We all want to look our best when we meet up with friends or go out to dinner, but how can you decide what to wear without wrecking your wallet in the process? We searched for the best brands and styles to keep you looking fabulous on a non-jackpot budget!
What clothing style best suits me?
There are literally dozens of different fashions and trends out there so don’t be surprised by the fact that many people are wandering around without a clue as to what to wear on a daily basis. When it comes to clothing that suits you there are two important factors to include; if the clothing is comfortable and if it was made with you in mind.
Most fashion brands out there are after one thing which is the teenage demographic. Teens are more likely to have disposable income at hand for clothes and will go after trends more readily than the average person who knows the horrors of 80s leg warmers, 90s bell-bottom jeans and 2000s… Well, everything.
To help sort the wheat from the chaff, it’s important to check what to avoid in the world of fashion, beyond seasonal trends and certain brands that want to turn you into a walking talking poster for their trademark. In order to do that, we need to find clothing that holds up over time, and brands that consistently keep customers coming back for more than just a logo.
What are clothing styles to avoid?
Lest you want to be transformed into someone who goes out into the world saying “this Nike check sign is now my personality”, it’s important to look at what makes a brand stand out for more than just their logo. Sure kids today may want to have backpacks plastered with the word “Supreme” or “Dope Couture” that turn them into an advert for the company they just gave hundreds of pounds to, but really sleek fashion is a little bit less flashy with putting its emblem on everything it can touch.
One area of the shopping world to avoid is the vast continent of industry known as fast fashion. There are numerous reasons to avoid this section of the shopping centre, first and foremost being that it is absolutely trashing the planet in every sense of the word.
The second reason to avoid fast fashion brands is a lot more down to individual taste, but it can be summed up in one sentence. The clothes never fit. I don’t mean in the sense of you bought a size 14, came home and realised it was either way too big or way too small, despite knowing you have been that size for your entire adult life. Instead, I am referring more to the fact that no matter how hard you try, you cannot help but look like a sack of potatoes. Fast fashion is marketed to one body type, a zero curved stick that could put on a plastic bag and make supermarkets turn in a brand new profit margin.
But what exactly is Fast fashion?
If you’ve noticed lately that your new clothes feel thinner, cheaply made and infinitely less durable, then you’ve stumbled on a fast-fashion store. The brands that encumber the industry are surprisingly more numerous than you may think. Some of the biggest brands in the world, including the aforementioned “Just do it, ✔️” maker are heavily steeped in the manufacturing of fast fashion. Many lingerie brands are also in on the scheme. If you’ve ever read a story like “Woman gets painful rash from new bra” in a magazine, it’s because the brand she bought came from a fast fashion manufacturer. Why does that matter? Because of the chemicals used in the manufacture of said brassiere. This is why it is incredibly important that any items worn close to the skin such as underwear, T-shirts, dresses and gym wear are washed before first use.
As for the concept of fast fashion, it began in the 1960s to target (you guessed it) teens who wanted the latest trends to hit the market right when they saw the glossy catwalk photos in magazines. The industry didn’t really take off until the 2000’s when big boss Amancio Ortega marketed his highly popular Zara brand as a pioneer of propelling “wear-me-once” style clothing to the masses. H&M, also owned by Ortega, also became well known at around the same time for cheap, throwaway clothes that kept up with seasonal fashion crazes. The idea sounded wonderful to those that were ashamed of their last season outfits and wanted to look like their more up to date peers. But when you fast forward the clock 20 years, fast fashion has become a sprawling monster that dominates both on the high street and shopping online, forcing good quality clothing out the door and letting bad quality in.
But it is possible to avoid the monster if you keep to the shadows, which is why it’s important to think about what brands in your wardrobe consistently knock it out of the park in comfiness, durability and looking consistently classy.
What kind of fashion do you like to wear?
So we know that chasing the latest fashion train just isn’t worth the effort. So what is the next best thing? It is important to know the different types of everyday fashion out there, and if they suit both your tastes and wallet. Beyond finding a good brand that delivers, it’s important to go for a look that suits you on a personal level.
You probably have a good idea of what type of clothes you like to wear day to day, but know that maybe they’re not what you should be wearing if you want your picture taken. Sure it’s great to walk around in loose tee’s jogging bottoms and trainers, but it’s not exactly screaming, “I am the height of culture and sophistication.”
We know that comfort is always key when it comes to picking out things we like. Too often we sacrifice ankles to badly made shoes and suffer endless itching from bad stitching on lapels and cuffs. But beyond that, let’s take a look at some fashion trends that never go out of style.
Vintage clothing: Too dated, or always classy?
Vintage clothing is all about class and design. The fabrics are handstitched and lovingly made to last. Fashion fads come and go, but the lure of the vintage style always seems to be timeless. Vintage clothing should not be confused with “Vintage Style” which is new clothes that look vintage, but in reality, are factory-made.
