No, me neither. However, we do all have to wear clothes, and for those of you like me who really can’t be bothered to make that kind of effort post-kids, this one’s for us.
Secretly, I still want to look half decent. Fact of the matter is though, my days of being half decent probably evaporated about 15 years back. Times have changed, as has fashion (for the better and worse, to be honest) and so it’s time to take a look into how to survive the trauma of 30’s motherhood without looking like a tramp’s pillowcase.
The other side of the coin is the indignity that is actually shopping for clothes on the high street. The noise. The people. The screeching teenagers wrapping seriously inappropriate slogans across themselves. The heat. Those cretins who cough near you. Those ultra-chimps who smoke outside the shop doorway. The actual price of everything.
I’m seriously not the right person to give advice of any fashion nature, but its WAY too easy to get sucked into the Instagram trap of image-related expectations these days, so I’m going to have a go at it anyway, for us real life ladies. I even made a Pinterest board about tackling the style maze on the other side of 30, so check it out if you want.
With that said, I want you to know that I tried to make sure the things that were included were reasonably achievable, because we all know how things tend to go with Pinterest:
Ooooh, that looks so easy, I’m going to try and do my hair like that!
– an actual quote from all women, everywhere.
However, there’s bound to be a few bits in there that I’ve pinned because I think they look good, not because I could pull them off in a million years, or expect anyone else to be able to. Anyhow, back to the matter at hand.
Fashion for the skint bird
Basically, fashion isn’t cheap, but style is priceless. Especially if you’re a naturally frugal type like I am. I’d much rather spend my tiny amount of cash on clothes for my daughter to look cute in (and ruin with various foodstuffs) than actually buy myself something. Still, there are ways and means. Not all shops require £45, a blood donation and a small piece of your liver for an oversized shirt. Oh no.
But you’ve got to shop carefully. I’m a big fan of a George sale, or a bit of F&F at Tesco’s. Supermarket clothes have really upped their game in recent years. I got this pair of jeans from Asda a few years back called Wonderfit and they are seriously the best fitting and most comfortable pair I own.
Genuinely couldn’t recommend these jeans enough, and they didn’t even break £20 if I remember rightly.
H&M are also pretty good for affordable fashion. I really rate their stuff for kids as well. However, an important forewarning needs to be given about their trousers. I don’t know why, but H&M’s sizing seems to be way, way off to me when it comes to the lower half of your body. Skirts and dresses are generally alright but anything with two legs that isn’t stretchy I’d definitely recommend trying on before you buy, to avoid disappointment.
Anyway, before I go on any more on this, I’ll break it down into digestible chunks. Fashion winners and fashion fails.
- H&M (see above)
- George at Asda – although some of the prices on their jumpers are creeping a bit higher than I’d like, they’re still fairly reasonable on the clothes front and the quality is great too.
- TK Maxx – you’ve really got to be in the mood to charge a few old nanas out of the way but if you’re feeling frisky you can’t beat a rummage through the UK’s greatest jumble sale. Bargains ahoy!
- Primark – the obvious choice for basic staples, but beware of the shrink in the wash quality of some of their stuff. Having said that, their new range of workout gear with Alice Liveing is ace.
- Nutmeg at Morrisons – little bit on the pricey side for supermarket clothes but top quality looking stuff.
- Matalan – a real hidden gem, you can get some really nice clothes in there and it’s often a lot more affordable than your usual clothes stores.
- Next – I know, I know, everyone LOVES Next. So do I for the most part, but I do think a lot of it is massively overpriced for what it actually is. A generic top should never be pushing £50 unless it’s made of actual Egyptian cotton. And don’t get me started on the evening dresses.
- River Island – again, my experience is that the clothing is quite overpriced for what it actually is, and unless things have changed recently the materials are often not that long lasting.
- Warehouse – SERIOUSLY. Who in their right mind is going to spend £29 on a T-Shirt?
- French Connection – Oh you’d better believe I’m looking at you, £110 for a shirt. Non, merci.
I could go on, but to be honest, I think most of you will already know where I’m coming from. I honestly don’t know where some of these shops do their customer analysis, but every single time I walk past a French Connection, there’s barely anyone in it. Maybe that’s just down to the economic geography of where I live, but I just can’t understand the logic of making clothes that expensive and then expecting a massive love for it out on the high street.
It’s no wonder that more and more women are turning to online marketplaces for their clothing, or that online retailers such as ASOS and Boohoo are becoming such industry giants.
For now, I think I’m best off staying true to my thrifting life skills and styling it out most days in my Primark leggings and a George jumper. And you know what, I look alright. For an old bird.
I’d love to know which clothes shops really get your goat and why? Let me know in the box below, along with any tips you’ve got for fashion on a budget…because God knows, I need them.
Writer, tweeter and illustrator. Starving artist and thrifting expert. Pen for hire and first-time author at work.