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Crafting Style on a Budget: Sustainable Fashion Tips for Thrifty Artisans - By Stylist Samantha Woodbury

We are pleased to be welcoming back Samantha Woodbury, personal stylist. This is part four of four, so you will remember her last guest blogs sharing an insight into how the arts and craft industry has merged with the fashion world, tips for making a great first impression and creating a colourful wardrobe.

Today we are talking about saving money and saving the planet with thrifty fashion tips.

Gem: Hi Samantha, welcome back to the Mayinspire blog. A lot of our crafters like to be thrifty. Partly this is because it can save the pennies, but it can also be more sustainable. Do you have any tips for thrifty fashion?


Being more sustainable with fashion and being more conscious in what we buy, wear and throw away is an important part of what I do as a personal stylist. I am a real advocate of not only making the right shopping choices, and investing in pieces that you love and that will last, but also in the joy of preloved and upcycled fashion.

These days preloved style is much more the norm and there are so many places that you can shop second hand clothes now making it so much more accessible. If you are wanting to look stylish on a budget, here are my top tips:

Start with what you already have

Firstly have a look at your own wardrobe. Are there any pieces that your love, but don’t wear? Think about whether you could wear them in a different way, for example, a shirt dress worn open as a duster coat.

Could you get them adjusted to suit you better? Would that dress suit better if the hem line was slightly shorter, or if that shirt was slightly more tailored? Making the most of what you already have is a great first step.

Swap clothes

Whilst your in your wardrobe, pull out the pieces that you don’t wear, and aren’t going to wear again. Not only will this make it easier to see what you have in there, but the act of getting rid of pieces that make you feel ‘fat’ or ‘old’ will have a positive effect on your attitude towards getting dressed in the morning.

Why not have a little swap with some of your friends, or use one of the online sites such as or find groups on Facebook for swapping events in your area.

Shop second hand

If swapping isn’t your thing, there is a plethora of online second hand buying and selling sites, such as eBay, Rethread, Thrift, Vinted and Oxfam. Or use it as an excuse to go out shopping and go to the traditional charity shop, dress agency or vintage clothes shops. The key to finding a gem here, is to visit them often and check the new stock coming in.

When shopping, make sure that you check pieces for any rips, stains or repaired needed and account for this is the overall cost. If you aren’t handy with a sewing machine, then getting a new zip in an item could cost you a lot more than the actual garment itself.

Know your measurements

When shopping second hand, it is vital you know your measurements. If you know what your bust, waist, hip and inside leg measurements are, then you will be able to check these with a tape measure or by asking for the details online. There is no such thing as a standard size 12 when shopping second hand for example. Every brand is different and vintage sizes differ enormously. Making sure that you are buying things that fit you, or can be tweaked to fit you, will stop you making shopping mistakes.

Buy what you love

Just as I advise when shopping on the high street, don’t be swayed by the price tag. If it doesn’t fit, or you aren’t going to wear it, don’t buy it. This is especially true when you find a designer or aspirational brand. Unless you are into buying and trading high end designer fashion, if the piece doesn’t fit you it is just going to sit in your wardrobe cluttering up your closet and taking up space that it doesn’t deserve.

Think about location

My final tip is think about where you are shopping. If you are looking for quality, possibly designer pieces, then head to a specialised second hand online store such as or to an affluent town to visit their charity shops and dress agencies.

The same applies to shopping vintage pieces. Rural charity shops are a great place to find hidden vintage gems, as well as specialised bricks and mortar shops and online sites such as Beyond Retro.

If you are more than happy with high street fashion brands, then you can broaden your search area. Most high streets or selling sites will have treasures too, they are just a little harder to find.

Samantha Woodbury is a personal stylist based in Southampton, offering personal shopping, styling and wardrobe management services across Hampshire. Find out more about her affordable services at

Illustration for MayInspire - We run adult craft groups in Southampton


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