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Friday, 2 November 2012

The Art of Compromise aka A Walk on the Cheaper Side


I'm sure I'm like most of you - I am a creature of wants rather than needs. I read a magazine and I want that new jacket. I read a blog and I want those shoes. I see someone looking cool walking down the street and I suddenly want what she's got. Let's mug her! I'm just joking. But the point is I want, want, want. 

Problem is ... limited funds. But thankfully not limited imagination, resourcefulness and a willingess to compromise. I have no choice ... I haven't won the lottery ... or gone back to work yet. So what's a girl to do? She looks for the next best thing that she can afford. In these austere times, I think there should be no shame in exercising the thrifty gene ... as long as it's accompanied by a discriminating eye. The discriminating eye is what will hopefully draw the fine line between horrid cheap and tasteful cheap. This is essentially what goes through my mad little shopping brain when engaged in thrifty mode.


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Wanted : Berry Tee


I put the Forton tee (£29.99) from Jack Wills on my wish list previously. Lovely berry colour - want, want, want. However, berry shades are everywhere and though £29.99 is not exactly breaking the bank, what is it about this tee that really stands out to me. The colour. So really what I need is a lovely berry coloured tee. And I would be better off with a plain tee because that's more me. I spied this one in Topshop in the most gorgeous deepest darkest auberginey plummy berry shade (I couldn't decide what it was called but Topshop call it Oxblood (I don't like the sound of oxblood as much as plummy berry). Okay, I didn't make much of a saving here - only £4.99 but I like to think of this one as more of an investment piece in wardrobe than the Wills tee in that along with the lovely trend colour, the fabric is a better weight, has almost a soft touch feel and is plain enough yet smart enough to be dressed up and down which makes it more versatile. And cough cough, err, it's a little more grown up. Anyway, tick. I've saved £4.99.

The inspro ....


The reality ...




Just updates the wardrobe with a little hit of colour.

Wanted : Grey Jacket

That Laura Bailey is rocking a grey jacket. I need a grey jacket!!!! That Emanuelle Alt looks pretty cool in her tweed jacket. I need a tweed jacket!!!! Hang about - why not make it a grey tweed jacket? Two birds, one stone. Want, want, want! Toast currently do a really nice grey tweed jacket for £175 but I'm not sure I can wait till it goes in the sale and when it does, the chances are my size won't be available.  Hmmm.  Once upon a time, I would have just said "Jump in to my shopping basket!" whilst rubbing my hands with glee but nowaday it's a stroking of the chin and "let's think about this more seriously". I know I'm fickle and usually I like a really good investment buy but if I think realistically how often I will be wearing this grey jacket being a SAHM, will I get my return out of a very expensive though lovely jacket?  Probably not.  So I've settled for a little grey tweed number from H&M for the princely sum of £29.99 which will tide me over for this year and probably next and knowing me, another five after that until I eventually happen upon that elusive perfect grey jacket.
 I personally think this is one of the better cheap tweed blazers being offered out there.... and one of the better jacket offerings from H&M. Some are not as well made and look "too cheap". This one passes my "looks not too cheap" test partly because it doesn't have any of the horrendous mock suede elbow patches which seem to adorn every other garment at the moment and it's not a tweed check which is a notorious giveaway for cheap goods when the checks don't align.  Anyway, another tick in the box. And a saving of around £145 if comparing to the Toast one.


The inspro ....


Photo Credit : WhoWhatWear.Com & Zimbio.co.uk
Laura Bailey and Emanuelle Alt wearing their jackets well.
The reality ...

Never a good idea to put a picture of yourself under Laura Bailey and Emanuelle Alt

Note - the jacket was cheap.The stripy jumper was cheap. The jeans were cheap. But the accessories make the difference. Pay a bit more for the boots and the bag like I did and they should lift whatever you are wearing. If people see you wearing nice shoes and accessories, they probably won't be wondering how expensive the rest of your clothes are. They will assume they are expensive.


