Cheap & Cheerful

by Lindsey McIntosh

So it’s a new term, and unless you’re descended from a long line of wealthy royals or have unlimited access to Gringotts Bank (sorry – the Harry Potter excitement from the summer hasn’t quite worn off yet), the chances are you’re probably skint. As some wise person somewhere once said, ‘money can’t buy style’. Good thing too, as your student account will probably be taking a good ol’ battering! So, to ensure you have maximum spending allowance for drinks at the union, here are some style and money-saving tips to help you all look your stylish best for those (quite possibly hungover) morning lectures:

Never underestimate vintage and charity shops

It seems that during the past few years of the economic recession, vintage clothing shops have become a far more popular choice for shopping amongst the skint university folk. Look through any major fashion magazine directory and you’ll find that vintage shops are listed just as much as the high street shops. Of course some clothes are just going to be totally naff, but if you search long and hard enough you may be able to find some hidden gems. Try taking a look online at vintage websites like and, or explore the many wonderful vintage stores throughout the city (see the article above!

EBay is the Holy Grail of websites!

You should never underestimate the power of EBay – I’ve managed to build up quite a collection of great bargains from auctions on this glorious site. However, be wary travelers – don’t get caught up in the excitement of extreme bidding wars. Be sure you definitely want that ridiculous duck jumper and that you don’t just want it so that the smug bastard who keeps bidding against you can’t have it. I’ve learned this the hard way.

Customize yourself!

You don’t have to be an expert seamstress to give your clothes a unique spin – anything from quirky badges on jackets or bags can help you achieve a fantastic new look. Check out vintage shops or places like Accessorize and Topshop for some interesting ones. Secondly, if there’s an old pair of jeans you no longer wish to wear, cut them into a pair of spanking new shorts! It’s an age old trick, but a good one all the same. Detachable collars have also been a favorite accessory of late; they’re so simple yet have the potential to change tops and dresses completely – genius!

Raid your sister/mum/gran’s wardrobe

Ok, so you might not be lucky enough to have an older sister or a fashionable mother (you might have a mother like mine who dresses like SuBo let loose around Primark for the day), but if you do happen to have decently dressed relatives, try and borrow their clothes and jewellery. If they say no, be completely respectful of their decision and take the desired items from behind their backs – just be sure to be very careful and return them in the same condition you borrowed them in. So what if you’re a thief. At least you’ll be a fashionable thief.

Buy cheap clothes and experiment

Bulk buy cheap clothes and customize them yourself – cheap t-shirts from Primark are great for tearing and cutting to create something different. Knot-tie vests can be easily achieved by cutting a slit into the front of a 2 pound Primark vest and tying at the bottom. Simples! (I despise that Meerkat and the effect he’s had on our culture). In Topshop you’d probably be paying at least 18 pounds for one of these babies, and at 2 squid, it’s hardly going to break the bank.

Know your style, but don’t be afraid to experiment

Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. But it’s a good point to make – if you’re comfortable coming into lectures wearing converse and a hoodie, don’t try to fit into a different trend just because it’s splashed across the glossy pages of this month’s Vogue. Alternatively, if you’re a bit fashion conscious or there’s a style you’ve never tried before that takes your fancy, just give it a try! What’s the worst that could happen? (I sincerely hope that nobody gets hit by a bus on the day they try out a new pair of chinos. If so, my condolences).

Look around you for inspiration

I find it great to see how other people throw their outfits together for a bit of style inspiration. Tip – try to be discreet when spying on people. Admiration is flattering, stalking is not… you may want to invest in a good pair of shades if you plan on being a serious style stalker.

Study style blogs

For those who prefer to style-stalk in the privacy of their own home (or in the library on a well earned ‘study break’), you should check out some fashion blogs if you haven’t already. Some personal favorites include Sea of Shoes, Weardrobe, Who What Wear, Show Me Your Wardrobe and What Katie Wore.}