Save or Splurge: Square-Toed Ballet Flat Outfit

Last week’s save vs splurge post was very popular, so I thought we would do it again. This week we’re comparing a casual, polished outfit that could take you out to lunch or dinner. I know I’m pushing the season a bit, but frankly, I am sick and tired of my summer wardrobe. Today’s save or splurge square-toed ballet flat outfit features a red nylon tote, long white button-down, stretch pants, and square sunglasses.

two outfits showing a save and a splurge option

Let’s start with why I love this look. The square sunglasses are a modern interpretation that will update anything you wear. I’ve been on the hunt for a pair to put my new RX in. I’m a big fan of ballet flats, and the new square toe updates it for fall. I always appreciate a classic white button-down that’s long enough to cover your backside when wearing slim knit pants. It’s comfy, stylish, and looks classier than a short one.



I added a bright red nylon tote for a pop of color with these neutrals. And because it’s lightweight, you can fill it to the brim with all the things you pick up during your day. The hammered silver detail on the pearl earrings modernizes the look, and the wire cuff is sleek and minimal looking.

budget friendly outfit with red tote, white shirt, square sunglasses and square toed ballet flats

I chose simple brown stretch pants because black felt too predictable. Brown will be very popular this fall, so I thought it would be fun to start playing with some styling ideas now. Red lipstick finishes off this contemporary look with modern touches on classic style.

This week, some of the items could fit into the splurge or save outfit, so no one item skews the price significantly.

The splurge outfit totals $1,654, and the save outfit totals $411.

Are there items you would interchange in these outfits to make them fit your budget?

Thanks for reading, and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.




  1. I love your splurge/save posts! I would probably go for the splurge shirt, simply because it isn’t too far out there in price, and I like the tapering at the waist. Great look.

  2. This is an outfit I can easily create!
    I already own that exact splurge blouse, washes very nicely, touch up with an iron (if you iron) and its good to go! I have a very similar pant, from Chico’s fall of 2020.
    I would consider buying the splurge earring, I have other John Hardy pieces that I would use instead of either suggested cuff. I would go with a “save” shoe, only because these square toes seem to come into fashion and back out, very quickly! I like a point toe a bit better, but have scuffed more toes, on uneven sidewalks than I want to recall. Oy!
    The splurge bag seems to bring things together a bit better, since there is some brown leather, pulling the brown slacks in a bit more. (I have seen the splurge bag at various price points.)
    All in all I really like the look! Would be great for an early fall day getaway, and I may just buy those earrings, since we have plans for a long weekend away, in late August!

    1. I have several Longchamp totes and love their versatility. I like the handle tie-in with the brown pants also. Have a fun weekend away!

  3. beth byrd says:

    That red tote really brings this outfit together — especially with the brown pants. I forgot how much I like the mix of brown and red. Really terrific! And honestly, aside from the prices, these outfits are quite similar!

  4. I love this series! Brown pants with a red bag and white shirt seems very current. At first, I was wondering about wearing black (very elegant) flats with browns and reds but then I realized the black sunglasses tie it together. I generally don’t wear tunic length tops so I would pick a shorter length white shirt. One last thought is that you can often buy Longchamp nylon bags on clearance at Nordstrom rack!

  5. It’s interesting how similar both options look. I would splurge on the white tunic shirt as it has pockets and a slender fit but would save on the pants. I never spend much on handbags since I tend to throw them around, put them on the floor, etc. I would call this look updated classic, not at all passé!

  6. Paulette Levy says:

    I think the splurge option on this post! Without a doubt!

  7. Gosh this outfit is terrific in both splurge and save variations. I would probably splurge on the shirt because it is narrower, but a lot would depend on the fit when I was wearing it.

    Splurge or save is my favorite feature! I learn a lot from the way you put together outfits. Thanks!

  8. Nancy Choat says:

    Jennifer, I’m enjoying your high/low postings….they give me some great ideas! Today’s posting really hit home as I’m a “fall” when it comes to colour combos….love the idea of wearing red with the camel or brown! I have a really nice camel knit 2 piece pant/turtle neck outfit & now have ideas for mixing & matching, especially adding red as an accent! Great suggestion! Thanks for making my day Jennifer!

    1. That’s awesome, Nancy!

  9. I have square eyeglasses with a shape similar to the “save” option here. It makes all the difference to have the square angle in slightly at the bottom for a more wearability and femininity on smaller faces.

    I also own a couple of pairs of square-toed, lightweight leather loafers. They work very well for my slim feet.

    I prefer the lower-cost options here because they’re closer to items I’ve already endorsed by buying them.

  10. For the trendy items (square sun glasses and square toe flats) I would go for the “save” option and, in fact, did just that and purchased the flats! So cute and will be perfect to update my Fall wardrobe. I would splurge on the white top because I like the more tailored look of that one, and its a piece that can worn for years to come. Thanks Jennifer, the save or splurge are fun!

  11. This is a GREAT feature. Really like this particular SPLURGE outfit. You do an EXCELLENT job with the SAVE option. Please keep it up.

  12. Love the look. I wear my tunic white shirt with slim pants often in the fall. We are 103 today in Dallas area today,( sigh),so we are still all wearing summer clothes here. Hopefully we will drop these high temps soon. Ready for fall.

  13. I really enjoy these splurge and save posts. Everyone has a white shirt that makes it so much easier to try to duplicate this outfit.

    1. Yes!! This is a great shop your closet outfit.

  14. Love the square toe shoes and will look for a pair that has a small heel. Both bags seem over-priced for nylon, and the straps are not long enough for over-the-shoulder. I have a lovely tote from the Met, which has the added benefit of supporting the arts. If I were to splurge, it would be on the Tory Burch shoes: she’s got a blue pair, which is somewhat less pricey than the red, that is really nice. I wouldn’t wear either outfit.

