- by Belle Frank

College is all about budgeting. I know we have all heard the term “broke college student” more times that we can count. And if we had a dime every time we heard it, we wouldn’t be broke college students.

However, no matter how broke we are, there are some things that we just don’t want to compromise on. Like, that much needed caffeine fix, or our beauty products, and especially our clothing. But what if I told you that you could look fashion forward without breaking the bank? All it takes is a little patience and some creativity. 

How to shop with limited funds

  • Thrift stores – The Mount is tucked into the Hudson Valley, which has some of the best thrift stores. Second hand clothing is much more cost effective, and eco friendly! Here are some of my favorites:
    • Goodwill, New Windsor, NY
    • Blackbird Attic, Beacon, NY
    • Recycled Style, Montgomery, NY
    • The Well, Saugerties, NY
  • Student taking selfie in mirrorUpcycle – Those outdated jeans you never wear anymore? Take some scissors to them and make them trendy again. Or, make them shorts! I am known to take old boot-cut jeans and distress them to be trendy again. Or, go into a sibling or parent’s closet.

Right: These are thrifted Levi’s jeans I took scissors to, and my boyfriend’s shirt!

  • Discounts – Student discount, coupon code apps, and loyalty programs will be your best friend in college. ‘Retail Me Not’ is an app that gives coupon codes for online and in-store shopping. Loyalty programs in stores like American Eagle and Ulta give you points that you can use towards a purchase to money off. Some of the stores that give student discounts are:
    • J. Crew
    • Levi’s
    • Charlotte Russe
    • Madewell
    • Francesca’s

How to style the clothes you already have

  • Clean out your closet
  • Don’t feel constrained to use a shirt as a shirt…

Often times we get into a rut with our clothing. We pair the same sweater with the same jeans and accessories because we know it looks good. But we often have clothing sitting in the back of our dresser or closet that we totally forgot about. 

At least once a season (I usually do this once a month) go through your wardrobe. I clean out my closet and reorganize it so that I can clearly see everything I own. This process alone makes me realize new clothing combinations that I didn’t think of before.

While doing this, WRITE DOWN YOUR IDEAS. I cannot stress this enough. Start a list on the notes app in your phone of outfit ideas. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about a cute outfit, and then totally forgot it by the time I get to my closet. 

Student sipping tea

Allow yourself to think outside of the box. You don’t have to use that scarf as a scarf. Maybe use it as a belt or a hair accessory. Or tuck that dress into jeans or a skirt to make it a shirt.

Here I am using a scarf as a hair accessory.

How to find inspiration

There is no shame in looking to others for fashion inspiration. We all get stuck and want to change up our look a bit.

  • Pinterest – Make a board on Pinterest of outfit ideas. You can always go back and reference it when you are feeling bored of your everyday looks.
  • Instagram – You can follow fashion accounts, as well as hashtags on Instagram. You can even save posts and make labeled folders.
  • Youtube – Many Youtubers make videos about outfit ideas for different occasions. Especially casual college outfits.