Wanted : Isabel Marant Dicker Boots

I didn't have £325 for a pair of Isabel Marant Dicker boots even though I really want, want, wanted these. So  after a good scour over the internet, I found the Office Namesake boots. Good enough for me. These were priced at £75 when I bought them back in May and they were definitely a good buy. When I've not had the Krimble sandals on, I've had the Namesake boots on instead. Tickety tick! Because I've had my wear out of them, there is a part of me that thinks maybe I should have spent the big money in the first place but there is no way I could have saved up and then splashed out £300+. The other part of me is thinking what are the chances I would have destroyed them after two wears - they are light coloured suede after all? And then I would have been G-U-T-T-E-D! So let's just pretend I saved £250.

The inspro :

Photo Credit : Net a Porter.
Isabel Marant Dicker Boots - I'd tell you where to get them if they didn't sell out so fast!

The reality :


Wanted : Boyfriend Coat

I love coats and jackets and Isabel Marant makes some of the best around style wise. I want want want one of those Marant Bator or Xavier jackets. Hmm - I really must remember to buy that lottery ticket. Until then, I'll stick with my little Mango jacket which is rather cute. £39.99 to get a look. I can live with that. Just to please myself, let's compare the price (not the quality) against an Isabel Marant Xavier Jacket which I believe comes in at £270 (the only price I could find for it). Well, well, well - I have just saved myself £230. Tickety, tickety tick!

The inspro :


Photo Credit : Les Anti-modernes
Isabel Marant Xavier Jacket/Coat (No longer available)

The reality :



Wanted : APC Boots

APC suede boots - yum. Big want, want. Love the slightly blocky heel - lovely simple styling.  How much? Just £310. Sorry, I don't have that much to spend on this pair of boots or the Dickers. Thank goodness for Carvela taking pity on me and offering up their Spoken boots for about £100 (they were reduced to that a couple of years back but they're a lovely boot so I'm making no apologies for them). So another saving of ooohhh about £200. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick!

The inspro :


Photo Credit : Net a Porter
APC Classic Suede Boots (N/A)
The reality :

Carvela Spoken Boots (old) - Love 'em.

You get the jist of how I work now. I don't like to think myself as a total cheapskate and I will pay out good money - well a reasonable amount of money in the high end high street stores when and if I can. The item has got to be worth it but sometimes, just sometimes, it's the cheap item which fits better than the expensive one in which case, this is always a bonus and just because it is cheap - it doesn't always mean it won't last. Sometimes I think it's down to the individual and what they put their clothes through and what wash cycle they subjected it to. Maybe I've been lucky so far but I don't think I've had too many shrinking incidents. I've had some body getting fatter incidents but not too many genuine clothes shrinking incidents.  

On the other side of the argument and paying that little bit extra? Yes I'm prepared to pay more for something because just sometimes the art of compromise is not feasible. I will quite happily rationalise the purchase of a more expensive item when faced with "my bum looks much better in those expensive pants than the cheaper ones" or the stitching and finish is better on the more pricier item because bad fitting clothes and too cheap accessories can destroy the whole look and make you look cheap. Sometimes, there is no cheap altermative which can take the place of the more expensive original but that's okay as well. It's good for the soul to spoil yourself every now and then and at other times, you will need to rein in but ultimately, you will shop according to your tastes, wants, and budget.  

Remember to try and take the inspiration and rework to suit yourself and your budget. If you know what look it is you are going for, keep it in mind and see what the alternatives are. For example, no one will criticise you for wearing a grey merino jumper instead of a cashmere one. You don't need to get a pair of black Hunter wellies specifically but you can buy a pair of good plain black slim fitting wellies for half the price. Train your eye to look at the details and the finish and you will come away with a winner.

Wear with pride and attitude and you will look wonderful. And it will be your secret how much you saved :o)

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Last Thing.

  • Although I have been lucky and found "cheaper" substitutes for the items I really wanted, you also need to bear in mind when cheap looks too cheap and when it's better to pay more for a well designed, well made original, after all better a good original than a bad copy.

