Buttons and bodysuits! 30 ways to transform your look for less than £30
Don’t wash your jeans – ‘refresh’ them
You’re not supposed to wash jeans. Or at least, not as often as your underwear because it affects the colour, changes the shape and is a waste of water. Instead, try refreshing them with denim spray such as Attirecare’s Denim Spray Ylang.
Invest in a vest
Prada’s winter show didn’t open with a colourful knit or a great coat, but with a slim-fitting white tank top with a scooped neckline that cost ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. Ludicrous? Yes. Copyable? Very. Cos does a heavyweight one for under £20 that works equally well under an oversized blazer (work) or tucked into jeans (weekend). Easily the most versatile thing you will wear all year.
Change your shoelaces
This is a simple way to dress up your footwear. If you have brown or black hiking boots, try contrasting yellow laces from Mr Lacy, or Grenson’s red ones. A word to the wise: try threading the new laces while the old laces are still in, so you can see the pattern to follow.
Add a wool insole
Warm feet for a tenner! Well, £11 for Grenson’s lamb’s wool insoles.
Enamel jewellery is the new gold
There is little point buying cheap gold-plated jewellery. It’s the wrong weight, and will probably turn copper within a day or two. Enamel translates really well to jewellery, particularly rings – see the actor Ísadóra Bjarkardóttir Barney on the cover of the Gentlewoman. Arket makes really nice pieces in bright colours that look far more expensive than they are.
Embrace vintage woollens
We’ve all got one by now – an oversized woollen jumper or fleece that you sling on first thing instead of putting on the heating, which no one (except the postman) will see you in. The problem is, real wool isn’t cheap, so if you only buy one thing secondhand, make sure it’s this. Beyond Retro is a good bet.
Get a phone lanyard
This is a lanyard that you attach to your phone rather than your work ID. It stops you losing your phone around the house, saves your pockets from becoming shapeless and can function as a necklace. Silicone and leather versions that dangle from all manner of ropes and ribbons start at £25 at Not-Another-Bill.
Update your socks
Statement socks are ones that you don’t mind showing beneath your trouser hem, rather than socks that reveal your fun side (see Jon Snow and every Eurocentric politician). This winter, it’s all about thick marl ones, ideally in a nice colour (try Whistles). Wear indoors or out, with slippers or clogs.
Make your white trainers last
White trainers – the non-sporty kind from Veja or New Balance, rather than Liz Truss’s £138 pair from Reiss – aren’t going away. Wiping them down with a flannel is a quick fix, but it won’t shift the stubborn marks. A sneaker cleaning kit from Crep Protect (£16) will double the life of a pair.
It’s a cinch
A proper belt does more for an outfit than holding your trousers up, though I prefer to belt my floor-length overcoat, given that is what I’m mostly wearing. Mango has a great, affordable range – this geometric one reminds me of the 00s, in a good way. Go for something thick, and in a contrasting colour to what you’re wearing. Not only does it give you a bit of shape, it also keeps out the draughts.
Forget the tote, get a bag for life
Tote bags used to be the simplest way for a brand – and wearer – to telegraph their eco-credentials. Tell that to the 29 grubby totes you have stashed in your kitchen drawer. Get yourself a bag for life (such as this one by Nanga) that is water-resistant, rip-proof, packable and weighs less than a lightbulb. The colours are cool, too.
A white men’s shirt
Arguably the best thing you will buy for the awkward in-between temperature of the office. The key is in the fabric – the heavier it is, the more jacket-like it will feel. Seersucker is a lovely fabric, but so is plain cotton and M&S sells both (and it’s also where Vogue’s editor, Edward Enninful, buys his shirts). Wear over anything.
Birkenstocks? How about Birken-nots!
The great 2022 Birkenstock Boston shortage – queues at the door, months-long waiting lists – will go down in history as a dark time for flat clogs with a supportive footbed. John Lewis does something mule-like and padded for £25. If you want to wear them outdoors, Timpson sells stick-on soles for less than a tenner (in-store only).
Add a base layer
No one does better or more affordable thermal underwear than Uniqlo (Falke, for example, does very warm vests but at almost twice the price). The long-sleeve scoop-neck tops and loose turtlenecks are very effective at keeping you warm (and very Macron, without the cashmere). See also thermal leggings for kids, which double up as trousers in winter. Keep an eye on stock as they sell out fast.
Return of the bodysuit
You may not win any prizes for practicality (they clip underneath you so going to the loo is interesting), but the great thing about bodysuits is that they don’t clump at the waist, so they look chic. Intimissimi sell scoop-neck versions in black and taupe for just over £20.
Try a lumber jacket
It’s not a jacket or a shirt but something in between (no one wants to say the word shacket out loud, but that’s what it is) – it’s smart without being uncomfortable. Avoid buffalo check, the red-and-black print that is very last season, and go for something colourful and bright and – ideally – secondhand, such as this silk one from Rokit. See Kate Moss at Bottega Veneta and work backwards.