True vintage shops are popping up online a lot in 2023 and it’s not difficult to understand why. With newly made clothes just not lasting like they used to, more and more people are turning to the retro era to kit out their outfits. Vintage clothing is becoming a fast favourite with the “Buy Me Once” crowd, a group of people determined to cut down on wasting money, but buying things they know will last and look new for much longer than one or two washing machine cycles.
When thinking about Vintage clothing, it’s easy just to picture styles from the 40s and 50s. However, it’s actually much more popular to purchase attire from the 60s and 70s, due to the more casual look the eras represented. The 60s represented the start of the women’s trouser movement, so if you prefer not to worry about skirts and dresses it’s a great decade to take a look at.
Popular 60s vintage items that women can wear daily include slim fit jeans and trousers, low heeled boots and shoes, “Mod” (modernist) outfits, slim neck or turtleneck sweaters and “Youthquake” dresses and suits.
Men also saw a big change in fashion throughout the 60s, with slim breasted suits on display throughout music and movies. Although suits aren’t considered as necessary today, it’s always a good idea to have a well-tailored suit on hand for life’s big events, from weddings to workplace meets. The 60s also introduced men to the Rockabilly style, with the likes of Elvis and the beach boys promoting brogue shoes, Hawaiian shirts, and leather jackets.
70s fashion was all about individuality and the decade underwent a multitude of different styles beyond the “Hippy” look portrayed on screen. Glamour style was a popular trend for the jet setters of the era, though by today’s standards the fur coats and pantsuits were a little overkill. Surprisingly, the 70s era was very accessory light, with only simple addons like pearl earring or necklaces.
Everyday Classic wear: Is it affordable? Absolutely!
Classic wear has always been considered a fan favourite when it comes to dressing well. This style of wardrobe is recognized and revered for its ability to seamlessly transcend decades without looking dated. Many of the most cultured celebrities choose to wear Classic wear for this very reason, so if they are photographed their outfits never end up in a “fashion tragedy” list on some kind of ranking app a few years down the line.
The Classic style is clean, simple and traditional, valuing longevity over trends. The colours used are mostly neutral, featuring boldly in navy, grey and black to juxtapose a lighter offset of cream or white. That’s not to say that you must banish colour completely from your life in order to stay within the confines of a dull palette. Pairing red chiffon with light blue or white jeans, light yellow with lime or olive green, or the tried and true biscuits and cream look of wearing malt coloured coats with white slim leggings. You can pop colour till you drop, as long as you pair it well.
No need to over accessorise, small hoop earrings, pearls or diamond studs and a simple drop pendant necklace will have the wearer looking ready for anything, from work to casual. Makeup can also be minimal, with light blush and mascara to bring out the natural beauty of your personality. Some celebrity Classics to look out for include Michelle Obama, Kate Middleton, Gal Gadot, Audrey Hepburn and Charlize Theron.
But we’re forgetting one important thing and that is the price tag. When most people think of the classic style they picture maxed out credit cards and overdraft fees, with only one measly outfit to show for it. But you don’t need to buy designer products in order to maintain that Classic wear look, in fact, you can even mix and match most of your wardrobe, without needing to spend more than you need. And most of all, any product you buy will have a lifetime of wearability if treated well.
Brands that typically attract the eye of avid Classic wearers include UK brands Hobbs, Jigsaw, Ted Baker, L.K Bennett, Mint Velvet, Reiss, Whistles, White Stuff and Boden.
If after reading this you’re still on the fence about becoming a classic wearer, I will stay one way to still stand out from the crowd and rock with some serious style is to invest in a pair of chunky or “punk style” boots. I recommend checking out Ash footwear or doc martens to really maximise your shoewear potential.
Peppy Preppy: Why this New England look works with timeless style
What is preppy style? Pastel colours and plaid prints reign supreme with this stylish look. Although the term comes from “prep”, labelled as such by schools that would prepare upper-class children for highly regarded universities, the style has outlasted many other fashion trends, securing a place permanently across the decades.
Preppy fashion was first inspired in the United States by British boarding school uniforms in the 1910s. In the height of the roaring twenties, wealthy parents would send their children to private schools that mirrored the aesthetic of English styled institutions.
In the 1950s, the preppy style defined the American “luxury” lifestyle and became synonymous with success. Some typical preppy styles also tended to reflect traditional upper-class leisure activities such as polo, golf, lacrosse, and rugby. The association with old English inspired outdoor activities can be seen featuring prominently in preppy fashion, through stripes and colours, plaid skirts, blazers, knitted cardigans and blouses.
Once we reached the 1980s however, preppy style really began to take off among the masses, mostly thanks to a little book called The Official Preppy Handbook by Lisa Birnbach. This book was published as a humoristic spin on preppy culture but ended up selling more than a million copies, inspiring Americans everywhere to start wearing blazers, khakis and plaid skirts. While these clothes had still been a sign of privilege in the ‘50s, they were now being made at a reasonable price, thanks to the rise of Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Lacoste.
Staples of preppy attire in the past included dark coloured blazers, usually navy, school style ties, argyle sweaters, crewneck sweaters, school sweaters or sweatshirts, chinos, tartan, penny loafers, polo shirts, plaid shorts, and boat shoes.