30 comments:

  1. I do the same Sue, I usually use a designer piece as inspiration but find something very similar on the high street. I don't mind paying a little more for high street items as long as they are good quality and are going to last a good few seasons. You have done really well here!

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    1. I really would have to win the lottery to buy all that I covet but it's good we have such a good selection of high street shops in this country to pander to our wants on our budgets. And yes there's no harm in paying a little more for some of the items which you know will last you.

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  2. This is a really great post Sue. Youve hit the nail on the head there with looking for alternatives, but not going for the cheapest always. Keeping an eye on quality so it doesn't look cheap is a good tip! Youve got some great finds there! Well done!! Xx

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    1. Thanks Claire. It's not a bad thing to look for alternatives, it can be looked upon as the thrill of the chase and I can browse online shops for hours so everyone's a winner. It's true about looking for well finished and well made though not necessarily expensive items - there are some out there believe it or not.

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  3. Ahh, this is why I love your blog Sue - humorous, real, informative.

    I agree that spending more on accessories lets you economise slightly on the basic garments. There are some great alternatives here to the more expensive versions, and I love that Topshop t-shirt. x

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    1. You would love the tee - a nice basic in a fabulous colour and you will need to size down too. The one I have on is a UK 8 but still roomy as you can tell. I'm happy with my little purchases - I think they do the job for me perfectly given my current lifestyle. If I was working, the income would be different and maybe there would be a few more indulgences but I think I've always come from a fairly thrify background. Can't quite remember the expression but something like champagne tastes on a water budget? I've got that all wrong haven't I?

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  4. first off, you look fantastic!

    second, those are incredibly good versions of the originals ~ especially of the IM boots. you look great in your ankle boots!

    have you considered selling off items that you don't wear anymore from your closet? i've found that that has been a very nice way of ensuring that i'm clearing out the extras, and it's nice to get some cash back to put towards a splurgey wishlist item!

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    1. Thank you Miss Sophie! I try my best :o) I don't know what I'm going to do when the really bad weather takes over soon and I can't wear the little boots. I guess it's back to the Uggs - marmite to many but a necessary evil for standing around in the school playground when the temperatures get arctic.

      I do sell a bit on Ebay every now and then when I suddenly get the urge to refinance myself. I just sold off the purple bin - yay! My next essential is a pair of black pointy court shoes - your Manolo's would be the ideal but my Grumps would faint at the cost.

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  5. Another great post Sue! Thank you - I seriously want those namesake boots…they are fab on you. Have a great weekend with your boys, Avril x

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    1. They would be the perfect boots for you and you can tuck your skinnies in too.

      I'm going to try and chill out this weekend - one half term week of the boys and my nerves are shattered. All I hear is "mummy this, mummy watch me, mummy come here, mummy do this, mummeeeeeee". Roll on next week so I can recuperate properly :o)

      Have a good weekend too!

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  6. Great post, Sue! I just love the way you write. I make sure I read every single word, the same way I eat my pringle crisps - slowly so that I could savor every bite.

    I was lucky to nab that Isabel Marant Bator in near new condition for way less than the retail. It's still one of my most used coats. The Mango coat is the perfect alternative. I've been disappointed with her Xavier - too thin and no lining. Ooooh...I need that oxblood (euww....let's call it burgundy, shall we?) tee. Must look it up.

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    1. Thank you Marlene ... Pringles are half price at Sainsburys at the mo so you can savour even more ...slowly. I do that with chocolate ... I eat two pieces with one cup of tea. Takes me two weeks to finish a bar.

      I could see your Bator had a lining so that's a bonus if you got it for a good price. I didn't know that the Xavier was unlined - makes me feel so much better about the little Mango one now which is also unlined but roomy enough to fit some chunky knits in if required. The oxblood burgundy tee - size down. I got an 8 but the size 6 was okay too. It's part of their Boutique range so it's a little bit nicer than some of the more basic tees.

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    2. i have the Xavier iM coat from last f/w and it is actually lined in a nice lightly padded material. i wish she reissued this coat this season as it is a nice longer adaptation of the Bator for winter, and quite well made and cozy!

