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February 5, 2014

Style on a Budget

I willingly place myself into the stereotype of 'broke college student'.  I have savings of course, and my parents help me out with groceries and such, but in my mind I have no money.  

While it may sound like I am being dramatic and frugal, I think it is a beneficial mindset to have because it keeps me from throwing my savings out the window. I am not actually broke, but pretending to be so has helped me a lot.

This mindset is especially helpful in the fashion department. I have always loved clothes, especially nice ones, but I obviously can't afford expensive threads at the moment. I actually never have, so over the years I have come up with ways to beat the system.

So, here are three rules of mine for shopping on a budget.  This is how I have utilized what money I have to grow my wardrobe into the fun mish-mash of clothing I have today.

  1. Go to thrift stores!
    • I have found that you won't usually find super nice items, but there are a few things you will be able to pick up here that would be more expensive elsewhere. I love big sweaters and flannels, and thrift stores are absolutely LOADED with these kinds of things....just make sure you throw your items in the wash before you wear them :) 
    • If you are lucky you will be able to find a super unique item or two. When you find something like this snag it because this opportunity doesn't come too often.
    • Bring a friend along! They can tell you what looks good and doesn't, and they can also provide some common sense. I have donated a lot of thrifted items without even wearing them because I got caught up in the idea of cheap clothes without considering if I'd actually use them. Having a second opinion come along will hopefully keep you from doing this too
  2. Splurge on items that you will wear religiously 
    • There a select few items in my closet that I spent a decent sum of money on that turned out to be a great investment.  I wear boots nonstop, so every year I splurge on a new pair because I am sure I will use them.  If you know you will get your money's worth out of it then it probably is worth it! 
    • Splurge on jeans or timeless pieces like a really good jacket, because these things will get a LOT of wear
    • Always check out places like Marshalls or Nordstrom's Half Yearly Sale for these kinds of items (hey, if everything is going to be on sale, why not?).  Look for Marshalls stores in nicer areas because they cater to the demographic and will carry a nicer selection of items. 
  3. Scour the sales racks for temporary pieces
    • Obviously we all would like a wardrobe that consists of more than just big sweaters and jeans.  I have found that sale racks at places like Urban Outfitters and local boutiques are great places to find cute, stylish pieces that may not last you forever.  
    • Stores like Forever 21, H&M, and Target (secretly my favorite place to shop) are also good places to look, and usually you won't need to look at the sale racks since everything is reasonably priced
    • Good things that fit this category are cute blouses and dresses that may not last you as long as pieces like boots or a good jacket would

A few more tips:

  • Think about how many ways you can wear the item you are considering buying.  If you can't   come up with more than 1 or 2 pieces you can style the item with then you may not want to buy it. 
  • Fill in the gaps of your wardrobe with versatile shirts, like neutral tees with subtle details that make them more unique than a simple shirt. These kinds of shirts are great for everyday, and you can layer them under your big sweaters or with cute scarves to add a little extra to your outfit. I have found that I wear simple shirts a LOT more than I wear the more unique items I have 

These are the tips I have cultivated over the years for shopping sale racks and thrift stores, so hopefully next time you guys go out shopping you will remember these and save some money while you're at it. Good luck guys!

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 photo credit: Βethan via photopin cc