Have you ever wondered where – or how – the super-stylish shop? Well, we got our fashion editor, Xolani Gumede, to share some of the fashion industry’s best-kept secrets on budget shopping.
Do a wardrobe audit:
Ever stared vacantly into your cupboard thinking, ‘I have nothing to wear?’. A cluttered cupboard makes it impossible to find anything to wear when you’re in a rush. Weed out anything unflattering, dated or falling apart – and there’s no point hanging onto something in the hope that it will fit you in the future.
You don’t need loads of clothes; you can easily fake an enormous wardrobe if around 70% of what you own is mix and match basics like black pants, a navy dress, nude pumps and a white shirt. Consider making an ‘old for new’ rule, so you have to give away a piece you already own.
Read more: How to stop buying clothes you never wear
Shop the sales:
Yes, battling the crowds at a sale can be stressful but don’t be afraid to dig through the end-of-season racks to find something special for a great price. And don’t walk past a pair of leather boots just because it’s the height of summer; if the price is right, buy now and save them for later.
Look for classic patterns, colours and silhouettes so you can wear them when the correct season rolls around, and for years to come.
Ask the right questions:
When you’re standing in the change room considering a purchase, ask yourself these important questions:
- Does it fit me properly? Don’t fool yourself into buying something that would look great if you just lost 3kg – it will end up lying in your cupboard and you’ll get no use out of it.
- Do I own this already? Do you really need yet another black cardigan or pair of skinny jeans?
- Will it work with what I have? If you can’t mentally match an item with at least three pieces in your existing wardrobe, put it back on the rail! If you centre your wardrobe around three or four key colours, you’ll be able to mix and match everything.
Know when to splurge…and when not to:
Ever heard the old saying ‘quality trumps quantity’? Well, that rule doesn’t apply when it comes to accessories: a few well-chosen pieces of costume jewellery (or accessories like scarves and hats) can be used to update any look.
You’ll find great pieces at stores like Colette Hayman. Items you might want to spend a little more on include handbags, coats and a LBD.
Go to the right places:
We all want to look like we’ve just stepped out of the fashion pages of a glossy magazine, but not many of us have the bank balance to make it happen. The solution? Knowing where to shop. If you go to the right retailers then being on a budget doesn’t have to mean you can’t treat yourself.
- Go to The Fix (thefixblog.co.za) for cool catwalk copies without the eye-watering price tags.
- Go bargain hunting at factory shops like JAM Clothing for local and international brands – or try China Mall for fashion-forward items that won’t break the budget. We love International Brands Outlet (Joburg) for big brands at bargain prices, Durban shoppers should check out Gemelli, and Cape Town’s Access Park is a big outside mall for factory shops.
- For high-quality basics look no further than Pick n Pay Clothing, and browse at Contempo for stylish workwear.
Go to, or host, a swapping party:
Get a group together – you can have an open guest list or keep it just to friends – and everyone brings the clothes they no longer wear. This is a way to whittle down your wardrobe and get something new without spending any money.
Looking to join a swapping party? The Skip Fashion Exchange is a great option.
Start signing up:
Most retailers send out newsletters announcing any specials or end-of-season sales – some even offer shopping discounts (both online and in-store) when you join their mailing list.
Sign up to be the first to know, then hit the shops when they open so you can get your hands on the new stock first. Staff are also less frazzled then, and you won’t have to fight the crowds.
Visit vintage stores:
Fancy something old? Some of the best must-haves have been found at the bottom of a vintage store clothing bin. But if you can’t stand the thought of scratching through the shops, try an online vintage store like Guard the Vintage. They have unique clothing that’s budget friendly and on-trend too.