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Looking polished on a low income. How?

(158 Posts)
ghostmous3 Thu 20-Aug-20 08:53:56

I read with interest the thread on looking wealthy and polished and i dont think it's something I'll ever be able to achieve on minimum wage 🤣

Is it however something you can achieve on a much lower wage. I dont particularly want to look wealthy so much just polished and as I can only afford to shop high street and I'm really thinking primark, TU, Asda sainsbos new look and the like.

I'm 43 now and after all my life being obese and in horrible relationships I'm finally down to my target weight of 11.5 stone and I'm five foot 7 and I also look after my eyebrows these days, something i never did. You could see my eyebrows coming round the corner first they were that bushy 😄

My hair is home dyed, it's very dark purple and its boob length and I love it but it does need a cut I think.

So is it possible to look half decent and polished on a low income and wearing stuff from the high street?

OP’s posts: |
Bobbybobbins Thu 20-Aug-20 08:57:43

Well done for all your success! 👏

Couple of things I would suggest:
choose clothes that are well cut and flattering - I often go for a size up in supermarket clothes so they skim. There are lots of good items in these shops but it does mean digging.

Work out what suits you in terms of colour and style. I know that pale pink does nothing for me and spaghetti strap tops are no good any more so I avoid them.

ghostmous3 Thu 20-Aug-20 09:05:08

Yes the spaghetti straps are a no no for me as well these days.

Primark are notorious for being terrible for sizing. I cant wear thier jean's for example, cant even get them o even if I go 2 sizes up

I do love green and it does suit me. I like well fitting tops and I have an aversion to floaty and frilly tops and dresses. I think it's because I spent years in these trying to hide my body and I dont want to wear these again

OP’s posts: |
70isaLimitNotaTarget Thu 20-Aug-20 09:10:08

You've made some great progress already .

I agree on the eyebrows they make such a difference ( mine are the opposite of yours , they are rubbish but I've been using a brow serum since May and I am really impressed with them.....might even have them threaded . I have vowed not to raise a Tweezerman to them in haste )

Underwear - I buy bras from Primark . Great value , I wear a fresh one each day so I like to have at least 10 on the go . I need good shoulderstraps and not too much padding . Worth a look
Knickers are M&S cotton in nude . Basic but functional

Patterns always show their price . So if you're looking at budget ranges (and I really like Sainsbury for clothes ) stripes and checks often don't line up well .

Drink loads of water -really helps skin

Do you have a skincare routine or do you want to add some products to tweak. Superdrug and The Ordinary have some good No-Nonsense products (though I'm struggling to find The Ordinary in store or online )

Treat yourself .
I buy a 1 litre of Aveda Shampure . OK it's £45-£50 but it lasts a year and it is the best for my hair .
And Molton Brown shower gel . Makes life a bit nicer

coronabeer23 Thu 20-Aug-20 09:14:33

Well done on your weight loss. I think you can definitely look polished on a budget. I don’t spend a fortune on clothes at all and I think I look pretty polished. Your hair sounds great but make sure it’s nicely trimmed.

Make up - revolution is a great budget brand. A good bb / cc cream and some blusher and mascara

Clothes - go simple, plain colours good cut and I like to make them a bit more interesting.

Jeans: black blue and grey -£19.50 M&S straight these work with anything. I have belts too. I go for stretch and fabric as I don’t do fake leather

Tops: plain well cut tops. Uniqlo are great for this. Also Primark and H&M but size up and just tuck in the front

Blouses: I buy these almost completely from H&M and mostly online. They have amazing sales. Even the non sale tend to be a good price. Currently I am into frills and puffy sleeves and a print with plain bottoms

Plain white trainers. They don’t need to be branded just clean - primark / M&S / H&M

Fine knits. Again Zara / H&M size up

I do love cashmere and save to buy it in the sale - alternatively merino wool and marks and Spencer cashmillon is good.

