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Tuesday, 13 November 2007

How to Be Both Cheap & Trendy for the Holidays

Everyone wants to look their best and in our attempts to do so, most of us spend a whole lot more than we realise. With the holiday season just around the corner we'll be thrown together with people we only see once or twice a year, or only once or twice a year outside of the office, so we really want to look our best this season. I'm sure you're already worrying about your holiday spending - the presents, the decorations, the travel, the food - but have you thought about your wardrobe? Thanksgiving dinner, the office Christmas party, that New Year's bash - what are you going to wear?

If you're like me, this is something you never think of until the last minute. Or maybe you're a shopaholic who loves clothes? Either way, I bet you spend more on your holiday wear than you realise. For one thing, once you start spending, it gets easier and easier to keep spending and during the holidays we spend a lot. We start swiping that plastic and when it's all nice and warm, we see that amazing dress or that spectacular belt and we think, "Oh, what the hell. I've already spent so much, what difference does it make?" Well, a lot, actually, because that thought will keep crossing your mind and your plastic will stay warm in your pocket and come January your New Year's resolution will be to pay off the credit card before next year.

No one wants the hangover of last month's festivities following them into the new year, but we all want to put our best foot forward at the holidays. So what to do?

Start by taking an objective look at your current wardrobe. Separate it into two piles: the clothes you do wear and the clothes you don't. Now examine what is in the piles. I'm willing to bet that the clothes you do wear are the basics - basic pants, skirts, and simple shirts in neutral colors or classic, understated prints. The clothes you don't wear are probably in last year's (or one of the previous 10 years') bold colors, cuts and prints. So what does this tell you? When buying clothes, stick to basic, timeless styles and colors. If you buy things that are too trendy, you'll want to throw them out next season.

You can still be trendy, just keep the trends in the accessories. The thing about accessories is that they are usually must cheaper, and you can keep them until they come back in style again because they don't take up a lot of space in your closet and you don't ever have to worry about "growing" out of them. If you really can't live without this winter's hot color, buy a $5 necklace in that must-have hue. If you've got to wear that special print, get a cheap scarf to wear with your basics, or a funky hat.

If there is a particular style all the hip crowd is wearing and keeping the fads to your accessories is just too limiting for you, make sure you shop at cheap stores specializing in trends and only buy one or two articles. Also, make sure these new items go with what you already have in your wardrobe of everyday basics. H&M has a large collection of cheap clothes and accessories in the latest trends. Target's collection by Isaac Mizrahi is also a good place to look. But be sure that the majority of your clothes are timeless and in neutral colors. Buy the basics at a higher quality, so that they last and the trendy things at the cheapest possible price as they will probably be obsolete in a few months' time anyway. Also, make sure that what you buy can be combined with lots of other items in your wardrobe, so that you can get many new outfits with just one addition to your clothing collection.

The trick is to get as much mileage out of each piece as possible. That's why accessorizing the clothes you already have is such a good idea. Switching your basics up and topping it off with a new accessory for each major holiday event will give you the extra sparkle you're looking for without breaking the bank.

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