By Alexandra Fullerton


Shoes and bags and jewellery, oh my!

Why accessories are the easiest - and most affordable - way to update your Autumn wardrobe.

woman looking at clothes in shop

How much money could I save by buying fewer clothes?

Once your basic needs of warmth and modesty are covered by your clothes, do you really need to buy more? There are enough garments on the planet to clothe the next six generations (read that sentence again…) but still we crave newness, especially as the seasons switch.

Instead of splashing out on a whole new wardrobe every six months (frankly, who has the money or wardrobe space to indulge this wholly unsustainable practise?) we suggest you look to accessories as a fast and affordable way to give your old favourites a new twist in line with winter fashion trends in 2022.

Not only is this great way to save wardrobe space - and ease fashion’s impact on the planet - but you’ll be cutting back on a large chunk of the £588 the average woman spends on their wardrobe every year. Online investment management platform Nutmeg found that just £21 of that total was spent on accessories, meaning you could save an average of £567 (if you can stick to bare-bones spending for 12 months.)

How do I layer an outfit?

But before you even start to accessorise, look to layering, a perma-trend for 2022 and beyond. Layering is a clever way to make your fashion buys go further and give a new twist to old clothing. If you’re wondering how to layer an outfit, follow these basic steps and you’ll be good to go:

  1. Bring in an array of varying textures and to give your outfit the most interest
  2. Ensure every layer works as its own outfit, so you look polished no matter how many pieces you need to remove
  3. If you’re wary, choose a neutral or monochrome palette where the colours all go together
  4. Don’t pack away your summer pieces - layering will let them work year round.
  5. When in doubt, a polo-neck always works as your go-to bottom layer

Use shoes and bags to make an outfit

If you do want to add in a few purchases to your new season wardrobe, building a selection of key accessories, in a variety of styles, means you can switch up a classic capsule wardrobe as you wish… Even a simple t-shirt and jeans can take on a whole array of moods, depending on the accessories you choose. Add cowboy boots (one of Autumn 2022’s cult purchases - find a pair on ASOS) and a suede cross-body bag for a look that shouts classic Americana. Whereas a neat top handle bag, logo leather belt and loafers will give your outfit a totally preppy twist.

It’s the same with styling the little black dress. Pair it with a nylon rucksack (see if you can find a pre-loved version from Prada at Vestiaire Collective) and trainers to tick off the athleisure trend or swap into strappy stilettos and a jewelled clutch bag (we’ve spotted the sparkliest versions at Accessorize) for a glamorous take on after-dark dressing.

Shoes and bags are a great way to add personality into your wardrobe but smaller accessories can make an even bigger impact - and even less cost.

Woman wearing shoe and matching bag

How to style a scarf

A silky scarf can be worn in a multitude of ways. You can pick them up for a couple of pounds in charity shops or if you’re looking to invest a little more, browse the selection at House of Fraser. If you do your charity shopping tactically and head to the more upscale parts of town, you might even find the odd designer donation from Liberty of London or Harvey Nichols.
  • Obviously you can tie a scarf round your neck but try twisting it along the length and wearing it as a hairband…
  • Wrap the scarf around the handles of a tote to give your bag a whole new lease of life…
  • Or thread the fabric through belt loops and wear your scarf instead of a belt in jeans, tailored trousers, or to cinch in the waist of a favourite dress…

How to style a belt

Belts are a hard-working addition to your accessory arsenal too:
  • Narrow dark belts make everything look more polished and pulled-together while tan suede gives your looks a more casual vibe.
  • Add a pop of colour or play with clashing textures with your accessories, too. Belts are the ultimate unisex accessory: good for dressing up both men’s and women’s outfits.
  • Searching in the second hand market is a great way to buy leather affordably and sustainably, and the durable nature of leather means your belt should last a lifetime!

Finishing touches: tights and sunglasses

Socks and tights are also a fast and affordable way to change up your look. Midi-dresses work with crochet tights and chunky boots to tick the grunge trend while adding a bright colour-pop sock to a pair of classic Oxfords or brogues will give your look personality. Snag tights have a rainbow of colours available and tights are a quick way to take your summer dresses and skirts into an outfit that you can wear well into winter, too.

While they might be thought of as a summer staple, sunglasses are a year round essential for men and women. As with all accessories, choose something that suits your style (as well as your face shape) whether you’re channelling a sporty aviator style, classic cats-eye glamour, or go for a modern visor vibe.



Adding some jewellery to an outfit is a great place to start if you’re getting dressed up for an evening out. Large gold or silver hoops to make a day-to-night look more glamorous and evening-appropriate while a stack of bangles or a new necklace could make as much impact than a new top, for way less money. Affordable jewellery stores like Gemondo, Bloom Boutique or TJC are a great place to start your search.

Finally, an even more affordable - and fun - way to update your outfits is with a little DIY. Head to a crafts store, like Hobbycraft, John Lewis or Myfabrics and pick up essential jewellery findings, chains, beads and fabric and wool. DIY updates work especially well for giving a new lease of life to old or broken jewellery, updating accessories that need a bit of TLC or upcycling charity shop finds. With a little imagination, your affordable haul can be turned into brand new accessories (think scarves, knitted headbands, earrings or necklaces) for a fraction of the cost of something brand new.

How to save money during the Cost of Living crisis

As the fastest way to update your new season wardrobe, for the lowest spend, accessories are definitely where it’s at this autumn. Second-hand styles are also a good option when refreshing your wardrobe on the cheap. For more ways to save money on fashion, travel, lifestyle, Christmas and more, head to our Cost of Living guide for saving tips and articles from expert journalists.