Bags - if you can’t stretch to leather then go for a totally different material. You can buy leather online at good prices. Look on places like Etsy also TK Maxx is good. I tend to go for grey as it works with all colours of you can only buy 1 bag

Jewellery / delicate but I go for lots. A few different length necklaces layered together, an armful of layered bracelets

Nails - short and painted - the Rimmel quick dry ones are amazing

Honestly, if your hair is done, I always blowdry properly then the rest will follow

Shoefleur Thu 20-Aug-20 09:14:33

You’re never going to look polished in supermarket clothes. Much better to buy second hand on eBay or Vinted. You’ll look a million times better in a good quality outfit from jigsaw/cos etc and if you’re sensible about setting spending limits, it’ll be cheaper than supermarket stuff too. I’ve just bought a beautiful, seemingly unworn blazer from Hobbs for £3.50, for example. I don’t have an innate sense of style so tend to stick to classic cuts/styles but there’s loads out there and it has the added benefit of being better for the environment. I often get comments on my ‘lovely clothes’ and how I must spend a fortune but often my whole outfit has cost less than £20!

MrsHuntGeneNotJeremyObviously Thu 20-Aug-20 09:15:15

I would probably buy dark, block colours from a supermarket. The trouble with florals/prints is that cheap clothes don't always match up the pattern at the seams, so they won't look polished. It's easier to achieve if you stick to simple designs and no random frills/details.

coronabeer23 Thu 20-Aug-20 09:18:07

To add. Look at the cut, material and hang of everything. I’ve some fantastic pieces which look very expensive but aren’t and it’s all because they are cut so well. Personally I think that the best of the supermarkets is Tesco. They often use some really good fabrics.

Deathraystare Thu 20-Aug-20 10:36:21

Underwear - I buy bras from Primark 70isaLimitNotaTarget

I am very surprised but you know those 'comfort' bras that are all around? The ones you pull over your head? Well most cut into my flesh and rub me badly (some took chunks out of my flesh and also give the 'bolster' effect - not flattering!

However, the Primark ones (I think in packs of 2) are brilliant. I am busty (40E) but can wear them in comfort under anything! A godsend in the heat when I cannot even put on my normal bras!!!

Deathraystare Thu 20-Aug-20 10:37:42

I realise that is nothing to do with being polished but just the comfort in the heat!

ghostmous3 Thu 20-Aug-20 10:39:19

I think with supermarket clothes I can go in and have a look in the flesh and then take stuff back if it doesn't look right on me. I do have a weird body shape and I'm very long waisted as well so normal stuff doesn't fit me properly I've found

I think if you did see me 3 years ago and how awful I looked and I mean shuffling around town in dirty loose tracksuit bottoms with holes in and crappy trainers and baggy jumpers and very overweight with greasy hair I think that wearing supermarket clothes and looking clean and tidy would be a massive improvement grin

Thankfully I'm not in that position anymore. My abusive cocklodging ex is long gone and I just want to look half decent now. I'm not that interested in brands tbh although I do have a weakness for walking and outdoor stuff as dp and me are hikers so I've got some decent brands there

OP’s posts: |
ghostmous3 Thu 20-Aug-20 10:41:54

I like primark bras as well, I need to get some more that reminds me

OP’s posts: |
Thecobwebsarewinning Thu 20-Aug-20 11:56:03

I completely disagree with anyone saying you can’t look polished in supermarket clothes. I have clothes from a wide price range so dresses that cost £200 in a boutique sale and some that cost £8 on Amazon. I’ve even had suits and dresses designed and custom made at huge expense. Obviously those ones looked great but so they should because the one thing that makes a garment is the fit. A £200 dress might be cut all wrong for your body shape and the £10 one might fit perfectly. You have to try them to see.

So to look polished I would recommend sticking with the eyebrows. They make such a difference. Have some layers cut into your hair and keep it blow dried and glossy. Keep your nails trimmed and shiny, buff them if you don’t like varnish. And most of all, make sure your clothes fit perfectly. It’s better to buy inexpensive stuff and have it altered to fit than expensive stuff that doesn’t sit right on you.

purpledagger Thu 20-Aug-20 12:18:33

Spend time find out how to best dress for your body shape. There are lots of resources online. It makes shopping so much easier - I can shop online as I know whether something is likely to suit me.

I'm not knocking supermarket clothes, but it's worth waiting for sales in shops which are slightly out of your price range and seeing if you can grab any bargains.

Focus on good quality materials, cut and fit. Aim for clothes which look like they were made to fit you.

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 20-Aug-20 12:31:21

Natural colours. Neutral colours are easier to get right than very bright brash ones.

