Colin Mathura-Jeffree's top tips on dressing well for less

Photo of Colin Mathura-Jeffree.
Fashion and minimalism experts share tips on how to dress well for less. Photo credit: Supplied/Carla Mitchell.

As first impressions count, it's important that what you wear speaks your language while also being kind to your wallet.

The rise of the fast fashion industry has made clothing a lot cheaper, but due to wear and tear it can cost more to replace and adds to landfill waste.

For people who don't want to spend all their dosh on getting dressed, New Zealand Fashion Week ambassador and model Colin Mathura-Jeffree and Project 333 author and minimalist Courtney Carver share their top tips on how to dress well, for less.

Give second-hand shops a second look 

Second-hand clothing stores are gaining in popularity and could be the answer to buying designer items at discount prices.

Mathura-Jeffree explains how, in his first year as New Zealand Fashion Week ambassador, he changed his outfit for every show. It wasn't until the seventh year that he accepted an offer (albeit his first offer) to wear second-hand clothing.

"Hospice approached me to [ask if I would] wear one outfit and I said, 'if you want me, I'll wear your clothes for the entire week'," he explained.

"The fashion they selected was incredible and sparked a sustainable narrative: everyone started singing. Like all dedicated followers of fashion - I love opportunity shops."

Accessorise, mix and match  

Rather than buy more clothes, accessories are often cheaper and can lift, refresh and personalise an outfit.

"I shift up my outfits by adding a flourish, such as boutonnieres and lapel flowers or scarves," Mathura-Jeffree said.

Carver recommends people try the Project 333 challenge on their existing wardrobe, choosing 33 items to wear over three months. This will help them to discover how much money, time and energy they're saving.

She also suggests "throwing out the fashion rules" and mix and match existing wardrobe items to come up with new styles. 

Stop before you shop

Before deciding to buy something new, make sure you have the wardrobe space and that what you have your eye on works with several other clothing items.

"Take inventory of what you already own and ask, 'Would I buy this again right now, does this fit my body and lifestyle and do I have something like this already?" Carver suggested.

"Then ask, 'am I purchasing because I need something or because I think buying something new will make me feel better?" she added.

Buy quality, not quantity  

Clothing can look great in the store, but before handing over your card, check it's what you want - and if it will last.

"Shopping is an investment in you. It's about quality over quantity so buy something that will last," Mathura-Jeffree said.

Cheap clothes are tempting, but may cost more in the long run. As a reformed fast fashion shopper, Mathura-Jeffree said clothes fell apart after a season.

"To look good in a moment shouldn't be at the expense of our planet… when you go to a quality store, the staff guide you… if you're shy or intimidated, just look at the mannequins!"

Buying quality clothing and keeping it in good condition means it's worn for longer, reducing the need to replace it.

"Clothes should be functional, comfortable and have a classic finish," he said. 

Support local businesses

Buying local helps the economy and as New Zealand fashion leads the industry in many ways, there are a lot of local options.

"We're a season ahead of the rest of the world," Mathura-Jeffree said.

After attending a launch with British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, as a long-time Fashion Week ambassador he reluctantly decided to "walk the talk" of supporting Kiwi brands, gifting Blumenthal his Manahan coat.

"He's worn it on his programmes and my sad heart breaks into a million pieces every time I see him in it," Mathura-Jeffree said.

Rather than follow international trends, it's important to look at what looks good on you.

"Fashion is meant to say who you are before you open your mouth, so make sure it's speaking your language."

Photo of Colin Mathura-Jeffree.
Colin Mathura-Jeffree gifted this Manahan menswear jacket to Heston Blumenthal. Photo credit: Supplied/Carla Mitchell.