One of the secrets to dressing well without spending a fortune is to purchase items strategically. Determine what would work with your existing wardrobe and your style, and buy good quality designer pieces when they go on sale. Even if you can only afford one designer/high-end piece a year or season, an item that is versatile, of great quality, and something you love will work for your wardrobe many times over.
Nordstrom is currently having a Designer Collections Sale with up to 65% off select items.
Above are some of my favorites from the sale:
top L to R: Helmut Lang dress, L'Agence silk blouse, Helmut Lang top, Helmut Lang shorts, Armani pants, Marc Jacobs bag
The Elizabeth and James dress below isn't included in the sale :(, but I had to include it. Great for the summer and travel, and oh so chic.