width=286As the world tightens its belts and wallets stay firmly closed, people can be relieved that fashion can still be affordable in tough times, leading New Zealand stylist Stephanie Rumble says.

The credit crunch has arrived but life can still go on in style. Christchurch's Stephanie Rumble of Flair Image (www.flairimage.co.nz) believes that dressing smartly and presenting well, can make a big difference in meeting people, in getting a job, in improving a job situation and feeling good about one's self.

Rumble won the overall prize for the best dressed woman at the New Zealand Cup Week races at Addington in Christchurch three years ago. She now runs her own style company Flair Image to help other women dress in style.

The savviest shoppers are re-evaluating their spending strategies as the costs of groceries and consumables creep ever upwards, remarks Rumble.

Dresses and handbags that cost thousands of dollars are now more out of reach for most people, than they ever were. But there are opportunities and ways to keep up with the fashion.

Many of New Zealand's top designers are producing ranges that have a more economical sidekick like Trelise Cooper's ‘Cooper' label.

Cash is tight but planning is king. I know women can purchase an entire, new winter wardrobe for as little as $700,'' Rumble said.

Firstly, spend big but wisely. Spend your money on the key quality items that you will need for the season, a pair of knee high boots, trousers, a fabulous, richly coloured winter coat. These three items alone will have you shrugging off the winter chill and can take an outfit from average to fantastic. The cost per wear on these items will be high, as you will have them on and off regularly, added Rumble.

It is also imperative that you love your key pieces and reach for them every time you open your wardrobe. Invest in quality and style; go with a classic, coat with a twist and always in colour or at least a neutral that works for you. It is great to treat yourself to one or two beautiful pieces that can be worn with Jeans during the day or with heels and satin skinnies at night.''

Rumble says shoppers can then get the basic items for less money. The gaps can be filled in with less costly staples: like a Glassons basic singlet in summer and a merino in winter. These can be layered and come in a variety of colours. She said buy more than one singlet and move them along at the end of the season if they have been loved. She advised that shoppers mover past fads.

These one week wonders come and go so quickly and often do not get worn any more than once or twice. Stop, evaluate and ask yourself, does this go with at least three things in my wardrobe and will I wear it next year as well? Avoid items that don't fit your body type, colouring or style.
For evening, take the classic route, steering clear of looks that aren't everlasting; you want an evening dress for many years, something timeless that you can bring out again and again, advised Rumble.

Suss out who you are. Stick to a style that is you, too much chopping and changing between different looks can lead to a wardrobe full of confusion. Buy what looks good on you, not what looks good on your friend. Style is about individuality, creativity and planning wisely.

Mix and match. The hippest names mix and match their clothing, throw a Witchery basic tee on with your Diesel jeans and a Veronika Maine jacket to finish off the look and your Gran's vintage necklace.

In today's day and age, it's not modern unless you mix it. It isn't the dollar amount one puts into an outfit but the amount of style and chicness that comes from within and if you struggle, seek the help of an expert. Why do you think the stars always look so good?

Here are some of my tips for people wanting to look smarter this winter:

• After the age of 45 most women need to cut their hair off above the shoulders
• Beautifully applied make up can take years off your appearance
• Don't dye your hair darker as you age, it makes you look older
• Wear clothes that like you not just ones that you like!
• If you haven't worn something for a year then move it along...
• Sort out what colours suit you and wear them - you will look good all of the time
• Dress for yourself, not your partner or lover... they will love you if you love yourself.