How to dress with style and panache on a budget!

Looking good and feeling your best can often cost a pretty packet, but if you know where to go and how to snaffle a bargain, the exciting world of fashion doesn't have to cost a bomb. I've always enjoyed putting my best style foot forward, but as I can only work part-time due to health problems. I can't be swanning around the high street filling my boots with all the new season goodness. Luckily, I was brought up by a very clever thrifty Mum who taught me the skills of stealth, cunning and patience when it comes to shopping. Her bargain-hunting mastery has stayed with me for life and in my opinion, should really be taught in schools to educate the next generation on how they too can put a look together for under £20.

One of the best things I've learned is that patience goes a long way towards securing a top bargain. I love to shop in Primark, but often wait until the sale hits before I make a purchase. Timing is also key; you don't have to buy things as soon as they go into the sales as often the shops will keep doing bigger and better versions of the sale as the weeks go on. The Primark sale is the best out there. It lasts for a god damn eternity and each week, the items are marked down further and further until they are practically giving YOU money to take the clothes. The absolute piece de resistance of the Primark sales is that as soon as one actually bothers to finish, another one immediately starts. It's fair to say that no matter what time of year you bob into Primark, you'll always find a rail with stuff for £3 or less on.

To disguise the fact there's always a sale on, they are sometimes advertised as 'reductions', but we all know that means, 'giant piles of bargainous clobber still knocking around that we need to shift asap, come fill your boots.'

Take this dress for instance. It piqued my interest the moment I saw it, but I couldn't be bothered paying £13 for it. I knew that if I just sat back and relaxed for a few weeks it would drop dramatically in price. As if by magic, that's exactly what happened! I snaffled it for £5 a couple of weeks ago, which in my opinion, is the perfect price for a dress. There's no need to worry that your item will sell out as Primark seem to have massive stocks of simply everything. Also, don't worry too much about sizing as things can be done to 'make it work' if you don't find your exact size. This dress is a size 18 (I'm normally a 16) but as it has a waist tie, I was able to cinch it in so it didn't look too big.

Also the sizes run small in Primark, so a bigger size may actually be the right size for you. I've got a size 12 dress that fits because it's over sized and a size 20 jumper that looks fine as it's fitted. Primark have recently claimed to 'improve' their sizing,  but as someone who shops in there on the reg, I can tell you now that they haven't.  It's a load of bollocks in fact. The sizes are all over the show and you can easily wear items that are a few sizes up or down, depending on the fabric, cut and shape of the gear.

One concern many folk have when shopping at Primark is that they will look exactly the same as everyone else, because everyone shops at Primark. Not so! This is where the style and panache bit comes in, because there is a LOT you can do to make an outfit unique and original. I knew when I bought this dress that I didn't want it to look girly. To give it my own spin and make it a bit more edgy, I dressed it down with a polo neck, chunky trainers and baker-boy hat. My advice is to play around with footwear, accessories and outerwear to create something that reflects your personal style and something that's a little bit different from the norm.

Or you can just sort out a schedule for wearing the clothes your mates have also got. My pal Mandy in work has this dress, but we have arranged a strategic timetable for the wearing of it, so we don't look like bellends. (My shift is Tues, Wed or Thurs - she does Mon/Friday.)

One thing I absolutely knew no-one else would do with this dress is wear this amazing necklace with it. This is one of my most fantastic bargainous purchases of all time and cost ONE POUND from the Jospice chazza! By pure chance, the colours of the necklace complimented the dress perfectly to create a winning explosive fusion of resplendent colours.

Which brings me onto CHAZZAS, another fantastic way to get amazing, unique items at knockdown prices! One day, I'm going to do a whole post on how to get the most from chazzas, but for now, let's talk about the coat I'm wearing here.

I'd been after a long-line bomber coat for ages and I  decided to employ my strategy of stealth, patience and tenacity in the chazzas rather than forking out £££ straight-up. If you're after something that's currently on-trend and available on the high-street, you won't have to wait long before said items end up getting lashed in the charity shop.  I tend to go to the chazzas 2/3 times a week to see what new stuff has arrived; this way you can grab the best items as they come in. I was delighted to spot this New Look khaki green offering in Oxfam for £9.99. It looked brand-new so I didn't mind the price and it fits like a dream. Even though it's a size 20. There's no way it's a 20 and I'm wondering if this is why it was discarded as it fits my size 16 form perfectly. But as I said with the Primark clothes, you should never be put off by bigger or smaller clothing items because sizes are simply a load of cockwomble.

This was an almost-perfect look for a walk in Calderstones Park with Alan. Don't be deceived by the sun, it was proper baltic with arctic gusts and I could have done with a layer of thermals. There were points where I had to batten down my hat with ear muffs over the top, but for your comfort and enjoyment, this is not pictured. Never let it be said that I don't suffer for these shoots folks, but at least I'm not up a mountain with my coat off, like in the Switzerland blogs!

Hope you liked this week's offering and tune in next time to see what I get up to on my half-term break from work!

Love Laura X

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