It all starts in the mind. Once you start to think it, you become it – a millionaire. You see, to be included in powerful circles, you need to look and act the part. And today, I’ll let you in on how can you look like a millionaire without the millions.
1. Stick to one colour and make your clothes work hard for you
This is the most important step. If you choose ‘blue’, you can go for navy, aquamarine, palest blue – the varieties are almost endless. And this way, you’ll know that your clothes will always complement each other; and you’ll get more
mileage from all of them. Certain colours always look more expensive than others, whatever the fabric – black, navy, dark brown and beige.
The worst colours are baby pink, bright pink and turquoise look cheaper than others, whatever their fabric – you’ll get everyone’s attention, but for all the wrong reasons. Look at photographs of rich and fashionable people, and you’ll see that they nearly always wear black. It has a slimming effect, and looks classy. You can wear a colourful scarf around your neck. In the evenings, choose black, cream or a subtle neutral colour outfits. You can wear these time and again with different jewellery and scarves, and it won’t be recognised.
2. Go for classic clothes every time
They’ll last for more than one season and never look dated. Black polo-necks, white cotton or linen shirts without frills or embroidery, chinos, plain beige raincoats, faded blue jeans, grey flannels, camel coats, navy blazers are all timeless classics that look wonderful whether you’re 18 or 80. And they look more expensive than they are.
Avoid exaggerated shoulderpads, frills, embroidery, three quarter length sleeves and all the latest fashion
gimmickry – and you can wear your classics collection in ten years’ time and still look good.
3. Remember quality not quantity is all-important
Ask any French or Italian woman – they’d rather have one beautiful and expensive garment than three cheap ones. This is because you’re much better off with one dress that looks expensive and makes you feel wonderful, than with three that look cheap, and make you feel that way too.
4. Learn the key do’s and don’ts of buying clothes
Certain clothes are almost the same whether they’re bought at a market stall or a top designer store. These include jeans, plain cotton or linen shirts and basic knitwear. Just wash fleamarket buys more carefully. Chain store basics look great – if you take ten minutes to revamp them.
Cheap-looking buttons are a giveaway – replace them with something unusual. And: Re-sew puckered, machine-stitched hems by hand. Furthermore, try to avoid noticeable patterns – these tell people where you bought your clothes. Also, don’t skimp on accessories. Cheap shoes and handbags always look cheap. Bide your time until the sales, and then snap up some top-quality shoes and bags.
5. Be shop-savvy
You shouldn’t ever pay the full price for anything. Wait until the winter and summer sales. Scan the papers for one-off sample sales and shop clearances. Check the Yellow Pages for nearly new and secondhand designer sale shops in your area.
6. Repair clothes on an ‘as necessary’ basis
You don’t want to find the one thing you need to wear is crumpled or has a button missing. So instead of hanging up something that’s creased or stained and forgetting about it until next time, put it in a ‘to repair’ bag. You’ll spend far less time on your clothes than you would if you had to run around at the last moment ironing or scrubbing off grubby marks.
7. Be realistic when you buy your clothes
If you’re budgeting carefully, don’t choose anything that’s labelled ‘dry clean only’, you’ll either spend a small fortune at the dry cleaners or shrink the clothes when you’re trying to handwash them. Important: If you have young children or commute every day on dirty buses and trains, don’t choose pastels. And if you hate ironing, don’t go for linen clothes – you’d be better off with wool or cotton knits.
8. Learn the strategies of successful shopping
Don’t shop in a lunchbreak or at any other time that you’re in a hurry – you won’t allow enough time to make the right choice. However persuasive the salesperson is, don’t let her pressurise you into buying anything you’re unsure of. You can always ask her to hold something for half an hour, then go off for a cup of coffee to think it over. And always ignore that plaintive ‘It’s the last one in your size’ – you’ll find that they almost always have one
more in the stockroom if you come back later.
Too many sales assistants work on commission, and will say you look wonderful no matter what you’re trying on. So go shopping with a friend who’ll tell you what does and – as important – doesn’t suit you. Never succumb to sales fever. It doesn’t matter if it cost R200 and is now reduced to R20 – if you don’t really need it and it’s not your style, it’s not a bargain.
9. Plan ahead
We’ve all got up late, thrown on the first clothes that are close at hand, walked halfway down the street and realised we look awful – and there’s still the rest of the day to get through. On a quiet Sunday afternoon, go through your entire clothes collection, pack up anything you haven’t worn for two years and give it to your local charity shop. Keep it in a box until it becomes fashionable again. Try on everything that’s left and decide what looks good together, right down to the shoes and the accessories. Then, write it all out so you have at least seven outfits – enough to get you through a week.