In an age of fast fashion and trend turnovers that are ever quicker these days, it is even harder to keep a fashion savvy wardrobe without breaking the bank every month.
For those of us with student debt who are working long days with nothing to show for it by rent day, it can be a daunting and rather depressing time when the fashion tides turn and nothing in our wardrobes is chic and stylish anymore.
There is, I’m pleased to say, a couple of key pieces that will keep your fashion whistle wet and your wallet happy. As a graduate and fashion obsessive, I can tell you that these wardrobe staples have kept me sane even in the most prolific fashion seasons.
I have always prefered Autumn/ Winter to Spring/ Summer where collections are concerned so I am glad that I live in a country where the weather is drizzly an undecided 80% of the time. This can work to your advantage if, like me you own a lot of winter clothing.
As many of my friend will tell you, I am nothing if not dangerously addicted to jumpers. I have in my home a couple of draws dedicated to my collection of jumpers and more than a few hangers holding the larger and thicker items of my collection. What I have found is you need to pick a colour and a style that will always be able to fit somewhere even when fashion takes a more drastic turn. For example, I have a cream, loose knit (almost a crochet) jumper that I bought from Topshop in 2009/2010 and I wear it to DEATH! It isn’t warm so I can always pair it with a shirt for smarter days and a cropped tee for those more casual days and it has never crossed my mind that I might donate it because the fashions were leaning away from that style. It fits the 90s street style look with some tight trousers and chelsea boots and it works well with shorts and a denim jacket for late summer early autumn too. I have been known to pair it with my leather skater skirt from Rare, knee high socks and brothel creeper shoes for that edgier, goth look and it looks quite at home over a sweet pink dress too. It’s jumpers like these that will save you a lot of money in the long run and thus is why it is on my list of investment pieces as this jumper cost around £40.
It is important to note that you should only buy these jumpers in a colours that transcend trend forecasting such as cream, navy, black or grey as these colours can be worn across the seasons and trends (I would recommend sticking with grey and cream to be honest because they work in both S/S and A/W).
2) Skinny Jeans/ Disco Pants
This trend came in when I was still a teenager and has been a trend ever since. Skinny jeans can literally be worn on any occasion with ANYTHING. They are the epitome of the investment piece and can be worn across seasons and trends. As far as the disco pant is concerned, I can’t describe how much I love them. I lean towards more gothic styles and 90s grunge chic as a preference but these can be worn with just about anything as long as you get your colour co-ordination spot on. Skinny jeans can be paired with shirts/blouses, tees, crop tops, jumpers, dresses… anything! If you buy a pair thats a little loose at the ankle you can roll them up for a more casual feel or pair with heels, rolled down and a chiffon top for nights out or parties. They are a fantastic transitional piece as they are not as thick as denim (if you get a stretch pair) so you won’t get so hot in the summer.
They disco pants are a great item to pull on when you aren’t sure of what to wear because they go great with crop tops, jumpers… pretty much everything you would wear with the skinny jean you can wear with the disco pant. I bought my disco pants from eBay and they cost me £12 but there is lots of option, including the American Apparel Disco Pants at £74 (a little pricey for some but well worth saving up for as the quality is brilliant and as I said, go with EVERYTHING!).
3) The cocoon coat
I have spent many an hour staring at the pages of Vogue and Elle at the adverts for the fashion house of Stella McCartney and I can tell you that they have been doing a remake of their cocoon silhouette across their ranges for years. Especially when it comes to their coats. And whilst most of us can’t afford the £1,140 price tag, there are high street design teams in House of Fraser for instance that are re-making these styles and picking one of these up is a great investment for your wardrobe because this style is far from out (might I suggest House of Fraser’s own brand Label Lab, who have just released a cocoon coat in grey that will last you years of wear and seasons, and at £115, well worth the investment). I myself have a 100% llama wool cocoon coat which I have just re-lined that my mum bought for me from a charity shop and it cost her £5 so don’t give up hope of finding that beautiful bargain. I have had that coat for going on 5 years now and it has never faltered and has always fitted into each years trend seamlessly.
4) Chiffon Shirts
Whether you are a little bit of a punk leftover like myself or you are more inclined to a sweeter look, the chiffon shirt will never let you down. I have one that I bought on eBay about 2 years ago and it has served me well on all occasions. It’s a style that is so wearable for both day and night, casual and smart, that I’ve now bought one in black. You can wear it with jeans, skirts, shorts and under maxi’s and other dresses. You can pair this with some jeans, under a sweater with some brogues for a casual look or together with your disco pants and some heels for a night out. Because the chiffon is light and airy you can pair it with a sweater in winter for extra warmth and wear it on its own in the summer so you don’t overheat. As with the jumpers, best to stick with solid, neutral colours such as cream, black or grey so that the shirt can transition nicely and fit with upcoming trends and be sure to purchase a style with a simple collar because collar trends are as ever changing as the seasons and you don’t want to wake up one day and pussy bows be a thing of the past! Settle for a traditional small, pointed collar for the best use out of your chiffon shirt.
5) The Blazer
One of my personal favourites for any season, the blazer is, like most things on my list of investment pieces, a winner on all accounts. I picked up a stunning black blazer with satin, topstitched lapels and a grey lining that shows when you roll up the sleeves, at H&M in Plymouth about 5-6 years ago for about £5 in the sale and I have never had a season or a year that I haven’t been able to wear it. You can pair it with your chiffon shirt and disco pants for a smart look for an interview or for work and you can pop it on over your cream sweater and wear it with your skinny jeans and a pair of loafers for a smart/casual look for when you’re out and about with your friends. I love my blazer to death and it will never go out of fashion. In the colder parts of winter, you can layer under your cocoon coat for warmth and a bit of chicness in your day to day ‘doings’. You can also add some flare with a couple of pin badges if you’re feeling like you need to add a little edge to the style and, as I mentioned with my blazer, you can roll the sleeves up on a hotter day to show of the lining colours and pair with a crop top and some jean shorts. The brand I currently work for, Biba, have a beautiful blazer that would suit all of your needs for £99, which is available to buy at House of Fraser and although a little expensive, well worth saving for because you will be getting your moneys worth for sure.
I have so many other investment pieces that will save you wardrobe worries but for now I will leave you with these 5 because I think that these are the most essential in saving those precious pennies and your sanity. There are also many shoe types that have transcended the trend turnovers such as brogues, loafers, wedged heels and rider boots but those you can work out on your own as you explore these vital investment pieces and how to incorporate them into your long term wardrobe co-ordinations.