How to look good for less.

Dressing well and developing your own personal style doesn’t need to cost a fortune. There are loads of really cheap and cheerful ways to get the most out of your wardrobe without draining your bank account. Here are my very best tips for looking your best, for less.



– Clean out your wardrobe every couple of months. This will give you a really clear idea of what you have, so that you don’t wind up buying a million similar items.



– Get acquainted with second hand stores. It’s true, they tend to be a bit musty and filled with Kamahl records, but they are also a source of fashion joy. If you’ve never op-shopped before, or you want a few pointers, check out my article on op-shopping.



– Don’t spend lots of money on trendy items. It’s a really good idea to invest in good quality basic items, because you will wear these the most. Your staple items are what you should spend the bulk of your fashion budget on. Many chain stores offer cheap versions of trend items, which is better for you in the long run.



– Add your own creative twist to basic items by sewing on lace, beads or sequins. Go nuts with fabric paints and dyes. Customize your wardrobe to your hearts’ content. Not only will it cost a lot less, you will wind up with an item that is uniquely your own.



– Check bargain bins for hidden treasures. Don’t be sucked in by savings, but look over everything with an eagle eye. If you see something that would really add to your wardrobe, or that you could make into a brilliant item, snap it up.



– Don’t pay a fortune for beauty basics. Things like bobby pins, hair ties, shampoo, toothpaste and shower gel can often be purchased at junk stores for a fraction of the price that you would pay at a supermarket or chemist. I buy a lot of my basic toiletries at The Reject Shop because they stock all the big name brands, but charge a lot less for them.



– Invest in accessories. Items like hats, scarves, jewelry and stockings are perfect for livening up your look without breaking the bank.



– Take advantage of the end of season sales. It’s true that you will have to wait a few months to wear any of your purchases, but if you choose items you really like and which work well with your wardrobe, it won’t even matter to you that they aren’t on trend. Stores like Sportsgirl often have massive savings on their regular stock at the end of a season, which is when I swoop in and stock up.



– Ask your mum, grandma or aunt if they have any old clothes or jewelry that they would be willing to pass along to you. Some of my favorite pieces are actually hand-me downs from my mother and aunt. I even have a couple of pieces that belonged to my great-grandmother.



– Trade clothes with your stylish mates.



– Look at the items already in your wardrobe and look for new ways to wear them. I like to take a gypsy skirt and wear it as a strapless dress, with a big belt to pull it in around my middle. Mini-skirts can be worn as tops, dresses can be layered over jeans, necklaces can become bracelets or headbands, long cardigans can be pinned and belted to make dresses. The possibilities are endless!



– Learn to knit, sew or crotchet. This way you can make plenty of bits and bobs for yourself, which means that they will fit better and reflect your personal style to a tee.



– Head to your favorite designer or up-market stores and try on any garments you like. Make a note of the item numbers and sizes and then check online. You can often find the exact same garments for much less on sites like Ebay, and sometimes the store’s own website has the same items for cheaper.



– If you see an item that you really like in a store, but you can’t afford to buy it, be patient. Often, stores will have plenty of stock, and not everything will sell by the end of the season. I have so many garments that I purchased for 50% or more less than the original retail price when it finally came on sale. It’s true that this practice is a bit risky, but I find that it often pays off.



– When you throw away worn out items, remove buttons, trims or lace before chucking them in the bin. Keep these in a little sewing box for future craft projects, or for running repairs.



– Take advantage of lay-by services. If there is an item that you really love, pop it on lay-by and pay it off bit by bit. Most stores only charge a minimal fee, and you can budget more easily. Lay-by also give you a ‘cooling off’ period, so if you decide a week later that you don’t really need that fabulous jacket, you can just cancel your lay-by. It’s true that you will usually lose the lay-by fee, but I’d rather pay a couple of dollars for some thinking time than spend a hundred dollars on an item I don’t really need that will just take up space.



These are just a few basic suggestions to get you going. If you have any extra ideas, I would love to hear them!

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