How To Look Expensive When You’re On A Red Stripe Kinda Budget

You don't have to spend lots of moolah to look classy. Fact


by Pandora Sykes |
Published on

We're all on a budget, let's be honest. Doesn't matter if your budget involves £20 or £500 a month allocated on clothes, you'll still be on one that's likely not to stretch to Balenciaga and Céline and all the other wonderlabels we sometimes think about renting one half of a bunk bed for 6 months in order to buy.

So here's are some handy hints from The Debrief and friends, for those of you with champagne tastes (i.e. like looking like you're wearing well-cut designer labels) on a Red Stripe budget.

Argos is your friend. If only for their real gold jewellery

No, don't roll your eyes. Believe it or not, genuine carat gold jewellery doesn't have to cost the earth. Instead of spending £200 on that awesome gold-plated ear cuff from some snazzy e-tailer that's going to turn your ear green after 6 months, look to Argos and H.Samuel for gold that will last forever. Sure, they're not the coolest shops on earth - but they do great fine gold chains (in varying chain lengths), bangles and small gold hoops, from as low as £30. Which is pretty much the jewellery every girl wants to be wearing right now. Right?


9 Carat Gold Hoop Earring, £14.99, Argos

H&M's denim is as good as designer

Premium denim is a luxe investment, there's no doubt. Frame's Le Skinny jeans really do fit like a dream and no-one does flares better than MiH. But these jeans are often £200 upwards - meaning a lot of you are looking for cheaper denim that still cuts the mustard. Bloggers Camille Charriere and Lucy Williams both recommend H&M. 'The denim is thick and doesn't lose its shape,' Camille explains. 'I get e-mails every day asking where my H&M ripped kee skinnies are from. I've owned them for 7 years - at a guess, people think they are Rag & Bone.' Lucy agrees. 'Some of my best fitting jeans are from H&M - just be super picky about the hardware and washes.'


Boyfriend Low Jeans, £29.99, H&M

Raid your boyfriend/brother/boy mate's wardrobe

Not to tar all womankind with the same brush, but boys tend to buy less crap than girls. For a start, fast fashion doesn't work so well in menswear. We're having a rare moment when all things menswear are championed - button-down shirts, boxer shorts, crombie coats and brogues - but a well-cut piece like that can be expensive (no-one does it better than Acne, after all.) So steal his perfect linen granddad shirt, or his brushed cotton marl tee. How about his peacoat? Provided he isn't 6'9 (then don't) you may be able to get away with it worn oversized, with some vintage denim. And if he's a bit of a rocker, than he'll have some good quality leather that you should definitely nab, too. You'll look classic, trend-less and chic as shit. He'll also definitely find it really cute, rather than annoying, that you're stealing all his clobber.


Coach Jacket in Black, £35 Worland at Urban Outfitters

Find out if a high street brand has a premium line

Premium lines are often an industry secret; but they're such a great way to shopping the best looks, whilst missing out all the basic guff (sorry, high street, you know you have a lot of it.) Most of you will know about Topshop Boutique's excellent silk pieces (so much cheaper than all other silk labels and so much nicer than nylon or viscose) but did you know about H&M Trend? Select the 'trend' tick box when you're navigating your way through H&M's enormous online store - or make a point of asking the staff whenever you visit in store. Trend features all the stuff H&M show at their catwalk show; i.e. the unique, expensive looking pieces. At ASOS, shop ASOS White - it's marginally more expensive than the rest of ASOS's own brand, but it's essentially like Whistles - for less cash.


White Silk Skirt in Stripe Print, £65 ASOS White at ASOS

Get thrifty

There's something quite cringe about ripping off a current season's catwalk look wholesale. If you're going to do it, why not search further back in the archive - SS07 Chloé, anyone? (Such a golden year.) Founder of Voyage D'etudes and Director of Purple Boutique, Paula Di Principe Goldstein, recommends hitting the vintage sections if you want to look pure class. 'eBay is literally a treasure trove - just have in your mind what you want to hunt for. The more niche the brand, the better. I recently got a Balenciaga jacket for £15! ASOS marketplace is also great.' We've all had experiences of buying a vintage dress that we think is amazing and then get it home... and it's the colour of dung and four sizes too big. So keep these tips from Paula in your mind: 'buy simply, look to natural fabrics, silk blouses, airy cotton dresses and woollen jumpers. The 60s and 70s are good era for vintage. Think Jane Birkin.'


Coral Pink Silk Oversized Shirt, £17 RoxyValetta at ASOS Marketplace

Zara is great for seriously aspirational shoes

The undoubted queen of high street footwear (although may we also recommend River Island - surprises people that one, but it's seriously strong) many of Zara's shoes look like they could be Isabel Marant, or Céline. The leather is excellent, the designs seriously directional - but the price tags are firmly high street. 'They are the best shoes in the world' says Camille. 'I have some white slides with gold detailing on them and a pair of snake Birkenstocks, which I have been wearing all summer. I love designer shoes - specifically Givenchy - but I trash my shoes. Zara is the only way that I can afford high fashion shoes which I will ruin before the season is out.'


Leather High Heeled Slingback Bootie, £69.99, Zara

Do some investigative price comparison

If you're planning to splurge on something neat, do your homework first. And by that, we mean compare all the stores that sell it, to see where you can get the chepeast deal. Like skyscanner for your wardrobe. Paula recommends Lyst, 'where you can compile all your favourite items from all over the web, into mood boards - sort of like a fashion Pinterest. I keep my dream items there and then wait for the sales - I can then see which site is offering the biggest discount on my coveted item. I recently found a pair of Marc by Marc Jacobs high tops £150 cheaper than the first place I spotted them, using Lyst.'


Sheer Pleated Chiffon Jumpsuit, £101, Alice + Olivia at Cusp by Neiman Marcus (via Lyst)

Hit up M&S for cashmere

Dear old Marks & Sparks. It's an avalanche of nostalgia dressed up as Percy Pig, is M&S. We can't pretend we shop there often, but it's one place we always skid into come sales time, on account of their excellent cashmere. A super soft roll-neck in grey or oatmeal - which would cost you upwards of £300 at Brora - can be yours for £60, or as low as £30 in the sale (we have one. We know this to be true.) Whether it's oversized school-ish v-necks, or gigantic soft cardigans (or hell, even a twinset!) you're after, St Michael is definitely the answer. Cashmere makes everyone look snazzy - fact.


Pure Cashmere Boxy Jumper, £54 Marks & Spencers

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

By Dressing In Menswear I've Opted Out Of A Totally Unnecessary Sizing Convention That Literally Restricts Women

How To Dress For A British Summer. Or When It's Sunny But Still Freezing

Dawn O'Porter: You Need To Be Braver With Vintage Shopping

Follow Pandora on Twitter @pinsykes

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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