Friday 25 May 2012

Buying Style on a Budget

It is often the case that people turn to ‘retail therapy’ when they feel  a bit low. But, in the current economic climate this ‘pick-me-up’ can lead to more problems than the ones we’re trying to escape from - on top of the fact that psychologists will tell you that it’s not effective or healthy anyway! As well as a lack of money some people also chose not to spend on fortune on fashion as a point of principle.

But if, like me, you still like to treat yourself every now and again; or you need to update your look or get an outfit for special occasion, you might be looking for ways to do it sensibly and without blowing your budget. As an image consultant I deal with clients with a range of budgets, and here are the tips I share with more conservative or thrifty shoppers (in addition to the obvious one to shop in the sales, charity shops or budget stores such as Primark which might not be your preference).

Don’t buy it just because it’s on sale or in fashion as it’s a false economy. How many of us have items stuck at the back of the wardrobe because they seemed like a good buy at the time? It is actually more cost effective to buy something a little more expensive that you will wear often – to ‘justify’ the initial spend, divide the cost of an item by the number of times you’ll wear it. If you can’t think of at least two separate events it might be suitable for (halving the cost) be careful.

Shop about on-line as you may just find similar items at reduced cost from places such as ebay. This is also a great way to save time, if you can be quite specific about what you want. On-line shopping from high street stores, rather than doing the shopping trip, may also help reduce impulse buying. Either way, on-line shopping can save you travel costs, time and energy, and the dreaded changing room experience!

Consider swapping clothes – either informally or at an official ‘swishing’ event, which is a cost effective way of getting new (or nearly new) clothes at the same time as getting rid of unwanted/unworn items. It’s becoming so popular it’s even been done at the House of Lords! Croydon-based Lauren Wisdom hosts regular swishing events – for more details, visit

If you need an outfit for a special, one-off event - why not borrow something special... just as many a groom does!  As with ‘swishing’, you can do this via friends or more formally – check out one provider which lends special occasion and designer-wear for a fraction of the cost of a purchase.

Another option if you like unique pieces, but can’t afford designer, is to look at vintage outlets which do day, evening, special occasion and even wedding garments. This can be time consuming but worth it... Go to a vintage event with  or look at vintage fashion at (vintage).

A personal favourite and one I practice is to ‘shop your wardrobe’ which is recommended by Colour Me Beautiful. Be sure that you don’t have some hidden gems lurking that could be updated or repaired. Link this to my final tip, which is to accessorise, accessorise, accessorise for a new look outfit which can be done at the fraction of the cost of a whole new outfit! For example take a simple shift dress in a staple colour and give it a fresh look with seasonal pieces such as a new pair of shoes, scarves, jewellery... and voila!