Back To School Fashion On A Budget

Fehbe is a 17-year-old from Inglewood, Ca. She enjoys playing tennis and shopping. Her favorite subject is English because she loves to write and sees herself working in the journalism field in the future.

Remember the times when you used to go shopping and you could easily just buy what you wanted without having to wait before it went on sale? Well, now many of us can’t do that or at least not as often. We’re all aware that we are in a tough economy and that means our wallets and our parents’ wallets are getting tighter every day. I know most of you are starting back-to-school shopping already and are finding it very hard to get your parents to buy that trendy bag or perfect pair of jeans. However, true fashionistas know that you don’t need a million dollars to look like you have a million dollars. So let’s see what are some ways trendsetters are finding back-to school bargains!

1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle No, I don’t mean make a dress out of aluminum foil a la’ Project Runway. Rather, we all have clothes in our closets that we used to love once upon a time but now they seemed to have lost their “touch”. Instead of just throwing them away, try to find new ways to wear it. A long skirt can easily become a strapless dress and vice versa, a short dress can become a skirt. Layer dresses over skinny jeans or add a vest, something you normally wouldn’t do. Accessories are the easiest things you can add to give clothing a new life. A belt over a shirt or dress will do. Be creative. When it comes to fashion, there are no limits.

2. DIY Do It Yourself, literally. Most clothes can be easily made at home with the right materials and a sewing machine. Case in point: I was looking through Forever 21 when I saw a pretty black lace dress for $25. All it was was a piece of lace sewed on both sides and cut to be in the form of a dress. So simple to make, which I did and it came out great. There are plenty of sites that show you how to make your own clothes:,, and to name a few. Don’t stop with clothes either. Accessories are pretty easy to make too. They take you back to your arts and crafts craze a lot of us had as little kids and still have! Here’s another idea that’s very popular at my school; when you’re tired of your normal white Vans, Keds, or Converse, draw on them. Buy fabric markers and let your creativity run wild. It’s the perfect way to add your own personal style to a basic jeans-and-T outfit.

3. The Look For Less See something you like on Selena Gomez or on Gossip Girl, but its way out of your budget? Try recreating that look with similar pieces that are more affordable. Many websites can help you in your mission. My favorite is my guilty pleasure, I swear I spend hours on here. Just type in the “look for less” along with what it is you want and you’ll be surprised at what comes up. Magazines are also bursting with ideas and inspiration that you can revamp to make it work for your budget.

4. Swap Your Style Have you heard of swapping parties? They are parties where you invite all your friends and tell them to bring all the clothes that they no longer want. You do the same. Then you swap clothes with each other. The goal is for all of you to get new or gently used items for in exchange for those that you no longer want or need. Or if you’re friends don’t share your style, you could always try, an Internet site that is basically the same, only it’s done over the web and can be done with various people. Just make sure you agree with their return policies; some people do not offer refunds or exchanges.

5. EBay Ah, the tried and true EBay. You can find everything there, from a new Ralph Lauren blazer to a vintage Valentino dress. Or if you’re not looking to buy, you can always just sell. You’d be surprised at what some people would want. But be very careful: a lot of advertised designer clothes are actually fake. Make sure it’s real by requesting to see the original receipt and the article’s tag [most designer clothes are dry-clean only]. Also, some seller’s don’t accept returns, so decide carefully when buying.

6. Thrift Stores Now we get to my favorite tip; the thrift stores. This is no celebrity-secret. People have shopped at these stores for years. It’s nothing new, only now they’re getting more attention due to the economy. Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and Plato’s Closet are good places to try. I’m not guarantying you’ll find a Chanel bag or new Nikes (you might), but you’ll find a few nice things. And they’re not going to jump out at you; you have to really take your time and look through everything, if you really want to find a treasure!

7. Layaway. Not familiar with layaway? Well, it is an awesome service some stores have. If you see something you like at the store but can’t afford it right away, you can ask the sales personnel to “hold it” for you and work out a layaway plan, where you will pay monthly or weekly payments until you’ve paid the total cost of the item. And voila! It’s yours! While you have it in layaway, it can’t be sold to anyone else because it’s yours, you just haven’t fully paid for it. Keep in mind though that if you miss a payment, then you might lose the item. So keep track of when you paid, how much you’ve paid, and how much more you need to pay. Also, it is possible that the layaway plans will have interest on the payments, making it sometimes more convenient to buy on the spot. Marshalls, Burlington Coat Factory, and Kmart all have layaway plans and since different stores have different policies, check with each to store so you can decide what works best for you. If you start buying now, by the end of summer, you’ll have those new clothes without feeling as if you spent all your savings!

8. Discount Super Stores Layaway brings me to my other point, Discount Department Stores. You’ve heard of them, (Marshalls, Burlington Coat Factory, and TJ Maxx to name a few), but have you ever actually been inside? I absolutely love these stores! You can buy designer clothes for less than half the price in most cases! The same clothes, shoes, and bags that you see in the stores at the mall can be found there at discounted prices. Try going when they have clearance sales (the end of July, December, March and May) to get even greater deals!

Remember, look for things that reflect your style and personality. Don’t buy things just because they’re “in style” or ‘trendy” if they are the complete opposite of who you are. The first day outfit should say something about you and what you want to accomplish this year. Best Dressed maybe? And if anyone says something rude about your outfit, try this: smile and acknowledge their comment. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion but all that matters is that you feel confident in your outfit and it makes you want to treat the hallway as your runway!

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2 Responses to “Back To School Fashion On A Budget”

  1. Samantha C.
    August 25, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    Definitely don’t miss out on the clothing and shoe swapping opportunities. So much great stuff gets swapped through sites like and that it usually the best place to start when looking for like-new items.

  2. Jenza
    October 5, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    I loved how you included all this awesome tips on going back to school and being fashionable on a budget. I actually found this cool website that I totally recommend for back to school budgets. Its called and their Do It Yourself videos are perfect for anyone looking at updating their look for an affordable price. My friends and I are in love with all the accesories we can make with these videos to update our looks this school year. As a matter of fact we are gonna wear our new lace up heels to the fall dance this year! Here is the URL: Check it out! It also has the latest news on trends,l fashion and beauty!

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