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The Ten Wardrobe Commandments: Update your Look for Free

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The season's changed and you need a wardrobe overhaul: summer skirts in and thick tights out. You've got a list of new fashion essentials to buy and wait with baited breath for payday - only to have your funds obliterated almost immediately by the pile-up of day-to-day bills. No treats for you this month.

Or so you thought! Why not take the opportunity to throw off the shackles of disposable fashion? Be inspired by our ten commandments of free style - if you obey them to the letter and you still look dowdy then there's really nothing for it: you have to go shopping.

1. Purify Thy Wardrobe: This is the first step towards clarity and wardrobe fulfillment. Put winter clothes away and take the opportunity to throw away stuff you haven't worn in aeons. Chucking clothes when you want a new look might seem counter intuitive but getting rid of the clutter will make you see with fresh eyes what you have got. Saving clothes you never wear aren't helping your savings in the long run.

2. Do It Thyself: Look online for DIY suggestions on updating your wardrobe using the material you have to hand. Find thousands of ways to make new headbands, jewellery, or restyle old skirts and embellish bland jackets with buttons, ribbons and swatches of bright colour. With a needle, a thread and some detailed instructions you don't have to leave the house to get a whole new wardrobe.

3. Honour Thy Mother: And her clothes. Retro is now! Designers across the board are taking inspiration from years gone by, from shoulder pads in the '80s to the sharp tailoring and tight ringlets of the '30s. Dig for victory in your older relatives' wardrobes: look for silk blouses, lace-trimmed scarves and chunky jewellery. Why not hunt through some male closets, too? Baggy shirts can always be belted and worn as dresses.

4. Gild thy image:
You know the scarlet lipstick you bought for your vampire costume, Halloween '08? Dig it out of the fancy dress drawer and dust off the fluff. Bright, bold lips are no longer just the preserve of movie stars and glamour pusses - they're a smart to smart/casual statement that lifts a look from dull to daring. Same goes for your fingers and toes: whatever the colour, make sure it's not too close a match to your clothes - clashing shades are up-to-the-minute cool.

5. Covet Freebies:
In-store counters often give you the opportunity to have a free makeup trial - if you know you're going out in the evening, why not pop in and get your makeup done for you in the afternoon? Likewise, magazines often give out monthly free samples - if you're a regular buyer, switch your allegiance depending on what's on offer. You might find different style tips and fashions than in your usual rag, too - find inspiration for new clothing combinations.

6. Thou Shall Not Steal: ...But thou may certainly swap. Set up a freecyle or swapshop party and bring your old (but still wearable) clothes - you might not want your bright pink Capri pants any more but someone else might be able to work them. No need to touch your savings account when your clothing is currency - barter, exchange and leave with an entirely new free outfit!

7. Feed Well Upon the Land:
It doesn't cost anything to eat healthily and it makes your skin and eyes brighter, your hair glossier- if you're in the peak of health, you'll look good in anything. Try making facepacks in your kitchen with ingredients you have to hand - oats are a great for exfoliating, egg yolk moisturises and yoghurt refines pores.

8. Don't Scrimp on the Crimp:
We live in straightened times but it's no excuse to stop straightening your hair; hairstyles can make or break an outfit, just ask Britney Spears. Challenge yourself to have a different hairstyle each day, looking online and in magazines for inspiration. If you've got long hair, plait it and twist it - if you've got short hair, bob it, curl it and spike it.

9. Mixeth It Up A Bit: Free your mind from the limiting idea that dresses are for the body and scarves for the neck- they're all just fabric in which to swathe your body. Remember the famous photo of Madonna wearing a pair of men's boxers as a hat? She looked fabulous. Maybe don't go that far - but try using long shirts wrapped round the waist to make a skirt or wear a t-shirt as a shrug. Silk scarves are very versatile: use them as a belt or wrap them around your head for a fashionable turban.

10. Plan: Have a dress up day where you try on everything you own with everything else. You might no think that your grey t-shirt goes with your polka-dot pumps but you'd be surprised; it's easy to get in a rut of wearing the same outfits over and over, so layer and mix casual gear with smart. Before you dismiss a combination, ask yourself whether it just looks wrong because you're not used to it - smile, do your hair in a few different ways, and check in the mirror again.

Image via Domestic Fashionista

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