It can be difficult to shop on a budget, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. What are the basics that every woman should have in her wardrobe? Fashion blogger, Josephine Lalwan, shares some great advice about budget shopping that we can all benefit. Enjoy the show!

 

 
 

Margaret Manning:

My guest today is Josephine Lalwan. She started her blog, called Chic at Any Age, about seven years ago with the intention of offering mature women a way of feeling stylish. She wanted to empower them to wear the clothes they loved and which suited their personality. Welcome, Josephine.

Josephine Lalwan:

Thank you very much, Margaret. It’s a privilege to be on your show. I love your site, and I think it’s a great resource for women of more mature years.

Margaret:

Thank you. I love your site, too. We’ve reached about 450 thousand women all around the world.

Josephine:

Wow!

Margaret:

We’ve also got a very large Facebook group, which is super interested in fashion and beauty. I think it’s largely misunderstood that older women don’t care about those things, but we do.

Josephine:

Oh, we definitively care.

Margaret:

You started your blog, Chic at Any Age, because you wanted to help women of any age look as great as they felt. I’m curious though, what do you mean by ‘chic’?

Josephine:

I used the word because we spend some time in France now, and this is a concept one could associate with French women’s style. I’ve always worked in—or been connected to—fashion, and often with French fashion. Along the way I may have picked up some hints and tips about how French women looked chic. This is the idea I wanted to pass onto my readers.

Margaret:

It’s certainly a word that embodies a lot of meanings, like ‘bohemian’. When you say that word you envision images and colors. It’s the same with ‘chic’, and I think what you’re doing is great.

Many of our viewers would be interested in learning your strategy for shopping and buying clothes on a budget. A lot of older women have only a little money to spend, so we value your tips. I know budget is relative, but what are the basic things every woman should have in her wardrobe on limited funds?

Josephine:

I’ve certainly had ups and downs in my life, and limited budget has taught me something important—you should always spend the most amount of money on a well-tailored jacket or coat. I used to go to the nearest second-hand shops, consignment shops, charity shops. They are great resources, especially if you live in an area which is a little bit more up market.

There are some amazing bargains in those shops. It is time consuming, but I’ve found some great buys there. So if you get the basics, like your well-tailored coat, you could buy cheaper tops even at some of the main stores.

Margaret:

That’s a really good point, but before you get there you should probably know your personal style. You should know your body shape because when you go to a consignment shop, for example, you might like a fabric, but it may not be right for the shape of your body.

Josephine:

Oh yeah, definitely. It’s very important to know yourself and buy clothes that look good on you. The other trick is to invest in a good dress maker or alterations lady. Some local dry cleaners often have this service, too. That’s important, because fit is everything.

Sometimes you may buy a quite reasonably priced garment that doesn’t fit you all that well but looks gorgeous. However, if you get it tailored by yourself or professionally, it will fit, and it will look a million dollars.

Margaret:

People always say, “I can’t afford a tailor.” What you’re saying though is that you can buy the actual item at a bargain, and then make sure that it fits you. That’s where you should invest. That’s a good mindset, isn’t?

Josephine:

Yes, it is.

Margaret:

I think a lot of people forget to have fun with fashion on a budget. Tell me some stories about things you’ve found that have been inexpensive but have really accented a basic wardrobe.

Josephine:

A long time ago, I found a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress in a second-hand shop. I was like, “Oh my God, that’s so amazing!” Finding items like that takes an eye, it requires some practice, and it is certainly time consuming. Also, you have to keep looking until you find the thing that suits you best. Second-hand and charity shops are great resource for quality leather handbags.

Margaret:

There are lots of great charity shops in the UK. Even some high streets have got a couple.

Josephine:

Yes! We’ve got three in our little village alone, and they are fantastic. If there are no charity shops in your area, you can look for great sales online. You can even subscribe to get sales information via e-mail. You can then sift through that until you find what you are looking for. We’ve got so many resources nowadays.

Margaret:

Something else you mentioned on your blog is that you love to buy magazines when you go to Paris. You would pick them up and use them as a great resource for fashion ideas that are otherwise quite expensive. You would get the basic idea of the shape and the color, and then you’d go hunting for a cheaper version that matches the style.

Josephine:

Yes. It’s even better if you are good at dress making; just copy the style. Great cost priced accessories can also be found if you look for them. I’m lucky because in Paris there is such a big market where you can find cheap creative accessories. You may have a market that offers a selection in your town, so you should definitely check that out.

Margaret:

In general, if you are on a budget, you’ve got to be a good shopper. You’ve got to look for the bargains.

Josephine:

You’ve got to have an eye for it, definitely. Hunting for bargains takes a little practice, but it is worth it. You find the little treasures that are just right for you.

Margaret:

The top I’m wearing today, it’s periwinkle with sparkly beads around the neck line, I bought at Portabella Market when I lived in Notting Hill about three years ago. It wasn’t even on a market stall. It was in a huge pile of clothes, and I had to dig in to get it out.

When I saw the color, I thought, “Oh, whatever that is, I want it.” It didn’t matter if it was a scarf or something else. It only cost me five pounds, but I wear it more than any other top.

Josephine:

Article continues below...

That’s perfect.

