Fashion & Beauty

The Look for Less

Image (1)IF YOU’RE WONDERING why your college girls are flocking to Old Navy for more than just cheap T-shirts, here’s the answer. The styles may be too young, too short for let’s-say-mature legs, but  they’re unarguably cool for casual summer days.  We sent our own college girl, Emily Harburg, to investigate. 


I LOVE EXPERIMENTING with new looks and refreshing my closet, but I’m neither sufficiently confident in my personal style nor willing to spend enough money to justify buying designer labels. Jeans and outerwear aside, it just doesn’t make sense to seriously spend on clothes that I’m not totally committed to, or trends that are wardrobe staples now but may be passé by the fall. Enter Old Navy. At some point since the days when the Gap-owned brand was best known for Fourth of July gear and ill-fitting khakis, Old Navy established itself as a go-to stop for well-priced and decently made versions of seasonal trends (my favorite pieces from three years ago have held up just fine). I tend to find straight-off-the-runway designer trends enticing but slightly intimidating, and Old Navy’s options are not only exponentially cheaper but usually less risky, and therefore more wearable (in the neckline, for instance). And best of all, there is almost always some kind of in-store promotion, offering further discounts. I did some summer shopping at Montgomery Mall’s Old Navy (currently 40% off all styles in store) and found some on-trend steals that hold their own against pricier options (see Old Navy choices in pix below on left and their higher-price comparisons below right).

The Look: Striped Swing Dress

I can already tell this dress will be a favorite once the heat kicks in. I had reservations about the new trend toward loose-fitting dresses, mainly falling in the “I look like I’m wearing a burlap sack” category. But lo and behold, this dress is both comfortable and flattering (and did I mention comfortable). The relaxed fit and soft material are a godsend for the days when you can’t move without sweating. The navy and white stripes keep things cool and classic, but there are plenty of color options available online and in stores.

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Old Navy Jersey Swing Dress in Navy/White stripe, regular price $26.94, sale price $15 online,


Sacai Striped Cotton Dress, $370,



The Look: Button-up Romper 

I’ve been on the fence about rompers for a while now, so I was glad I could test the waters without testing my budget. The cinched waist on the Old Navy look  (below left) is comfortable and lies nicely without awkward pleating (which is not always the case with this kind of look). The button-up front and cuffed sleeves add some structured style, while the black-and-white floral print keeps things versatile. And it has pockets, which is always a welcome surprise.  

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Old Navy Printed Romper, regular price $39.94, sale price $26.50 online,

T by Alexander Wang Poplin Playsuit, regular price $390, sale price $234,









The Look: Classic Work Sheath Dress

Sure, this dress will never be the most exciting object in my closet, but it’s perfect for an office setting (or in my case, endless interviews). It’s easy to accessorize — think “statement necklace” or a bright-colored belt. Most important, I love how it fits. It can be hard to find work clothes that don’t sacrifice fit for formality, and even harder to find them for the price of this Old Navy option (below left).

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Old Navy Sleeveless Sheath Dress in Dark Heather Grey, $34.94 online,


Theory Berry 2B Edition Dress, $295,









The Look: Lace-Up Gladiator Sandals

The gladiator sandal has been around for a while, but recently the lace-up look has been gaining speed. It can be hard to make this shoe work without looking costumey, but Old Navy’s (below left) manages just fine. The laces are easily adjustable, allowing for plenty of versatility in fit and and style. In the perfect neutral tan, this sandal adds a unique touch to any look, from cuffed boyfriend jeans to a fancier sundress.


Old Navy Ghillie-Tie Gladiator Sandal in Almond, regular price $24.94, sale price $14.96 in store


Stuart Weitzman RomanFlat in Amaretto Brown, $445,










The Look: Shirt Dress

Chambray is one of my favorite trends around, although until now I’ve been limited to button-up shirts, which I wear religiously over just about everything. For under $40,  though, I was willing to make the leap into the shirtdress. The light wash adds an effortless cool vibe, and the relaxed fit, like that of the swing dress, makes it easy to wear and style. For now I’m sticking with a belt (not included) but the possibilities are endless.

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Short-Sleeve Chambray Shirtdress in Light Wash, regular price $34.94, sale price $20.96 in store


Topshop Oversize Colorblock Shirtdress, $75,








— Emily Harburg

Emily Harburg, MyLittleBird’s summer intern, last wrote about  DCLVP’s Voices Against Violence Fundraiser. 

One thought on “The Look for Less

  1. Nancy Gold says:

    Old Navy has always been my go-to for “play” clothes, since I need good clothing for work. The styling and quality have really been picked up in recent years. And something is always on sale, either on-line or in the store.

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