Whilst I’m all for investing in certain pieces in my wardrobe that I want to have longevity such as bags, shoes and coats, I tend to scrimp on trend items that I know may only last a season or two. It’s fun to update my look with a few key of-the-moment items but it doesn’t make sense to me to spend loads on them. Australia has a great selection of chain stores of local and overseas brands so I’ve learnt that you can easily snap up trendy pieces that won’t break the bank. Here are a few of my go-tos when I’m looking for an inexpensive fashion fix.
Who doesn’t love Zara? They’re great for runway inspired pieces so you can often find some really up-to-the-minute looks at a fraction of the price. I also like that their designs are often on trend, but interpreted in such a simple, unfussy way that they can easily be worked back with pieces you already own.
Whilst H&M is great for simple basics like tees and jeans, I also like the fact that they have some really contemporary designs that are fun. If I’m ever looking to dabble in a trend that I know won’t last beyond a season, I’ve found that snapping up something from H&M will often allow me to do so without breaking the bank.
Seed often stock a lot of really beautiful pieces that are classic and polished, which is exactly what draws me to this brand. They often feature most of the popular trends in their range, but you can also find dressy pieces for work and after dark at an accessible price point.
Witchery‘s great for classic pieces that are ultra wearable. They often have quite understated designs which makes most of their range quite versatile. Also they stock things such as blazers, slacks and jumpers which look upmarket and expensive but are at a far cheaper price point than taking the designer route.
I’ve got several pieces from Uniqlo in my closet that are still going strong. And I think it’s because they do simple really well. From t-shirts to knits, pants and dresses, everything is really understated which extends the wearability of anything from their range. I also like that they incorporate natural fabrics such as wool, cotton and even cashmere into their range but price it quite reasonably.
If you’re currently trying to navigate the tricky fashion terrain that is dressing while pregnant then you’ll know that it can become quite the style conundrum when you have no idea what to wear and a slowly diminishing wardrobe to boot. Having been through the experience twice, I totally get it!
The thing I found with pregnancy dressing was that I wanted to stay true to my style but I was faced with having to accomodate an ever changing body shape so all my usual go-tos weren’t all going to work. However it was such a finite amount of time that I didn’t want to spend a fortune buying an entirely new wardrobe. So here are a few ways that I managed to do it without spending a lot.
Use a pants extender
Investing in a pants extender or better yet just using a good ol’ fashion hair elastic if you’re wearing a long enough top can allow you to use a lot of your pants (or anything that has a button up waistband) well into your pregnancy. If you can use most of the bottoms you already own that’s half the battle right there.
Shop your closet
Check out what you already own that you can use to accomodate your growing belly. Look for anything with a bit of stretch such as a jersey dress or is a roomier fit like an oversized blouse — these can last you through various stages of your pregnancy.
Borrow men’s clothes
I borrowed a lot of Luke’s shirts and jumpers when I was pregnant as they were roomy enough and long enough to work with my new belly. If you’re able to grab a few pieces from the resident males in your life such as your partner, your brother or even your dad then make the most of it as these pieces work great during a pregnancy.
Buy cheap basics but size up
During both pregnancies I bought basic tees and tops from ASOS and these lasted me the entire time. As with your regular wardrobe, if you have staples like t-shirts, singlets and stretchy dresses you’ll be able to use these as the core part of your looks but elevate them with the right accessories. You don’t even have to buy maternity specific items, just buy a few sizes up to accomodate your bump.
Elevate looks with accessories
When you’re wearing pretty much the same things throughout a pregnancy it’s easy to get wardrobe fatigue. So enlist the help of some great accessories to inject a bit of new life into your looks. A beautiful scarf, statement earrings or fun sunglasses are all things that can instantly transform your look.
Layer, layer, layer
I would often wear things like vests, cardigans or blazers over what I was wearing as I felt it helped give me a little extra coverage, plus it just made everything feel a little more chic. I’m a fan of layering in my regular wardrobe so doing so throughout my pregnancies allowed me to feel that I was dressing like my usual self.
