10 ways to dress for French champagne on an Aussie beer budget

Nikki ParkinsonFashion 39 Comments

I’ve invested a lot into what seems like a lifetime of clothes’ buying.  And when I say “a lot”, I mean a disproportionate amount of my income.

The whole champers’ taste on a beer budget thing?  Yep, if you could give me kudos for that, I’d be off the graph as an influencer.  The only difference from when I was 20 and now is that I’m more than a little fond of a Moet, whereas back then anything with half a bubble would suffice.

I keep telling my income to catch up with my champagne tastes but it’s just not listening.  Instead I chose to get clever.  I decided I can drink champagne AND dress for the occasion too.

Photo: Pinterest

Here are my 10 tips to dressing for champagne when your budget reeks of beer:

1.  Shop mindfully.  Know what you actually need by actually checking what’s missing in your wardrobe first.  Spend you dollars on clothes that will add value and style to those you already own.

2.  Build confidence in your own style. Keep a physical scrapbook of looks you like from magazines or pin them to a virtual pinboard on Pinterest.  Call it shopping practice.  I do.

3.  Only buy something new (no matter how much of a bargain) if it makes you FEEL nothing short of fabulous.  Your hard-earned cash is also wasted if the garment is poorly made.  You will look as cheap as the price tag dangling from it.

4.  Invest in great accessories.  Accessories maketh an outfit.  Why not maketh something of existing outfits in your wardrobe with a new statement necklace or a hot pair of heels?

5.  Subscribe via email to sales websites.  Try Cherry Pick Me, Coco Lee and OzSale. You’ll be the first in the know for some absolute designer bargains.  It’s also worth signing up for email alerts from your favourite stores or designers.  Subscribers are first in the know about sales – online or in store.  Leona Edmiston, Witchery, Metalicus, Saba and Country Road advertise some amazing sales this way.

6. Got a really dress-to-impress occasion coming up?  Why not hire a designer frock or bag to make your entrance. At DressedUp you can hire gowns from top Australian designers on a weekly basis. At Love Me and Leave Me you can take your pick from a range of international “it” bags, accessories and frocks and also love them for a week at a time.  Chanel Vintage Classic 2.55 bag? That will be $119.95 for the week. Your welcome.

7.  Trawl eBay.  An un-named girlfriend of mine fell in love with a long gown at a fashion show but was determined not to pay full price for it.  She got home and found the exact same dress – with tags on – on eBay for $500 cheaper.  It was one size too big but easy to alter. Score.

8.  Your girlfriends can offer a goldmine of borrowed fashion opportunities. Last Saturday night I saved myself $200 by borrowing a black feather stole from a girlfriend for a black tie ball.  The stole and I had a one night stand and it’s safely on its way back to her.

9.  Fossick in op shops and pre-loved stores.  If you’ve got the time, patience and creativity, this will become a bit of a sport.  A girlfriend of mine has a real knack for finding vintage pieces which she wears with more panache than I could ever muster on an unlimited wardrobe budget.   Organised clothes swaps are still really popular and can unearth a designer bargain. For clothing exchange events around Australia visit Clothing Exchange.  If you live on the Sunshine Coast, The Swap is on Sunday, July 31.

10.  Don’t let your champagne outfit be let down by less-than-glowing skin and great hair. A regular skincare routine is a must; as are regular cut and colour appointments.  Honestly, if your skin is glowing and your hair shiny and styled, you’re going to feel a million bucks even if your clothes more makeshift than millionaire.

Do you have any budget style tips?  Feel like a champagne right now?

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Comments 39

  1. I really enjoyed that article Nikki, I never knew that you could hire frocks for an occassion. Last week, I had a friends wedding to attend, I knew it was coming up, but wasn’t looking forward to shopping for a new dress as I’m not comftable with my weight gain after having baby number 4, my mum suggested I wear something of hers, now without sounding awful, some of my mother’s outfits make me look matronly, I found an outfit of hers rocked it and still felt glamorous, so thanks mum you’ve still got it! so tips 4 and 8 worked for me.

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  2. At 40 Niki I still feel I have not got it quiet right when I should be having it under control. I buy things and then a week later think “why did I buy that?” and yes it may have been because it was cheap but I also feel my wardrobe is a miss mash. Love the idea of a “style book” which I can carry with me and “don’t buy it unless you feel fabulous”. Sometimes I feel long and lanky (I am 5’11) so will watch women I know are tall) and try things normally I would not. So glad I discover your site, I love your style and there is always something I take from your posts.

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      Hi Jacqui, I’m glad you discovered my site too! The style book is a great idea as it gets you thinking about different styles so you try different things when you’re shopping. Don’t be afraid to show a helpful sales assistant a look you’re after. A good assistant will help you recreate it with items they have in store.

