Wardrobe Tips for the Broke College Student

Looking fashionable in college can be difficult. With all your money going towards tuition, fees, books, housing, and occasionally, food, you probably have little left over for filling out your wardrobe with the latest styles of the season. And yet, you don’t have to tour campus looking like a pauper for the next four (or more) years. With a little effort and a lot of ingenuity you can have the fantastically fashionable aesthetic you desire. All you need are a few tricks up your sleeve. So here are some great tips to get you started on the road to a fabulous wardrobe.

  1. Shop discount stores. Shopping can be pretty depressing when you’re on a budget, but you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck if you opt for discount warehouses instead of pricy department stores. And you’ll be amazed by the excellent selection you’ll find at retailers like Target, Ross, Kohl’s, and TJ Maxx (just to name a few). Many of these stores collaborate with big-name designers (Vera Wang, Zac Posen, Lauren Conrad, and more) to bring you label outfits at a fraction of the cost.

  2. Stay on trend. Use fashion magazines and websites to your advantage. Find looks that you like and then emulate them with less expensive pieces. Of course, you’ll have a hard time mimicking one-of-a-kind pieces like formal gowns, but for everyday items like tops, bottoms, and accessories you can almost always find the trickle-down effect (low-cost alternatives that look a lot like the real deal). So you can easily sport “the look” you see in the media without buying the brand-name versions.

  3. Reclaim. Okay, nobody really likes to buy second-hand clothing, but if you want to look amazing without breaking your budget you’re going to need to embrace alternatives. The trick is to do thrift-store shopping the right way. You don’t want to go to the bad side of town to check out the wares at the Goodwill or Salvation Army. Instead, take a bus to the shops that are near high-end neighborhoods. The people who donate there are bound to leave a few treasures with their bag of castoffs. And find out what day delivery trucks come in so you can get a first look at new arrivals.

  4. Nip and tuck. There is no better way to get the wardrobe you want than with a talent for sewing, since fabric itself is far less expensive than ready-to-wear clothing. But if you’re not quite at the level where you can sew your own, then simply improve on the work of others. Find inexpensive pieces that are close to what you want and then tailor them. A loose jacket can easily become fitted, and if you can’t find a killer vest, just take a jacket you like and remove the sleeves. Loose shirts can easily become fitted with a nip of the seams and hemlines on pants and skirts are a simple fix if you know how to whip-stitch.

  5. Try DOTD. If you find that you’re looking for a special piece but you just don’t have a ton of money, sign up for memberships at a fashion deal-of-the-day site like Hautelook, Beyond the Rack, and Gilt Groupe. You’ll find amazing deals on the labels you covet, with new additions on a daily basis.

This guest post was written by Leon Harris. Find out more about the t-shirt printing site he works with.

3 Thoughts on “Wardrobe Tips for the Broke College Student”

  1. These are all really good tips. I would also recommend checking out deals online for your favorite brands or retailers. There are a ton of discounts on the web and really all you need to do is a little investigative work with Google. Say for instance you like Aeropostale: just type in Aeropostale promo codes into the search box and some offers that come up can be anywhere up to 30% off or more!

  2. Saying that “Nobody really likes to buy second-hand clothing” is a little insulting. Times have changed, and I’m sure a lot of people that are on your site –renting your text books– would agree that there’s nothing wrong with shopping thrift stores. :)

  3. QUITE insulting to perpetuate the myth that buying second-hand clothing is something “nobody really likes”. Judging from all the hipsters, yuppies, and fashionistas I see shopping in my local thrift stores, I’d say whoever wrote that is pretty out of touch with reality.

    I’d say what’s lame is paying retail for clothing that makes you look like a clone of everyone else. A college student who doesn’t thrift is a foolish person.

Leave a Reply