Can you be frugal and fabulous?

contributed by Nimi Akinkugbe

There is a common misconception that you have to spend huge amounts of money to look good. I am no fashion expert but I do know that being well dressed doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you invest some time in careful planning and treat your clothes like an investment, you will be able to stretch available funds and still look amazing. Here are a few tips that will help you to make the best of what you have and not go broke.

Include clothes in your budget

Behind rent, transportation and food the next big chunk of your budget is likely to be for clothing, particularly for women. A reasonable clothes budget depends on your income and it varies significantly from person to person. What do you want and need in your wardrobe? Do you absolutely have to buy new clothes as soon as you get your salary? How much can you afford to spend on clothes and other fashion accessories.  If you create a budget for clothes you will be able to afford them without having to dip into money set aside for other essential purchases.


Organize your wardrobe

Learning to manage your wardrobe has many advantages. It can save you time, make you look stylish and well groomed, and most importantly it can save you money as it makes you make the most of what you already have.

Have you gone out and bought a new top only to find that you already have an almost identical one in your wardrobe? Bring everything out of your wardrobe. You will be surprised to find things tucked away at the back of your wardrobe that you have long forgotten about. Many fashions will come back every few years and some never date. The pair of trousers that has been lost in all the clutter could become a key piece. It is useful to do a clear out every so often so that at least you are aware of what you have and need.

Arrange your clothes for convenience and easy access, properly hung and ready to wear; trousers, jackets, skirts, suits in groups or by colour, this way, you can see at a glance what you have to work with. Have some fun whilst you are at it, and treat your wardrobe like your very own private boutique.

Know what suits you. Have a well-dressed and honest friend go through your closet with you and try things on to get a second opinion. She might even help you to combine pieces that you might never have thought of.

Why not de-clutter your wardrobe and touch some lives by giving away pieces that you haven’t worn in a year. You need to do some spring-cleaning from time to time to keep your clothes in order and simplify your life. These may become someone else’s favorites and bring much joy. Seriously consider this as the festive season draws near.

It’s about quality not quantity

It’s about quality not quantity when it comes to style. Buy the best quality of clothes and accessories that you can afford. Quality lasts longer, looks better, washes better, and ultimately will save you more money than if you buy lots of cheap clothes of inferior quality.

Don’t be tempted to follow fashion trends doggedly, or you will find yourself constantly spending just to keep up. Rather than splashing out on several new outfits every time the fashions change, invest in a few classics. Wardrobe staples such as the proverbial little black dress or other versatile party dress, a navy blue blazer, well tailored trousers and skirts, good quality white shirts, and a smashing pair of jeans are a must have. You can then complement these with a few key pieces. Classic pieces will not date easily and will keep you looking elegant.


Wardrobe Maintenance

Treat your clothes with respect and handle them with care. Follow washing labels and use the best available dry cleaner otherwise the fabric in your clothes will be stripped of their natural sheen. Iron and fold or hang garments up properly with good quality hangers, not the wires you get from returned dry cleaning. Store them appropriately. Your clothes will remain in good condition for so much longer. Women who look after their clothes will always look more stylish and well groomed.

Mix and match

Opt for mix-and-match separates. By using the clothes you already have in new and different combinations, you can give yourself lots of new options without having to buy several new pieces. This will help to curb impulse buying; when you buy on impulse you end up wasting money on things that don’t really go with your existing wardrobe pieces. You could also build a wardrobe around a color scheme of a few colors that look good on you. This will allow you more mix-and-match opportunities.


The power of accessories

Accessories can spruce up the overall look and they are the first things people notice. Invest in a few statement pieces, like brooches, belts, scarves, timepieces or jewelry. If you are a hard core bag lady on a tight budget, a classic statement designer handbag in a restrained colour such as black, brown or blue and without logos plastered all over the bag will get you much farther than a bright one.

Invest in good quality shoes. Some serious back and muscle disorders have been linked to inappropriate, poor quality, or ill-fitting shoes. You don’t want to buy cheap shoes that are bad for your feet only to have to spend a fortune on a chiropractor in later years.


Buy on sale wherever possible

Shopping off-season or in the sales will save you money. Visit your favourite stores just before the end of the sales and earmark some favourites; on the closing days of the sales, many items are slashed even further and you can pick up some really good bargains. Designer “seconds” shops offer quality pieces at affordable prices. But beware of seductive sale prices. Don’t be lured by the 50 percent off tag. Just because an item is on sale doesn’t mean that you have to buy it.


Shop with a list

Be strategic about building your wardrobe and shop with a list. Dressing well demands a good knowledge of your wardrobe and what you need to purchase to compliment your existing choices and lifestyle.

If you shop on impulse and without a list you will easily lose focus and end up buying things that you really don’t need, that you may never wear, and that will not enhance your wardrobe in any way. If you are more selective you will enjoy your wardrobe for much longer.

Pour through fashion magazines and observe well-dressed ladies to identify the looks you seek to achieve. You will find that you already have some key parts of a favourite look. Make a list of some of the things you need that can systematically be added to your existing wardrobe to recreate some of the looks that attracted you. An old piece when combined with a new accessory will suddenly have a new lease of life.

Aso-Ebi – Dare say no?

Do you have to “take aso-ebi” for every friends wedding or event or can you be a bit more selective?  It is nice to indulge once in a while and for very close friends and family you might feel “obliged” to show solidarity at a wedding, funeral or other major event; this is really what aso-ebi seeks to achieve. But you must learn to say no if you can’t afford it. Nowadays it is common to have a colour code and you will probably already have something in your wardrobe that lets everyone see that you “belong” without new spending.

The truth is that to a large extent, money has little to do with it. Looking good is all about how you feel about yourself, being fulfilled, and carrying yourself with confidence. Surround yourself with good positive people. Your mood and demeanour when positive will reflect in your appearance much more than the most expensive designer wear in the world. Look after yourself. Drink lots of water, get some sleep and exercise as if your life depends on it. Health is wealth.

Being on a budget and shopping economically doesn’t mean forgoing style. Be creative in looking for new and simple ways to look and feel good. You do want to look the part, but try not to break the bank whilst you are at it!

Written by Mrs Nimi Akinkugbe, Lagosmums money management and financial specialist. For further questions or advise send email to [email protected]

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