I caught a lady smiling in the supermarket the other day when my youngest demanded pretty much everything she saw and I, having run out of ways to say no, distractedly responded: “Well, we can’t have everything we want in life.”...
For ones so small, children really are inordinately expensive.
The cost of raising a child in the UK is higher than ever – on average, a parent can expect to spend £231,843 in a lifetime for one born in 2016.
So heeding my own advice, I decided to ask some of my favourite shoppers (who also happen to be mothers) where they head for the thrill of the new now that we have become the bank of mum and dad (I never thought I would use that phrase).
Here are some of their frugal ways to feel fabulous.
KIM HERSOV - Contributing Editor at Porter magazine
“I do a lot of vintage-sourcing and I am always finding silk scarves for as little as £5. They can be used as belts on jeans (my other favourite wardrobe update) or tied on bags, hats or even in the hair to add a bit of colour, interest and an element of fun. Vestiaire Collective is great for second-hand Hermes scarves.”
CAROLYN ASOME - Brand consultant and fashion and interiors writer
“The best thing to look better post kids – and it’s free, although not easy to always achieve – is sleep. Kneipp Valerian salts are great if you are having trouble dropping off in those early baby months when sleep patterns are all over the place. Otherwise, I use one of those sheet masks infused with Hylauronic acid that plumps the skin (Patchology from Space NK).”
ANNA BROMILOW - Co-founder of Little Circle children’s online style boutique. www.littlecircle.co.uk
“My expensive-looking faux-fur from Whistles is an instant pick-me-up. And a bold print, like leopard, always makes me feel more ‘go getty’. I have a fab pair of cropped pants that are super versatile and great with flat mules, a bit of a Brigitte moment (Zara and JCrew are both great). My current uniform, be it school or shoot, is a midi with cowboy boots – feminine, but practical – and it seems to bring a bit of romance back into my day with a swish of the skirt. And whenever my kids have made a piece of jewellery, I wear it until it inevitably breaks.”
STACY DUGUID - Fashion editorial director at Harrods
“I know it’s a cliché, but good hair always makes me feel ‘done’ and ready for anything. I’ve recently discovered Sam McKnight’s ‘Cool Girl’ hairspray. It smells fresh in a sexy way and the results are amazing. Think slight Kate Moss tousled vibe. Big hair, big sunnies – BOOM – ready for anything. Another thing is a good coat. Who cares what’s hiding beneath. A good coat pulls everything together. Go for Ganni.”
ALICE EDWARDS - Jewellery editor at Sunday Times Style and Times Luxx magazines
“My New Year resolution for 2018 (or one of) was to stop buying high street. I was cumulatively spending a fair amount on the cheaper versions of the things I really wanted and never really loving anything, instead I’ve bought only from three places all year: The Outnet, Vestiaire (both of which I’d now describe myself as a total pro at), and last but by no means least, Uniqlo. The fine merino, especially in a polo neck, is my worst kept secret – they’re incredible. The other thing I’m utterly evangelical about is a proper tailor. I use Scobies thanks to Emilia Wickstead’s recommendation, (Dior also use them, www.scobies.co.uk) and an electric debobbler – knitwear and outerwear always look cheap if they aren’t taken care of. Then having old/new/vintage/post-baby pieces tailored revamps them exponentially and for a fraction of the cost – post baby number two I had so much adjusted and I fell back in love with pieces I’d discarded out of boredom and body shape. I can honestly say all year I’ve stuck to my resolution with one exception, a beret from Zara. I half regret it as I know if I’d been more patient I would have got a far better quality one on The Outnet or Vestiaire, but at least it reminded me why I gave up the cheap thrill of the high street.”
PHILIPPA ROSS - Co-founder of We Are Twinset blog
“Since having Alfie, my style has definitely changed. I tend to live in ath-leisure; side stripe joggers, oversized knits and slip-on-and-go trainers. Micha Lounge has great leisure-wear bits that are not expensive.”
PETRO STOFBERG - Co-founder of shopping digital platform Wardrobe Icon
“I always spend a little time on The Outnet each week to see what designer gems have come in. Tuesday is a good day as they always have some new flash sales or designer additions. I have bought some of my favourite pieces from there – an Emilia Wickstead black, all-occasion dress and the most stunning Ellery yellow-printed maxi. Both are items I will keep forever with 70 or 80 per cent off their original value.”
SARAH TOMCZAK - Editor at Red magazine
“I shop at the end of each season, in the sales, for the year ahead, and then stash away. It means I can buy more expensive brands that I love – Isabel Marant Etoile, Madeleine Thompson Cashmere – which I then team with cheaper, fun bits from Mango and Zara. I like classics and tend to live in similar things year-after-year – cashmere knits, ankle boots, smart wool coats, special dresses, leather sandals – and it’s usually the same colour palette grey, navy, dark green, blush pink and white – some liberty print and some stripes.”
KAVITA MEERA MEHTA - Founder of Kavita Cola blog
“I love accessories with a dash of colour, like the headbands from Anthropologie which I have in green and pink. As a new mum, I’m repeating lots of clothes and just wearing basic things so it’s nice to jazz them up a little.”
CHLOE SAMWELL-SMITH - Founder of Chloe Loves to Shop blog
“I don’t think you can beat a black turtle neck – it’s my go-to for keeping a look smart and chic, and goes with just about everything. I have also found one at River Island with great design features that make it look way more expensive.”
TRACEY LEA SAYER - Fashion director at Fabulous magazine
“I find that new season shoes give my old clothes a new spin. I love And Others Stories, they are good quality and not expensive. I am also a huge fan of the white boot and have bought them in many guises over the years to update old clothes.”
NATASCHA POLISZCHUK - Co-founder of Wear and Where blog
“If there’s something I hanker after, but can’t justify buying at full price, I stalk it on Vestiaire (more prosaically known as ‘setting an alert for said product’), most recently, a gorgeous Ulla Johnson dress. I also think that if you want to look more expensive than budget allows, then nothing beats a cashmere sweater (try M&S, Uniqlo and Gap) under a great coat – and Zara do the best coats. I have their classic Crombie style in beige-sand and black – and every time I wear them, people (including fashion people) think they’re designer.”
LINDA FULFORD - Brand Communications Director at The Outnet
“As a working mum, I need something that is versatile to cope with the varying needs of my day. Go-to brands would be Ganni, for a great easy midi dress which hides a multitude of sins especially if you’re a new mum, and Baum und Pferdgarten, which I love for its playful twists and often something fun and metallic – it is easy to dress with a great pair of jeans.”
LAURA WILLS - Founder of The Fashion Bug Blog
“Investing in one accessory, such as a fab pair of statement earrings, is a great way to look and feel great and they don’t have to be super expensive. Soru is my favourite brand – sparkly but wearable. They just make every outfit feel that little bit more special.”
TIJAN SERENA MAZOUR - Founder of Tijan Serena blog
“Something as simple as a ribbon for your hair or a fantastic belt can completely transform your look. Zara has a lovely velvet hair-band at the moment and it’s also great for on-trend belts, as is ASOS.”