I will be the first to admit that I love shopping. It is practically a hobby of mine to find good deals and amazing pieces. It is fascinating looking at new trends, interesting designs, and beautiful colors. Fashion to me, it like a form of art. I love exploring designer clothing and trends. It’s really in the details of an item that make it special and beautiful. I believe that fashion isn’t just the clothes you wear, but it is a visual expression of yourself, your creativity, and the way you feel.
Nowadays we are bombarded with fashion all over social media (I primarily get my fashion inspirations from Instagram and YouTube). You see beautiful women styling flowing dresses and gorgeous shoes telling you what you should buy. And often times I am enticed to even look at the product website. All too often the excitement is cut short by sticker shock: $1000 for a handbag! $200 for a dress! $50 for a blouse! These prices are outrageous, especially for a grad student. Taking the plunge on one of these pieces, I would be left with an overpriced handbag that would go out of style next year and an empty closet. No thank you.
But have no fear, luxury brands do not have a monopoly on style. Often the top fashion houses dictate the style for the season and then those trends matriculate through all levels of brands right down to places like Walmart. For example today you can go into pretty much any store and find an off-the-shoulder (“Bardot”) pin-stripe top or Fendi inspired pom-pom key chain. With this in mind I will tell you my tips and tricks for find the perfect look on a budget.
- Pick your favorite trend items. There are at least 10 different trends each season. Unless you are willing to spend a lot to acquire all of them, just simply pick a few of your favorites. Grad Tip: Aim to pick ones that you can re-wear for the next few years.
- Don’t invest a lot of money on trend or unique pieces (you can find them on a budget!)
- Buy items that are practical for your lifestyle. I work in a lab, so I need plenty of long pants and no revealing tops. Grad Tip: If you do have wardrobe restrictions where you work or go to school, don’t worry, you should still get a few “weekend” pieces. This way you can be excited about your casual weekend outfit!
- When trying on an item, take time to look at how it fits. If there are any wrinkling or puckering that is likely an indication of poor fit. Don’t worry if an item you really liked on a hanger does not work for you, the beauty of tends if you can probably find a similar item at another store.
- Spend less on tops, sandals, and dressy shoes, and more on sneakers, boots, and winter items, because they will typically have more wear.
I always get asked by my friends where I find such good deals. I think part of it is where I look for certain items.
Top stores for clothes:
- Marshalls – They have lots of trendy pieces from good brands. I typically buy classical pieces here. Focus on jeans, work-wear, and sweaters.
- Ross – I look here for trendy items but you need to be selective about quality.
- Forever 21 and Charlotte Russ – I go to these stores for wardrobe fillers and the occasional trendy item, but you need to be selective about fabric quality and cut.
- H&M and Zara – Go here for work wear as well as good quality trend pieces, but some can be on the pricey end (>$30).
Top stores for outerwear:
- Macy’s – I typically buy my winter coats there because they are good quality and I will be able to wear them day in and day out for several years. And don’t forget the coupons!
- Nordstrom Rack – They are good for light outwear.
Top places for Shoes
- Target – Here you can buy everyday shoes for lab as well as sandals.
- Nordstrom Rack – Look here for the boots and dressy shoes that will make you outfit special (you can find many for less than $40)
Grad Tip: Don’t be afraid of high-end stores. Look at their sale racks, sometimes you can find some hidden treasures!