This was a saying my mother always used to say to me! “You have champagne taste but you only have a beer budget” …. meaning that I like too much nice stuff. But over years and year of a) liking nice stuff and b) working in the fashion game, I think I’ve learnt pretty well to get more bang for my buck when it come to looking good and not going broke (well not too often anyway).

So I thought I’d share some of my industry-insider secrets on how to always look good without spending ALL your mortgage money.

1. Shop the sales

This is a kinda obvious one, but it works for me all the time! The trick is to by things out of season that you know you will wear next season.

This GORGEOUS lace skirt from Witchery was originally $169 AUS. It was on the sale rack (in my size, how convenient!) marked down to $79, the $69. I was willing to pay $69 for it so I tried it on – and fell in love. So imagine my delight when I got to the counter and not only had it been marked down more – to $39 – there was an ADDITIONAL 15% off the lowest price! $31.40 in the end for this kick-ass skirt!


This skirt was classed as a ‘Spring’ item, so once the ‘Summer’ items started coming into stores, they brands clear their ‘Spring’ collection – the bonus for us? There is not much difference between Spring and Summer collections here in NZ and Aus so buy up big for summer in the Spring Sales!

Tip to remember: Just because you won’t wear it tomorrow, doesn’t mean you won’t wear it! Buy out of season in sales

2. Shop online

Local retailers hate this, but I like shopping online for two reasons – 1) online stores like Asos and have MASS buying and manufacturing power, so they can do things cheaper than a local manufacturer or store (I’m sorry Aus and NZ designers, you know I love you!). 2) You will find things that aren’t run-of-the-mill, everyone-else-is-wearing kinda things. You have more choice with online stores around the world, and you won’t be caught in the same high street dress as 3 other people….awkward!

These cute pants are from – they only cost $50! They are comfortable and stylish, with an on-trend giraffe print and they are perfect for what I do!

I love my pants! Buy them here

I love my pants! Buy them here

No one would know they are from because I make sure I wear them with a smart tailored jacket, a bright necklace and high heels. Mix and match your cheap and cheerful pieces with more expensive pieces for an individual, stylish look. I wore these shopping with a client one day, and no kidding, 6 people stopped me in the street and asked me where my pants were from (didn’t they Julie 😉 )

Tip to remember: When buying online, buy shapes and styles that you already know work on you. Because you can’t try it on, you’re better to be safe. Plus always check the returns policy!

3. Swap, don’t shop!

I’ve always been a fan of paying it forward with my un-wanted clothes, whether that means selling them on eBay etc, taking them into a recycle store (and get some money back) or selling them at the markets but a new concept has come to my attention in Auckland recently! It’s called Swap My Clothes.

Swap My Clothes in Parnell, Auckland

Swap My Clothes in Parnell, Auckland

Basically you join up as a member for either 6 months ($260), on 1 year ($460 – both are also available as a $10/week option), and once you have paid your membership fees no more money changes hands!

You then bring in your unwanted (but still totally awesome) clothes, and you earn points for your clothes (ie. a Glassons top might be 1 point, and a Trelise Cooper dress might be 6 points) you then use those points to SWAP out other pieces of clothing that are in the boutique.

Man have I picked up some AWESOME pieces, including these JIMMY CHOO shoes! Yep – you read that right! Jimmy Choos!

Just 5 points for these beauties!

Just 5 points for these beauties!

I also nabbed this BRAND NEW Ladakh dress – the tags were still on it and everything. I’ve worn it so much already thing summer – it’s a keeper! And it was only 1 point!!

This cute little frock cost me nothing! (well, 1 point)

This cute little frock cost me nothing! (well, 1 point)

If you are not in Auckland, you can always hold a clothes swap party with your friends – you never know what treasures they are hiding in their wardrobes! (if you are in Auckland, I can help you run a swap party – for more details, visit my styling website:

Tip to remember: What you think is trash, is another woman’s treasure – and visa versa – but make sure you swap clean, neat and tidy clothes – no one wants your old, stained, stretched pieces 

4. Outlets are your friends

I laughed so hard when my girlfriend FINALLY discovered how amazing Dressmart is! (For you Aussies, it’s exactly the same as DFO) This was her text…..

this is an actual text conversation....

this is an actual text conversation….

SO for the un-initiated, Dressmart, or DFO, is an outlet mall. So the shops in there are the same as the ones in your usual mall, Country Road, Decjuba, Just Jeans etc except the stores are full of end-of-season stock, samples and faulty stock so you get it REALLY CHEAP! Most stores will have up to 80% off some things!

I recently got this stunning Decjuba skirt that was originally marked at $150 NZ for $34!! There is nothing wrong with it except Decjuba classed it as a winter skirt, but with a little singlet and some open toed shoes, there is no reason I can’t rock it this summer right? You just need to think outside the box.


This skirt was marked down from $150 to $40!! Plus there was another 15% off sale so $34 later, this skirt was in my closet!

Tip to remember: Patience is a virtue when outlet shopping. You will wade through HEAPS of crap to find the diamonds – but they are there and they are worth it!

5. Trawl eBay and Trade Me

I’ve got some GREAT stuff over the years from eBay, and I’m just starting to discover the joys of Trade Me (Aussies, it’s the NZ version of eBay). I just bought an amazing Sacha Drake dress for $80! Now it’s a few seasons old, but I already own the style, it’s brand new with the tag still on and I know it fits (and suits me). It would have retailed for around $250 at the time. No one will know…… (don’t tell anyone ok?)

I also fell in love with the style of necklace seeing it on US fashion blogs and Pinterest all the time – I did a quick search of eBay and found them for around $8 each! (Now I REALLY AM giving away all my secrets) I have one is almost every colour! A great way to add some POP to your look for cheap.

eBay buys - Chasing Cait

Now, you are probably never going to get new season stuff on these sites, but if you stick to labels that you already know and love, you can get some bargains!! Plus, I know that I put HEAPS of clothes on there – mostly never worn things (yep, I still get stuff I don’t wear) so I KNOW there are really good quality pieces if you look hard enough.

Tip to remember: Don’t get caught up in the hype of bidding. Set your limit in your own head of what you are willing to pay, and don’t go above it. The point is to get the looks for LESS – not pay too much for it in a mad bidding war at the end!

6. Learn to sew (or have a mother that can sew!)

My mum saw this awesome dress in a shop and thought to herself ‘I can MAKE that!”. So she did. And she made me one too! Here it is. Such a cool frock and no one in the world will have the same one!

Mum-made dress - Chasing Cait

If you have a sewing machine and a few simple sewing skills you can learn from YouTube you can whip up one-off pieces that NO ONE else will be wearing, normally for a fraction of the cost too! Just a few metres of fabric and some time.

Tip to remember: Start out simple, and take lessons! Sewing is a great way to make your own, individual pieces, or even modify pieces that you already have so invest in a sewing machine and start pinning!


So now I’ve given away ALL my insider tips, you can see how easy it is to look good, and put some personality into your look, on a budget! I don’t think I pay retail for ANYTHING these days – between all these ways of getting my hands on the looks I want, I can buy more – for less! (see what I did there, just don’t tell the boy…..)

Until next time,

Style & Love Always

Cait xox


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