Browns, beiges, Taupes, caramels, greys, creams, whites, denim, blush pinks, are all quite sophisticated.

I saw a woman in the queue at Aldi who was very well groomed, to within an inch of her life. There wasn’t a hair out of place but it was dyed almost black against make up that was too bright & harsh. The eye liner was too thick & too black against her blue eyes, the blusher too heavy, the lips too pink.

If she’d had natural hair colour and softer make up it would have looked better. She still looked amazing though.

WhereAreWeNow Thu 20-Aug-20 13:41:24

I don't know if I'm qualified to answer OP as I'm sure I look anything but polished right now but I'm pretty sure the answer isn't in buying more stuff. I think buying less stuff but trying to get decently made stuff (not necessarily super expensive designer stuff, just well made classics that don't fall apart after one wash) in sales etc is a good start. As others have mentioned, get things that suit your shape, style, lifestyle etc.

I think the things that make people look polished (and why I don't look polished) are little things like ironing clothes (something I never do blush), polishing shoes, getting a low maintenance hair cut that suits you, etc. My hair is wild and my clothes are always crumpled. I'm hopeless grin.

Well done on your weight loss and getting out of bad relationship flowers

Rebelwithallthecause Thu 20-Aug-20 13:43:57

Polished to me is simplicity

Easy to achieve on a budget.

Clean, shiny hair that’s brushed and not full of split ends
Simple make up - clear skin helps to not need too much
Simple plain jewellery
Non patterned clothes.
Clean shoes
No clothes with stains or holes.
Ironed cotton.
No visible brands.
Leather brown or nude bag.

PerditaProvokesEnmity Thu 20-Aug-20 13:55:36

How much could you manage to save if you bought no clothes for, say, three months?

Because (while there are lots of other, equally good styles of dressing) if you're insisting on polish you're going to need one or two slightly more expensive items. I don't mean more expensive because "designer" but thick, natural fabrics and slightly less mass produced cutting than supermarkets can manage.

Someone has already suggested secondhand/eBay stuff. (Don't know about you but I wouldn't be keen to revisit my student wardrobe ...)

Alternatively you need to keep your eye on the sales at places you could afford at a stretch, much reduced. Do this via Internet for a much wider choice and consequent better quality.

If you have a knowledgeable eye and time and patience then T K Maxx should be your best friend. Being immoderately blessed with all three qualities (grin) I have found some staggering bargains there. Just ignore the tat.

Might anyone offer you a birthday/Christmas present of a particularly lovely thing? A beautiful cashmere beanie or some Very Good Boots? Honestly, no one needs to dress head to toe in pure megabucks to look stylish - but it helps if one or two things in your wardrobe are truly fabulous and can be worn time and time again.

byvirtue Thu 20-Aug-20 14:17:14

There have been some great tips. I would add check out sales at the moment, prices are really low, the Mango sale is insane at the moment, lovely winter coats down from £70 to £20, tops £10, dresses £15 excellent value.

I would look at slowly building a capsule wardrobe, google elegant capsule wardrobe it will give you 30 ish pieces to buy and then you can slowly build it up over time.

QVC is a great place to buy full makeup collections on their TSVs. You can often buy a full face for under £50 (Tarte recently did one) they show you how to apply it. Best of all you can try it and return it If you don’t like it or it doesn’t suit you.

TheSecondMrsAshwell Thu 20-Aug-20 14:20:42

Yes, you can look polished in supermarket clothes - I love it when people say they like something I'm wearing and I say it's from Sainsbury's or Tesco. As PPs have said, choose the right sized clothes in the the right style. If you have to go up a size to get the right fit, go up.

But make sure everything is clean and relatively wrinkle free. Get some of those shoe sponges from the pound shop and give your shoes the once over, or a wipe with a damp cloth.

Someties it's as simple as changing the buttons. I always change the buttons on a linen type jacket for pearl buttons - looks classy and suddenly the jacket looks expensive. Or at least "different buttons." Odd thing like that turn up in charity shops, always worth a rummage and not just for clothes.

Wear fussy jewellery with plain clothes - think of the clothing as the setting for your jewellery. I have a set of 3 long chunky wooden bead necklaces in pinks and purples that I wear with a plain black dress or top (made from packs of beads from Tiger, cost £3 in all). Fussy clothes should mean little or no jewellery. Look for jewellery in places like Top shop. I once complimented a woman on her beautiful jade ring. It wasn't. It was a ceramic painted to look like jade, £5 in Top Shop.

