Everyone loves a bargain, and we are all on a budget. Whether you are shopping at Louis Vuitton or Target, value for money is paramount.
During my time in fashion, I have learnt from the best – editors who can scan a store, a market, or an outlet and pick the best items at a glance.
Authenticity is key – a knockoff of a designer piece is not a bargain, but a genuinely lovely article that is what it is translates as the better, and ultimately more stylish purchase.
Here’s a few insights I’ve picked up over the years that can used as a rule of thumb in the less expensive fashion outlets.
Denim, in particular jeans, is not so much about labels as it is fit. Stores such as Kmart and Target have more-than acceptable jeans, in every style from skinny, to flared, to boyfriend, from around $20 and up.
Kmart and Target are also a go-to for scarves and mufflers, as they generally tend to be on-trend in terms of pattern (floral, animal print, chunky knit etc), in high quality fabrics that will often be in 100 per cent cotton or wool.
The overwhelming trend for the past few seasons has been tiny, minimalist jewellery in gold or silver, delicate chains with tiny trinkets that looked better the more expensive they were.
Now, in good news, statement jewellery is back, pieces such as brightly coloured silk tassel earrings that can be bought at affordable stores like Lovisa and worn for a season.
Shoes are tricky. I would never normally recommend a cheap shoe, as they can ruin a look. The comparison between good leather versus vinyl is obvious, especially in men’s shoes.
But the current trend is for slippers, slides and mules in fabrics such as velvet, leopard and satin and there are brilliant low cost versions available in stores like Zara and Wittner. Make sure to try before you buy (the lasts are non-existent so they can gape in odd places) but if it’s a sandal or a mule, they are great value.
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Stores such as Zara offer every trend you can think of (or want to avoid), but the real value they offer is in items that are more interesting and artisanal. The best pieces I have found are not lazy knock-offs but are “inspired” by an exotic trend.
Look for things that are beaded, embroidered or embellished, and offer good and often intricate workmanship for a relatively low cost – like a stitched velvet jacket, an embroidered silk kimono or a beaded evening clutch bag.
Uniqlo’s in-store and online offerings for men include lightweight down jackets, high-quality merino wool jumpers and cotton shirts – all perfect for winter layering.
There’s no better suit for under $200 than at Top Man – the cuts are great – just make sure the fabric doesn’t have too much shine.
Meanwhile, Kmart does great canvas sneakers for men in similar styles to Converse or Vans.
Activewear has its own status labels but for really good basics, such as singlet tops in white or grey marle, head straight for the back of a Cotton On store, where you’ll find their affordable, functional Body range.
Another good destination for those all-purpose underpinnings is Myer, which stocks great form-fitting Basque singlets and tanks in navy, black and white, ideal for work and perfect under a suit jacket.