Updating your wardrobe on a budget

Galway Simon Shop volunteers Kate Mullins and Marie Higgins with some of the many fashion accessories to freshen your your spring collection.  Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Galway Simon Shop volunteers Kate Mullins and Marie Higgins with some of the many fashion accessories to freshen your your spring collection. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

As we settle into a new season many people are looking at their wardrobes and shaking their heads.

Instead of being greeted by an impressive array of stylish and up-to-the-minute looks that flatter the wearer they are faced with a mishmash of bargain items, unwise buys, jaded and faded outfits and garments which need an urgent revamp to bring them in line with contemporary fashion.

In short, your wardrobe needs to be updated. If, like most of us, you are constrained by a tight budget, then you will need to come up with creative, cost-effective ideas to ensure your fashion collection will take you through the spring/summer season with style.

So, where should you start? And what pitfalls should you avoid as you attempt to breathe new life into last season’s favourites and invest in key pieces to give you a fashion edge in 2014?

Here are some pointers to help guide you in the right direction:-

1. Begin by doing a wardrobe inventory. Pick a day when you have time and sufficient motivation to take a good look at all your outfits. Take them out, one by one, and lay them on the bed. If you have one of those self-assembly clothes rails or wardrobes (available from Argos ) hang them on that. If not, and it is a fine day, you could hang them on hangers on your clothes line. Ideally categorise them, especially if you have a lot of clothes, as it will make your job a lot easier. If you are feeling particularly enthusiastic you could use a spreadsheet, listing your wardrobe contents under categories such as day dresses, eveningwear, knit dresses and separates - tops, shirts, jumpers, cardigans, skirts, etc.

Start with T-shirts, shirts, blouse, tops, for example. Count them and photograph them. Or if that sounds like too much trouble just make a mental note of how many you have, what styles, etc. Then, move on to trousers, skirts, suits, jackets, coats, dresses, casual wear. As you go through them you may get a few shocks. You might not have realised that you own six white shirts which look more or less the same, or have far too many pairs of trousers which match little in your wardrobe, or desperately need a raincoat or jacket or to have some garments altered or given a facelift.

The aim of your wardrobe stocktake is not just to find out what outfits you have but to establish their strengths and weaknesses, also. Plus points could be that you have numerous casual, comfortable, outfits or a good selection of dressy clothes while on the downside you may lack brighter summery fashions, jeans which are better fitted or crisp white shirts.

2. Next, look at your list and you will very quickly see if you have too many of some items and not enough of others. If you have the motivation you could decide to do a massive clear-out but this might appear too daunting at this stage. Heed your instinct on this one, embracing too many projects at once can be a recipe for disaster. You might also need to take out your needle and thread but if you are like most of us it might be wiser to head to a dressmaker for alterations.

3. You will now be able to identify gaps in your wardrobe which need to be filled if you are to face the season ahead with panache. Some gaps may be pothole like (you need black trousers and a raincoat ) while others may be more of the crater variety - you have literally nothing in your wardrobe which fits or suits so you may need to embark on a major shop. Some of your fashion needs will be more pressing than others - you need new shoes because your old ones are leaking - rather than buying a new cardigan just because it caught your eye.

4. Before you go shopping (on a budget, of course ) decide what are your wardrobe essentials. Look at magazines and shop windows for ideas on what is in vogue. You need to shop not only to suit your pocket but also your lifestyle. There is no point owning several evening dresses or classy suits if you rarely get occasions to wear them. If you want to get the most wear from your clothes then look for versatile items which can be worn again and again and dressed up or down, if necessary.

5. Take advantage of end of season sales to enhance your wardrobe. Many shops are offering not-to-be-missed discounts as they attempt to clear existing stock to make way for new collections. Due to the recession a number of stores are offering major reductions on an ongoing basis so it is important to drop into those shops regularly. If you are looking for good value for money and want to help local charities at the same time be sure to visit charity shops. Many stock top brand names and sell items at a fraction of the price you would pay on the high street. If your finances are especially low but your wardrobe is crying out for a revamp then consider buying some cheap and cheerful accessories. These will update and transform your existing clothes. Or you could become the king or queen of mix and match. Now that you are intimately acquainted with every garment you own try to find ways of extending their wearability. If you tend to wear the same outfits or the same clothes think how best to increase their style value. Black trousers, little black dresses, pretty cardigans with feminine details, colourful shirts, well cut skirts and jackets are key pieces which can be easily co-ordinated or revitalised with a little imagination. Jewellery can be be given a new lease of life by doubling long necklaces or combining budget priced pearl earrings with matching bracelet and necklace.


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