Chain stores are one of the easiest ways to dress yourself on a budget as often they’ll incorporate lots of on trend pieces worked back with core basics in their collection. That said, you often get what you pay for when it comes to high street buys so it pays to know what to look for to ensure that what you’re getting still looks high end. Here are a few easy ways to ensure a luxe finish with any bargain buy.
Mix and match with pricier pieces
I’m all about embracing the high-low mix— so working cheaper pieces with more expensive things. Often you can get away with working a simple outfit sourced from your favourite chain store and work it back with some investment pieces from your wardrobe such as a great bag or shoes and end up with a look that just says high end. Essentially it’s luxury by association.
Look out for finishes
It’s best to keep things simple when it comes to any chain store purchases and avoid things like embellishments. One of the best ways you can tell a designer item apart from a cheaper alternative is in the finishes that they use. Luxe goods will use high quality metals for any chains, buckles and straps as generally that’s included in the price tag, whereas you might not be getting quite the same quality with a high street buy.
Keep it simple
If you’re looking for a showstopper of a dress incorporating lots of beading or sequins then you will most definitely get what you pay for. As this kind of finish is so intricate, often it won’t come at a cheap price tag. If you want your chain store finds to look expensive, it’s best to avoid anything too delicate. Think designs that are quite simple and straightforward.
Pay attention to how it’s made
There are some fantastic high street buys to be snapped up out there but it does pay to stop and inspect the quality. One way you can cheapen a garment is if the finish isn’t quite right. If there’s plenty of loose threads or the stitching’s a bit imprecise then you might want to consider searching for other alternatives. Also don’t forget to be choosy with fabrics. Natural fabrics like cotton and linen will always present well, whereas anything that’s man made may come across as a bit shiny.
Add the right accessories
It’s amazing what the right accessories can do for a look. Pairing your fave high street outfit with a few standout pieces can instantly elevate it. Think a gorgeous pair of statement earrings or a beautiful silk scarf. Both are good examples of the the kind of things that you can add to any look to give it an expensive feel.
As I have to attend so many events during the year it’s not cost effective for me to buy a new look every single time I have to go to something. I’d be spending a fortune on event looks that I might not really wear all that often which just doesn’t make sense to me. I’d rather spend most of my fashion budget on outfits that will get plenty of wear. So I’ve learnt a few ways to do occasion wear without having to spend a lot of money every time…
Have a little black dress in your wardrobe
It’s one of the most versatile things you can own and it’s also one of the best event wear items you can invest in. A simple, sleek black dress can easily be worn to multiple occasions and changed up by swapping key accessories and doing a new beauty look each time you wear it.
I’ve raided the cupboards of friends a time or two, or worked with a label when I’m going to an event so sourcing event clothing outside of my own wardrobe is a strategy I’m well aware of. If you can’t hit up your girlfriends’ wardrobes then consider a dress hire service. There are so many of them around now that it would be silly not to take advantage of them. Often you can hire a gorgeous designer dress for a standard rental fee that would otherwise require you to drop a few hundred (sometimes thousands) dollars on it. This makes sense from a cost per wear perspective and you can still get that special feeling that comes from wearing a brand that you love.
Buy at sale time
If you’ve got a dress that you’ve really got your heart set on buying then make the effort to stay on top of any sales that are happening with your fave labels and stores. An online store like The Outnet is also a good source for event wear as they’ll stock designer brands at a generally heavily reduced price. Sign up for newsletters and sale alerts so you can be first to take advantage of any discounts that might be offered.
Re-work existing occasion wear
It’s a good idea to rethink what you already have in your closet. Is there something that you can have taken up? Do you have a dress that you can alter the silhouette slightly? Often the answer to your event wear problems is already sitting in your closet but we all want that ‘new’ feeling so we tend to buy rather than shop our wardrobes. So get creative and see how you can re-purpose what you already own. All you need is a good tailor and you’re set.
