The Frugal Fashionista

When looking good doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny…

GETTING A UNIQUE, luxury look doesn’t have to bankrupt you, and more often than not, you probably already have something in your wardrobe that, with a bit of styling and few new accessories, can be completely transformed. This month’s issue has explored the shinier side of life with big name labels, but if your money is earmarked elsewhere, get creative with your budget and failing that, get creative with what you’ve got. Why not try a few of these money saving tips to create luxury looks for less.

Invest in Your feet

There are many famous quotes in fashion pages about the importance of buying a good pair of shoes, none more acidic than from the shoe god himself Manolo Blahnik who said: “Sometimes I hate a shoe in seconds.” You don’t have to spend millions, but investing in a couple of versatile heels or flats can mean all the difference, and if you are going to spend money somewhere, it should be on your feet; they deserve it.

Get crafty

Although a good rule of thumb is less is more, there is no harm in getting yourself to Ben Thanh or Tan Dinh Market and buying up their stock of buttons in a spectrum of different colors and sizes. Replacing a few or all of the buttons on a pair of pants or a shirt can completely transform it into something subtly unique. For the adventurous there is always the option of bleaching stuffy dark colors into lighter shades, although beware that instructions vary and it will take a few attempts before you reach the pastel shade you are looking for. Aim for three parts lukewarm water and one part bleach, and allow enough room for movement. Keep your eye on the color change. Independent research is strongly advised!


Any snappy dresser worth their salt knows that black never goes out of style. It’s flattering, and providing you don’t go for tight spandex or lycra, you can pair cheaper black fabric with more expensive accessories and still look endlessly sleek and expensive. Mixing black and white is big this season, and if it’s good enough for Marc Jacobs, it’s good enough for us.

The devil is in the details

Luckily for those living here, when one sale ends another starts, so fattening up your wardrobe can be quite affordable. While rummaging, pay close attention to seam edges making sure they are finished, and button details and symmetrical patterns – just in case things don’t quite line up. If pushed, you can always invest in a sewing kit.

Mix and Match

The fun of creating a unique look is in pairing cheaper pieces with expensive ones and really going for something new and stylish. There is obviously a fine line between individual style and k-pop car wreck, but the idea is to boldly go and if you are so inclined, have a quick look through some fashion magazines for inspiration. A full length mirror and honest friends help as does a good selection of different accessories to tie it all together.

What fashion forward topics would you like to read about in our monthly column? Email us with your ideas at

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