do I have?," "What do I need?," "What do I want?"
Answer these questions and make a list to take with you whenever you're shopping. It will put an end to those unfortunate impulse buys -- and the shame spiral that comes with them -- for good.
And last, but definitely not least, look for great fabric, immaculate tailoring and an excellent fit. A well-made garment with a flattering fit is far more important than buying into the latest trend.
On how the way we shop has changed in recent years: Without a doubt, women are shopping smarter these days. The Internet has had an immeasurable impact -- we have instant access to fashion from Tokyo, London, Paris and on and on. Women are doing their homework today; they're paying attention to eco-friendliness and sustainability, looking for the best bargains and really making more thoughtful purchases. The "Style Strategy" gives women a map to guide them on their style journey.
On having a shopping game plan: We have so many options now that women should approach all purchases with a plan. The key to econo-chic is knowing when you have to make an investment in a truly exceptional garment, and when you don't have to. And trust me, not everything that's stylish needs to cost a lot of money.
On how her style has changed since becoming a mom: Ha! I don't wear a lot of white anymore. Colorful prints will hide a multitude of spills.
On advice for working mothers who want to stay stylish: I'm a working mother myself, so I feel their pain. My advice for all women is to be confident and innovative. A truly stylish woman can make anything look fabulous with some glam accessories and a fierce attitude. Work what you own, and shop with a purpose, rather than frivolously. It's really the only way to maximize your dollar and minimize time spent at a store.
On Season 6 of "Project Runway": All I can say is that fabulosity, creativity and drama still reign supreme on "Project Runway." You won't be disappointed. I sure wasn't.
On her favorite "Runway" winner: That's so hard! I get asked that question a lot, and I really can't choose just one. Every season has one -- or several -- designers that have such distinct personalities. They're all fabulous in their own way. "Project Runway" is a difficult show to be on, and I admire any designer willing to put themselves through it.
On the hardest part about being a judge: It is so difficult to say goodbye to a designer each week, especially as the season goes on and we get to know each of them. They're all incredibly talented, and they all deserve to be on the show, so it really does come down to who's the best of the best.
On her guest spot on the upcoming scripted series, "The Beautiful Life": It was a blast, but for details you'll have to tune into the show.