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    3. In which case, that is just a bonus. Should look lovely worn casually with your wedge trainers - perfect monochrome pairing I think!

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  7. Great post. Some great buys, love the tweed blazer.

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    1. It's probably a good colour for you as well. Grey tweed - hides a lot!

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  8. Absolutely brilliant post Sue. I love how you've taken inspiration from brilliant items and found cheaper ones that are equally as fabulous! The cuts... fabrics.. and the fits are spot on. Those coats are pure perfection!

    xx Mandi
    www.findmeamuse.com

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    1. Setting myself up for the ultimate challenge now - an affordable alternative to your Marant David coat. I know one thing - I would never be able to match the quality and finish on that coat. I had to give up on the Jenny boots - I found an alternative and when I put them on, I looked like a bit of a reject from the 80s and thought I'd better let this one pass. However, if I had enough will power (and I did try saving for a month and then it all went pear shaped) I'm sure the Marants wouldn't have made me look quite so bad. However, I would love some anthracite Dickers. Now where would I get a pair of those in a size UK4? Never mind ... I forgot my middle name is No Will Power.

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  9. Great post and I love everything you wanted too especially the Marant boots! I would settle for Ash Jalouse but they are sold out everywhere!

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    1. I ordered the Jalouse in the Woodash colour and they were really lovely boots but the toe was a little too pointy and the v dipped a little too low in the front so I sent them back. They do seem to have sold out everywhere except in the size 4 which is what I am. I have my eye on the Ash Specials now in Prune.

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  10. Great post! The H&M jacket is amazing! Smart find!!! Now, I want, want, want it too. Thank you for your lovely comment in my blog.
    xxx
    Nina
    http://trendsurvivor.com/

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  11. It's a pleasure Nina. The H&M jacket was a lucky find for the price and will keep me happy for a while. Lucky you having good weather where you are - it is freezing here.

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  12. Interesting post Sue.
    A tricky area: quality. And the more expensive items are not always the best fitting and the info pertaining to ethical sourcing is often vague at best. How are we to know?
    I own a healthy-ish mix of cheap and extortionate, and have found that, apart from a few exceptions, most items over £300 are rarely actually worth what we pay. (The few exceptions are my Mulberry bag and Burberry coat, and I could easily have located decent quality elsewhere, so..) simply because they work so well for 'me', and shall hopefully last me into infinity (and the aftercare is great).

    But many of my favourite items came cheap. Not Primark, perhaps, but my fave skirts have mostly come from Oasis and H&M, for their sizing works well for my body type and they are decently made, lined and look great on. I do own a few APC skirts, which have never lived up to their cost, not in wear or quality, and have found many of them to be made almost identically to those as Aubin&Wills but for triple the price. Interesting, huh!?

    It really is about looking, keeping an eye open for the right thing, and not rushing a purchase. It really helps to try on in person, too. If I hadn't done this, I would never have purchased my H&M skirts, which I dearly love. We need to remain critical when shopping, I think, and try not to fall for any hype (which is rife online!). Expensive is not always better, yet there are obvious pitfalls to shopping too cheap.

    As for your post: I prefer the Carvella's to my APC suede boots. I like the height, and I might guess that they will last you just as long! The Mango coat has become a fave of mine, but I loathed it initially and considered taking it back. Although thin and not a patch on my old APC tweed coat quality-wise, I am inclined to wear it a lot more, because the fit/style is more....me. Evidently I ought to quit APC! It's all such a personal thing, difficult to pin down.

    One store I shall always avoid is Topshop. I remain permanently baffled by the deterioration in quality as the prices escalate. I have a hunch it will all come tumbling down at some point. I think this might be a sore point because I am a little too aware of the Arcadia owner's ugly ethics/politics, and because I used to love shopping there in the 90's so much, when the clothing was of much higher quality at a realistic price.

    Sorry for the essay;)

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    1. Don't worry, I love essays and I love the fact that you have taken the time to think and write such a comprehensive comment. It's not just me who likes to witter (in a nice way).