  15. Leslie Lord says:

    Gosh I’ve clicked on most of the links! I love this look so much! And I am just about to sip my morning coffee but this post has me wide awake :-))
    I have skinny Eileen Fisher pants, a crisp white shirt, the Longchamp bag…pearl earrings and necklace and now I absolutely NEED square toed ballet flats!

    1. I’m needing a pair too! They just make everything look more current.
      I find flats so much more comfy these days too. I hope your wrist is feeling better, Leslie xo

  16. Thanks so much for these interesting, helpful posts! I love this simple, classic style with the pop of red.

  17. karen Carlson says:

    Very cute outfit. I found the oversized white blouse in petites at Talbots and will wear it with my brown pants and animal print flats. My jewelry will be gold rather than silver – I’m an “autumn” and can’t wait for fall and the end of the heat in Denver. I enjoy your blog so much … thanks for the inspiration!

  18. I wear softer colors, no red lipstick, and would not wear a big white oversized blouse, it would overwhelm my petite frame and light coloring, so I can’t relate. I would wear a tunic shirt and straight pants with flats (already in my closet – free), but I thought this look was a bit passé?

    1. What look do you think is passé?

      1. Straight pants with over sized shirt? I was wondering that myself as well.

      2. For some women, it’s a basic style formula they’ll wear year after year. Adding modern accessories help keep it looking current.

    2. I think this outfit is elegant and timeless. The addition of the square toe ballet flats and big square sunglasses makes it more current.
      I would buy the more tailored tunic shirt. A good button down is worth the extra money. And, you know I love red! The pop of red takes it from boring to fun IMHO

      1. I’m a total fan of button-downs too.

    3. Mary Frances says:

      I’m with you, Laura…..very tired of long tunics. I have few left to wear with the jeggings that I still have, that were too expensive for me to want to get rid of so soon.

      Of the tunics I’ve worn, none has been white or a woven fabric. When I have to sit on my top, I am very aware of wrinkles and/or stains I might pick up without realizing it. Not to mention the panic when I fear a long top has dipped into the toilet!!

      I do love the square sunglasses.

  19. I love these looks today. Yes, the white tunic is more expensive but the quality in this case really shows. I love the CeCe brand, never a poor choice with this brand. I am loving the chocolate pants too.

  20. I would definitely purchase a combination of the two. I really like the splurge white shirt and the save pants and shoes. Both looks are beautiful.

  21. Good morning, Jennifer: I really like your pre-fall offerings today… both groupings.. but I would buy the save group. I don’t see a major difference with the “splurge.”.

    1. That’s the whole point of these. The difference is not obvious up close:)

  22. This is fun! 🙂 I love the comparisons and really love that long top (the earrings are great, too)! Always in the market for a long, classy looking top.
    Question for you. Do you have any posts about dressier clothes? My son is getting married in late October and I would love to see your take on some “event” attire. I have my outfit for the wedding itself, but we’re hosting the rehearsal dinner the night before at a very cool (hip, I might even say) restaurant in downtown Chicago and would love to see some trending, fashion forward ideas of what you’d put together. The MOB is pants oriented, so I’ll follow along happily, but some classy outfits that are a bit more celebratory – I would love to take a look at. Thanks for considering and keep up the good work!

    1. I don’t have a category of posts about dressing up. I did a post on wearing pants to a wedding you might like. It’s here.

      1. Awesome – thanks. I’ll check it out.

  23. Thank you for doing another SorS post – I love these and you’re doing an outstanding job of matching the outfits. I’m quite short (5’0”) so I rarely go for tunic length but I do like these outfits. I’d splurge on the shirt because the more expensive version appears to be more fitted than the save shirt. I think the save version would add width to my frame. I’d save on the pants because knit pants (on me anyway) seem to “catch” on things and snag and I’d hate to do that to an investment pair.

    1. The splurge shirt is beautiful quality too.

  24. Jennifer: I really like your fall preview offerings today, but I would select the save to purchase. I don’t think the splurge group is worth the money.

  25. Great outfit and I love the pop of red. This is very easy to duplicate in any budget I think. I just purchased a red nylon bag on the Dooney and Bourke site. It was, and may still be on sale for about $140. That’s a little above my budget, but worth the investment, especially on sale! That price point is just a bit higher than your “save” bag, but a good reliable quality manufacturer.
    I love that you show the whole outfit, complete with lipstick! Fabulous!

    1. I’m glad you’re liking these!

  26. This outfit is very cool.
    Love the square ballet slippers, sunglasses and red bag.
    Total “yes” for me.

  27. I love the brown red combo in your outfits. But even your save outfit ca be made way cheaper without going junky. Amazon has everything. Square polarized sunglasses from $14 to $28. Red tote for $10.
    My closest mall is 35 minutes away and the Nordstrom eliminated the petite department , so getting things delivered saves time and gas. Always free delivery.so if I can find petites on Amazon I go that route. I don’t look my best in narrow pants so I’d get a trouser shape and a short shirt so I’ll look leggier ( I’s very short with a long torso, so hiding any leg is a bad thing.

  28. I’d definitely spring for the key piece in this outfit…the “splurge” white shirt. It looks crisp, well-sewn, and flattering. The “save” shirts is sloppy, baggy, and appears to be a cheap material…hard pass on that one.

  29. My favorite type of post. It proves you can look stylish without breaking the bank. I Love the John Hardy earrings but would never purchase because of the price. Also, I have never been able to wear clip-on earrings. However, there are so many similar choices out there. I would try the Vince flats before purchasing the TB, just because of cost. Love the Longchamp bag. For this outfit I would chose items from both the Save vs Splurge. Thanks.

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