Margaret:

Here are our tips so far: Know your body type. Familiarize yourself with the charity shops in your area. If you live in the United States, pay attention to garage sales. Know what basic items you need to spend more on. You mentioned the coat, but are there any other basic items?

Josephine:

If you have a more casual lifestyle you wouldn’t need a jacket, but I do think everybody needs a coat. The cold autumn and winter days require a coat. Although if you live in a very hot climate, all you need might be a light linen jacket.

When putting your wardrobe together, you should know whether you prefer dresses, skirts or trousers. Even one good pair of well-cut trousers, or a well-tailored skirt, will stand you in good stead. Dresses are a little bit easier to figure out, and you can find some fun colors out there. You can add a belt if that works for you or jewelry to liven it up.

You don’t need to own a lot of clothes. I went to Paris for two days and all I took was a rug sack. At the hotel they asked, “Where’s your luggage?” I said, “Here.” We really don’t need a lot, but I took jewelry, a change of shoes, and scarves.

Margaret:

That’s a really good tip—have some basic things that you feel good in. Once you feel good in your outfit, it doesn’t matter how you accentuate it because you’re grounded in yourself. As a bargain shopper it doesn’t matter if it is a one-pound or a fifty-dollar scarf, as long as you feel right in it. Also, it’s important to know your colors.

Josephine:

Oh, it’s very important to know which colors look best on you. I used to work as a color consultant, so that’s an area I’m good at. You can go to a color consultant, but there are little tricks and ways of finding which colors work for you, if you don’t want to go to a professional.

Margaret:

What are those tricks?

Josephine:

At our age we probably have some idea about the colors that make us look healthy and those that make us look drained. A good idea is to go to the makeup section of a department store and try lipsticks that are at the ends of the spectrum.

For example, choose a really warm orange rusty color and examine yourself closely in the mirror. Then go to the other end of the spectrum, which is a really blue, pinkish color and try that on as well. Pick the extremes.

Then you can go, “That was really hideous,” or “That was not so good because it was too bright, but it’s not so hideous.” Work back in till you find the lipstick that works for you. That would give you a very good indication of which direction you should be going, warm or cold.

Margaret:

That’s a really good idea. It’s also a reminder that our bodies have their individual natural tone. For instance, my lips and yours are blue to start with.

Josephine:

Absolutely, exactly.

Margaret:

I love the color you’ve got on. Is it on trend? It looks beautiful on you.

Josephine:

Since it’s a very dark grey day in London, I wanted to lift my spirits. This time of year is busy, it makes us look tired and worn out. Our skin can look quite pale and grey. So I like to wear brighter, more flattering colors because we haven’t got that light that we have in the summer.

Margaret:

We started talking about budget shopping, and now we’ve gone a little bit around. That’s great because now we see that budget shopping is a state of mind. It’s important that you recognize what your budget is, but if you search dilligently, you can find some really great, inexpensive accessories to bring life to your wardrobe. When you wear them, you get that inner glow that makes you feel stylish and chic.

Josephine:

Absolutely. The basics are a well-fitting dress or a skirt or trousers with a simple top. I personally tend to go for the classics and the plain, but that’s just my style. It makes it a little easier to jazz it up with jewelry. Even if your style is slightly more flamboyant you can still work with it. You can go to the ethnic places or Etsy and find some great stuff there.

Margaret:

The other thing to remember is that one’s person jewel is another person’s garbage. It’s a good idea to explore charity shops and garage sales with an open mind. You’ve mentioned that on your website, chicatanyage.com, which is a great resource.

Josephine:

Yeah, that’s right.

Margaret:

It’s got lots of great inspirational ideas, and I love that you make a point of showing the items. You show collages that include the top, the bottom, a bag and jewels.

Josephine:

Yeah, I put collages on to give women ideas. My figure is actually quite pear shaped, so I want to expand the options for women who have other body shapes.

Margaret:

The collages really help, so go look at them and get the budget number. Then just buy what you can of the basics and have fun with the rest.

Josephine:

Absolutely. Another thing that I do is, when I find an item I like online, I stalk it until it gets reduced in a sale. You’ve got to be quick, though, because your size might sell out.

Margaret:

I’ve done that before. By the time you are 50 or 60 years old you pretty much know what looks good on you. I know that capes, ponchos and wraps look nice on me, and I hunt for those. I feel good in them, so I don’t even bother looking at the more tailored coats; I know I wouldn’t be comfortable in those.

Josephine:

I knew what I wanted coat-wise before I started looking because I’ve gone into tunics this year. They’re on trend, and they work for my figure shape, but they were showing below the coat or jacket I would wear. So I knew the length and style that I wanted, and I just watched the coat. It fitted into my wardrobe really well because it solved that particular issue.

Margaret:

It seems that the bottom line in budget shopping is to be a wise shopper. Know yourself, know your style and then have fun.

Josephine:

Don’t forget planning. You should plan your purchases well so they fit into your wardrobe. Impulse buys work sometimes, but I think you need to get the basics right first.

Margaret:

Thank you so much, Josephine. This chat has been really helpful. Take care.

When you look at your wardrobe, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Have you determined which colors and shapes work on you best? What are your basics that you’d like to share? Please join the conversation!

Let's Have a Conversation!