Fashionable Thrift: Fashion on a Budget
Fashions fade, Style is eternal.
Yves Saint Laurent (French fashion designer, b.1940)
There is not much that will deplete the bank balance faster than being a slave to fashion. Fashions come and fashions go but Style is something else; it is individual and unique and says much more about the wonderful person you are than fashion ever could. Style is eternal because long after you have left this temporal world, your style will be remembered. In considering thrifty fashion the foundational building block is to develop your own unique style. This is achieved through understanding your personality type, your lifestyle choices and your natural colouring and body shape. No one is perfect, however style works to downplay the less than perfect attributes and enhance the good points. Everyone, simply everyone, has good points. Style is not so much about what is worn but rather how it is worn. Style is about confidence, good posture and feeling comfortable in your own skin.
If at all possible visit a style consultant and learn which clothes suit different body shapes and colourings best. Although this is an initial outlay, it will save lots of money, time and unflattering purchases over a lifetime. If a consultation is out of the question, using a critical eye, do some experimentation with styles and colours to determine those which suit you best. Clothes which compliment body shape will keep everything in proportion, while colours which compliment natural colouring will lift the wearer and bring a glow to the complexion. Test colours by holding bolts of fabric across the bodice and notice how some colours drain the complexion, make the eyes dull and generally pull colour out of the face while others make the eyes sparkle and lift the complexion. Some colours will wear you, be overpowering and onlookers will notice the garment but not the person while other colours you will wear well and they will enhance and uplift your natural features and allow your personality to shine through. At the least it is worth some experimentation! It is surprising how few garments are needed to make a wardrobe workable and when that wardrobe is filled with garments that are loved, fit well and enhance the wearer, you are onto a winner!
Armed with the knowledge of which colours and shapes will compliment, it is time to purchase. As always when shopping for clothes, be very selective. It is not a bargain if it doesn’t fit, look good or you don’t feel confident in the garment. I am a bargain/ thrift shopper when it comes to clothes and never pay full price. Again I share some ideas which have worked for me.
Decide what garments are needed to form the foundation of your wardrobe. Take a good look at what is in the wardrobe and if some garments are yuk -are never worn and you know you are never going to wear them and feel beautiful in doing so – get rid of them. It is better to have six garments in which you feel fantastic than a wardrobe full of clothes that you never wear. As a critical purchaser, you will purchase fewer dud garments and will find new purchases add to your wardrobe and can usually be worn in different ways and mixed with existing garments to create new looks. Analyse what is needed in your wardrobe to make it work and keep one step ahead. Keep your eyes open for that next purchase and when style and price come together, make the transaction. I usually have some new shoes and garments, purchased at very thrifty prices, in the wardrobe and get a great buzz out of wearing them for the first time when a suitable occasion is presented. I refuse to rush around and buy something new for an occasion as I have found that shopping under pressure does not produce good results. Rather I make my purchases going along through life when I see something I like. If I know it is needed and will be worn, if it fits, looks good on and when trying on the garment, I feel confident – then it is in the bag.
Avoid sales where people are just everywhere and knocking the doors down to get a bargain. Feeling rushed and fighting over garments is no atmosphere in which to shop and make good choices.
Shop at the end of the season sales. Usually stock for the next season comes in so early that there is still plenty of the season left before the weather changes and it is possible to get some wear from the new purchase but if not, pop it in the wardrobe and be at the head of the game when the season rolls around next year.
Hunt for good quality garments at reduced prices. Buy the best you can afford. One lovely garment is worth six ordinary ones.Don’t overlook the thrift shop when searching for clothing, shoes or accessories. Some of my favourite pieces have come from thrift shops. Look for quality brands, lovely fabrics and interesting accessories. Be fussy, be very fussy and realise that many a trip to the thrift shop will not result in a purchase, however, quite different and unique garments can be picked up at thrift shops.
Choose block colours for skirts, slacks and jackets. No -one knows whether your navy skirt cost two dollars at the thrift shop, was on sale at Target for twenty dollars or cost two- hundred dollars in an exclusive boutique. Likewise avoid purchasing from the rows and rows of identically patterned garments in chain stores as these garments label themselves, and you the wearer, not to mention the fact that your garment will be popping up all over the place on many other wearers.
Take good care of your wardrobe and follow instructions for the laundering of garments. Be sure garments are clean, no spots, smell fresh, are pressed or dry cleaned if the fabric requires this and are in good repair. A stitch in time saves nine and many more dollars. There is no need to be a seamstress but having the basic skills to sew on buttons, alter hem lengths, repair split seams and replace broken zips will save money and mean what is in the wardrobe is wearable.
An important factor in style is proportion, so having a hemline at the correct length and in proportion to your body shape and build can make a huge difference to the overall effect of an outfit.
At least twice a year – in spring and autumn – take an inventory of the wardrobe, discarding garments no longer suitable and making sure all others are ready and able to be worn.
If a particularly loved garment has been worn to death, unpick the garment and use the unpicked pieces as a pattern to make a new garment or make two, using different fabrics.
Divide the wardrobe into sections and keep some clothes exclusively for good wear. If you don’t have a uniform for work, create your own work wear wardrobe, have a section of casual wear and finally clothes which were worn at home. This idea is worth consideration even though many clothes are multi purpose and can be dressed up or down through the use of accessories, wearing clothes for when and where they were purchased will extend their life.
Choose accessories which compliment, lift the garment and reinforce your unique style. Changing accessories can give different looks to the same garment and extend the workability of the wardrobe.
Keep shoes polished and keep heels and toes in good repair.
Practise good posture. When I was a girl we learnt good posture by balancing a book on the top of the head while walking. Another idea is to walk imagining there is a string being pulled upward from the top of the head. This means the back is keep straight, the head held high and the walk tall.
Fashion has its place as there is nothing stylish about being totally out of date. By all means, take an interest in fashion, regularly read fashion articles, browse magazines and fashion stores but don’t be a slave to fashion, thinking every season dictates a huge outlay on the latest fashions. Consider your wardrobe as an investment portfolio and invest in pieces which will build and expand your portfolio and allow more options.
Fashion is followed and in a sense is a putting on what others have deemed the cool thing to wear, however, style lives inside the individual and is expressed confidently through what is worn. Style makes the best of who you are. It is the manifestation of being at home in your own skin, believing in your intrinsic worth and knowing your unique beauty.
Believe in yourself, be confident and wear it well!