High style, low bud­get: the mak­ings of a killer wardrobe on a shoe­string

By Fareeha Qay­oom

(Ghost-writing for Saima Zaidi, the model in the story; Pho­tos, make-up, and styling by Fareeha Qay­oom)


he chal­lenge? To build one com­plete out­fit in a lim­ited bud­get!

the shoot

The com­plete ensem­ble

12:00 noon – start at Gen­er­a­tion bou­tique. Every­thing is above our bud­get. The edi­tor is adamant that she will not increase the bud­get no mat­ter what. God, I am sup­posed to put together a trendy out­fit and the money is tight! Besides, she won’t let me buy fab­ric and get it stitched. It has to be prêt a porter! Why me? Sigh.

12:30 after­noon - start at lib­erty mar­ket. Decide to be method­i­cal. There are dresses and there are dresses. Noth­ing looks good at the price I want.

12:45 – take the plunge and try on three dresses. The price range 650 bucks. Yeah, yeah – who’s bright idea was it any­way? I look like a reject from Sal­va­tion Army jum­ble sale! The fit is shock­ing! I can’t try on the shal­war! No elas­tic. We move on to another bou­tique. And then, another one and then another one. Why am I look­ing for an east­ern out­fit any­way? At this rate, the whole day will be gone and I won’t have any­thing to show for it.

Its 3:00 p.m. already. Let’s do lunch. I am hun­gry. We sit down and eat. Con­sult each other and decide to try our luck at the main boule­vard malls. First Chen one…

4:00 p.m. park the car at Chen one. The park­ing guys are bloody thieves. Sorry, excuse my lan­guage. They charge 20 bucks for one hour parking…luckily I am being bank rolled by the mag­a­zine. Well, Chen one! The clothes are very nice. Ok, I see this really nice out­fit in black and white – sleeve­less top, white shal­war and nice tie and dye dupatta. I try it on…hmmm, the shal­war doesn’t look all that good with this shirt. PKR 850. oh! Oh! They are sell­ing sep­a­rates too. I see this very nice boot cut trouser that I can team up with a nice top! Price PKR 450. Well, things are look­ing up. Let’s go to Pace…hmmm, I con­sult my watch – its after 5:00 p.m.. three floors up and down and noth­ing to show for it. We have been try­ing to bar­gain but nobody will budge an inch from their price!!! Who are they kid­ding? You can buy a whole suit for PKR 650 and here we are talk­ing about one measly top! Well, my friend spots this cool shirt. It’s for PKR 400 rupees. We bring the guy down to PKR 300 and we have a deal. Finally! We quickly run back to Chen one. Try on both trousers – black and white….hmmm, the rise is kind of weird on this trouser, doesn’t team well with the top — my bril­liant idea is a flop! My friend sug­gests that we go to Panorama for the pant.

5:30 – Panorama. Major bum­mer. Noth­ing looks good. The jeans here are really expen­sive. Most sales guys are try­ing to sell men’s 501 Levi’s as women’s jeans. They think I don’t know what I am talk­ing about?! I work for an Amer­i­can store! I want to kill the genius who sug­gested we try Panorama.

Well, back to Pace. I am tired. My edi­tor is tired. And my ex-friend is bored…we try the cargo pants, we try the Khaki chino. God, noth­ing seems to work. They are charg­ing PKR 700 – 900 for a khaki pant…our best bet is to buy a nice pair of jeans!

7:00 p.m. We are on the third floor. My feet ache. My head aches. I am bored and frus­trated and my edi­tor looks ready to kill me and herself…after try­ing on about 10 pairs of jeans, ok, we finally bid on one — it looks ok. It’s not a bril­liant look but who the heck cares at this point? The rise should be lower. Oh well, it takes a while for Pak­istan to catch on (fash­ion trends). The guy starts at PKR 650. We tell him, we will buy the pant but only at PKR 400 and that’s it. The guy agrees. God, finally! Now we have to do the acces­sories! We decide to drop by at the café first…I want some tea and I want it now!!! Yikes! Its 8:30 already. My mom will kill me.

We decide to call it a day. Set another appoint­ment for Thurs­day. Need to put together the acces­sories and do the photo-shoot next.

Thurs­day 1:00 p.m.—good news — my edi­tor has increased the bud­get! Thank God for small mer­cies. Finally, the whole out­fit is ready. The shoes cost PKR 700, the bag costs 600, the jew­elry costs PKR 100 and the belt costs PKR 400. Grand Total PKR 2500. Yeah! I did it. Not a penny wasted. Give me five. ■

Generation boutique

12:00 Noon — start at the Gen­er­a­tion Boutique,Gulburg

Inside Generation

Inside Gen­er­a­tion bou­tique — every­thing is above our bud­get

Liberty Boutique

12:30 at the Lib­erty Mall

try a few dresses

12:45 — take a plunge and try dress one, only the top and the stole

try dress two

Try Dress two — only the top and stole

try dress 3

Try Dress three — this time the whole ensem­ble

inside Chen One

Inside Chen One — Main Boule­vard

Try on a dress at Chen one

Try on a shal­war suit at Chen One

We spot a nice top at pace

We spot a nice top at the Pace Mall

go back to chen one

Go back to Chen One for the flared trouser! Bum­mer — no good!


5:30 pm — At the Panorama Mall — major bum­mer! They don’t have women’s Levi’s!

back at pace

7:00 pm — Back at Pace, third floor — Look­ing for a pair of low-rise Jeans but they don’t have it, well, I am tired so we buy the pair that fits!

getting ready for the shoot

Get­ting ready for the shoot

try a pose

Test­ing! Test­ing!

another pose


another pose 2

Say Cheese!


Hav­ing a bit of fun!


another pose

Well, another pose!


This arti­cle was orig­i­nally pub­lished in the print edi­tion of “The Knit-Xtyle Fash­ion Review,” (Tkfr), issue 12, Octo­ber 2005

GD Star Rat­ing
GD Star Rat­ing
Cheap Chic, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rat­ing