Classic Styles Best Value

I want to look good without spending a lot of money. What's the best way to use my clothing budget?”

This question - or variations thereof - regularly hits my inbox from readers all over the world. While we may not all speak the same language, there are a few things upon which we can all agree that make us take leave of our senses: rich chocolate, handsome men, and clothes that are too cute to leave behind at the store.

So what's a gal to do, particularly when she's been saddled with champagne tastes on a beer budget?

First, set down those glossy fashion magazines and back away from them slowly. They can be dangerous, particularly if you don't know how to use them. £400 pants? £300shoes? Who can afford to buy these things? Not many! Look at what's popular, swipe some styling ideas, then go replicate the looks in prices that you can afford.

Secondly, start viewing any “must have” list with healthy scepticism. These are the latest trends that the designers are showing that will be dated by this time next year. Some will be cute, true, but others will only be cute on the models that show them. Once you learn what looks good on you and what doesn't, you'll be a lot less susceptible to buying what others say you “must have” each season.

Finally, invest in classic pieces that work well on your body. It's the single best way to get the most mileage out of your clothing budget, because you can wear classic styles for several years without ever looking dated. Top a classic base with a trendy accessory, and you'll look “au courant” without going in the red.

So what exactly ARE classic styles, and how do you know one when you see it?

Classics are styles that have been popular for years because of their clean lines and utilitarian features. While trends are instantly recognizable by length, pattern, or decoration, classics transcend time with their cut, style, and fabric. They can be worn alone, layered, dressed up or dressed down, and can be made to look current by adding something trendy.

Examples of classics include:

Jeans

Turtleneck

Cardigan

T-shirt

Sleeveless Sheath

Tailored Jacket

Crisp shirt

Trench Coat

Kelly bag

Penny loafer

There are some years when these styles are more popular and some years when they're less, but they continue to sell well because they fit a variety of body types and offer a simple, unfussy silhouette. Get them in basic, solid colours, and you can wear them for years to come.

But won't you get bored with the “same old thing?”

Only if you have no imagination.

The neat thing about classics is that they not only look great all by themselves, they serve as a wonderful backdrop to flashier pieces. Add a snazzy jacket, funky hosiery, or a great pair of shoes, and you'll be able to brilliantly showcase the new piece using your classic staples as a backdrop.

Your friends, family, and co-workers will think you spend a fortune on your clothes, when in reality you're merely adding a few “to die for” pieces each year. It's a clever way to expand your wardrobe choices without overspending your budget or over-cramming your closet.

So the next time you're in a quandary as to what to add to your wardrobe, opt for classics. They're clean, versatile, easy-to-wear, and make the most of your budget. Dressing well just doesn't get any easier than this!