  3. My recent work ball had a Gatsby theme and three of us hired outfits from local fancy dress shops. I got a gorgeous beaded flapper dress from Walk The Plank in Perth, borrowed accessories and felt fantastic. Lots of compliments, too!

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  4. Nikki I love you, but what if:
    A. You don’t have the money
    B. You don’t know what suits you anymore.
    C. You don’t have the money for a stylist?
    D. You can only shop at K-Mart/Big W/Target onsale/non-trendy op shops?
    I wish I looked like you and could use the products you do and shop like you …
    and I mean this to be complimentary …
    but I’m not like you.
    I know I have to lose weight and get fit, but what else can I do to look remotely like you within my non-existant budget?
    Love and hugs,

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      Hi Bron
      I have weight to lose too. It’s an ongoing issue thanks to Hashimoto’s (thyroid) disease. I’ve just become skilled at hiding bits and flaunting others. My main weapons are accessories (see Lauren’s comment below) and all my principals above apply equally at Kmart as they do at a designer store. The garment has to make you feel good; if not it’s not worth buying. And at Kmart or Big W there are garments and accessories that look more expensive than they really are – they’re the ones you go for. Knowing what suits you takes practice. Make an appointment with yourself to go shopping or browsing. Try on lots, take photos in the change room and practice with different combinations. Be open to trying different styles and don’t be too harsh on the reflection in the mirror 🙂

      1. Hi Nikki and Bron,
        I’d like to add something for Bron, don’t be afraid to NOT buy anything. Take the pics home and look at them, think what makes you look best. Don’t just look at the outfit…look at how it looks at you. Also bend, stretch, reach, squat etc to make sure it moves when you do!

        consider taking a friend with you (not a flatterer) and ask her to look at how it fits all round (does your butt look big in this).

  5. Great advice there! I particularly like the advice on accessorising. 😉
    This is the precise reason that I left fashion design for jewellery design! You can have so much more fun with accessories, be a bit bold with a statement necklace without worrying if your thighs look huge, and there are no sizing contraints so nobody gets left out. Accessories are the ultimate way to finish an outfit.

    Now I am working on keeping my skin and hair up to scratch.

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  6. I am such a bargain shopper that I find it impossible to pay retail. Example? Even though I love the CR orange and blue striped dress you blogged about recently, I couldn’t bring myself to pay $80 for it. I’m waiting for the sale.

    Whilst I love the idea of list shopping, to fill wardrobe gaps, it never works for me. I get my best pieces from clearance sales, op shops, vintage boutiques etc. Like the Morrissey cropped leather jacket bought from the markets for $20 and updated with Liberty buttons from my UK holiday. Or the vintage Missoni knit, Cue blouse, tan aviator style leather jacket and Miu Miu leather tote I got for $50 total from another markets expedition!

    Today I’m wearing a Big W Morrissey dress. Grey Ponte wiggle dress. $30 on sale. Diffusion lines are a beer budget winner!

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      Diffusion lines are a definitely a winner on a beer budget. I still wear my Josh Goot for Target silver trench whenever I get a chance.
      I do list shopping over a season – so it applies to things full price as well as reduced. I don’t buy something just because it’s reduced or a market bargain. It has to work as part of my wardrobe and my plan!

  7. I had no idea about my “style” until I started posting outfits I liked in Pinterest. By looking at the pictures altogether I now see what I tend to gravitate towards – namely great jeans and expensive shoes! I do think I need a lesson in accessories, though. I suck at accessorising.

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      That’s great that you’ve been able to look at your “pins” and see what your style is. Love it. And with accessorising, the easiest way to start is with one item. Ask yourself, what’s the one thing I can add to my outfit today to give it a lift? Trust me, one thing can make a huge difference. As your confidence builds you can add another.

  8. Nikki, I really like no. 10. My wardrobe goes through some particularly drab stages (try being a single mum/small business owner with champagne taste!), but I can always make myself feel good with great hair and makeup. And a combination of 4 & 8 works well with my two sisters and I. We can’t always wear the same size clothes, but we can definitely share the accessories around. Luckily we all live nearby! One sister has the same sized shoe, so our combined shoe wardrobe has become somewhat communal. It’s awesome.

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  9. Great tips there Nikki! I’ve always had champagne taste, but unfortunately my beer budget – or maybe even my sky juice budget usually doesn’t permit me to enjoy stuff I would LOVE to have. But it’s true, you have to LOVE something before you buy it because no point purchasing something that’s on sale if you’re not going to end up wearing it.

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  10. I have started to clip out images and file them like my recipes (reduces the size of the magazine pile) and then use them when I shop on line as a guide to what I’m looking for.

    Also, I never shop/purchase when I have the girls with me. They act up, I get in a panic to get out of the store and I either buy something I don’t need or miss out on something I should have gotten.

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      Love that you’re doing that! And yes, that’s a really good tip. Don’t go shopping for yourself when you have kids with you. You need to make the time to do it without distraction!

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