Being on a college budget can really put a dent in your ideal closet. I don't like to ask my parents for money and I don't make a lot at my job, so I have to be frugal with my cash. I get the majority of my clothes from Forever 21, H&M, thrift shops, Charlotte Russe, Ross, and Tj Maxx. Every now and again I'll shop at Tobi if I can find a good deal. I love boutiques, Urban Outfitters, Free People, and other stores that share their style, but I can't afford an $80 dress that'll only be cute until Fall. I firmly believe that everything I buy should be under $20, so I only splurge if I need a nice pair of lifting/training shoes.
When you decide to buy something, you need to compare the price of it to how long you think you'll actually wear it. If it's a classic piece, there's no problem in paying a little more for it since you'll be wearing it for years. On the other hand, if you're buying something trendy (off the shoulder tops, chokers, etc.) it's wiser to be cautious about how much you spend since you'll probably never wear it again once the fad is over.
Over the weekend, I went to the PINK Nation Hotel in Palm Springs with a few other lucky College Fashionistas, and every single time they asked me where I got something it was Forever 21. Their immediate reaction was, "How do you find things there?" and, "How did you make that looks so nice?".
I honestly didn't realize how uncommon it was to find the outfits I do at the places I do. Growing up, my mom always taught me to go straight for the sale rack because very few things were worth paying full price for. I didn't grow up poor, I grew up in a standard middle class family, but my mom knew how to shop so that we could shop more. The less you spend on one item, the more you can spend on others. It's all about choosing to spend you $100 on a Free People dress, or 4-5 items at a lower end store. Whether you want to admit it or not when you're buying it, most things you find in store won't be in style the next year. Don't spend $100 on the dress. Find a cheaper dress, and buy 4 more dresses.
Contrary to popular belief, you CAN make buying cheap look chic! Before you go shopping, look on pinterest for inspiration on what to pair with what. You might be able to find something affordable that you can wear a few different ways, or find something that may last through another season. If you look for pieces and colors that may be more versatile, you'll get more bang for your buck (this explains why the majority of my closet is black and white).
For example: This outfit costed about $30 without accessories. The bralette was $4 from Forever 21 and the Palazzo Pants were $22 from Forever 21. I've already worn the outfit about 3 times, meaning that I already got my money out of it (as well as a thousand comments and a billion instagrams). The outfit itself was cheap, but it looked so chic when I put it together.
If you're curious:
-the sunnies were $10 from Tj Maxx
-the hat was $15 from JC Penney
-the shoes were $10 from Target
-the body chain and choker were 2 for $10 from Charlotte Russe