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Style: How to save hundreds on designer outfits with looks for under £25

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I have never been the glamorous type. But I have always loved clothes.

Let me explain – I think people often mix up loving fashion for being fashionable and on trend. I’m neither of those things.

Of course, what is modelled on the runways does influence what I wear, it’s unavoidable. Big brands flood our shops with what’s ‘in’ that season and we naturally take inspiration from what we see around us.

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However, I’m not one to look down on someone wearing last season’s colours or the wrong waist-height on their jeans. There is no wrong in my fashion world.

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I love clothes that make you feel good. The ones that when you look at yourself in the mirror before you head out, make you do a little internal nod of approval.

I have struggled for years with the bad press that big fashion brands get for not being sustainable enough, not treating their staff well enough and so on. I want my actions to have as little an impact on the environment and other humans as possible, but how do I do that when I don’t have tons of cash to spend on super-sustainable, handmade, hyper-certified brands?

Disclaimer: I have been through that phase. For a good few years I would avoid buying anything new unless I absolutely needed it and when I did buy it, it would be from a reputable brand, cost me upwards of a hundred quid, but it would be built to last.

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Well, that was very commendable of me, but the reality is that it left me with very few options on what to wear and I did wear those few items absolutely to the bone. Ultimately, it was boring!

I wanted to choose what to wear to go for a coffee with a friend, or for going out for dinner with my partner. And I didn’t want to be wearing the same stuff in pretty much every photo anyone had taken of me.

Oh look, that must have been 2018 – you know, the year of the multi-coloured day dress from Zara’s Join Life line? Ooooh and you can tell this was 2019, because I’m wearing my pink Lucy & Yak pants – I loved those! I really needed to find a solution and it came in a way I hadn’t anticipated. I am a pretty rational woman and I like to do my research, so I thought my lightbulb moment would come after reading dozens of highbrow Guardian articles.

Nope. I was going through my wardrobe and chucking stuff on different piles: ‘charity shop’, ‘bin’, ‘save for another year in case you decide you look good in that’. I thought the third pile was quite silly – nothing ever makes it out of there, ever! I remembered seeing adverts for an app called Vinted, where you can buy clothes from other people and sell your own too.

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Oh my God, what a revelation this app was. You can filter down by brand, size or just style and see hundreds of items being sold by other people. I loved the concept and once I got on it, I really enjoyed chatting to other ladies about the clothes we liked and what bargains we’d found on the app. And I got to sell those things I was no longer wearing – perfect!

But the best bit about it is that this type of shopping is much more sustainable than buying new – these clothes already exist, they just need a new home! And the prices are amazing!

Once I was hooked on Vinted, I re-discovered my love of fashion and started buying things I really wanted to wear that made me feel good. That’s when I started going to charity shops again. For some reason, I just got out of the habit of going – maybe a reliance on internet shopping, or just being too busy trying to solve my environmental fashion conundrum that I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

I love charity shops! Every week there is new stock and all the old-fashioned schemes go out of the window – you don’t know if you’re buying a skirt that belonged to a 21-year-old girl or a 75-year-old granny. It doesn’t matter, if it feels good on you, then it’s right for you.

Fashion fan saves hundreds by transforming charity shop clothes into designer style outfits

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But often people who aren’t familiar with these ways of shopping think it’s more effort than it’s worth and you have to be really lucky to find something good. I want to prove that’s not the case by showing you five amazing (or at least I think they are!) outfits I bought this year, each for less than £25.

Designer outfit

LancsLive’s newsletter editor Federica Bedendo rediscovered her love of fashion thanks to Vinted and charity shops. Here she models a Desigual skirt and a top from the charity shop's sale rack © Tom Kay Photographic LancsLive’s newsletter editor Federica Bedendo rediscovered her love of fashion thanks to Vinted and charity shops. Here she models a Desigual skirt and a top from the charity shop's sale rack

I love this outfit because I think the skirt is absolutely banging and it’s from my favourite designer Desigual. Vinted has provided me with quite a few Desigual items and the ladies I bought them from have always been up for a chat about them, which I loved doing. I also sold a few of my old Desigual tops I no longer wore, but because they cost anywhere upwards of £60 full price, it would have been a real shame to leave them hanging in the wardrobe.

This wrap-around skirt with an embroidered owl is from an old collection and I can’t even find it online, which means it’s highly unlikely anyone else will turn up wearing one at the same party. It cost me £16.96 from Vinted, including delivery, and it was worth every penny.

The purple knit top you see in this outfit is lovely, with a little see-through pattern round the neckline and has three-quarter sleeves. This was on a sale rack at the Salvation Army in Workington and cost me £1! Yes, £1!! The jacket is an asymmetrical linen jacket with drawstrings on the sides and roll-up sleeves. I found this at Cancer Research UK in Workington and it cost me £6. For less than £24, I think that’s awesome.

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Sparkly dress

LancsLive’s newsletter editor Federica Bedendo rediscovered her love of fashion thanks to Vinted and charity shops. Here she models a black sparkly dress and a grey and yellow coat with geometric patterns © Tom Kay Photographic LancsLive’s newsletter editor Federica Bedendo rediscovered her love of fashion thanks to Vinted and charity shops. Here she models a black sparkly dress and a grey and yellow coat with geometric patterns

Next up is a dress I fell in love with as a perfect festive outfit. Be it Christmas or New Year, a black sparkly dress is an absolute classic and one I wasn’t going to dwell on when I spotted it in the charity shop. This whole outfit came from the Savation Army, bar the necklace, which is from Cancer Research UK.

