Affordable fashion – get creative on a budget

sewing cushion with pins

sewing cushion with pinsBored with the same old clothes but lacking the funds for a wardrobe revamp? Trying to be fashionable on a budget? Tricky isn’t it?

You know you need to do something, but you’ve trawled the charity shops, organised clothes swap parties, and it’s not done the trick. All you’ve ended up with are some questionable blouses, and your friends’ faded, misshapen dresses instead of your own.
Face it – you’re in a fashion rut. But fear not. There are other ways to stay stylish on the cheap, you just need to get creative with your wardrobe.

The essential little black dress

The little black dress is one of the classic wardrobe staples. You’ve probably got at least one, along with a good pair of black trousers, a tailored white shirt, and a favourite smart skirt. Sounds a tad dull doesn’t it? But it needn’t be.

The idea of the wardrobe staple is that it is one item that can be turned into many outfits. This principle is clearly demonstrated by The Uniform Project – one girl’s pledge to wear the same LBD for a whole year. The added challenge – it had to look unique every single day.

Take inspiration from The Uniform Project, and make your capsule wardrobe work for you:

  • Build your capsule wardrobe around two or three good quality, neutral coloured items, which you can mix and match with cheaper, brighter accent colours.
  • Declutter and organise your wardrobe so that you can see everything, and everything you can see is something you actually like and wear.
  • Add extra splashes of bold colour or pattern with a funky belt or chunky jewellery.

Make your own

There is something enchanting about the idea of sitting at a sewing machine. It could be just the fantasy, Sleeping Beauty element, or maybe it’s actually the idea of creating something unique by hand.

Whatever your motivation, making your own clothes is a great option for the time-rich, cash-poor.  Your ideal teacher is a family member or friend with sewing skills, but your local college or adult learning provider may run classes.

If you don’t own a sewing machine, ask around. Like a foot spa, it’s one of those things lots of people have, but never use. Otherwise, freecycle is a good place to try for unwanted machines, equipment and fabric.


More and more women lately have been discovering the joys of make do and mend, with a WW2 attitude becoming essential for the budget conscious fashionista.

It doesn’t have to stop, though, at just adding a funky patch to your jeans. Upcycling – taking something old or broken and turning it into something better – goes one step further, and gives you the chance to really get creative.

Like the idea but don’t know where to begin? Check out the refashion co-op for inspiring upcycling ideas and step by step instructions for turning your cast-offs into something stylish and unique.

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you might even want to explore the art of trashion. One step up from turning old clothes into new, trashion turns actual rubbish into clothes and accessories. It may look impressive, but beware – a dress made of old LPs may attract some funny looks on the playground…