Looking good on a budget - top 10 tips - Image Consultant & Personal Stylist (2023)

Many people think that to look good you need to spend fortunes on your clothes. Anyone that knows me well will tell you that I’m a savvy shopper and have plenty of items in my wardrobe from charity shops, supermarket chains, discount retaillers and the like. Although I agree that buying a quality item can pay dividends sometimes, in many cases looking good is more about knowing which things to spend or save money on and also how to put outfits together. So here are a few tips on looking good on a budget:

Choose clothes that you loveandfeelgoodin!

If you enjoy wearing something, chances are that you look good in it and that you’ll wear it again and again, reducing the ‘cost per wear’ and making it an inexpensive item in your wardrobe. On the other hand, those things you buy that lurk unworn in the back of your wardrobe with their tags still on, become costly mistakes, even if they weren’t expensive. So make sure that your hard earned money is being well spent by buying clothes that you feel good in. If you are umming and arring about something in the mirror, don’t buy it!

Choose clothes that suit you.

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In a similar vein to point 1, if your clothes really convey your personality, suit your colouring, flatter your body shape, fit you well and work for your lifestyle, you are more likely to wear them more often. Which all means that your money will be well spent and you’ll be looking and feeling great.

Create a capsule wardrobe.

Looking good on a budget - top 10 tips - Image Consultant & Personal Stylist (1)

Or several capsule wardrobes to reflect how you spend your time. You might want a work capsule as well as a home capsule, for example. A capsule wardrobe is simply a wardrobe that contains fewer items, but those it does have in it all mix and match to form multiple outfit options. There’s no set number of items that should be in your capsule, so if you truly want a minimalist wardrobe you can limit the total number of items to under 20. If you still enjoy choice and variety then a capsule of 30ish items might work best for you. One way to create a capsule is to think in 3’s, so simply build a wardrobe based around 3 core colours, for example, and then plan to have 3 smart tops, 3 casual tops, 3 skirts, 3 pairs of trousers and so on. In terms of colours, everything in your capsule is either one of the 3 plain colours or will contain combinations of 2 or 3 of the colours. Keeping it simple like this means that you don’t buy that top that only goes with one skirt in your wardrobe! Your money goes further, but you have lots of outfit options. (I absolutely love helping people to create outfits and capsule wardrobes so do get in touch if you’d like any help!)

Create a ‘co-ordinated look’.

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People will often say someone ‘looks good’ if they look co-ordinated, ie. everything looks ‘put together’. So when you’re choosing your clothes think about how you can pull things together. Having a colour theme is a great way to achieve this. I always do this and it works a treat. I’ll choose say a cobalt blue and navy theme and then everything I wear will only be one or a mix of both of those colours. I might wear mostly navy, for example, but will then add a cardigan, layering item (eg roll neck), scarf, necklace, bag, or shoe/boot in the cobalt blue. Accessories are a great way to achieve this and can be comparably inexpensive and yet very impactful. I pick up scarves and costume jewellery in all sorts of places and they are often not expensive. If you follow me on Facebook you’ll see that my latest additions have been animal print scarves with different coloured edging (just £12.95 from the Hello Lovely boutique in Godalming). I wear the red edged one with red tops and/or a red bag and my red boots and suddenly it all looks very put together. If you enjoy wearing casual pumps, buy them in a metallic go-with-everything colour and then simply choose jewellery and/or a bag, or a top with that same colour in it. You’ll be surprised the difference it can make. A budget friendly accessory can quite simply turn an ordinary outfit into something that looks way more polished.

Know what to spend money on.

As I’ve said above, it’s worth spending the most money on the things you wear most often (the things that you love, that suit you and/or form part of your capsule wardrobe).
Other items that it’s worth spending on in my opinion are:
– coats/jackets (it’s often the first thing people will see when they meet you)
– underwear (good foundations can make so much difference to the way clothes hang/fit)
– work clothes (especially if you’re in a role where you are keen to progress and you want to make an impact and portray a credible personal brand)
– items that have longevity in your wardrobe, ie those that you can wear season after season, year after year (e.g. coats, jackets, a staple shift dress that won’t date etc.)
– items in quality/luxury fabrics (as these tend to last longer too).

