This is a guest post from Lucy Lazarony, a freelance writer based in Florida.

You know that wardrobe staple that every woman is supposed to have? The little black dress? Well, I’ve finally got mine! And I found mine on the sales rack at Target. The price $7.58! The regular retail price was $29.

The dress from Target’s own Merona brand is washable so there is no expensive dry cleaning needed. And I live in South Florida — we sweat here, especially in the summer. So whatever I wear has to be washable, breathable and affordable. My little black dress from Target fits the bill.

So far, I’ve worn that little black dress to a dinner party, a fundraiser for the local jazz and swing society, a mixer at the local Chamber of Commerce and two job interviews.

I’ve paired the dress with low heels, left over from my pre-freelancing days (as a freelancer, I like to write barefoot), and a tiny black canvas bag that I bought for 99 cents at a local Japanese museum and gardens.

The bag is the perfect mini-purse and it’s a great conversation starter! I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and say, “I love Morikami, too!”

And the total cost of my go-anywhere black dress and mini-purse is $8.48. That’s some bargain!

I must confess that after years of practicing yoga, my body won’t let me stand or walk in heels for more than a few minutes. I can make a lovely entrance into the room and then all I’m thinking is “When can I sit down?” So I decided to buy some flat sandals. Be your height, ladies. Your hips, toes, feet and lower back will thank you.

For flat sandals, I looked at Target — of course I did — but I ended up getting a pair of sandals by Mark Fisher at Macy’s for $25. The sandals were half-off. And while the computer said there were none in my size, a nice salesman checked in back anyway, and voila I’ve got the perfect sandals to go with my dress.

So I realize that my spectacular bargain of an outfit just went up to $35.48. But it’s still an incredible deal. And it was a surprise, too. I was in Target to score some deals in the food section. Finding my little black dress was a bonus.

And it wasn’t my only fashion bonus that day. I bought another washable, breathable, sleeveless, perfect summer dress, also from Target’s Merona brand. And this one is teeming with color.

Memory drives a purchase

The dress reminds of an Impressionist painting that I had the pleasure of seeing at Musee d’Orsay on a whirlwind trip to Paris in 1993. (I went to Paris for five days after spending the summer in London as an international intern. I earned my final 14 credits as a college student that summer in London. And rather than fly home to graduation in the States, I went to Paris instead.)

The official title of the painting is “Artist’s Garden at Giverny, 1900,” by Claude Monet. A print of this same painting hung in my room at college for four years. I remember buying it at an outdoor poster sale at the student union the first week of classes.

And seeing that very painting in Paris, on the top floor of a glass-roofed museum with the afternoon sun shining upon it, was a dazzling and thrilling moment for me. I’m 22! I’m in Paris! Who cares if I can only afford to eat at McDonald’s! I’m here. Life is good. Anything is possible!

My I-feel-like-I’m-wearing-a-Monet dress from Target is covered in beautiful dabbles of cream, soft pink, pale lavender and just a hint of dark brown. It also has a fun ruffle along the collar.

The price of all this loveliness is just $9.

This exuberant little dress is my go-to dress for art openings and events around Delray Beach, Fla. On a single day I wore it to a job interview with an arts editor at a coffeehouse in the morning and to half a dozen artist studios and galleries in the evening. Later that night, I interviewed a young singer/songwriter following his performance at The Beat Cup Cafe, where performances are appreciated by snaps rather than applause.

By the end of the day, I felt filled to the brim with great conversations, music and art. And all it cost me was a couple of cups of tea and another gem of a dress from Target.

Because summer never really ends in Florida I will be wearing this dress and my little black dress throughout the year. They’re great bargains, but more than anything I feel great when I put them on!

Shopping is the experience

The combination of loving an outfit and not paying close to full price has been instilled in me since I was a child. When shopping with my mom we always headed straight back to the clearance racks of any department store. And how low a price you paid was almost as important as how much you loved a top or skirt or pair of shoes. Plus, it was fun to look and try on clothes even if we came back empty-handed.

I know there are all kinds of ways to shop and save while shopping online but it’s just not for me. The fun of shopping is the going and the trying on. It’s the creative rush of looking at all the different styles of clothes and all the different colors and choosing one, two or three or four to wear, even if it’s only for a few minutes in a dressing room.

One balmy night this summer, I bought a pink-and-black T-shirt with an enormous print of a flower on it for $7 from a small shop near the beach that was stuffed full of touristy treasures. I was out for a walk and the fun, colorful T-shirts in the window pulled me in. The merchant was happy to see me and I was happy to make the purchase with some cash I had with me at the time.

You might think that I’m a fashionista or I have the makings of a shopaholic but I’m neither. I read Walden at 20. When it comes to material goods, I keep things simple. I donate clothes that no longer fit or fit my life. And right now, my entire wardrobe will fit in a single piece of carry-on luggage.

My friend Diane calls my new wardrobe “joyful.” And it is. Even my little black dress has splashes of orange and red flowers on it.

Joy, beauty, happiness — each is where you find it.

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