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Want to freshen up your style without spending a fortune on new clothes (and all the accompanying accessories)? Over 50s blogger Suzi Grant gives us a lesson in looking chic from top to toe on a shoestring budget.
Upcycling is the name of my game! I find amazing pieces at vintage fairs, charity shops, clothes swaps and second hand shops. The dress I am wearing above is Pucci and I haggled it down to £90. That dress would have cost me many hundreds of pounds, possibly over a thousand, to buy retail and I really do feel like a million dollars wearing it to a special event.
Don't be afraid of colour - black is draining and ageing - and wear what suits your shape and style. Cover the bits that make you feel less confident and you will feel and look absolutely fabulous.
Your crowning glory is one of the few areas you should spend a bit of money on. After 30 years of dyeing my hair red or orange and trekking into the hairdresser every six weeks for root touch-ups, I have decided to go naturally and fashionably grey! That'll save a fortune.
However, a good cut and regular conditioning are essential at our age, whether you dye your hair or have gone natural. Save money by finding a model evening at the best salons that will cost you nothing but your time. Look out for special offers and consider a mobile hairdresser who will come to your home. They don't have the overheads a local salon will have.
The one area that you shouldn't scrimp on. An Italian friend of mine came up with the best quote ever: "You should never buy cheap shoes or a cheap bed because you are either in one or the other!" Comfort is essential for us ladies of a certain age, and that rarely comes cheap. But that doesn't mean you have to over spend. I bought the most comfortable and on-trend winter boots from Kurt Geiger – in the summer. They were half price! Shop around, online and in the stores, at sale time, and you will find a bargain that is both comfortable and stylish.
Turbans, headscarves and hats can all turn any old outfit lurking at the back of your wardrobe into a 'wow' outfit. And they're cheap as chips, especially if you look in markets, charity shops and online. I have also found head scarves a real bonus for covering my roots while I am growing my hair back to natural so they save me money as well!
If you have an hour glass figure, try an elasticated 50s belt cinched at the waist. It can make such a difference to an old dress and add an accent of colour to your look. And they're really cheap, especially online. Belts don't suit everyone, but experiment with them on different parts of your body. The silver one round my monochrome outfit above was added by a friend who's a stylist. I would never have thought of that.
I don't spend a lot on handbags. I really don't see the point. But the right one can really bring an outfit alive. Major retailers like Debenhams do great bags that don't cost an arm and a leg. You can find amazing pre-worn designer bags on e-Bay and, again, root around markets and fairs for vintage hand bags.
I love an arm full of bangles and hunting for cheap, unusual ones has become a bit of a passion of mine – especially whilst travelling. Look in antique shops, charity shops and market stalls for bakelite or resin. They often come in unusual colours, look better than plastic, and shouldn't cost you more than a couple of quid.
Chunky necklaces or earrings will also add that je ne sais quoi to your look, but not together! I have found some gorgeous and cheap ones travelling.
I dig around in every vintage shop and fair I can find for interesting frames. I bought a pair of black vintage frames in New York which cost a third of the price they would have at my local optician. After I've found some frames, I then find the best deal I can to have prescription lenses fitted: online, abroad, or even a local independent who you can bargain with. I got a £70 discount for having two pairs done after a bit of negotiation!
Good make up and nails finishes off that groomed look. Find a relative, or a local girl who works from home, to save money. And make-up wise: less is more!
Next time you need a new eyeliner, go to one of the major retailers and get a free make over. It will save you money in the long run and help you find the best look for your skin tone.
My final top tip is to have a brutal look in a full-length mirror before you buy, declutter your clothes, or go out. If you look in the mirror and don't LOVE the way you look, then it's a 'no'. You need to feel like a million dollars in order to look it!
Let me know how you get on, I would love to hear about your bargains!
Suzi Grant is a broadcaster, author and blogger for the over 50s, specializing in health and nutrition, fashion and travel. Find out more about Suzi on her website, Alternative Ageing.