Reasons to be cheap and cheerful

Rediscover the fashion bargain - and your lost youth - on a high street near you

Like a rite of passage, Going To Town holds a glamorous fascination for post-pubescent girls: Kylie blaring over the Top Shop sound system, racks of party dresses stacked 10 deep, boys to ogle at the cash desk... and change from a pounds 20 note at home time. Face it, your teens were a golden age for high-street shopping. Is it as much fun when you get past 20? We should be so lucky. Well, we have news for all you jaded Prada widows out there. Accompanying a teenage girl on a high-street escapade to Oxford Street took years off Style Police.

Top Shop on a Saturday morning was mobbed. Style Police looked back in languor as teenage girls fought over the last sequin boob tube. Frenzy is the only way to describe these kids dragging arms-full of slip dresses into the communal changing rooms. The boob tube rivals went in together. God only knows what went on once the curtain was drawn. Then your toe starts tapping to Gina G's "Ooh, Ahh, Just A Little Bit" and you start to look at the clothes.

An incredible, smart, gold, lace and oyster satin mini skirt (pounds 3O) leaps off the rails screaming, "I'm a dead ringer for Dolce e Gabbana". A black cobweb chiffon T studded with rhinestones (pounds 20) would work over one of Top Shop's strappy column dresses (from pounds 15) or under the royal-blue, velvet, single-breasted jacket (pounds 65) and pencil skirt (pounds 25).

Naturally, there is a lot of crap on the high street. They don't use good quality dyes on their cottons so the throwaway T-shirts will fade if you even show them to the washing machine. You find the same stories - like velveteen and fake fur this season - everywhere. Then again, if you are a designer snob and wear a high-street cocktail frock to a party, only fellow high-street junkies will recognise it.

"Beware the hype about the high street," says Time Out shopping editor Lorna V. "You have to discard a lot of rubbish before you find the gems. People see great high-street fashion pieces in mags and then get disappointed because the pieces have either sold out or only sell in London. A trip to the high street has to be planned with mathematical precision. Don't just work your way from one end to the other. Find out when the new season's stock is in and beat everyone else to it."

Style Police did feel a bit like the Vampire Lestat escorting the teenager in question through the racier rails of Miss Selfridge. But you can't better this place for glossy, black, lingerie skirts with black lace trim (pounds 25) which look like Stella McCartney for Chloe. A silver sequin on Lurex halter dress (pounds 25), which flutes into a pretty knee-length A-line, may be the frock to make male knees tremble at the office party. Teenagers may not think twice about going out on the town in a wisp of chiffon and a smile, so Miss Selfridge's silver ribbed rollneck (pounds 20) is a cute way to cover-up.

Lorna V advises high-street shoppers to "go to the designer stores and see what is in fashion. Try these pieces on, so you know what kind of fabric textures the designers are using. Then go to the high street and try to match up the most directional designer pieces. Trashy and tarty is fabulous, but there are pieces that will last longer than a season. I have tops from Hennes which have lasted years."

As a rule, the synthetic viscose-mix evening dresses are what the high street does best. They are cheap, clingy and feel fabulous. What they don't do is beading that would pass the Come Dancing test. But so what? Even if you leave every sequin on the dance floor, you can always get down to Top Shop and splash out Ooh Ahh, A Little Bit More on another frock.

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Analyst/ Project Manager - Financial Services

    £60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client in the Financial...

    Cover Supervisors needed in Cheshire & Shropshire

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Cover Supervisor...

    Welsh Medium Teacher

    £85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

    Primary Tutors needed in Chester

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Primary Tutoring in Cheshire West &amp...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits