Our new series enlists expert help to pinpoint every new piece your budget should buy. This week, how to get more from less.
When money’s tight, you need clothes that work hard. But a slim budget isn’t a synonym for cheap. Flimsy fabrics and shoddy construction means your clothes fall apart fast – and you have to spend again next month.
Instead, save your limited cash for well-made basics in muted colours and classic cuts. They’ll work together in almost any combination, which means you get more distance from a travel-size wardrobe.
Here’s what we recommend spending your hard-earned on:
2 Pairs Of Neutral Chinos
Jeans have grown out of its causeless rebel stage, but there are still some places they won’t go. Unlike chinos.
“Denim you need to invest in, but chinos are better if you’re on a budget,” says Millie Rich, stylist at Thread. “They’re a lot more versatile.”
Relaxed fits are trending, but a slim, tapered leg seamlessly transitions from work to the weekend. Neutral shades like stone and navy will sit well with any other colour, so you can just rotate both pairs. H&M’s are thick enough not to fall apart, but won’t cook your legs in summer.
Available at H&M, priced £14.99 each. Total cost: £29.98.
2 Oxford Button-Down Shirts
“Oxford shirts are great because they can be dressed up or down at will,” says Rich.
The most versatile are cut slim, in a block colour, with a button-down collar that works with a jacket and tie or left open over a tee. When you’re cash-strapped, you need to be materialistic. “Oxfords should be thick, so avoid anything flimsy.”
Uniqlo’s won’t shrink after one wash – or go see-through in direct sunlight.
Available at Uniqlo, priced £19.90 each. Total cost: £39.80.
4 Plain T-Shirts
The right tee should work as a base layer, or worn solo. “You don’t need a tonne of options,” says Rich. “Grey, white, navy or black is a good, blank canvas start.”
But don’t be tempted by that multipack from Sports Direct – they’ll only be good for dressing your Action Man once they’ve been through a spin cycle.
Again, Uniqlo’s flattering shapes and fabric nous offers the most bang for your limited bucks.
Available at Uniqlo, priced £4.90 each. Total cost: £19.60.
A Pair Of Black Plimsolls
When you can, invest in your shoes. When you can’t, steer simple. “Own brand trainers in a minimal shape are relatively affordable,” says Rich.
They’re also extremely versatile, thanks to the sneaker’s elevation from off-duty only to anywhere goes. White trainers are on every runway at the moment, but black are much more practical. So you won’t need to replace them the first time you forget to check the weather forecast.
Available at Topman, priced £26.
A Lightweight Bomber Jacket
No jacket is as versatile as the bomber.
As with so much military-inspired menswear, it blends function and form in a way that’s impervious to trends. Which means you can wear one pretty much anywhere. And since Zara’s nylon version is lightweight and shower-proof, any time.
Available at Zara, priced £29.99.