Written by: Cally Worden
Designer gear is unaffordable for the average parent, and frankly, too much of an impracticality for day-to-day life. But the high street is full of perfect garments for every day and evening wear; with a bit of ingenuity these items can be enhanced and made to look a million dollars.
Made to Measure on a Budget
The one-shape-fits-all mentality of the high street has to exist if shops are to provide clothes we can afford. But an ‘average’ fit is just that. It’s rare to find garments that fit like a glove, but there is a way to create them on a budget. Choose simple but stylish off-the-peg smart clothes, detour to a local tailor on your way home. A few stitches in the right place can make an average skirt look like it was made just for you. The same applies to jackets and trousers.
A Button Boost
Manufacturers of mass-produced clothes keep costs down where they can. Buttons are a classic example of this, with plastic dull colours the norm. These little gems are your new best fashion friend. Search around on eBay, Etsy or in your local market or haberdashers for buttons with a little more class. Buttons made from mother of pearl, metal or bone can transform an ordinary garment into something special. If sewing isn’t your thing (and I speak from experience here!), many dry cleaners will switch and stitch new buttons on for a very reasonable price.
Don’t Wear Them to Death
It’s tempting to really stretch the limits of certain clothes. Some pieces are like comfort blankets, others may have been an investment buy that you are reluctant to part with. But when clothes are past their best it starts to show. A stray thread, faded stain, loose fastening, or a stretched or split seam all scream ‘Old Clothes!’. Either get it fixed, or be prepared to eject that garment from your wardrobe.
Wash Less Often
Your clothes that is, not yourself. The constant round of water, chemicals and swishing about in the washing machine can leave your clothes looking faded, misshapen and tired. Spot clean where you can and dry clean if you have the chance. Hang clothes out to air on a windy day, there is always the old fallback of placing aromatic garments in the freezer as a way of refreshing them – I’ve never tried this, but have friends who swear it works.
Ironing synthetics can be a problem, nothing makes clothes look more shabby that a raft of creases. An effective steamer can obliterate creases in minutes and, left overnight to hang in a well-aired room, your freshly steam clothes will perfect and ready to wear the next day.
Mixing and matching cheap and expensive items has become a new fashion norm. But it’s easy to mess it up. Be sure to invest your money in the statement pieces that define your look, not on the timeless classics that play the supporting roles. The black shoes, white t-shirt, the work shirt – yes, you will get a lot of wear out of them, but because of that you’re more likely to want to change them more regularly, so don’t be tempted to splurge. Spend more on the unusual on-trend statement garments will last you well and divert any attention away from your standard items anyway.
Don’t Over Dress
When you think about the images in the media of people who look good, it’s often the case that their outfit is sleek and understated. Over accessorising, or choosing clothes that are overly-fussy will make your look stand out for the wrong reasons. Keep it simple. Choose strong colours and keep patterns to a minimum to give your look a crisp and sharp appearance.
Invest in Smooth Underwear
When clothes are ill-fitting it’s the lumps and bumps of our underwear that can give the game away. Invest in some smooth, seamless underwear to help minimise those visual distractions.