The yearly wardrobe update – 6 ways to jazz it up on a budget


Photo credit to Sunshine Gudlaugson

A new year, a new series of spring fashions…what’s a girl to do? Stay stylish on budget, of course!

My clothing allowance has taken a plunge since the advent of grown-up-ness…which is kind of ironic, since now I have grown-uppy sorst of jobs and the occasional requirement to look all fancy.  We also have a space crunch, since our adorable turn of the century house is more than a little lacking in the closet department. The combination of these has led me to a variety of creative options to find some new outfits.

1) Option 1, because it’s my favourite annual clothing related activity, is the yearly swap party. For those of you who are new to this, the drill is that everyone goes through their closets and finds the stuff they don’t wear/don’t fit into/hold a deep and abiding dislike for/reminds you of your least favourite cousin, and bring it over to my place, washed and folded. Clothes, accessories, books, CDs etc. It all gets piled in the middle of the living room, and then at the appointed time, everyone dives in and starts trying stuff on and swapping.  Many of my friends have kidlets, as do I, making it an excellent opportunity to get some new(ish) baby clothes and items that are in good shape (only a reasonable amount of teeth marks :) ). I usually make mine a potluck, for sanity’s sake as well as for fun, and there’s wine and food and general good times. Whatever’s left goes to charity

2) The old fashioned route: dye!

This pertains in particular to clothing trends in a particular colour. If you have something that’s white/beige/light grey, and you love love love it but it is just past its prime, this is a solution that can bring new life. Remember those old boxed dyes? I had a white satiny dress that I loved in the store, and loved on, in the slightly dim lights of the dressing room, but became a bit of a show once I tried it on at home in regular light. I hadn’t kept the receipt, and had taken the tags off. My Mom (who is known for keeping *everything*) had an old box of blue dye, and I thought ‘hey, why not?’ And you know what? It turned a lovely sky blue, and was a favourite for years afterwards. There are lots of sites that have DIY advice on the actual process of how to do it, but usually an old wash basin (that you aren’t attached to in any way, since dye stains are not really easy to remove!), some hot water, and a couple of hours are required. If you’re particularly creative, you can put elastics around bunches of the fabric to create cool circle designs, or draw on it in thick crayon to create pictures of slogans.

3) Accessorize! Accessorize! Accessorize! Accessories are cheap. They’re fun. Scarves, bangles, bracelets, chandelier earrings – they even sound fun! A really colourful scarf can do wonders to change an outfit, or a funky hat and boots can give it a completely new look.  And places like Ardene and Claire’s and even some of the dollar stores have a variety of items that are interesting and can jazz up something boring quite cheaply.

The hat makes the outfit! Photo credit to Sunshine Gudlaugson

The hat makes the outfit!
Photo credit to Sunshine Gudlaugson

4) Actually go through your closet. As my coworker Gina pointed out recently, she had a bunch of things that hadn’t seen the light of day in a veeeerrry long time that she genuinely likes. Particularly if your closet is as coffin-like as mine, it’s easy for things to get mired back in the dim recesses and forgotten about. So take an afternoon and spend it on a trip down the clothing version of memory lane. And with the stuff that you just don’t wear anymore or don’t really like, see bullet point #1 and hold your first swap party!

5) The humble t-shirt. My colleague Maureen pointed out that the t-shirt is really an underrated creature. You can get very well made ones cheaply, and a colourful t-shirt can be paired with everything from jeans to blazers to make an outfit come together. And if colour is your thing, it’s far cheaper to pair a trendy coloured t-shirt with a skirt or jeans than to invest in an item when you haven’t really come to a decision about whether you actually genuinely like this season’s ‘it’ shade.

More on swap parties can be found over with Lindsey, another fabulous Canadian blogger:

6) Winners, outlet stores and sales sales sales.

When it is time to buy something new, keep an eye out for sales. If there’s a particular store you enjoy shopping at, join their e-club – they will often offer sales and discounts to email subscribers that aren’t available in the store. Do a web search for coupons and discounts before you head to the mall, and print out the coupons before you leave. And if you are going to choose just one thing to buy, make it something you’ll wear and love. A fabulous spring jacket will have a much lower cost per wear than a turtleneck in emerald green if you’re not a turtleneck person. Try places like Winners, which encompass all labels but at a far cheaper price, and if you wait until seasonal sales  you can score huge discounts on already low prices. Always check the clearance rack first!  (But go on a Tuesday morning so that it’s not a zoo!).

There are a number of other ways to jazz up your wardrobe on a budget – thrift stores, vintage and estate sales are a whole other post!

What’s your favourite item of clothing? Where (or who) did it come from?

One thought on “The yearly wardrobe update – 6 ways to jazz it up on a budget

  1. Pingback: Money Saving Friday: Swap Party! Cents & Sensibility

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