The key items to buy to elevate your wardrobe on a budget

15 September 2023

There’s this preconception that you need to spend a fortune to overhaul your wardrobe every season, but that’s not the case. Just by investing in a handful of key products, you can instantly update your look for autumn/winter 23 and beyond, without breaking the bank. It’s all about choosing quality items like a black coat and pleated dress that will be durable and transcend the seasons. Here’s what to add to your shopping basket on Oxford Street right now if you’re on a budget.


The black coat

Hero product: Tailored single breasted coat (£69), M&S

Outerwear trends come and go, but the one that will never go out of style is the black coat. The good news is you don’t need to spend a fortune for it to look premium either. One trick that always works is to buy a size up for that chic oversized look, and to get a belted style that you can wear cinched-in or not depending on the current mood. This season is all about long silhouettes and strong shoulders, though a midi length is a timeless investment.

Shop the look: River Island, Stradivarius, Uniqlo


The clutch bag

Hero product: Satin pleat wrist pouch (£25), John Lewis

Much like Beyonce, the clutch bag is having a renaissance, and there’s no better accessory to instantly update your outfit, whether you’re going to a wedding or having drinks after work. Romantic details like bows and metallics are big news right now, so if you’re looking for a trend-led design, that’s a good place to start. However if you want something a bit more timeless, go for a slouchy, slightly oversized leather clutch.

Shop the look: H&M, Accessorize, Mango


The high boots

Hero product: Knee high boots (£54.99), H&M

The reign of the ankle boot is over. It’s time to store away shorter styles for the foreseeable (don’t worry, they will come back in fashion, so do keep hold of them) in favour of taller ones. Think they aren’t for you? There are options to suit all tastes, from western-inspired to 90s square toes and pointed toes. It’s worth investing in real leather and suede for their durability, and luckily there are plenty of affordable styles on Oxford Street.

Shop the look: Office, Mango, Clarks


The denim skirt

Hero product:  Flared denim skirt (£44.99), H&M

Nothing says early 00s girl band like the denim skirt, and this hint of nostalgia is just what we need right now. The denim skirt has had a bit of a makeover this time round though. We’re looking at maxi lengths rather than short, with a full skirt here and a strategically-placed slit there. Team yours with an oversized denim jacket for an updated take on Britney’s 2001 American Music Awards look. Definitely forget about the denim hat though.

Shop the look: ZaraPrimark, Urban Outfitters


The leather trousers

Hero product: Leather effect trousers (£45.99), Mango

As with denim, leather is having a moment right now, with all items of clothing decked in the fabric for autumn/winter. But if you’re looking to update your wardrobe with just the one item, make it the leather trousers as they’re much more versatile. While real leather trousers can be a bit pricey, there are plenty of more affordable faux-leather options on the high street right now. The fabric has come a long way in both look and quality so you won’t even be able to tell the difference.

Shop the look: John Lewis, French Connection at John Lewis, River Island


The scarf

Hero product: Tartan scarf (£29.95), United Colours of Benetton

It may not sound like the most exciting of accessories, but the scarf is a quick and easy way to update any item, from a dress to a coat. There are plenty of different styles to choose from: sporty puffers, chunky knits, heritage tartans and bold colours. Style note: it always looks effortless when you match your scarf to the rest of your outfit.

Shop the look: Burton, Uniqlo, TK Maxx


The preppy shirt

Hero product: Shirt with tie (£35.99), Reserved

Whether you’re calling it back to work or back to school, business attire is back on the agenda after many seasons of embracing all things casual. The preppy shirt is the easiest way to embrace this, as you can dress it up with tailored trousers or a pencil skirt, and down with wide leg jeans. If you want something a bit trend-led for AW23, there are plenty of styles that include removable ties.

Shop the look: Mango, Reiss, Next


The pleated dress

Hero product: Pleated midi dress (£49.50), M&S

The pleated dress never really goes out of fashion, however it helps that designers are putting it back on the sartorial map for autumn. It’s here to make a statement, re-imagined in sheer lace, metallics, floral and animal prints, and even tartan to add a rebel touch to a usually severe item of clothing.

Shop the look: M&S, River Island, Zara, Warehouse


We hope there’s a little something in here for every budget, and the beauty of these is that you can mix and match them together and with your existing wardrobe to create a plethora of fresh new outfits. If you need more inspiration, shop the top autumn/winter trends here.