Dressing with Style on a Student Budget

Financial woes are not foreign to most college students. Whether you are struggling to pay rent, buy books, feed your pet lemming, or pay off your credit card with sweat and tears, most of us cannot afford the indulgences of the upper-middle class adult section of the population. On a trip to a trendy, designer-jean stocked store on Church Street with a “better than thou” air, I came across the rudest, most offensive salesperson I have ever encountered. As I was trying on several pairs of $170 jeans, the sales girl not only remarked that they were “SOOOOO cheap” (insert valley girl accent), but also recommended that I purchase all three pairs. She even asked the ridiculous question, “Do you really need to take just one?” I was dangerously close to not only asking her exactly how many pairs she could afford with her minimum wage job and whether she really thought that the price tag of $170 for a pair of pants (which falls under the category of luxury) was cheap. I considered calling for a manger and asking for an apology for the extreme lack of customer service skills and general common sense. Instead, I chose to be a better person and walked out of the store that shall remain nameless (hint: the name refers to the repetition of a sound bouncing off a wall or hard surface, often happening in large rooms with good acoustics). Not to be defeated by an irritating salesgirl, I gave myself a pep talk about how the best shoppers are those on a budget. Real fashionistas own an array of items with a variety of origins. After all, no one wants to look like a generic “Sidney” at her Psi-Kho-Ho sorority meeting. Being a nifty shopper, however, has some rules that ought to be followed to avoid looking like a bag lady or a hoochie mamma. First and foremost, variety is the key to success. In your big cauldron of style, you need to mix the old and new, the cheap and the expensive. Second, you should rely on three main avenues of style: designer discount stores, thrift stores, and cheap stores such as Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe. Stores like Filenes’s Basement offer a huge selection of designer duds for a fraction of the cost. While the items are still pricey, they are much more affordable than their in-season, no overstock, cr??me of the crop counterparts. These types of stores will give you the basic building blocks onto which you can add the more eclectic pieces. Thrift stores are a wonderland of buried fashion treasure. At the Salvation Army you never know what you will find and, most important of all, you know that what you are purchasing is one of a kind. Thrift stores are especially good for buying accessories and are overflowing with beautiful vintage handbags and shoes.