Q. I’ve recently become unemployed and, although I’m on a very tight budget, I still want to wear the latest trends. Have you any advice for cash strapped fashionistas such as myself?

A. An economic crisis may be looming but your wardrobe need not suffer if you know where and how to shop. In an uncertain economy, it's necessary to rethink how you spend money ... and that carries over to fashion. When even the smartest style magazines start to refer to the nouveau poor, its clear that fashions and consuming passions are heading in a new direction.

Shopping on a budget and still looking fashionable can be hard. Department stores and many retail stores seem to overcharge simply because something is in style for the season. Instead of paying high end prices for clothes, another option is to go thrifting. Fashion is a topsy turvy world, only a few years ago, wearing clothes bought from a charity shop was tantamount to fashion death. Your outfit had to be new and brash, the label identifiable from a hundred paces.

If you are still one of those people who thinks that wearing designer labels means that you have ‘style’ then I have some very bad news for you. These days it’s far more hip to be seen rifling through the rails at your local Oxfam than handing over your credit card at some overpriced boutique. Cheap and chic is the new mantra for cash strapped shoppers and the great news is that it’s never been easier to look good on a budget once you know how.

A designer look need not cost hundreds. In fact, from a charity shop it can cost less than €30. You can also pick up amazing fashion finds at car boot sales, local markets, outlet stores, websites like eBay or clothes swap parties. You can choose to customize your clothes or even make your own. Still stuck for a little inspiration? Here’s a few ideas…

* You can reinvent a garment you already have by putting on a belt that accentuates your waist.

* Take care of your clothes by ironing them when you go out - not washing them every time you go out.

* Buy a black dress at a discount store and use costume jewellery to make the dress look unique.

* Check out stores such as Pennys, TK Maxx and Tesco for the latest styles at a fraction of the cost.

* Spend money on high quality basics, such as a great pair of boots or a handbag – most of these are heavily discounted in the sales.