Think beyond the dress
Event wear dresses will generally be quite expensive so it pays to get creative and think of other options that will still look dressy but might come at a fraction of the price. A great skirt teamed with a cami or a button down shirt is one way to get around the traditional dress option, and often skirts will be a little cheaper. Or you could sub in a pair of tailored pants for the skirt for a look with a similar vibe. Paired with great accessories and killer heels, you’re guaranteed to look amazing.
Change the small details
A simple change in beauty look can easily revamp existing occasion wear. I’ll often wear something again and just change my beauty look so if I wore my hair up the last time I wore something, I’ll wear my hair down or if I did a smoky eye I’ll do a dramatic lip. Also a change in shoes or bag can also make something feel fresh and new.
You spend a huge chunk of your life working so it stands to reason that you should feel confident and amazing every time you head off to work. Whether you’re in an office or you’re constantly on the road or manage your own schedule being self-employed, it’s important to have a functional office capsule wardrobe that will take you from your desk to an important meeting without missing a beat. Having done a stint in both a full-time office environment and also the varied schedule of having my own business, these are some of the things I’ve learn about looking great on the job without having to spend a whole lot.
Invest in key pieces
Starting with the right building blocks of a work wardrobe will mean that you’re able to get dressed everyday with minimal drama and just dress it up with inexpensive accessories. Start with classics like a great black blazer, tailored pants, a white shirt, a versatile skirt and a simple dress in either a block colour or an unfussy print. These staples can easily be worked back with other items in your closet but are key in looking professional for work.
Alter existing items
If you’ve got a few things in your work wardrobe that have become a little tired consider taking them to a tailor to have them reworked. For example you could alter a midi skirt and have it changed to be knee length so it feels like an entirely new garment but at a fraction of the price.
Add inexpensive accessories
A pair of classic earrings or a chic scarf are accessories that you can easily pair with your work wardrobe to dress your outfits up but without having to spend a fortune.
Know when to buy
If you want to update your office wardrobe it pays to keep abreast of when the big sales are happening so you know exactly when it’s time to snap up a few pieces. Sign up for your favourite brands’ newsletters and follow them on social media to be the first to know when things will be on sale.
Rework pieces from your wardrobe
We often tend to relegate certain things for work and certain things for play but sometimes they can crossover and make for a great office look. This effectively also doubles your work wardrobe. Look out for tops that can be worn under jackets, chic flats that will look great teamed with tailored pants and dresses that when paired with the right blazer and shoes, look super sharp and chic.
Accessories are one of the things I can’t live without. In fact I think they can often make or break an outfit so getting it right is key. And the great thing about accessorising is that it’s one of the easiest things you can do to change up a look when you’re on a budget. I often use it as a styling trick to make existing pieces in my closet feel fresh. So how can you save on accessories without scrimping on style? Here are a few things to try…
Map out what you need
Take a look at the accessories you currently own and see what pieces you can use more often. You may find that there are things that you’d forgotten about or are back in fashion that you can include in your style repertoire more.
From this you can see what gaps there are in your wardrobe. From a classic black clutch to a pair of earrings that can lift evening wear, think about the times you’ve been on your way out and thought “I really wish I had [insert item] right now.”
Check out what’s on sale
Right now is the opportune time to snap up some new accessories for your wardrobe. There are some amazing things that have been marked down so it’s a good time to buy anything that you’ve had your eye on. If you ever spot something online that you really like but it’s full price, just be sure to add it to your wish list so you’ll be alerted if it goes on sale.
Hit your local chain store
The great thing about chain stores is that they interpret a lot of popular designer trends but at a fraction of the price. So be sure to scour your fave spots as you may find the perfect pair of earrings or the sunnies you’ve always wanted for less.
Browse the kids section
Don’t laugh, but a quick browse through the teen or kids section of many stores may leave you pleasantly surprised. There are often on trend pieces that could easily work for your own wardrobe, but they’re priced cheaper.
What are some of your favourite ways to accessorise on a budget?