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Wardrobe: How to rail against the High Street prices this season

WITH winter fast approaching (since June), it’s time to get that wardrobe into gear. For most of us that means expelling the ghosts of past seasons, deciding what to add to update your look for autumn/ winter and figuring out how to afford it.

As most high-street brands looking for a pretty penny for on-trend looks, how can a girl update her wardrobe with quality pieces on a bargain budget? We could wait around for mid-season or January sales but the colder months are most definitely upon us, beckoning a new fashion perspective for a new season. How can one achieve a fresh look off the well-beaten path of the big shops and department stores?

There is a wealth of super stylish designer bargains to be found on the internet, particularly on Net-A-Porter’s sister site, TheOutNet.com. This designer outlet is the stuff of dreams featuring past season collections from brands such as Alexander Wang, Hervé Léger and J Brand, at not far off high-street prices. The trade off is that e-shopping can be an acquired taste for those who need the tangible aspect of shopping (and hate doing returns).

Thanks to the recession and the good old Irish entrepreneurial spirit a girl has more options on how to transform her wardrobe. With the hangover of the boom still lingering, wardrobes around the country are bursting with fabulous barely or never worn fashion. With trends such as military, retro, fur and bohemian reoccurring season after season, why not look to another wardrobe for your fashion update this year?

Swap events and shops have been on the rise in the past few years, with women bringing their unwanted clothes in the hope of turning another woman’s trash into her own treasure. The pieces may not be new, but they’re new to you.

One such venture is Swop Shop in Crow Street Bazaar, Temple Bar. This is an Aladdin’s cave of style described as a ‘fashion exchange boutique’. Here you can bring 5 – 10 pieces at a time including clothing, shoes, bags and accessories and trade them up for unique, on-trend and in-season items. Acceptable exchange pieces (in good condition, clean, wrinkle-free and with quintessential ‘hanger appeal’) are graded according to the shop’s discerning system, grading brand level from minimum budget high street such as A-Wear and H&M all the way up to top end designers.

Swop Shop’s credit system means that you can swap for similar level items that you brought in or use your credits to discount higher level items. Swaps can be made on the spot or at a later stage with a credit note and if you have nothing to swap you can just shop away to your heart’s content.

Have you ever looked at another woman and craved her closet? The Great Rail Sale is the event that gives you the chance to shop the wardrobe of stylish women looking to sell the hardly or never worn clothes they would never just give away.

The event promises over 100 sellers including top Irish stylists and fashion insiders selling high street, boutique, and designer brands as well as their own vintage finds. Sellers deal one-on-one with shoppers from their own rail and with no pricing guidelines - this is a veritable fashion free-market. The Great Rail Sale takes place on Sunday 25th September at the Radisson BLU Royal Hotel in Dublin city.

Vintage fashion itself has become a popular and cost-effective option for many gals looking to stand out. There is a wealth of stylish and unique clothing, fur, bags and accessories out there for those of us looking for fashion with staying power that won’t break the bank.

For a wide selection from vintage shops and dealers alike, the Vintage Fashion and Décor Fair comes to Dublin on November 13th at The Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire. With over 50 dealers from all over the country, this event promises some nostalgia-inspired retail therapy with music, makeovers and competitions. This is a chance to get your hands on one-of-a-kind pieces from bygone eras that have inspired many of this season’s hot trends; such as fur, lady handbags and costume jewellery.

If sustainability is your thing and you don’t want to part with your clothes, why not transform the clothes you no longer wear into one-off pieces. Re-Dress is an initiative that promotes better fashion practice and run a range fashion courses where you can learn to ‘upcycle’ your clothes with basic fashion design, construction and finishing skills.

Choose from Re-Dress ‘Fashion Skills Crash Course’, ‘Skirt to Shirt’, ‘Jacket >Hack It’ and ‘Embellish It’ to learn how to rid yourself of shopping forever and become the Karl Lagerfeld of your own home.

So there you have it, there is unique and interesting fashion beyond the bright lights and fixed price tags of the high street - if you are willing to think outside the box.