TK Maxx is the business for clothes, I always come out with something. There's amazing stuff in charity shops and if you have a market, have a look there - there's a stall in mine that does leftover stock from big shops. Admittedly the clothes are a season behind, but as 3 seasons in Britain are much the same.....

silentpool Thu 20-Aug-20 14:28:53

In addition to the other tips... Dye your eyelashes and eyebrows at home. It definitely makes you look more done.

Learn to do your hair colour properly at home. I bought a mixing bowl, sectioning clips etc from Sally Beauty and bought professional hair colour. It has saved me a fortune during lockdown.

Regular face masks - you can buy clay powder and mix up your masks with water and it is far cheaper than buying pre-made ones (and no nasties in there)

Ironing clothes and polishing shoes

I agree that fit is very important with clothes. But a small adjustment here or there can make a huge difference. I take things to my local dry cleaners and they take up hems or adjust necklines etc.

Other than that, I buy good quality clothes on sale.

MrsHuntGeneNotJeremyObviously Thu 20-Aug-20 14:46:46

I thought of another one - if you can get a nice coat, it raises the level of everything else and hides anything which is a bit scruffy.

Nat6999 Thu 20-Aug-20 14:49:40

If you can afford Sainsburys clothes, I would buy basics from Next which are virtually the same price, their tops are lovely & maybe a couple of pairs of trousers as well, look out for their sales, you can often get stuff at less than half price, their shoes & boots are OK but only buy the leather ones. For bras, look at Brastop, you can get discounts on branded underwear & swimwear. For skincare & makeup I would buy Boots No7, there are always 3 for 2 offers on & free gifts, it is good quality & packaged well, I used to buy Clinique but have found No7 just as good & with a wider range of colours & shades, collect Boots points to treat yourself to higher end stuff for a treat. Look in second hand designer shops for handbags, only buy leather or on Ebay, I have bought very good fake copies of Louis Vuitton, Chanel & Mulberry, all in leather & got authentic Radley messenger bags from Ebay. Look in Tk Maxx for shampoo & hair products or B & M often sell salon size Tigi shampoos & conditioners & styling products.

MikeUniformMike Thu 20-Aug-20 16:05:35

Don't waste money on shampoo and showergel but buy ones that are nice enough. Lidl and Aldi are great for that sort of stuff, as are Superdrug and Boots. Body Shop is nice for treats.

Supermarket clothes aren't that great. Primark is ok for some things like tights. Their knickers don't last.

Charity shops are great but be careful what you buy. It is easy to end up with lots of separates that don't make outfits.
They are brilliant for jeans - I have found Levi's, Diesel, 7 for all Mankind, Gap, Fatface and haven't paid more than £3 for them. One of the 7fam jeans was in a 'fill a carrier bag for £1' purchase.

Generally, nice areas mean nicer donations, but try a local hospice type shop as opposed to the well known charities.

Charity shops in rough towns tend to be outlet ones, and sometimes are everything £3 or less. You will need to rummage but these will sometimes have high end high street clothes like Hobbs, Mint Velvet, Phase 8, Boden and so on.

You can get nice clothes in high street shops but avoid things like patterns.

Wear clean clothes with no rips (not even MM could get away with it) or missing buttons.
Don't wear athleisure unless you do a lot of exercise.
Don't wear big logos or slogans.
Wear nice shoes that are clean and comfortable, and reasonably stylish.
Buy less but buy better.
Have one good coat that is waterproof. Uniqlo is good. Pick a neutral colour. Black nylon tends to look cheap, navy less so.

Have clean shiny hair and clear skin. Get a haircut that doesn't need a trim every 6 weeks.

Make-up does not need to be expensive. Nails look best filed neatly with a clear nailvarnish.

PerditaProvokesEnmity Thu 20-Aug-20 16:45:41

I have bought very good fake copies of Louis Vuitton, Chanel & Mulberry,

Sorry - but in my world "fake" and "stylish" simply don't exist in the same space. It is theft of creative output, and exploitation of cheap or even slave labour. Polish or stylishness has to begin with one's character surely?

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