Create Your Own Style on a Budget

Want to become your own fashion stylist? Want to learn how to buy clothes that suit you down to the ground? The tips below show you how to develop your own unique style at a bargain price!
1. It’s not just about the clothes
Being stylish isn’t about how much you spend, and whether you can afford designer threads – the most important factors in developing your own style are that the clothes suit you and that they suit each other.
Clothes that balance each other out and form a total look are more than the sum of their parts. The main two things you need to work out are:
* Which clothes and accessories suit your figure and colouring
* Which of your clothes and accessories go together to create a total look.
That doesn’t mean you can’t focus on design and quality. But you don’t have to in order to be a snappy dresser. The options for bargain fashion and secondhand clothes are endless. A good stylist can repurpose old clothes, and put boring clothes together with adventurous accessories in a way that’s exciting and new.
2. Use trial and error
If you want to create your own style, there’s no substitute for trying things on to work out the colours and cuts that suit you, and which colours and shapes suit each other. It’s fine to buy on the internet, but try lots of clothes on in bricks-and-mortar stores. Each time, decide ruthlessly what looks right on you, what doesn’t and why. You’ll soon work out the colours, styles and shapes that are worth trying on and buying in future, or ordering online.
Books and websites with style information are great to speed up this process, but nothing beats discovering it through trial and hopefully very little error!
3. Aim for critical mass
If you want to create a total look each day, you need to develop a critical mass of clothes and accessories. You can’t assume that just because some of your clothes match each other colour-wise they will look right together. You need to have plenty of styles, shapes and colours to choose from.
Sometimes things that should go together simply don’t. A pair of skinny jeans may look great with a longline top, and totally wrong with a cropped top. Sometimes a military-style jacket looks right with a blouson-style top underneath, or it may look dreadful – you can’t tell till you try it on. Sometimes wearing just one colour is perfect; sometimes it looks all wrong.
You need a certain amount of basic clothes so that you can mix and match – what these are will depend on your lifestyle. You’ll also need winter and summer hats and scarves in different shades, and bags and shoes in basic colours like black, camel, light tan and dark brown.
4. Buy carefully
Having a critical mass of clothes and accessories doesn’t mean hoarding clothes, overspending or buying everything you see – quite the opposite. It does mean you don’t need to spend a great deal on every piece.
Always obey your intuition when deciding whether or not to buy. When you’re about to buy something, ask yourself if it is going to suit your figure and look right on you.
Shop widely – don’t rigidly confine yourself to one way of shopping. Op shops (thrift shops), garage (yard) sales, swap meets, swapping websites, eBay, and recycle shops (on and offline) are just some of the options.
Once you have a critical mass of clothes and accessories, you won’t need to buy clothes frequently, and you can aim for the clothes you do buy to match those you already have.
5. Give yourself time to create your look
You need to allocate enough time in the morning to put a look together. If you’re always rushed in the morning, planning your outfit the night before is a good idea.
Whenever you find a combination of your clothes and accessories that looks great, write the combination down in a notebook (including the shoes, scarf and bag that match the outfit). That way, when you’re in a hurry you can use a combination that works.
Every now and then, try on some new combinations of your existing clothes to come up with new looks. When you bring home a new fashion accessory or clothes item, try it on with your existing clothes and accessories to work out what it goes with. Write the successful combos down in your notebook.
6. Look, adapt, copy
Adapt the styles of others, especially while you’re learning. Follow fashion blogs and websites such as Facehunter and The Sartorialist, and look at them critically – do the colours suit the wearer? Is a long skirt flattering on a short person? Does it work to pair black shoes with a light-coloured outfit? Borrow fashion magazines from the library and get ideas. But don’t just follow a style because your favourite blogger loves it, or buy a new dress because it’s an exact match of what Kate Middleton is wearing – work out if it suits you first.
7. Use your imagination
Fashion is getting more and more cyclic. Current fashion is increasingly a mish-mash of different styles and eras. It’s never been easier to team vintage clothes with new pieces, or create a look that is influenced by more than one era. There are also a huge number of blogs that show you how to repurpose op shop clothes or sew something from scratch. If you’re not the crafty type, consider having an out-of-date item altered by a tailor.
8. Break out
Once you’ve been putting clothes combinations together for a while, and looking at fashion mags and websites, you’ll probably want to experiment with creating totally original looks. Thanks largely to the internet, creative fashion is becoming much more acceptable in the mainstream. A great way of further developing your own style is to start your own blog, chronicling your fashion journey and asking for feedback from your readers.