      I'm a lot like you in that I like to mix my cheap and my more pricey items. Pricey to me these days means Whistles and Aubin & Wills prices which will be a drop in the ocean for some but quite high for me. I am glad to hear that some of the more expensive items are sometimes not worth their price tags and serves to make me feel better about what I have. I used to buy Brora cashmere but my favourite is a George at Asda grey slouchy cashmere jumper. I sold off all my Brora knits but kept my George jumper and it gets worn once a week from October to at least April and has been going strong for about 7 years - I will truly mourn this item when it gives up the ghost. And it cost £25 full price.

      Sometimes you end up shopping where the clothes fit you best. I like the feel and quality of the clothes in Hobbs and Jaegar Boutique but they are made for tall people and not midgets though I can just about get away with some of the NW3 range which I prefer anyway. H&M has proven to be a godsend this year but I have phases with shops - each one has a good season or a good year and then the next year, the whole collection turns out pants. Sometimes I find myself buying from a brand because I like their design aesthetics but their clothes do not necessarily work for me - probably like APC for you ... but we still keep going back.

      I have actually been quite good in the last month at stepping back and looking at why I want something and assessing the likelihood of it fitting in with my lifestyle. I'm trying to come to terms that I am quite boring in what I buy which sometimes makes me wonder how I can witter away so happily about the most boring things.

      The Carvela's I really like and seem to work for me and I managed a day's shopping in them without pain despite their height. I was taking a pair of boots back to the KG shop and had just completed the return, turned round and saw the Spoken boots and spent the money again. I think I just knew. Sometimes you just know. And the quality isn't that hot on the Mango jacket but I wasn't expecting anything else for £39.99. I've had the sleeves taken up which has improved the fit for me no end and I've just found it's such a versatile jacket - looks great with a dress too.

      Topshop - I have a few things and I always like to look but the quality isn't there always. I buy from there when I least expect it and I have spotted a few nice things this season.

      I've not addressed this post from an ethical point as there are many people who can word it more succinctly than myself and there are too many arguments for and against. The one thing that does always hit home for me is if you don't buy, it's not so much the shop that you hurt but the people who employed by them. There's no winning this one but it's good to be mindful.

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    2. Great point about the ethical issues. A really tricky subject.

      As for the Asda cashmere, you should have bought 2!!!!
      I have a similar cashmere story, where the expensive brand didn't quite outshine the more affordable.
      And the great thing about not being tall is that you can get away with wearing shorter skirts for longer - many of my mini's are just an inch or two above the knee:)

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  13. You are sooo right! I like your post and your blog as well..... I like the fact that you live in reality....as me....

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    1. Aah reality - it's the only world I know. But it's also good to live in dream world every now and then.

      Thank you for leaving a comment and liking the post - it probably hits home for a lot of people who are not as affluent as some but still enjoy fashion.

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  14. i think one of the dangers of being in the fashion blogsphere is that we're just so constantly exposed to new ideas and trends and of course that comes with a huge $$ tag! tho much as i like the idea of being able to keep up with it i mostly try to work it in with what i already have - a little bit like what you're doing - and maybe one or two statement pieces every now and again. my main issue is always with quality - i'm all for saving $ if something is well made but some times like you say there's nothing worse than a bad copy..

    recently got a zara version of a celine trapeze that i love, and it looks great, but it's not leather and just started giving up on me only after a month! no more non-leather bags!

    steph / absolutely-fuzzy.com

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    1. Blogsphere is terrible for driving wants. But before blogsphere I had the mags driving the wants. Now I have two things to contend with - it's a losing battle. I haven't really bought any bags for quite a while and I've never actually had a Zara bag - I never seem to like their cheaper ones and I can't quite bring myself to getting one of their more expensive ones. Having said that, I love the designs on their mens' bags and I would consider those.

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  15. I have a lot to learn in this area...
    The reality of my Isabel Marant Dicker boots was a pair of Sam Edelman. Ouch.

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