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The Queen Of Dressing Well For Less

Blogger Ashley Faulkner has tricks for looking good while living on a uni student’s income.

5 October 2021

There’s nothing more I love than a bit of retail therapy.

I’ve been known to spend two hours in a fashion store, trying on and taking off clothes while my mum sighed as she despairingly sorted the rejects into scientific piles. (Love you, mum!)

But how much was it costing me to look good?

I had to think again

Now I’m a student I realise how unnecessary it is to be spending that much all the time.

Extras like dresses and shoes can be very costly when you’re also trying to pay for rent, food and power ­­– but I don’t want to miss out.

I used to buy the latest trends. In my generation, fast fashion is overwhelmingly popular, yet increasingly concerning from an ethical standpoint. So, where else can we find cheap clothes?

I’ve discovered there are plenty of ways to look good while staying on budget.

Don’t get sucked in by online deals

Maybe online? Well, no.

I’m always tempted to buy cheap bits of clothing from sites like Shien which seem to have extraordinarily low prices, 90 per cent sales, and free shipping, but mostly when they turn up, they’re poor quality and fall apart.

Now, most of the time I find myself online adding a bunch of items to my cart, then just closing my tab without getting out my credit card.

So, how can we ethically shop for clothes that are going to last?

I like good-quality labels as much as the next girl, but one purchase from Nike, Lululemon, Tommy Hilfiger or Huffer would cost me the same as my rent, food and power for a week.

Buy second-hand

I’ve discovered the best solution is second-hand: ­op-shops, TradeMe, online marketplace Depop, Instagram selling accounts and more.

A Nike jumper could be up to NZ$200 in a store, or you could buy it second-hand for half the price.

This approach works both ways. Not only are you finding cheap, high-quality clothes, but it’s an excellent way to get a little bit of money on the side by digging out all the clothes that sit unworn in the back of your closet and selling them.

Recycling clothes is a far more sustainable way of living. You can have a clean-out and someone on the other end will love your old clothes: it’s a win-win.

My money-saving tips

Don't know where to start? Here's a few tips:

  1. Avoid mainstream, overpriced op-shops. The fashion industry has caught on to the popularity of pre-loved clothes and some op-shops such as in those Auckland city have ramped up their prices shockingly.
  2. Bring some friends. It can get pretty boring sifting through a ton of clothes so bring some mates along and suddenly it’s a party.
  3. Look at everything. And I mean everything. This doesn’t just mean restricting yourself to the women’s or men’s section, or even the kids’. You never know what you’re going to find.
  4. Use social media. Many of my friends have selling accounts on Instagram. This is an easy way of selling clothes or finding them for a cheaper price and in your local area. Also, check out sites like Depop and TradeMe.
  5. Ignore my rules to get that perfect thing. I get it. Every now then it’s worth getting that magic pair of jeans that fits you like a glove. You’ll have them for the next five years, even if they do cost a little more. That’s way more sustainable than buying a cheap pair every year just because they’re on sale.
  6. Spend on the basics. Get high-quality long-lasting staple basics. Anything else is easy to bargain.

We’ve all heard the saying that one man’s trash is another man's treasure. And it’s true!

Some of my favourite clothes are from op-shops, and I’ve sold over NZ$100 of clothes without even trying. It’s just another way of living well for less!

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