Know what to save money on.

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This includes:
– high fashion items that are likely to only last a season or two
– accessories – whilst there are undoubtedly some accessories I’d suggest you spend money on, (eg. watches, or the gold/silver/pearls that you wear all the time/for special occasions), you can easily add good costume jewellery and scarves at budget friendly prices to update and create a polished, co-ordinated look.
– layering items, such as camisoles etc. that you don’t really see much of
– ‘home clothes’ for the garden or pottering around the house.

Shop your own wardrobe!

I’m always amazed at how many outfit options are lurking in clients’ wardrobes that have yet to be discovered, so before you decide to invest in any more clothes take a good look at what you have already got. Animal print has been around many times before, for example, so if you have a scarf, top, dress, skirt or shoe in it already simply start wearing it again now – it’s a big trend continuing into Spring/Summer this year. Or start looking at the colours in your tops and be more creative about the bottoms they could go with and vice versa. Look at the colours in your scarves and again think what other items you have in those colours that they could be worn with. Remember that you can wear short sleeved tops all year round if you simply layer a long sleeved polo t-shirt top or roll neck underneath. There are so many ways to make sure you get plenty of wear out of what you already own.

Hold a clothes swapping party.

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Looking good doesn’t mean you have to continuously buy new clothes. Why not simply get your friends together over some nibbles and a glass of fizz (or cup of coffee of course!) and simply swap clothes. You’ll each go away with new things, having only exchanged them for something you weren’t wearing or had fallen out of love with. No monetary exchange entailed – win:win!

Buy pre-loved clothes.

Charity shops, dress agencies and pre-loved clothing outlets or boutiques are a great place to find some real gems at very budget friendly prices. Don’t forget that you can always buy something that’s perhaps not 100% perfect, if you think that it could be easily altered. I’ve often knowingly bought things that are too big or boxy that I know could be altered to flatter my shape, and then taken them to Zuzana at Tailoress Design to work her wonders! (She’s fab – here’s a link to her website).

Shop smart – buy clothes from the less expensive retaillers, from discount brands,and inthesales.

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Looking good on a budget - top 10 tips - Image Consultant & Personal Stylist (2)You can buy clothes from a myriad of shops and online retaillers these days, including discount retaillers. I love brandalley.com (that’s where my red Karen Millen boots shown opposite came from), secretsales.com, TKMaxx, the designer outlet villages like Gun Wharf Quays or Bicester Village, plus there are also bargains galore on Ebay, Facebook Marketplace and the like. Looking good on a budget - top 10 tips - Image Consultant & Personal Stylist (3)Some of the supermarket brands like Florence and Fred at Tesco, TU at Sainsbury’s and George at Asda have some great options too. I’ve often been asked where things have come from and it has been one of these three! This animal print dress is a case in point – it’s from Florence & Fred. If you choose cleverly it’s often not easy to spot a ‘high end’ item from a cheaper alternative. Don’t forget to be a savvy shopper and buy things in the sales too … with caution though. Only buy things that you would have bought if they weren’t in the sale and that you know go with other things you already own, otherwise you’ll end up with a wardrobe full of items that aren’t as good value as you thought!

Finally, looking good is all about the finishing touches, so making sure that your hair looks great, your nails are neat (no chipped nail polish), your shoes are polished and that your make-up (if you wear it) flatters you, will always make a difference … oh and wear a smile too of course! It’s amazing what a difference a smile makes to how you come across to those around you and to how you feel too. Looking good isn’t about how much money you have to spend on your wardrobe, it’s about how you put it all together and let your personality shine through.


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