Style on a shoestring


How to get kitted out on a budget

ANNA COSGRAVE:Cosgrave, who is from Wicklow, is a second-year student of sociology and geography at Trinity College who leads a demanding and hectic social life. She’s vice-president of the Philosophical Society and runs Electric Relaxation, a mini festival with bands, music and DJs, once a month in the Bernard Shaw. She was also involved in the Dublin Web Summit and is organising the Dublin Fashion Forum.

“I adore everything about clothes and I’ve a really good collection,” she says, her eyes bright with enthusiasm. She’s dressed in a blue fur collar from Oxfam, a black floppy hat, bought for €10 in a car boot sale (“I love hats”), shirt with pussy bow from Om Diva and brogues from MS, with a tight black skirt from Topshop and a bag from Penneys.

“I love good fabrics and coming from a farming background I appreciate things that are not synthetic – they last a long time. My mum gave me a Kenzo jacket she bought in Paris for my l8th, which I still wear. I don’t impulse buy or spend on things that have no value. I like boutiques and Irish designers – it comes back to craft and I appreciate that.”

People hand in really good clothes to charity shops, she has discovered. “The high street has already chosen for you – it’s a commercial battering – whereas when you go to a charity shop you don’t know what you’ll find. My most expensive purchase was an Amanda Wakeley dress for my debs, which I will wear again and again and eventually give to a daughter.

“I am two different people really – I love black and have a black cashmere sweater bought for €3 but I also I like nice patterns and prints and texture.” Her favourite haunts are Freedom Vintage on Crow Street; Dolls, though she says she can’t afford it; Wild Child; and Eager Beaver in Temple Bar. “In my spare time I am always on the go. I am always online on sites like Vogue and Elle.”

She is going to New York in the summer, after that she’s doing a stint with Nylon magazine and has loads of plans in the offing. “I want to do all sorts of things – branding, broadcasting and forum building.”

KYLE CHELDON BARNETT:Barnett, a third-year student of visual communications in IADT in Dún Laoghaire, is originally from South Africa. He wants to get into textile printing when he finishes college. “To be honest, I want to design patterns all day,” he says.

He is precise about likes and dislikes in fashion, and is a committed minimalist when it comes to dressing. The marine green silk shirt he is wearing (€25) and the high-waisted trousers (part of a suit) were both from Wild Child. He’s wearing them with John White brogues and no socks. “I love sexy ankles, though I do wear socks. I love anything from the 1950s, which I think was the essence of minimalism in clothing.”

He buys in secondhand shops on Camden Street and heads to Dunnes for maternity wear – “for jackets, oversize shirts and loose-fit trousers – also HM and Zara do beautiful maternity wear”.

He avoids hairdressing costs by doing his hair himself, and his tailored “extreme undercut” hairstyle inspired by the l950s is ingeniously fixed with clay to give it structure and polished with olive oil.

“I spend a lot of money on clothes and I always find a way to buy something if I really want it,” he says. A recent bargain was an oversize Celine cape bought for €45, but his most treasured possession is a YSL carrier from BTs, which originally cost €2,000 but which he picked up for €250.

“It’s a piece of art in rich chocolate suede,” he sighs. Accessories include a pair of tortoiseshell glasses bought in Dubai, where his parents live. “I always find a way to incorporate some feminine element into what I wear. I think my style is about finding a balance between masculine and feminine and androgyny plays a big role in what I wear.”

SEAMUS BEIRNE:Beirne, a second-year science student in TCD, has a sure eye when it comes to spotting a quality buy at a bargain price, a trait he inherited from his mother Clare and grandmother Binkie – “charity shop fiends” – he says. “I don’t have a massive budget, so I shop mainly in charity shops and a lot of the best stuff is in Dún Laoghaire, where I live – the shops in town are more savvy about prices.” Two of his favourite haunts there are Age Action and the Cancer Society. “I will always find something,” he says.

