Campus Style on a College Budget

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High-end fashion shopping spree

Staying up on fashion trends is one of our top hobbies. But paying for clothes off the runway, at boutiques, or through our favorite designers has us entirely at a loss. How can you be as fabulous as can be when you can’t afford to wear what’s in? We break down 10 ways we’re keeping our style within your budget — spending little (sometimes not even a penny) on the latest trends.

  1. Throw a Closet Party

We grow out of our clothes faster than we like to think. That’s why throwing a closet party with your most fashionable (and closest-in-size) friends is a fast way to find new clothing staples. The rules are simple: bring clothes to exchange and only take the number you brought yourself. Whatever is left over can be donated to a local charity.

     2. Rent Directly

There are a ton of businesses who make bank allowing you to rent high-end designer pieces. The prices can range from $20 to $100, but you’ll get a thousand-dollar (or more) look without anyone knowing it isn’t yours. For those very special occasions, this is one of our go-to options.

hangers found in closets or thrift stores

     3. Go Thrifting

Thrift stores are everywhere — and with good reason. Many of them specialize in designer pieces, specific sizes, and high-quality goods at unbeatable prices. Make an afternoon out of it, and visit a couple to score some great deals! Find one that fits your style, and most importantly your budget.

     4. Re-sell and Profit

Did you know you can sell your old clothes and then use the profits to buy new pieces? Sites like eBay and Polyvore are crazy-addictive, and they make a great side hustle for frugal college fashionistas with a good eye for what’s on trend.

     5. Borrow from a Fashionable Friend

Find your new BFF: Best Fashionable Friend. Your wardrobe will love the updating, even if temporarily, and you can bond over pieces you see in magazines or on your favorite celebrities. It’s a win-win!

clothes organized in a dresser drawer

    6. Build a Capsule with What You Have

Minimalists will tell you that capsule wardrobes are a must. Build a wardrobe with staple pieces that are simple and high quality. Once you check off the pieces you need, then you can use Pinterest and minimalist sites to make hundreds of outfit possibilities!

     7. Check Resale Groups

Facebook and Craigslist are awesome places to find a deal on new clothing. Just be safe about what you buy. Always use cash. Pick up in a public spot, even bring a friend. And do your research on if the piece is real or fake before you purchase.

     8. Become a Clothing Couponer

While extreme couponing for clothes isn’t as easy as it is for groceries, you can get good discounts on clothing when you know where to look. Ebates, for one, gives you cash back for online purchases. Loyalty programs can alert you to exclusive discounts. And don’t forget your college ID! Stores like J. Crew offer a percentage off when you show it at the checkout.

     9. Hit Up Salvation Army and Goodwill

The time it takes to double check for stains and tears is worth it when you can find pieces like gently worn Lululemon for 75 percent off or Kate Spade dress for under $20! Go on discount tag days for even bigger savings.

    10. Make Your Own

Who says you must wear only designers? Recreate your favorite looks by following patterns and buying a used sewing machine. A class, experienced friend, or YouTube tutorial can show you the basics. In no time, you’ll be designing your own wardrobe!

While in college, staying on top of the latest fashion trends is one of the most important things. Spending within your budget can pose some unique challenges. Let this list serve as a starting point for more creative ways to look fashionable and save money!

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OCM Staff
Our Campus Market is the premier website for college students and families. Whether you are preparing for college or staying in contact across the miles, OCM is ready with university-approved merchandise for campus living, gifting and special campus occasions including move-in, graduation and more.