Consider creaseless clips
A good hair clip can hide all manner of sins. Claw clips, a favourite of Harry Styles, are a fun antidote to scrunchies and good if you haven’t washed your hair. Creaseless clips – used by professionals to pin back hair while applying makeup without creasing the hair – resolve a bad hair day, a growing-out fringe or simply fringe-regret. A set of four in black terrazzo will set you back £7.99 at Cult Beauty.
Status tights are also a thing
We are still thigh-deep in tights season, but the good news is there are two versions. One pair is fashion-forward, a little bit playful, 20-denier with a sprinkling of polka dots (£8 from M&S) – in short, tights for people who don’t like tights. The other pair is 100-denier, made from merino wool (£10, also M&S), which will keep your legs warm from the first frost until the last, prevent skirts from clinging to your legs and won’t pill under any circumstance.
Tweak your feet instead of your shoes
If you waste months of your life breaking in shoes, these toe cushions – which have only just arrived in the UK – slip over each individual toe and stop them rubbing. Don’t go anywhere without a Compeed anti-blister stick either, and a proper insole – Superfeet change the very architecture of your shoe, far more than those foamy ones. Also, heel protectors will help with stiff boots.
Switch your buttons
Changing the buttons on your coat or cardigan is the easiest way to revive your winterwear on the cheap. Think about colours (a long navy coat and brown football leather buttons are a failsafe combo) and think about fun (a bright cardigan with tangerine buttons in Harris tweed).
The cross-body is the new clutch
As anyone born after New Labour will tell you, this is the only way to wear your bag. Any bumbag will do the job, but Uniqlo’s nylon crossbody bag is a good size and has a double zip. It also comes in several colours.
Get a detachable collar
A great relic of home working life, these frilly collars have a touch of Flanders about them. Ganni does them most seasons and you can often get them in the sale – they are now £28 on the Outnet. They jazz up a plain black or white T-shirt like nothing else.
Barbify your wardrobe
Barbie pink (or indeed Barbie) isn’t for everyone, but months after the first stills of the forthcoming film dropped, it’s still kicking around. Valentino, which started things with an almost-entire collection of pink pieces, has even patented the colour as “Pink PP” under Pantone’s official colour scale. For a fraction of the price, get a soft half-zip sweater from M&S in hot pink.
Workwear is the new loungewear
Blame The Bear, blame John Fetterman, blame the mass urban exodus, but every lumberjack (and lumberjill) is suddenly wearing “workwear” – specifically, Carhartt. For a pair of Fetterman-esque workwear trousers (high waist, belt) buy the stuff secondhand (Headlock has a good range) so it’s already worn in.
Wear a necker-cheap
Every season, without fail, you’ll see a neckerchief on a catwalk. Pucci’s were colourful and frivolous and cost £260. Cressida Jamieson sells bespoke hankies, which you can embroider with names and which are big enough to tie (add some colour, break up a low neckline, keep your neck warm), while Liberty’s larger hankies are £15 and very Pucci-esque. I’ve been known to tie a napkin round my neck. Tekla’s napkins are £20, come in linen and have a truly European feel.
Try ‘everyday shapewear’
To be clear, this isn’t the shapewear that sucks you in. This is underwear with very little give, which simply smoothes things out and keeps it in place. That dress that sits weirdly? Those jeans that bulge? It’s not about changing your body, but changing how your clothes sit. Kim Kardashian’s brand Skims makes the best (and best-priced) stuff.
Ugg boots are dead. Long live Ugg slippers. Backless, warm and very much for indoors, everyone from both Hadids to Molly-Mae Hague has a pair. They are also wildly expensive (£90) but these by Jack Wills are £20 in the sale and a dead ringer.
Glasses chains can be cool
This classic Angela Lansbury look will stop you losing your specs (while doubling up as a necklace). Go for bakelite (Etsy) or acrylic (Le Petit Cordon) in something colourful and chunky. Perhaps don’t wear with the phone lanyard, unless you want to look like a retro TV janitor.
Try a blanket instead of a scarf
Massive scarves in bright colours have been doing the rounds this season. Acne Studios has the gold standard but it’s not cheap. One alternative is to buy a blanket and wear it as a scarf. This herringbone one from Dunelm comes in at just under two metres long, which is big – but that’s part of the look. This is just a suggestion – no doubt you have one lying around the house that will do the job.
Or wear your scarf as a hood
One of the biggest styling takeaways this winter – first spotted on the chilly streets of Copenhagen – is to wear your scarf high around the back of your head, so it becomes a hood. Thinner materials in longer lengths (such as Weekday’s well-named “wind” scarf) work best. If you can go slightly over budget, Rokit makes extra-wide scarves from deadstock fabric.