If you follow me on Pinterest you’ll quickly discover that I have a not-so-secret obsession with clothes. And shoes. And handbags and jewellery. Okay, I just love it all! I’m just putting it out there so we all know where I stand. But for those who know me personally you will know that I spend hardly any money – and I mean hardly any – on any of those things.
Once we started having kids and we went down to living on a single salary there was no longer a clothing budget. At all. Like, I couldn’t even buy new underwear for five years. Oh yeah, and so now with every Christmas I ask for pyjamas in whatever new size I am (I’ve been pregnant or post partum for five consecutive years) and with every Birthday I ask for that one item that I am desperately needing – like replacing the seriously haggard underwear!
I used to be able to spend a good portion of my take home pay on clothing and shoes. If I was in town and felt a little cold I would just pop into H&M and buy a cardi. Feeling hot at the end of a work day and heading out for the evening – a new dress it was. But then the time came when impulse buying and seasonal shopping was simply out of the question.
So how do I dress myself without spending any money?? I’ll tell you, through those same old hand-me downs and gifts – just like the kids.
Oh yes, it’s true. I have been wearing other people’s clothes for years!! I’ve been given hand me downs from my mum and literally whole wardrobes worth of clothes from friends. I’ve had to get flexible with my style but have discovered how to make it work. Here’s my tips for dressing yourself for free:
1. Say yes to second-hand and attend swap shops
You may see a few repeating points from my secrets to dressing your kids on a budget. But it’s true. If you’ve got a friend whose clearing out their wardrobe and asks if you want anything, just say yes. No need to ask what they have, what’s the size or where do they shop from – just take it. Also, rummaging through your husbands clothes is always a good place to start. I use my hubbies shirts for pyjamas all the time.
2. Dig for the essentials
When you get other people’s clothes the style may not match you or the sizes may be a little off of yours, but look for the basics like black shirts, black trousers, denims and pretty accessories. I tend to keep only 10% of clothing handed to me. Bet thats all I need to get by.
3. Keep fewer clothes and wear them more often
I don’t actually have that many clothes any more. I’ve pared back my wardrobe to be full of essentials so that pretty much everything goes together. I have just enough tops for a week and two pairs of denims and one trouser. I wear them and then wash them and wear them all again in the same week. This keeps your wardrobe much more functional and your laundry manageable. The most common thing amongst women today is that we’re just used to having wardrobes stuffed and overflowing with clothes so that we never ever run out. But it really is not necessary and just makes it harder to keep on top of the laundry and more expensive.
4. Only buy things that will last
There are things that you do just have to buy yourself – again, the underwear springs to mind. And shoes! It’s hard to get a hand me down set of shoes that fit and don’t look like they’ve been on a walkabout. So when it does come time to buy new shoes I buy them with years of wear in mind, not just this season. I just recently had to replace winter boots, so I asked for them for my Birthday and got this awesome pair from TK Maxx. I only buy Birkenstocks for summer and they’re the only shoes I wear all summer. I’ve had three pairs in the last 10 years. I just got my last pair from Costco at half price and the pair before were from TK Maxx. They last ages and are super comfy.
5. Be stylish, not trendy
This is something that I had to learn. Being a fashion lover I stay right on top of the trends, but I just simply can’t buy into that. They’re short, fleeting and costly. I have had to change my look to be more classically stylish than on-trend. But I don’t mind a bit and have learned so much about how to make your clothes work well for any occasion. Below is one of my favourite outifts. I would not go and buy myself a green leather jacket but it’s one of my favourites and matches perfectly with the scarf. The black shirt is a basic staple for any wardrobe and goes with anything.