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How to reinvent your style on a budget

How to reinvent your style on a budget

As a fashion company that’s just undergone a style refresh of our own, we know a thing or two about reinventing your look. And since it’s the season for change and renewal, you may also be feeling the urge to mix things up.

When you look in your wardrobe and feel a deep sigh of boredom, you might think it’s time for something drastic. “The temptation is to start with something showy,” says Thread stylist Luke McDonald. This leaves you stranded with something you want to wear all the time, but which doesn’t work with anything you actually own. “You end up spending more than you otherwise would on one exceptional item, but to maintain a new style you have to get the basics right.”

Any shift in what you wear should be built on solid foundations. So for streetwear, that means logo t-shirts and the right trainers. For the prepster that might mean rugby shirts and chinos. “Build up to it,” says Luke. “It’s not going to happen overnight.” That’s a good thing, because it lets you experiment with committing to a look before you’re sure it’s for you.

Throwing everything out only to replace it all is as bad for your look as it is your bank balance. With these tips, you can slowly, steadily win the sartorial race, without breaking the bank.

Take stock

As any problem-solving guru will tell you, to find the solution, you first have to understand the problem. What about your wardrobe do you actually want to change?

To start, get everything out – clothes, shoes, accessories, Christmas jumpers that you’d forgotten about and have never worn. First, look for the glaring omissions. Then, pinpoint the things you don’t like about your current style. If you’ve changed size recently, perhaps it’s a fit thing. If you’re looking at a huge stack of navy and grey, maybe it’s time you introduced something a bit more colourful. But once you know, you’ll know where to go.

Set a budget

And be realistic. According to Business Insider, “your monthly clothing budget should comprise no more than 5% of your after-tax income.” They allow up to 7% if you’re building your work wardrobe from scratch. But the important thing is to set a figure that you’re comfortable with. Maxing your credit card isn’t the only way to fall back in love with your clothes – something as simple, and affordable, as taking your clothes to an alterations tailor can make ill-fitting clothes feel brand new.

Next, message your stylist, who will be able to advise on factors like cost-per-wear (the price of an item divided by the number of times you’ll wear it) so you can make sure you spend wisely. Even if you have a generous budget to spend on your reinvention, it’s wise to set category limits for yourself. It might be more fun to buy big coats, but summer’s coming.

Build a collection of basics

Whatever your new style, it will be built around a set of core basics. These are the versatile go-tos that appear in pretty much every outfit. If your style is heritage, then you’ll want a good supply of flannel shirts and woolly jumpers, plus some chunky boots. Scandi minimalists should invest in a good single-breasted camel coat and black jeans.

You’ll know something counts as a building block if you can imagine it in at least five different outfits (and if you can’t, your stylist can help). If something only works for one or two specific looks, then that’s going to be more of a statement garment and not necessarily where you want to be spending most of your reinvention budget.

Get altering

If you thought that tailors were only for those who shopped on Savile Row, then you’re missing out. Your local dry cleaners will offer simple services like lifting trouser hems, swapping out buttons, or repairing rips.

Even cheaper than the tailor is good ol’ fashioned DIY. To transform your tired jeans into something a bit fresher, just take a pair of scissors to the hem. A word to the wise: you want to cut just enough off the bottom so that the jeans hit right around your ankle.

Switch up your grooming

One of the quickest and most noticeable ways to alter your style is with a haircut or changing your facial hair. If you’re going for something a bit more edgy, it makes sense to have a haircut that reflects your aesthetic. Our advice? Consult your barber for tips on what works for both your face shape and your new threads.

Invest in accessories

Not every change has to be a big one. If your goal is to look a bit more polished but you’re still going to work carrying an old rucksack, then a simple solution is to upgrade your bag. Go for a minimalist leather option, or perhaps ditch the rucksack altogether and try out a tote.

Accessories can run the gamut from cheap-as-chips to frankly ridiculous, so again, apply the ‘cost-per-wear’ formula. If this is a bag that you’ll be wearing every day and in all weather, then it’s worth spending more than a tenner on it.

Bonus tip: get organised

When you walk into a well-curated shop, the first thing you should notice is space: space between the hangers and space to appreciate everything. Now, we’re not saying you need to get a carpenter in, but there’s a reason why shops put in so much effort to make browsing a pleasure.

Firstly, it’s hard to see your options if everything is packed into a wardrobe or stuffed into drawers. Secondly, if clothes aren’t stored correctly, they can quickly become stretched out of shape or damaged. Buy a few packs of matching hangers – not the thin wire ones you get at the dry cleaners – and spend some time organising your wardrobe.

That means folding your knitwear, hanging coats on wide-shouldered hangers, and using trouser hangers that won’t leave marks on the fabric. When your clothes are stored and displayed thoughtfully, it’s a lot easier to fall back in love with them.


Words: Theresa Harold
Illustration: Elliot Kruszynski