Living well for Less – Part one

Having to look for pleasures that cost nothing or are very cheap has a way of setting you free?

This year we are going to have to tighten the belt slightly as my inheritance that has  served me well has like all good things has come to an end so hence the post on budgeting – well not exactly as I have never been one for scrimping and saving but having to economise has made me think a little more about on what and how I spend my hard-earned cash

When I worked in the fashion industry you lived two completely different lives  – working with the most amazing pieces clothing  staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, seeing fabulous interior design, going to fancy parties mixing with the A-List and then going home to a one room flat eating baked beans and value pasta for the rest of the month because you spent your wages on the “Gucciesque” dress or bottle of champagne in the fancy bar just to fit in with the other fashion interns who were very often socialites living off daddies money!! But it does give the taste for the finer things in life and so when you don’t have the funds for that kind of living you have to get inventive!!??

This is ultimately where my love for vintage and second hand grew – coveting  pieces that I saw in pages of Vogue, on shoots and in the fancy places we used as locations so I hunted charity shops, flea markets and vintage shops for the fashion, and interiors that I was seeing everyday but not having the means to buy!!

We are taught that money is freedom yet it can dull your imagination and give you the easy option  not having cash to throw around  makes you think out of the box, create something different and use your imagination!

Luxury is not only measured in “things” but in time spent with family and loved ones, special moments that money can’t buy? And that is something I have learnt to value over the past year.

I am not advocating that money is not necessary of course not we need it to pay our bills and everyday living but since reading The Art of More For Less – Savvy Chic – by Anna Johnson I am re-addressing my priorities, budgeting, living well and decantly in every way but cost!!

So here is the first in a series of my interpretation of her ideas on Savvy Chic – living well on less!!

Lets start with fashion and dressing up – something that I love as anyone that reads this blog will know!! My entire earnings would go on clothes if I didn’t have to budget for other things so how do you look good and have a wardrobe to die for without breaking the bank??

Vintage and charity shops are your friend when it comes to look chic on a budget – many women are afraid of vintage or second-hand  fearing that they will look “old-fashioned”, or a just a bit off trend – not the case!! But they are perfectly happy to buy a “new” vintage style dress but you risk spending a lot of money just to look the same as everyone else

As I have previously said vintage was my way of getting designer looks without the price tag and with nothing new in fashion it is still the best way to get the “look” of the season but with your own twist on it? Not only does vintage make you look more individual you also get the satisfaction that you are doing your bit for the environment by recycling.

Vintage gives you the option to have amazing quality fabrics, great cut and individual style but for much less than high street or designer price tags.


So here are my tops tips for buying vintage, interpreting the trends and making it your own!!

  • Resist the urge to wear more than two items from one decade (unless you are going to a vintage event) – mix it up, add a pair of chunky heels or thick belt to a 30’s dress, put new shoes with a 7o’s dress, 80’s pussy bow blouse with your skinny jeans – just don’t look like you have stepped out of a period movie!
  • Mismatch your make-up – don’t do the full on 50’s look with a wiggle dress – Prada made 50’s dresses look ultra modern a few seasons ago, simple eyes and stained but not heavy lip?
  • Never mind the label – yes  you can find designer and high-end high street pieces for less than you would buy in the shops but the point of vintage is to bypass snobbery and find what works for you – Style trumps status every time!
  • Buy what you love – don’t be led by price, if you love it and know you will wear it again and again buy it!! Vintage isn’t always cheap – you are paying for cut, quality and fabric. One thing that I won’t ever do is bargain with a vintage dealer or seller – they have spent a long time sourcing and cleaning if necessary you wouldn’t walk into a high street store and ask for their best price?? And it is there living just as any other business is!!
  • Keep tear sheets of looks you love and have in your head when you go shopping but saying that always have an open mind – you never know what gems will pop up at the least expected places?
  • Try everything on – vintage sizing is totally different to modern clothes and something may not look like anything on the hanger but once on the body transforms into something magical.
  • Take a belt and a brooch in your handbag – it can make all the difference to cinch in a dress or add a pin at the right place?
  • Make your wardrobe work for you – buy pieces that will work with other items that you already own – will that blouse go with a pair of jeans or skirt, can you wear that dress for day then style it up for cocktails or will the jacket create new outfits from your bottoms?

And a few words on sale shopping – a bargain is only a bargain if you are going to wear it – there is nothing more tempting than the cheap dress  and nothing more dismal than wearing a dress that looks cheap!! We all get “sales fever” when the red price tags appear in shops thinking that the bright multi print dress reduced by 50% that we wouldn’t have given a second glance to at full price seems like a great addition to your wardrobe because it is half price!!i_love_shopping

Sales are the time to invest in the classics that will last you a lifetime, go with everything in your wardrobe and something that you will wear again and again.

  • A great pair of knee-high boots – classic style, black or brown leather – mix them with your 70’s shirt dress or a line skirt, wear them with a 60’s shift for work or even with you LBD.
  • Simple classic pumps – in a neutral colour, a heel you can walk in and this is the time to buy the designer shoes as they will be comfortable and make you feel instantly glamorous whatever you are wearing
  • Cashmere – is neutral colours and bright shades too, whatever style you prefer – polo, crew neck or button up cardigan they will all serve your well for years mixed with your fabulous vintage finds!
Erin with a classic polo and a "could be vintage" skirt??

Erin with a classic polo and a “could be vintage” skirt??

The bottom line is with a bit of time and thought, along with some clever sale and vintage shopping you can have the wardrobe that is the envy of those who have just bought into the high street and designer labels probably spent a fortune on pieces they will never wear and run the risk of turning up at an event to find someone in the same outfit!!


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