Five tips for staying stylish on a budget

You don’t have to shop designer to stand out from the crowd.

For some, there is no better feeling than seeing your hard-earned money transform into a luxurious designer dress. For others, it’s like watching a horror film: frightening, a little exciting, but often followed by all-consuming regret.  Thankfully, looking chic and staying on a budget are not mutually exclusive. Here are five ways to keep the cost down, without sacrificing your personal style:

By Bébhinn Campbell

1. Shop vintage
In fashion today, ‘vintage’ encompasses a myriad of items, from your grandmother’s intricate lace wedding gown to a pair of Adidas tracksuit bottoms from the ‘90s. The spectrum is wide, which makes the process of weeding out the bad from the
good even more exhausting. But if you treat your purchases with patience and consideration, each addition will be exciting
and unpredictable. On demand shopping has made us lazy; now anything in our mind’s eye can materialise with a single click. Not only can vintage and charity-shop shopping be cost-effective and waste-reducing, the effort can make the final result a lot more satisfying.

2. Your own swap-shop
In almost all circumstances, taking advantage of your friends is not recommended. But borrowing from their wardrobe might be one of the few exceptions. If you forget about items after
one wear or fear being photographed in the same dress twice, find somebody else who shares the problem. We’re all a bit nosy, so looking through another person’s wardrobe is never going to be dull. You might alleviate some of your shoppers’ guilt by lending that never-worn dress to a friend, or be  encouraged to try something outside your own style comfort zone. And if a group of you get together, it can be a lot of fun.

3. Go for gold
Followers of fashion are always told to invest in the basics – but isn’t this boring? Some might feel comfortable floating into
Selfridges and splashing out on a handful of t-shirts, varying only slightly (and probably unnoticeably) in length and neckline. In reality, a ten-pound cotton t-shirt will probably do the job. Similarly, a flattering pair of jeans don’t need to cost a fortune. So instead of spending your money on essentials that don’t excite you, invest in the special items: the items which will induce happy tears each time you open your wardrobe. These are the pieces you’ll want to hold onto.

4. Think big picture
Fashion has a history of repeating itself. Fortunately, some trends are transient (let’s hope low-rise jeans stay in the noughties), but others we just can’t seem to let go of. When shopping for your next special purchase, look for items which will fit into the broader pattern of re-emerging, classic looks: think seasonal colours and timeless silhouettes. In a year’s time, we might look back on the ‘70s trend as a case of  nostalgia mistaken for style, but pastels will always be appropriate for Spring.

5. Accessorize
If Vogue has convinced you that transient fashion is obligatory, look to the ‘micro’ trends. A catwalk model might be wearing
a two-thousand-pound dress, however the red beret that sets the look apart can be replicated in a quick trip to the high street – or your new favourite vintage shop. Chokers,  statement earrings and mini bags are just a few accessories adopted by the runway over the past few seasons. Dig around in your drawers and you might find you already own them. Style them with outfits you’ve grown tired of to infuse them with a new lease of life.

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