2010 January 25

First, know your budget and stick to it – don’t just decide how much you have to spend on clothing, because it’s easy to blow the whole amount on one cashmere sweater or a fashionable jacket. Instead, divide your budget between different forms of clothing: basic T-shirts are pretty cheap, but leather jackets are not, so allocate a percentage to every form of clothing you need to buy.

Aim for quality not quantity. Beware of very cheap clothing that simply gets worn out before you’ve worn it a few times – flimsy shirts that begin to bag and stain after a couple of wearings are not a bargain. A good quality cotton or poly-cotton shirt will last several years and can take hard washing and still look good – it’s a much better bargain than a cheap top that falls apart.  Equally, try to stay way from knock-off imitations because (a) they tend to look cheaper as they generally copy a design and maybe its logo but not the quality and (b) who are you fooling? Anybody who knows you has a pretty good idea if you can really afford Armani suits or not.

Avoid posh shops and boutiques when purchasing, but use them when deciding what to buy – look at the brand name fashions in store and then go home and shop online, spotting the same trends for a fraction of the price. Also, check out the clearance offers when shopping online, discontinued items can be up 50-75% lower than the original price.

Mix and match. You can team T-shirts with blazers and shirts with cardigans to extend your wardrobe by giving your clothes a new look. You can use accessories to ring the changes too – invest in some cheap belts and gloves and hats that you can use to make your base outfit look completely different.

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