January is a key month for updating your wardrobe, especially now that the January sales often kick off in December! It’s the best time to pick up bargains and make your budget go further, yet it’s all too easy to come home from a day’s shopping with a bunch of stuff you’ll never wear.

The key is to avoid one season novelties and difficult colours and look for investment pieces that will become core wardrobe staples for years to come. It’s not about fast fashion or coming home with so many bags of bargains that you can barely get in the front door, but rather about spending wisely. It’s about buying great quality fabrics and tailoring at a more wallet-friendly price point than usual. Take the opportunity that the sale season offers to head a bit more upmarket for key pieces like suits, workwear and outerwear without spending more. January offers the best opportunity to add a designer label or two to your wardrobe and splash out on something special.

Start with a wardrobe audit a few days before you go shopping. This will help you identify gaps and also have a bit of a clear out. Drag everything out of the wardrobe and separate it into three piles – clothes to keep, clothes that need to be mended or altered, and clothes that need to go. Be harsh. If you haven’t worn it in a couple of years, if it doesn’t fit or doesn’t suit you, then it needs to go to a charity shop or a clothing bank. Faded t-shirts, shirts that don’t flatter, knitwear that makes you look like your grandad, sad, saggy underpants and holey socks – be ruthless. It needs to go.

Look over your new streamlined wardrobe and make a note of what’s missing. Do you need to add to your casual clothes or your work wardrobe? Are there predominant colour schemes? What about new shoes or boots? Is there anything you’d like but you don’t have? Now’s the time to indulge and update your look. Make a list of what you need and try to colour-co-ordinate your new buys to get the most from them.

If you really hate shopping, you can always do your sales shopping online with retailers like Jacomo, but trying things on can often lead to new discoveries, especially when each shop seems to have its own notion of sizing. Shopping early or late in the day can
be less crowded.

Look for styles that will easily transition from one season to the next. Trousers and jeans will remain narrower in the legs in 2019 and it’s difficult to go wrong with black, grey or darker denim. For suits, try Boss or T.M. Lewin for classical modernity with sharp tailoring, or Designers at Debenhams, M&S and John Lewis for quality at high street prices. It’s a good time to buy classics like dinner suits, kilt outfits and velvet evening jackets if you can pull off a lounge lizard look. Independents like Signature, Kafka and Slaters will all have sales that make desirable labels more affordable and can be especially useful for special occasion clothing. M&S can be particularly good for basics like socks and underwear at this time of year and often has bargains in shirts, plain cotton t-shirts and lambswool or cashmere jumpers. On the casual front, Next offers a mixed bag, while FatFace, Hollister and Superdry are pitched more towards the younger end of the market. Don’t forget Tiso, Cotswold Outdoor or Millets for cut-price winter jackets and casual fleeces.

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