I’m bored of being hard-up; this is the time of year when frugality and reluctant self-control really begin to take their toll. You accept that January will be endlessly cash-poor (though a month of abstinence does have its appeal after New Year’s Eve) and February is famously depressing for everyone (credit cards maxed-out; having to say a little prayer when you use the cashpoint), and then March arrives and – what? – no better.
Enough already. I’m bored of pretending I’m content with the clothes in my wardrobe and that I’ve gone off the menu at The Wolseley; I’m tired of slouching around in sweaters with bobbly bits on them; and I’m frustrated by the sight of all those colourful spring clothes in the stores that I cannot afford and, even if I could, it’s still too cold and bleak to wear them.
What I cannot comprehend is how come, even though I have a good job and am in my forties, I still run out of money. My parents didn’t run out of money each March; I don’t remember them scrummaging around in old drawers looking for store cards with a paltry bit of credit left on them, or emptying out coats for loose change.
I’m also puzzled by the Instagram pictures posted by friends wearing sarongs in St Barth’s or knocking back margaritas in Mustique. Those trips must cost a pretty fortune. How come their money didn’t disappear after Christmas? Meanwhile, I’m sitting at home in the cold trying to get a loan from wonga.com to pay for a £189 easyJet flight to Marrakech to attend a friend’s 40th birthday. (How I suffer.)
It seems to me I have three options: one, I bump off Trinny Woodall and start dating Charles Saatchi. Two, more plausible perhaps (and legal), I work for Charles Saatchi and thus get hold of one of his Conarco Partnership credit cards (his former assistants certainly had higher credit limits than I do). Three, I stop moaning like a spoilt brat and live within my means. Oh. Awkward. You all suggested option three.
Fine. Then here is what, in the spirit of involuntary tight-fistedness, I shall try limiting myself to this spring. And before you point out that if I really wanted to be thrifty I could buy nothing at all (get real) or shop solely on the high street (I’m too old), here’s my wallet- friendly (ish) shopping list for spring.
1 | The suit. There’s a dashing slim-fit, glen-checked wool suit by Gant Rugger (£550), which will look great dressed up with a pale blue or white shirt and knitted tie, or dressed down with an open-neck chambray shirt. This will cover the gamut from office wear to weddings.
2 | Nothing heralds the approach of spring better than a fresh formal shirt. On my list is a perky white cotton-poplin Mayfair shirt by Hackett (£95).
3 | And to complement this, a soup stain-free, knitted-silk tie in seafoam green by Richard James (£75).
4 | To wear with the above, one reasonable option is a pair of deep tan Stanley leather wingtip brogues by Grenson (£200).
5 | For off-duty, I’m going to keep it simple. First up, the obligatory pair of chinos. This spring, a pair of Lived-in slim-fit gale green khakis from Gap (£40).
6 | To team with these, I will live in sweatshirts this spring; in particular a navy loop-back cotton jersey one by J Crew in one size smaller than I normally wear for a better fit (£70).
7 | To finish off the above, a pair of Nike x Undercover Lunarglide +5 trainers in blue/red (£95). The colour will stop the outfit from looking too preppy and these actually work well for running as well as off-duty shenanigans (ie, multi-function = bargain).
8 | Finally – can you believe how succinct and undemanding my list is? – I shall find the funds to purchase a single-breasted navy raincoat from Uniqlo. These are super-stylish, have a detachable lining, and are a snip at £90.
OK, so that comes to a modest total of, err, £1,215.
Hmmm, that’s not an inconsiderable amount, I admit. But it could have been a lot, lot worse — for instance, I could have opted for:
1 | A lovely light grey Ann Demeulemeester suit (£735).
2 | A slim-fit white cotton shirt from Emma Willis (£200).
3 | A slim knitted tie in jade from Charvet (£126).
4 | A pair of Excalibur taupe suede tasselled loafers by O’Keeffe (£375).
5 | And, for off-duty, Slowear khaki chinos (£190).
6 | A Maison Martin Margiela elbow-patch loop-back cotton jersey sweatshirt in light grey (£270).
7 | And a pair of white leather Achilles sneakers by Common Projects (£270).
8 | Finally, I’d get the Dunoon hooded raincoat in dark brown by Mackintosh (£750).
That lot would tot up to a much less digestible £2,916.
In which case – hoorah! I calculate that by buying the eight new items from the first list and none from the second, I will save myself £1,701. This frugal thing is easy. In fact, since I’ve saved so much, I might go and celebrate with a spot of lunch at The Wolseley. Chin chin.
Taken from Esquire's April issue, on newsstands now.