Getting a Designer Wardrobe Without The Price Tag

Getting a Designer Wardrobe Without The Price Tag

As a self-confessed fashion addict I love clothes. Nothing makes me happier than curating a stylish, timeless wardrobe that can be updated with on-trend details and accessories. Whilst I may be on a PhD budget I have managed to collect a few key designer pieces which should hopefully last a lifetime in my wardrobe, but without paying the full designer price tag. I thought I’d share with you some of my designer finds especially as for me, the most glamorous time of the year is Christmas when I definitely get the most wear out of my favourite pieces. However one of the most exciting times I find, is the January sales. These are my 3 rules for getting your dream designer wardrobe for less:

  1. Don’t bother with post-Christmas online sales, the best pieces for the best prices can often be found on the shop floor. The best shops to do this in Manchester are Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. Also TK Maxx Gold Label sections.
  2. Don’t hit the shops on January 2nd; the prices are still waaaay high! Yes that Balmain jacket might be 50% off but 50% off £1000+ is still probably out of your budget 🙁 instead, wait 2 or 3 weeks and then go in. By this time the shops will be desperate to get rid of their stock to bring in the summer ranges so they keep reducing the prices – hello designer pieces in budget!
  3. Finally keep in mind what your style is and what kind of pieces you would usually wear and know you will continue to wear for years to come. Don’t get distracted by frivolous pieces just because they’re a bargain – they might be cheap but think realistically about cost-per-wear. Go for pieces that will stand the test of time.


Here are some of my favourite designer pieces from my wardrobe which you’ll probably see time and time again on my Instagram.

Vivienne Westwood red dress

This gorgeous heavy cotton, draped Vivienne Westwood red pencil dress is forever one of my favourites; red is my favourite colour and I’ve long been a fan of pencil dresses as I think they suit me best. This number was a present from my sister who saw it and just knew I had to have it; she found it in Selfridges towards the end of the June sales for £40 and delighted in telling me how she fought off sales assistants who also had their eyes on it. That’s my girl 😉 The dress had a small tear in the shoulder, hence the massive reductions, but once sewn up this is invisible. Definitely pays to have a needle and selection of coloured threads in case you find any bargain seconds. This is going to be my ‘Christmas Day Dress’ this year…


Pierre Balmain Little Black Dress

This classic little black dress from iconic French fashion house Pierre Balmain (younger sister brand of Balmain) is the latest addition to my wardrobe. The Manchester TK Maxx has a designated Gold Label section; when my bf was looking at shirts I couldn’t resist a browse, especially when I noticed that many rails were labelled as reduced to clear. My heart leapt when I saw this dress, Balmain is one of my favourite designers and it had been reduced from £350 down to just £50! Although it was labelled as a size too big for me I tried it on anyway and I’m so glad I did as it fits like a glove! It was made for me 😉 goes to show, if you like something but they don’t have your size, try it on anyway, it may also be possible to alter it. This classic little black dress is my new go-to and even looks great with a shirt underneath for work. Expect Instagram pictures very soon!



Christian Louboutin Classic Black Leather Heels

Those who follow my blog will have no doubt heard me go on about my Louboutins, my pride and joy! Christian Louboutin has great reductions in the sale but only for the ‘fashion’ styles, not the classics. At the end of the summer I had saved up enough from blogging to buy my first (and probably only) pair and I was so tempted by a reduced fashion pair of mules BUT I decided to hold out and buy the classics that I’d been dreaming of. These were full price, however the store only had one pair of the classic black kid leather 100mm heels that I was after in my size; one of the shoes had a price label on the bottom which was stuck to the red leather, removal of which would peel off a bit of the red sole. As the red soles wear after first use I didn’t see too much of an issue with this and the sales assistant knocked 10% off for me. My £425 shoes came down to £380, not a huge reduction but the cheapest I would ever get a pair of brand new Louboutins and in a style that will last forever.


Karl Lagerfeld sleeveless tuxedo jacket

I love classic tailoring and often wear masculine styles paired with heels, over dresses or with distressed denim. When I first saw this sleeveless Karl Lagerfeld white tuxedo jacket I fell in love! But at £250 down from £350 in the first 2 weeks of sale in Harvey Nichols I couldn’t justify it – a week later it had come down to £150 and sizes were running low. I knew I would wear this piece for years, day or night, dressed up or dressed down so I treated myself. If you’re following me on Instagram you’ve probably seen this cropping up repeatedly in my photos, summer or winter! I’m hoping I will be able to wear it to work when I finally get a job in the real world…


Iro Paris black wool trousers

These Italian wool, classic tailored pair of tuxedo trousers from French label Iro Paris were another Harvey Nichols steal. I found them towards the very end of the summer sale reduced from £300 down to just £42! They fit beautifully with a gorgeous satin waistband and I have worn them many times since buying them. They will no doubt be a staple in my working wardrobe post-PhD, dressed up with a satin, pussybow shirt or dressed down with a slouchy white tee.


Agent Provocateur lingerie

I couldn’t write a post about my favourite designer steals without featuring my ever-growing collection of Agent Provocateur lingerie. Ooh la la 😉 This is the one time where you should ignore the ‘in person’ shopping rule and get online! Their online sales are AMAZING and often go down to 75% off! They also have 75% of flash sales throughout the year so follow them on Twitter or sign up to the mailing list to get the inside scoop. I now own 4 Agent Provocateur bras, one of which is a full set with suspender belt, briefs, thong and sexy eye mask and another which features a stunning lace waspie which is immensely intricate and weighs a ton! This waspie was the most expensive item, reduced from over £300 down to just £45 and none of the bras cost me more than £20. When I’m in need of some new underwear I often wait for the AP sales as they really do have amazing bargains!


I like to think of these pieces as the key pieces in my capsule wardrobe. I pair combinations of the above with striped tees, black jeans, a camel coat, leather jackets, oversized jumpers, silk shirts and ankle boots from the high street to create a look for any occasion which always makes me feel a million dollars. A bit of hunting and hard work can really pay off if you love your designers but haven’t made your millions yet!

Are you a serial bargain-hunter like me? I’d love to hear about your favourite designer pieces!