With student pockets being pinched, Emma Nolan reveals how you can revitalize your old outfits.

As a poor student with a shopping habit, I have to make my purchases go a long way. Reinventing the same clothes is the key to keeping with trends or just to enliven your own personal style without burning a hole in your bank account every week. Teaming your more expensive pieces, which you may have paid an arm and a leg for in the past, your investment pieces, with cheap, gorgeous, and on trend items from charity shops and Penneys are the most obvious way to be a frugal fashionista. Thrift chic, baby. But you must be willing to have a good ole root through piles of junk before you find something to your taste, but that’s all part of the thrill of bargain hunting.

To spice up your wardrobe on the cheap, rummage through your parents’ and older family members’ wardrobes. Fashion is cyclical, so they may have a few gems from bygone days hidden away which are bang on trend right now and just begging to be worn.




Accessories are an obvious way to add new life to an old outfit, or to just change the general vision of it. We have to think outside the box here though. A great way to add an unpredicted touch of androgyny to an otherwise completely feminine blouse is to add a bow tie to the collar. This detail will change the overall aesthetic of the look and viola, another way to wear your blouses and peter-pan collars. Bow-ties can be bought in any charity shop in Dublin for next to nothing, and vintage shop, the Harlequin has a great selection. The same principle can be applied to a simple piece of ribbon tied at the collar in a bow.

Silk and satin scarves are an easy way to add a certain sense of luxury to an outfit and enable you to wear the same outfit again without feeling you’re repeating yourself. Again, charity shops are a never ending source of beautiful scarves for a lovely low price and Penneys have a great selection at the moment. Worn in the hair, long or short evokes a bohemian spirit and will add a delightfully wistful vibe to your outfit. Around the neck, or under the lapels of a blazer is such an effortless way to add a splash of colour to an outfit.

Though jewellery is obvious and hardly needs a mention, never underestimate the impact that a gold choker or thick gold chain can have on a rigout. A plain black strapless top is transformed by the addition of a thick gold choker for a night out, adding that element of decadence that only gold can truly evoke. H&M always have great chunky gold necklaces, real statement pieces, which generally cost less than ten euro. And let us not forget our beloved Penneys which never fails to disappoint with its vast array of bling, rarely costing more than a fiver.

Red lipstick. The element of glamour and seduction that red lipstick evokes can change an outfit from day wear to night wear with one quick slick. Undeniably sexy, you can’t help but exude that timeless glamour whilst wearing it. Whether you chose to invest in an expensive Mac or YSL, or simply go for a Rimmel one, you can’t go wrong with red. Great for when you’re trying to spice up your look on a budget.

A fantastic way to breathe new life into old shirts and blouses, which you feel you have worn to death, is to simply cut the sleeves off them. However infantile this may seem, it completely changes the aesthetic of the garment, like cutting jeans into cut-offs. Charity shops are saturated with great blouses, but it’s rare that you will find one that fits perfectly, so an unusual way to make one of these blouses your own is to sinch it at the waist with a belt and wear as a dress. Belts themselves are a focal point to an outfit and can totally change the silhouette of your look. Every charity shop in Dublin has racks of them with great vintage buckles for as little as 50 cent.

So in order to spice up your wardrobe on a budget; be inventive but keep it simple. Search for bargains in charity shops, embrace Penneys, root through your granny’s and parents’ wardrobes. Bow-ties, gold accessories, red lipstick, belts and don’t be afraid to get the scissors out and customise. The key is to think outside the box…