Today’s Woman: Fashion more from less to look good

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Rather than splashing out on the latest catwalk trends, fashion divas are cutting their budgets and sitting prettily on their savings.

Thankfully, with this season’s trends – Seventies, florals and flowing maxi dresses – you can tweak vintage pieces and bring them bang up to date.

PA Photo/Abrams.

PA Photo/Abrams.

Author of new book Savvy Chic and vintage addict Anna Johnson believes in fashioning more from less.

“In the grip of a luxury-driven culture, it’s become very hard to discern between what is vital and what’s just lust,” she says.

“Dressing well for less money actually involves buying less but better clothing, rather than more and cheaper. It takes discipline.”

Prepare to thrift shop!

PA Photo/Abrams.

PA Photo/Abrams.

Trade in your treasures and DIY your dresses – there’s a whole new wardrobe waiting that won’t cost you the earth.

vintage vixen

Charity shops are like Marmite, you either love them, or you don’t.

But there’s an art to wearing other people’s clothes.

PA Photo/Abrams.

PA Photo/Abrams.

Johnson explains shoppers need to amend, adjust and embellish outfits to suit themselves.

“With maturity I’ve found that vintage dresses rarely suit me off the rack,” Johnson says.

“I cut them up freely, grafting on different sleeves, stripping off bows or ugly buttons, adding cuffs, or using the fabric to make something else.”

And don’t expect too much. You can’t walk into a vintage shop and find a version of that sought-after Seventies-esque Chloe Mousseline blouse from this season.

PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

Similarly, it’s too much to expect a hem length or neckline to fit with current fashions, according to Johnson.

“Vintage materials can be an invitation to reinterpret style. Mix it up. Be bold. Look hard at the way designers play with the contrast between fabric and cut.”

Top Tip: Take the time to figure out which decade highlights your hottest assets. While the androgynous floaty Seventies are fab for tall, boyish shapes, the waist-enhancing Forties and Mad Men-inspired Sixties will emphasise a curvy frame.

reinvention queen

Fast fashion may appear alluring while on the rails, but once you’ve worn that catwalk copy once, the shine could wear off.

“Their promise is that of instant transformation, but more often they wind up as gaudy landfill in your closet,” Johnson says.

PA Photo/Abrams.

PA Photo/Abrams.

Face your shopping addiction demons and lay all your can’t-wear-won’t-wear splurges out on your bed next to your can’t-live-without staples.

“Work out a way to build a bridge between the clothes you love (but never wear) and the standbys (pieces starting to wear thin with overuse),” Johnson suggests.

“If your wardrobe is heavy on casual wear but running dangerously low for work and evening, invest in pieces that can be used for both - for example the LBD (little black dress).

“Very simple additions stretch the clothes you already have.”

Top Tip: Stock up on hats, scarves, costume bangles, oversized sunglasses and hosiery in rainbow colours to instantly revive a tired outfit.

smart swapper

Style comes with sacrifice.

If there’s a coat or pair of shoes practically calling out your name as you walk past the shop, raise the funds with a fashion swapsie.

“To gather funds for new clothes, sell all the major pieces you no longer use - even your wedding dress or designer handbag,” Johnson advises.

If the thought of parting with your beloved fashion archive is too much to bear, consider holding a style swap shop with friends and family to trade in redundant pieces.

“Hold a high quality clothes swap meet at your house, asking your friends to bring their very best things in wearable condition,” says Johnson.

“If the quality is high, everyone will benefit and have building blocks for a new look.”

Top Tip: No time to sell your wares? If you don’t mind parting with a cut of the profits, search for a ‘trading assistant’ on eBay who’ll auction for you on a per-item basis.

diy diva

A redundant dress or T-shirt doesn’t necessarily have to end up on the scrap-heap. Get customising.

You can update your LBD with opulent trims, ribbon and embellishment or turn an old T-shirt into a fringed scarf.

“Punch up any outfit with a bright fringed circle scarf,” suggests Erica Domesek, author of P.S. I Made This.

Describing herself as having “DIY in my DNA”, she reveals how to transform your tee step-by-step, simply by using a pair of scissors.

Step 1: Rummage through your T-shirts to find a daring print or colour combination. For a cleaner, bolder look, choose a solid bright.

Step 2: Cut horizontally across the T-shirt, just below the armholes, to create a rectangular tube.

Step 3: Working your way around the tube, make a series of neat, vertical cuts that extend from the hemmed edge upward. The longer the cut, the longer the fringe will be.

Step 4: Upon completion, tug down on each strand to elongate it. If you can’t stop there, experiment by knotting some of the ends.

Top Tip: Rummage inside your wardrobe to find items ‘DIY-ing’ for reinvention and give them a new lease of life to match your personality.

Savvy Chic, The Art of More for Less by Anna Johnson is published by Harper Collins, priced £12.99, and P.S. I Made This by Erica Domesek is published by Abrams, priced £11.99. Both available now.

PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

PA Photo/Abrams.

PA Photo/Abrams.