The dress was £6. It has a boatneck, like the purple top I mentioned above – it’s a style that really suits me. The dress also has short sleeves, so I can have fun styling it with a jacket or bolero top in the cooler months. The coat is so unusual with the geometric yellow patterns on a grey background – I just love it. This was a little pricier at £15, but considering is it a winter coat and will serve me well for at least a couple of years, I think it’s worth the money. The necklace is a black and gold African-inspired necklace, which cost me £1. Again, for £22, I think I got a bargain!

Casual

LancsLive’s newsletter editor Federica Bedendo rediscovered her love of fashion thanks to Vinted and charity shops. Here she models a black maxi skirt and an orange polka dot dress © Tom Kay Photographic LancsLive’s newsletter editor Federica Bedendo rediscovered her love of fashion thanks to Vinted and charity shops. Here she models a black maxi skirt and an orange polka dot dress

The next outfit is fairly simple, but I totally love it because it’s so comfortable, yet perfectly acceptable as a going-out outfit. The black skirt came from a charity shop and I still think about the day I found it at least once a week. I’d seen a black pleated maxi skirt almost identical to the one you see in this picture and ran towards the rail – It was a St Michael’s branded skirt.

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This was the brand that M&S used to use until 2000 for its own-brand clothing and it no longer exists. I love buying things I know are either unique, rare or at least a little vintage, because it just adds to the history of the item. Sadly, the St Michael’s skirt was too small for me, but the almost identical one from a different brand that you see me wear here was right next to it, so I settled for it, despite my disappointment at not owning a piece of British history.

To be fair, it only cost me £5, so I really shouldn’t complain. The orange polka dot shirt cost me £8.10 including delivery from Vinted. I love the flattering fit of the kimono-style neckline and frilly sleeves. Again, another amazing outfit for £13.10 – you can’t go wrong!

Designer jeans

LancsLive’s newsletter editor Federica Bedendo models a pair of FatFace jeans and a linen-shirt dress © Tom Kay Photographic LancsLive’s newsletter editor Federica Bedendo models a pair of FatFace jeans and a linen-shirt dress

My next outfit came from Oxfam in Cockermouth – one of my favourite charity shops in Cumbria. Although it’s much smaller than my close-favourites (The Salvation Army and Cancer Research UK in Workington), it manages to produce some real gems. Like this pair of jeans! These are from Fat Face and were hanging right next to a pair of awesome Levi’s, which sadly were a size too small for me.

But you really can’t complain when the next best choice is a pair of Fat Face jeans - a brand I really like. The jeans are low-waist (I know, how 1998!) and tapered at the bottom, but they’re not a skinny fit, you can actually breathe and move freely when wearing them.

These set me back a whole £5.99. I’ve styled them here with a lovely linen shirt-dress I also found in Oxfam for £4.99. I love the earthy colours and the feel of the natural fabric. A casual outfit for £10.98 – not bad!

The best

LancsLive’s newsletter editor Federica Bedendo rediscovered her love of fashion thanks to Vinted and charity shops. Here she models a satin dress she acquired completely free. © Tom Kay Photographic LancsLive’s newsletter editor Federica Bedendo rediscovered her love of fashion thanks to Vinted and charity shops. Here she models a satin dress she acquired completely free.

And now to my favourite outfit I’m including in this feature and my absolute favourite way of acquiring clothes. This satin dress with golden tones and a paisley pattern is a very flattering fit because of the A-line shape of the skirt and the wrap-around high waist line.

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I feel the bee’s knees when I wear this and I love it even more because it cost me absolutely nothing. This dress came out of my best friend’s wardrobe. She wasn’t wearing it anymore and she thought it’d look good on me, so she just gifted it to me. As a kid, I always used to swap clothes with my friends, but for some reason as grown-ups it doesn’t feel like an appropriate thing to do.

Well that’s just nonsense! We all have things in our wardrobe we no longer wear, and what can be more beautiful than gifting it to a friend who will enjoy it. This cost me nothing more than the work I put into my 20-year friendship and it made both me and my friend happy, as well as saving an item of clothing from potentially ending up in landfill. An amazing outcome!

I hope this feature has inspired you to try something you may not have considered before and I truly hope you get as much joy out of second hand shopping as I do. May 2023 be a year full of banging outfits that are kinder to our planet.

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6 reasons why you should be shopping for designer fashion right now .
Explore funny T-Shirt ideas on Amazon.Cheap stores are springing up like mushrooms in every pedestrian zone. At the same time, you hear and read everywhere about the quest for sustainability, minimalism, the need for environmental and climate protection, and the current shortage of resources. So is „clothing for the moment“ always the right choice? Or … 6 reasons why you should be shopping for designer fashion right now Weiterlesen »Cheap stores are springing up like mushrooms in every pedestrian zone. At the same time, you hear and read everywhere about the quest for sustainability, minimalism, the need for environmental and climate protection, and the current shortage of resources.

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