Last week I came across a styling competition on Money Supermarket asking bloggers to create their perfect outfits for 5 different occasions; party, casual, outdoor, first date and office wear. The catch? Each look has to come in under £200, including shoes and accessories. Having found myself with a little spare time on my hands recently, I thought it would make a nice change of pace to show you what I’ll be coveting this season – autumn is my favourite time of year to buy clothes, and this provided me with the perfect excuse to do a spot of window shopping/bargain hunting!
Sometimes it’s hard to find a pretty dress that costs less than £50, which is why I jumped on this £38 floral number as soon as I saw it. As the outfit is for a party I chose to forgo tights, which meant finding a dress that wasn’t cut too short for my frame (hence why I headed to Topshop’s tall section). I know that for some of you out there, this outfit might not be daring or sparkly enough for a party, but for me, it’s perfect; it’s opulence on a shoe string! The baroque trend is definitely one of the most decadent this season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it on a budget – keep an eye out jacquard fabrics, soft leathers, and heavily embellished jewellery.I opted for a colour palette of forest green, luxurious purple and deep black to give my outfit a ‘pretty meets gothic’ vibe. I don’t like wearing heels in winter (especially if there’s frost on the ground) which is why I opted for flats instead of stilettos. I wanted something patent to match the belt, and when I saw these Moschino style slippers, I fell in love – they’re a steal at £17.99! There are so many elements in this look that can easily be dressed up or down, that it’s almost like having two outfits; the dress could easily be transformed into a skirt by adding an oversized jumper, tights and boots, the vampish lipstick can be toned down by mixing with lip balm and applying lightly with a brush, and all of the accessories would work well with a casual outfit.
TOTAL = £175.99 (£24.01 left over for a cab home after you’ve partied the night away)
Those of you who know me will testify that this casual outfit is probably the truest depiction of my wardrobe! My day-to-day look is inspired by off duty cool – it’s laid back, but with understated fashion notes, like the Breton striped top and 60’s style oversized sunglasses. Adding a trench and skinny black jeans to the mix gives the whole outfit a classic vibe; think of yourself as a modern day Coco Chanel or Audrey Hepburn. Keeping up to date with the latest trends can be exhausting (and not to mention seriously expensive!) but the beauty of this outfit is that it’s built on a solid foundation of staple pieces that have stood the test of time. If you choose your casual wardrobe carefully and shop for classic shapes and styles, you’ll get the most out of your wardrobe without spending a fortune.
TOTAL = £195.12 (£4.88 left over for a slice of cake and a pot of tea)
For me this look encapsulates everything I love about autumn and winter – it’s snuggly, warm, pretty AND practical! I can just imagine walking through the snow to a quiet coffee shop and curling up on a huge sofa (with a good book and a cup of tea) in this outfit. Like all good outdoorsy outfits, this look takes its inspiration from English heritage, brands like Burberry Prorsum, and of course, the rural countryside. In my opinion an outdoors outfit should be a mishmash of fabrics and patterns like tartans and tweeds, houndstooth, plaid, thick woollen cable knits and delicate Fair Isle. Having said that, you don’t want to look like you’ve just jumped in and out of your wardrobe; the aim is to look effortless, not crazy! I actually prefer dressing for the cold because I get to play around with layering – you can change a whole outfit just by adding another cardigan or jumper. Layering is also great for your bank balance, as you’ll wear some of your thinner jumpers right through to spring! This denim shirt dress could easily be worn without tights at the start of the summer (with the sleeves rolled up and a pair of cute sandals) and a good pair of wellingtons will last you for years.
TOTAL = £198.98 (£1.02 left over for a bag of marsh mellows to roast on the fire)
Choosing what to wear on a first date is quite possibly one of the most stressful moments caused by your wardrobe; it’s up there with dressing for fashion week and deciding what to wear for a job interview. My date night outfit doesn’t have a particularly romantic theme as I’m not a very girly girl, and I would never dream of wearing something like a body-con dress and heels on a first date! Taking its inspiration from the AW12 runway, this look is feminine without trying too hard. There are no frills or flowers; instead it’s relaxed, simplistic and modern. The clean lines of the dress remind me of casual cool brand Acne, whilst the ‘geek chic’ elements (like the patent loafers and charcoal liner) are influenced by Paul Smiths preppy collection. To me, this outfit is confident and approachable – which is exactly how I would want to appear on a first date – and if the man didn’t last, then at least the clothes would stand the test of the British winter! Adding thick tights to the dress and layering with chunky jumpers and cardigans as the weather gets worse is the perfect way to take this outfit right through to summer 2013.
OFFICE WEAROver the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to work in places where my wardrobe isn’t restricted to the usual black skirts, white shirts, nude tights and heels. In light of this, I’ve put together a look that transcends the stereotypical office wear; something classic, tailored and smart, yet preppy and fashionable too. Inspired by masculine cuts (with a little heritage and graphic influence thrown in for good measure) it’s androgynous with a twist. I love the idea of mixing ‘smart colours’ like black, grey and navy with a pop of pink or a splash of yellow; it gives the whole outfit an overall runway aesthetic. In my opinion, dressing appropriately for work is about finding the balance between what you should wear and what you like to wear – I’m a firm believer that everything you wear for to the office should fit into your everyday wardrobe too! This cable knit jumper would look equally great teamed with jeans and trainers, the hot pink lipstick can be worn all year round, and the laptop case doubles up as a clutch bag if you decide to go out for cocktails after work.
TOTAL = £189.49 (£10.51 left over for a bottle of wine)
TOTAL = £197.98 (£2.02 left to buy yourself a coffee with at lunch)