a winter wardrobe for less

Friends, the first hints of winter are upon us, and it's time to start the early prep for the cold.  There's no point in buying any more summer fashions (unless you're very sure you'll wear them next summer), so it's better to point the fashion budget at a slow ramp up to winter. 

I hear you! Winter is so expensive – hundreds of dollars on coats, boots, tights and jumpers, all so you can stay relatively warm.  Well...no.  Here are my tips for staying warm AND fiscally responsible (then you can spend those pennies on heating and using the clothes dryer...or mulled wine).  

Swap swap swap

This time just between seasons is the perfect time to hold a clothing swap so that your clothes can go to a new home, and in return you can wear something new-to-you.  The key is to get a good cohort of women together, who understand how to look after things properly but who are keen for a bit of change.

This is also a great opportunity to mix things up and try something new and adventurous.  If you’re amongst friends, it’s a chance to get some good feedback on new colours and shapes.

Great source for: long sleeve tees, shirts, jackets, scarves and trousers.  If you’re very lucky, knitwear and coats might be in the mix.

Cost: zero.  You have to give up some clothes you don’t wear anymore, you might provide a plate of cakes. Easy!

Chicness: depends on your mates, but potentially VERY high.  This Andrea Moore coat is a clothing swap snag.

It's all about the surplus

The army surplus store is an unsung hero of winter dressing.  A popular home of style options in the 90s, I feel like the army surplus store is on its way back to its halcyon days with the resurgence of a slightly military style (drummer jackets are a great example) and an interest in high quality, low cost clothing and textile recycling.  These shops are particularly excellent for winter because they feature so many woollen, heavy clothes – for example, the brand new, navy woollen coat I snapped up (double breasted with gold buttons, yes please) care of Italy’s Navy. 

Obviously, fit can be a bit of an issue, but I’ve found trousers (pictured) which were a good fit, I’m assuming because women are also members of the military.  With oversized tailoring a continuing trend, and a great look, even us more petite ladies can wrap up warm on the cheap.  It’s much smarter to buy something surplus than to splash out on a cheap coat from a chain store.  Italy knows how to do its tailoring, right!

Great source for: coats, trousers, belts and knitwear (so long as you don’t mind a limited colour palette).

Cost: very low.  A brand new woollen coat, which feels like it is made from the softest wool of the softest lambs, set me back less than $50.  Bargainous!

Chicness: so long as you’re confident rocking oversized proportions and a military vibe, you’re golden.

Think global

This is no doubt controversial, but we live in a world of global retailing and we live in a different hemisphere to a lot of that retail world.  What does that mean?  It means go on line and see if it’s on sale in the UK/Europe/USA.  I have saved hundreds of dollars this way over the years, and although I feel like a cheeky monkey, it’s unrealistic to think consumers aren’t doing this. 

Fair enough if you’re Unity Books – I’ll pay a little more to support a smaller NZ retailer – but if you’re thinking of buying a coat or a pair of boots from large retailers, it’s worth doing a quick search to make sure your fashion penny is stretching allllll the way.  This will require you to be patient while you wait for it to be shipped, but you can pass the time by thinking about how you’re going to spend the hundred dollars you just added back to this season’s fashion budget.

Great source for: everything.  Sizing choices are going to be brutally limited in some styles, naturally.

Cost: reduced!  So this is the place to buy things you’re targeting but which make you screw up your face when you look at the price tag.

Chicness: sky’s the limit...

Don't be a slave to seasons

This tip is useless to you as you try to find some warm options, but there’s no need to exclusively buy sandals in summer and woollens in winter.  If you find an awesome pair of boots in December, buy them at their crazy reduced price and put them aside for a few months (just don’t forget what you bought...).  Same goes for summer – if you know that your black peep toe pumps took a thrashing this summer, now is the hour to grab a new pair in advance of October.  They’re so classic that there’s very little chance you won’t wear them once the weather fines up.

Great source for: absolutely nothing you’ll wear now, but fun for future you.

Cost: let’s put it this way – I bought a $200 pair of ankle boots for $29.95.

Chicness: avoid trends for real success. 

This round up doesn’t include thrifting, which is always a great option (you can read my tips on that right here).  Remember too – if you look after your winter goodies, they’ll last a lot longer!

If you've got other tricks for getting some winter style on the cheap, let us know in the comments below!