It can be tough to be a college student and keep up with the latest fashion trends. We’re all just starting to navigate the beginnings of financial independence and allocating money toward wardrobe improvements isn’t always feasible or easy, so here are some tips to spice up your style on a budget.

A decision you have to make when it comes to your wardrobe is: do you want a lot of cheaper clothing or a few nice pieces. I think this decision ultimately comes down to lifestyle, if you’re someone who is going out a lot and wants to just be able to throw all your clothes in the washer together, you should go for the first option, because nicer items take more care. 

Some stores you can get great deals at are Forever 21, Marshalls, TJ Maxx and H&M. The best way to get a lot of cheap clothes is to keep an eye on sales at your favorite stores, especially H&M and Forever 21, because there are usually sales every month or so where you can get at least four or five really cool items for $50. If you’re someone who can really take care of your clothes, I recommend the second option because just a few nice items can make a ton of outfit options, and they’ll last forever. 

Some great stores to get deals (albeit not as good as the deals at the previous stores) on nice clothes are Banana Republic, the Gap and Express. Depending on how you budget you could even go for higher-end, luxury stores. It just depends on how you want to allocate your budget. 

A great way to save money when it comes to dry-cleaning your higher-end items is to get the Woolite at-home dry cleaning kit. While I wouldn’t recommend using this on silks or leathers, it works great for other materials, helps you save a ton of money and is super easy to use. 

Another route you can go to liven up your wardrobe without killing your wallet (or the environment) is buying used clothing. Going to places like thrift stores and Goodwill is a great way to find some standout fashion items without breaking the bank. 

Another great thing is you can find some on-trend vintage items that are one-of-a-kind. The one downside to thrift stores is you have to be willing to spend a lot of time digging through racks to find those great items. 

A great alternative to thrift stores is to use thrifting apps and websites. I personally really enjoy using Poshmark to buy clothes, as well as Depop and thredUP because they make it incredibly easy to find what you’re looking for. The only downside is you often can’t return the items, so if it doesn’t fit it’s problematic.

A great way to add money to your clothing budget is to sell items you no longer use and/or don’t fit. You can do this at thrift stores or use the apps and websites mentioned above.

The last thing I’d recommend is using a clothing rental/style subscription service. Clothing rental services like Rent the Runway and Nuuly allow you to rent clothes from anywhere between four days to a month, which can be a great option if you’re looking for a new outfit for a special occasion. 

Another option is subscriptions like Stitch Fix and Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe. These services send you clothes stylists think you’ll like, and you keep what you like and send back what you don’t. This can be a good way to get professional styling tips on a budget. Happy Shopping!

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