He’s wearing a black-and-white gingham shirt by YSL, bought for €2, a pair of Topshop jeans (€5.50), a velvet jacket from Camden Town market (£5), and the satchel (£35) came from the same place – he got a friend to make the strap. The braces were bought in Retro Man in Notting Hill for £15.

“I like very waisted trousers, over which I’ll wear a long Pringle jumper that I got for €6. A Nick Faldo jumper was just another of his many finds in Age Action. His shoes are from TK Maxx in Carrickmines, “where they have great stuff”, he says. One of his best buys was a Barbour jacket in top condition for €30, which he found on Camden Street.

“I went to a 21st on Saturday and it was a Mad Men theme, so I wore a yellow shirt for €3, these Topshop jeans and the braces – the most expensive item was a black with blue polka-dots dickie-bow, bought new for €20 in Frewen and Aylward.”

JULIE FLYNN:A final-year student of printed textile design at NCAD, Flynn, who is from Rathfarnham, can spot good quality fabrics the instant she sees them. Her printed silk blouse was bought in a car boot sale in Nice for €2 and the block-printed, high-waisted Classic Woman brand trousers cost €8 from Oxfam.

“I’m a spontaneous shopper and stumble upon things when I have a bit of money,” she says. “A favourite shop is Casa on Capel Street, which is amazing for coats – I got a wool and cashmere coat there for €16.” She also likes New Vintage in Temple Bar.

“I try not to shop in Penneys – I don’t want to feed fast fashion and recycling is not only better but it can also help to define individual style,” she says.

“My style is kind of romantic. I don’t dress in a modern way, but it’s kind of nostalgic. People are becoming more aware of ethical issues, so more careful decision-making is coming back. I like Topshop and there are nice things there, but I think it’s overpriced and that annoys me. Zara is good for pattern and shapes and I like their colour palette.

“If I had money to spend I’d buy Chloe, Mary Katrantzou, Miu Miu or Helmut Lang. In the meantime, I’m settling for charity shops, but it is fun because you never know what you will find.”

CLIODHNA MELDON:Meldon is a first-year NCAD student from Dublin interested in visual communications. She can make her own clothes, a skill inherited from her mother Monica who made all her clothes as a child and whose red cable-knit sweater is one of Meldon’s favourite possessions . “I used to make clothes for my dolls and was always really creative. I love fashion, but never wanted to study it. I don’t do a lot of shopping, but tend to save more and have a lot of vintage and secondhand pieces.”

Her tweed jacket was picked up in a vintage store in Paris for €50, the bicycle print T-shirt is from Urban Outfitters, and the black-and-white polka-dot skirt was also picked up in Paris for €4. The boots cost €85 from Schuh.

“Dublin is good for secondhand, but I think it tends to be overpriced and even in Oxfam and Wild Child I only see the odd thing I like. Nine Crow Street in Temple Bar is good. In New York on a field trip I got a black-and-white Banana Republic skirt for $13. The most expensive thing I ever bought was a pair of boots from Topshop costing €114. I don’t spend a lot. I try not to be the cliched artist type, but I like to look different. I don’t really dress from the high street and I don’t follow trends.”

ISEULT TIMMONS WARD:Timmons Ward is a final-year student of film studies and Irish at Trinity College, and is from Dublin. She has always been interested in fashion and is a part-time model with the Morgan Agency. “I get paid so sporadically – it’s usually not until three months after a job, so when I have time to shop is when I have the least money, and three months later when I am working I have money but no time.”

She’s wearing a silk blouse from Zara and high-waisted polka-dot shorts from Penneys, with black leather boots from Oasis. Her necklace features a silver key, a present from her oldest brother for her 21st, and a silver moustache from the November campaign, another gift.

“I’m a high-street shopper basically, but for a pair of boots or a dress, maybe somewhere else. A favourite online site is and Free P Star in Paris, near the Pompidou Centre is, she confides, a “secondhand clothing treasure trove” where she got a navy blazer for €16. Another favourite buy is a black fake fur coat bought in TK Maxx for €40, “which keeps me really warm and was especially good at Christmas – you can just throw it over a party dress”.