What do you do when you make a life-changing decision that will change the way you dress? My mother always told me that I had expensive taste (isn’t it amazing how all these things your mother tells you when you are young make more and more sense as you get older!?) but most of my life I haven’t exactly had the income to back those expensive tastes up – champagne taste on a beer budget is the expression I think she used the most!

Save those pennies!Well I was getting on ok there for a while – working full-time, paying off debt, living comfortably with what I was taking home each week, then I made the decision to go back to study, full-time. That meant leaving my full-time job, and my full-time income to go back to casual work and working very hard to make ends meet. But what about my champagne tastes?! I love my nice house, I LOOOOOOOVE my nice clothes and shoes but one of my favourite sayings is ‘ money does NOT buy style’ (and that one was not from my mother). Just because you have a lot of money, doesn’t mean you always get in right in the fashion stakes, so if you find your piggy bank on the emptier side of full, it doesn’t mean that you have to look any less wonderful – so here are a few tips on how to still get the luxury look for a little bit less.


Clothing swaps. Get a bunch on girlfriends over to your house, ask them all to bring 10 items of clothing, shoes etc that they don’t want and swap away! Make sure that everyone gets a fair swap for what they brought along and anything that nobody wants, donate to charity at the end of the night. You leave with a whole new wardrobe and you didn’t have to spend a cent (except maybe on a few bottles of bubbles and some cupcakes).

Alter clothes. Don’t be afraid to alter something that you already have in your wardrobe. I recently shorted a STUNNING Trelise Cooper skirt that just didn’t sit at the right length for me. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away because it is too beautiful, but I found that every time I went to wear it, I took it off again. I cut off a few inches and now it’s a hot mini that I can wear to a bar, out to dinner or even to uni! Make a dress into a blouse, shorten a maxi dress into a knee-length dress, dye something a new colour, there are so many little things you can do to make an old piece of clothing feel like new again!

Get a friend to look over your wardrobe. People always look at things from different perspectives so get a friend whose opinion you trust to come over and work out new outfits from your existing wardrobe. You will be surprised at what other people will discover in your wardrobe that you never knew you had! They might show you how to wear things differently, create new combinations of outfits, even work out new ways to accessorise with what you have. You will be surprised how much  this will breathe new life into your wardrobe. Maybe you could even return the favour for her!

eBay: In the last two years I have made over $2000 selling old clothes on eBay. It can be a little time-consuming, but it can be so worth it in the end! Make sure you take lots of good pictures and write a really clear description of what you are selling (including measurements). This will MAKE you money to spend on new (or other eBay) clothes so in the long-term, it works out that you spend none of your hard-earned money!


Dress for style and comfort, not for ‘fashion’. Don’t feel like you have to keep up with the latest trends to be fashionable and stylish. Invest (when you can) in a few key basics that will more than pay themselves back in cost-per-wear. Here are just two examples what you could do;

  • Jeans – simple, dark denim jeans are great to take you through winter – but don’t feel the need to splurge! Just Jeans and Jeans West often do a 2 for $99 deal on their own brands of jeans. If that is even too much to spend, see if you partner or a friend wants a new pair two and go halves. A good, classic pair of jeans will last you up to 5 or so years so definitely worth it. Some of my favourite jeans are from Jeans West so don’t be scared to go in and give them a go.

    My bargain ballet flats. Only $49!

  • Ballet flats – if you are like me and wear through your ballet flats after one season, don’t spend a fortune each winter replacing them! I just bought a pair of real leather, plain black ballet flats from DFO that look IDENTICAL to the Country Road ones I love, but there were literally half the price – $49. They are simple, will go with almost everything and if they wear through in one season (like the Country Road ones did) then I won’t be as disappointed about throwing them out.

Find the key looks you want this season and shop around: Flick through a few fashion mags at the beginning of each season, work out the key looks you want to work on and write a list. Just because Marie Claire says you have to get the latest maxi skirt from one particular store, doesn’t mean there aren’t other, cheaper options around. Do your homework, don’t buy the first item you see. Have a look online, on eBay, check out the chain store options and factor outlets to see if you can get the look you want, without paying the price for it.

Shop in the sales. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but end-of-season sales can elicit some AMAZING savings! Once again it’s about buying pieces that will take you through more than one season because you are usually buying them at the end of that season. Can you still wear it next summer? Then go for it!

Try shopping in February and March for summer sales and August for winter sales. Stores are RIGHT at the end of the sale season and they just want to get rid of old stock to make room for new stock so most of the time it will be heavily discounted.

Clothing markets. Sydney has the best second-hand clothing markets in the country so if you live there head to Rozelle, Bondi or Kirribilli markets to pick up some unbelievable second-hand designer clothes. When I lived in Sydney, I was selling dresses worth over $300 for as little as $20 because I just needed to get rid of them.

If you are in Brisbane, there is a great new market called The Diva’s Wardrobe (follow them on facebook here) that brings together the wardrobes of fashionistas around Brisbane, once again, the girls with the stalls are selling amazing pieces for a fraction of the cost! Any tips from other states would be much appreciated so feel free to let us know!

Chain stores. I know I pay them out quite often (more the service, not the product) but the trick to shopping at chain stores is to look for items that DON’T look like they come from a chain store. It’s also a great way to get the latest trends (only if you want to) at a fraction of the price. Animal print is in this winter, so pick up an animal print scarf (you can’t go wrong with a scarf) from Dotti or Sportsgirl for under $20. A great way to add something new to your outfit on the cheap.

Outlets: Outlets like DFO are a great way to get what you want at a fraction of the price. The great ballet flats I got for half the price I mentioned earlier are from a DFO store and except for the name printed on the inside of the shoe, I could not tell the difference between the two brands. You might have to wade through a lot of crap to find the good stuff, but it will be worth it in the end!

It’s not an easy task but there are definitely ways out there to save you money while still looking incredibly stylish!

Have you got some good tips for saving on your gorgeous wardrobe? What was the best bargain you ever found and where did you get it from?