Looking good and staying in fashion doesn't have to be unaffordable. Follow these 5 tips keep yourself on-trend without any compromises or holes in your wallet.

 

1. Work the seasons

If you know when clothes are likely to first hit the shops, you'll be primed to take advantage, either by getting in first for must-have pieces or by anticipating sales. In retail trade, summer is the longest retail season – first deliveries of garments into stores are around the first week of May and the last intake is around mid January. Retail is also becoming increasingly geared to mini trends, with changes of stock every five to eight weeks. The main designer seasons in the UK are spring/summer (from March to the end of August) and autumn/winter (August to the end of February), but there may also be ‘transitional’ seasons, influenced by the weather, as well as collections of party wear for the Christmas market and ‘taster’ offerings that highlight key new looks before the main collections reach the rails.

 

2. Invest in the best

The key to controlling clothing costs and looking fabulous is to buy one key piece of classic luxury-label clothing – that really suits you – each season. If you look good in it, you'll definitely wear it and if you look after it, it should last for years. Go for items that are comfortable and effortlessly stylish, rather than being fashion led. Mix and match such pieces with inexpensive finds, such as a plain white T-shirt from chain shops. Label clothing will lend style to anything else you wear, and if it helps you to sever the all too common habit of buying too many cheap, throwaway items that won't wear well or last long, you won't need to increase your total spending on clothes by much – if at all.

 

3. Buy classic jeans

Manufacturers love it when you pay inflated prices for trendy versions of staple garments, such as jeans. They'll go out of fashion within months and you'll be buying the next look. So invest, instead, in classic five-pocket, dark blue denims. Buy the best you can afford: heavy, tightly woven cloth dyed with natural indigo. Look for the red and cream edging that comes when the cross threads of the fabric are woven in to stop fraying. They will last for years, looking better as they fade.

 

4. Slip into something old

It pays to prowl boutiques that regularly sell vintage clothing, since they receive new stock at any time, regardless of the season. They can offer you a unique look, with a sure-fire guarantee that no one else at a party will be wearing the same outfit. You can keep to the classic styles that these shops sell for years; even modern designers are continually returning to them for inspiration. Many of the fabrics that were used from the 1950s and 1960s are of especially good quality, but you should be wary of fabrics from the 1940s, as they were often made from low-grade waste cotton. Vintage clothing is also a good buy for someone of less than average stature, since the garments were sized smaller than they are today.

Vintage Size Tips: To follow vintage sizing, you may need to know your bust measurement in inches. A size 34, for example, was made to fit someone with a 34-inch bust. The current way of indicating size, using numbers – 10, 12, 14, 18 – was introduced in the 1960s, but a size 12 from that period is unlikely to match the proportions of a size 12 garment manufactured more recently.

 

5. Restyle your clothes

Seamstress Mari Maurice is one of a burgeoning breed of designers who are urging us to revamp what we already have. She suggests that you don't buy any new clothes for at least two months. Instead, you should pull everything you love – but which is looking a little dated or no longer fits – out of your wardrobe and make it into something new. Or you could employ someone with those skills to do it for you.

 

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