Perfecting the Big City Look: Shopping Under Budget

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When I think ‘big city style’ my mind goes straight to New York, and a glamorous, eclectic look that oozes sass and sophistication. But whichever big city style immediately springs to your mind, achieving it while not maxing out your credit card is eminently doable with these tricks and tips on how to look fashionable on a budget.

Capsule Collections and Key Pieces

Creating an affordable capsule wardrobe can be done on a budget by buying some key pieces that can work with your existing outfits. This takes some planning and a bit of research, but the results (in terms of sartorial outcome and the happiness of your bank balance) are well worth the effort.

Start by assessing your current wardrobe. Be brutal: if you don’t wear it and don’t like it, get rid. Donate items to charity or hold a fun bring-and-swap with friends. Once your closet’s contents have been pared down, take stock of what you’re left with and where gaps are.

To create your capsule collection, first look for key pieces you don’t currently own: for example, a tailored pair of trousers, a well fitting white shirt, a classic pair of blue denim jeans. When shopping for these key items, be sure to choose styles that suit you and that you can envisage working well with a wide range of other pieces, in order to stretch your budget as far as possible.

Next, think about selecting a few key standout pieces that can transform your basic collection when combined with different items in your new wardrobe. Perhaps a pinafore dress can be part of a fab casual look when teamed with a T-shirt and trainers, or worn with that classic white shirt and some ankle boots can make for an on-trend evening out look.

Have fun creating a bespoke capsule range that works for you, your life and your style.

Acing the Accessories

A well thought out accessory or two is a budget friendly way to pull off the Big City look. To this end, an amazing pair of sunglasses is the way forward: choose a pair that exudes style and glamour – designer shades at pocket-friendly prices can be found at, where prescription and sports options are also available. A killer pair of sunglasses is an easy way to elevate your outfit – be sure to choose shades with quality UV protection to shield your eyes from damage, too.

Belts are another way to add flair and individuality to an outfit without breaking the bank. Consider using a wide belt to cinch in a dress at the waist to create a fitted look, or perhaps incorporate a brightly coloured or sequinned statement belt into your outfit as a focal point and to showcase your own unique sense of style.

Finally, scarves are a great way to add a touch of colour or interest to your ensemble, and are available at prices to suit all pockets. Add a fun pop to a monochrome suit or dress with a scarf in a bright shade, or that features quirky patterns. Scarves can also be used in place of a belt, or tied to a handbag to add whimsical, boho flourish to your look.

Step Out in Style

You’ve created your capsule collection, you’ve put together your key pieces and some signature accessories, now it’s time to put your best foot forward and consider how to get some Big City style shoes on a budget.

Outlet stores and clearance centres can be fantastic places to uncover big brand shoes at hugely discounted prices: sizing availability may be limited, but if you get lucky you may just find last season’s must-have sandal at a fraction of its previous high street cost.

Another option is, as with the capsule collection discussed above, to take care in thinking about the items in your wardrobe, and carefully select a couple of pairs of shoes that will work with all of your outfits in order to get as many different looks for your money as possible.

Thrift Stores and Vintage Gems

The most powerful weapon in your arsenal when it comes to achieving Big City style on a budget is the thrift, or second-hand, store. Have fun browsing the rails for designer treasures, vintage pieces and high street classics at tiny prices.

Make the most of your trip by scouring the shelves for accessories such as handbags and jewellery, too, always keeping in mind what would work well with your wardrobe in order to avoid buying items that may be beautiful, but go unworn. Thrift stores usually have a high and fast turn-over, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for, visit regularly to browse new stock as it arrives.

Big City Style at Small Prices

The key to putting together your perfect Big City look is creativity and planning. As you shop, keep in mind the items you already own, and consider which key pieces you will get the most wear from, in order to maximize your style without maxing out your credit card.


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Written by Lola McQuenzie

Lola is one of our busiest writer. She has worked for Catwalk Yourself since 2007. Lola started working with us after she graduating from Central St Martins

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