Accounting for Style is a new series at the Mancunion Fashion & Beauty section in which anonymous Manchester students track all of their fashion and beauty purchases over the period of a month. Get a glimpse into the way your peers spend their money on their style, the splurges and the savings…
Yearly maintenance loan: £8,785.00 and £1,000 bursary
Rent: £90 a week including bills
Part time job: I don’t have one during the academic year but I work at a catering agency each summer.
Monthly Budget: £320 (£80 a week) but I put at least £40 into a savings account every month to build up my ‘nest egg.’ I’ve been saving since my gap year so when I graduate I can be self-reliant have less pressure to find a job straight away.
Extra Cash: sometimes my parents will give me some extra cash, but I also choose to put that into my savings account.
Fashion and beauty spending habits: I am a saver and as a result I’m not a frivolous spender. I’m someone who brings a packed lunch to uni every day, and I buy a coffee as an occasional treat rather than a regular purchase. Whilst I have a budget, I rarely spend it all and try to save as much as possible. My savings mean I know I can handle various emergencies should they arise which I find to be reassuring.
It helps that I am a charity shop fiend, meaning my fashion and beauty spending is unintentionally minimal. My biggest motivation for charity shopping is simply that I don’t think high-street fashion reflects my style, and honestly, I don’t think materials they use are particularly high quality. Once you’ve bought several dreamy knitted jumpers for £4 that last more than 3 years, it’s hard to settle for high-street jumpers that sometimes only make it through one year and costs upwards of £15. In fact, I still regularly wear and get complimented on skirts, shirts, and jumpers that I bought before I even started university!
Charity shops are not perfect, and obviously have a limited stock meaning they often don’t have a wide range of sizes and are especially lacking in plus size clothing, although I would argue many high-street retailers aren’t much better. But charity shopping is a great solution for me to buy clothes I like, with the bonus that it benefits the environment and my bank account, but it’s literally not a one size fits all alternative and there are more inclusive ways to be environmentally and economically conscious.
I do buy things first-hand when I find something I like, and at a price I like. There are certain things that are harder to find in charity shops like basic tees, jeans, and trousers but because I’m not someone who enjoys mooching around the Arndale this doesn’t happen regularly.
In terms of beauty, I love experimenting with bright makeup; some evenings I sit in my room and listen to a podcast as I blend pinks with silvers with the little makeup knowledge I have. But it’s a similar story here, I really don’t buy much and the small collection of makeup I own I’ve collected over years.
Monthly estimated spend on fashion and beauty: I doubt I’ll spend more than £30 this month. I recently bought a pair of jeans and some boots – an attempt to stay dry in this winter – which are my biggest one-off purchases so I shouldn’t need to buy anything for this month at least.
1st of February: I bought lip balm because I ran out – £1.19
7th of February: Mouthwash – £2
21st of February: Face wax and shampoo £6.17. As someone who rarely buy s a £5 eyeshadow, which is something that I would be excited about, I don’t hesitate spending £5 on face wax. Why? Because of societal norms teaching me from a young age that I need to be hairless to be considered feminine and attractive. I don’t care about my moustache; I barely see my own face! But I’m self-conscious about what other people will think, so it’s a purchase I do make, but reluctantly. For now, I’m a ‘hairy woman’ and don’t shave or wax elsewhere on my body and I’ve definitely saved money and time from doing so. I hope that one day I will feel confident enough to rock a tache, but in the meantime I’ll just pay the price for ripping hair from my face instead of spending that money on something that would bring me joy.
24th of February: I popped into the Oxfam on Oxford Road before a meeting, just to nosey around, and came out with a lovely A-line geometric skirt for £3.99 (originally from M&S!) I haven’t owned a short skirt for years – I am totally obsessed with floaty skirts – but I loved the pattern of this and decided this would be a good purchase to experiment with. At only £3.99, and from a charity shop if I never wear it the consequences are minimal as I can always donate and return it to the charity shop ecosystem. But I have already worn it and I’m pleased to say it was money well spent!
28th of February: I lost one of my favourite pairs of earrings this month and felt like it was time to replace it, so I scrolled through Depop to find new polymer clay earrings. And I found a pair! The jeweller makes them to order meaning I could choose which colours I wanted which adds an extra sense of excitement. This came to £9.99 including postage, which I think is a bargain for a handmade pair of earrings. Depop is a great platform for finding handmade jewellery but the price and the no-returns policy of clothes means I’m yet to buy anything else.
Total spend: £24.14
Overall verdict: That was pretty much as I expected and is a typical month of spending for me. Charity shops are my favourite place to pop in and have a look around for clothes among other things; all of my plates and mugs are from charity shops as well as most of my clothes and even some artwork and photo frames. This month really highlighted that I find Depop and vintage retailers frustrating because part of me is convinced those clothes belong in Oxfams or British Heart Foundations across the country to be sold for under £10 instead of being stocked in Blue Rinse and being sold for a much higher price.
What I didn’t track was the time I spent scrolling looking for things I would want to buy. As I say, I’m not against the occasional first-hand purchases, but I often can’t find any that I want. I’m currently on the hunt for a cropped pink jumper (which will look great with my new skirt), a jumpsuit or some dungarees, a cosy cardigan, a sleeveless high-necked vest top, and some patterned tights.
I’ve been a charity shop fanatic since I was about 15 years old, and I really owe them for my style. There are some tips I’ve picked up along the way, like changing buttons on a garment can make a big difference, and it’s so easy. My latest button adventure will be on a glittery shirt I found in Oxfam (£2.99) in January but I’m not the biggest fan of the buttons. When I need a quiet evening activity, I’m going to dig around in my button collection and replace them. Et voila! The only problem with the shirt will take about 15 minutes and a cup of tea to solve.
Would you like to anonymously track your fashion & beauty purchases for the period of a month for The Cost of Student Style? Email [email protected]ancunion.com to express your interest or come along to our meetings every Monday at 6:15pm in The Hive.