Categories: Fashion & Beauty

20 Hacks To Look Stylish AF On A College Budget

Looking cute on a college budget is hard. I have high-end taste but a low-end budget. Throughout my experience as a poor college student, I have a few tips and tricks to help you look stylish and on trend without spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars!

1. Create a Poshmark account.

Poshmark is an app that you can download from the app store. It essentially lets you buy and sell gently used clothing. This is helpful in two ways.

1. You can sell your gently used clothing for a price you are comfortable with and earn cash!

2. You can purchase gently used clothing that is a fraction of the price it would be if you purchased it from a retail store! Be aware that Posh does take 20% of your earnings when you sell an item on their platform and charges $5.95 for two-day shipping.


2. Use your student discount.

Whenever you go shopping at a retail store always be sure to ask if there is a student discount. Most stores do offer a discount, but if they don’t; no harm in asking! A few of my favorite stores that honor a student discount include: Madewell, J. Crew, Vineyard Vines, and Kate Spade. This student discount doesn’t just apply to clothing stores but can also be used at stores like Apple and Sam’s Club as well!

3. Apply at a retail store.

I began working at one of my favorite stores this summer. When you are employed at a retail store you will be offered an employee discount. This is especially helpful if you work for a clothing store you really like. I would buy most of the stuff my store carries for full price but I get a great discount simply because I work there!

4. Go Thrifting.

No seriously, you need to go. I LOVE going to Goodwill and finding a great deal. There are amazing brands within the racks of Goodwill! I have found a few Burberry, Tory Burch, Free People, Lululemon, and Lilly Pulitzer items! The higher end brands are harder to find, but if you look hard enough they are there. Lower end brands like J. Crew and American Eagle are ALWAYS at local Goodwill.

5. Shop stores like Clothes Mentor and Plato’s Closet.

This is similar to Goodwill; however, you will have to pay a bit more for this used clothing. These stores are nice to go to every once in a while though because, my local stores at least, organize the higher end clothing on a rack which allows me to find all the brands I love at an amazing price. For example, I got a pair of Lululemon leggings for $30 and a pair of Tory Burch flats for $35 from my local Plato’s Closet.


6. Ensure your existing clothing stays in good shape.

You can do this a number of ways, but I have found it to be extremely beneficial to waterproof my leather boots. I forgot to do this last winter and now one of my favorite pair of boots have a few water stains. I also waterproof my non-leather shoes, like Converse. Like many other girls my age, I have a pair of white Converse. I wore these shoes to a few events and parties but because I waterproofed them they never got dirty or ruined!

7. Invest in a Tide-to-go pen.

I cannot tell you how many times the pen has saved my life. Embarrassingly enough, I tend to spill on myself. Having a Tide-to-go pen has saved some of my favorite clothing items from their near-death experience. Trust me, set in coffee is not a good look during your lecture.

8. Invest in some drugstore makeup.

I will be the first to state that I am pretty much a makeup novice. I throw on some concealer and mascara and I am good for the day. However, I have found that when I do actually use more makeup, I reach for my drug store brand makeup more than my higher end makeup. I covet my $30 mascara, it’s a special occasion necessity only.

9. Shop the clearance section of your favorite stores.

This seems like a no brainer, but I know some people tend to completely forget there is a clearance section. The clearance section can offer some great deals and sometimes stores offer an additional percentage off the lowest ticketed price.


10. Paint your own nails instead of getting them done.

Get a few of your favorite color nail polishes and keep them in your dorm room or apartment. Next time your nails are in need of some TLC paint them yourself! There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that can help you create some professional looking designs (or not…. for me at least). (Think Pinterest fails.)

11. Get a few statement necklaces or pieces of jewelry.

I have a few statement necklaces that I keep on hand in case my outfit is terribly boring or I have a special event. They can dress up a casual outfit or make a dressier outfit pop! Charming Charlies is the best for purchasing jewelry because it’s very cheap! Prices may vary but I haven’t paid over $20 for any of my jewelry items.


12. Invest in a good purse.

It’s going to be painstaking forking over the money, but you can shop the sales! Kate Spade is one of my favorite purse designers and the brand offers a “Surprise Sale” every couple of months! Buy a purse during one of these sales, as the prices are incredible! Plus, if you invest in a higher end bag but get sick of it you can always resell or consign!

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13. Try your local outlet malls.

I mean outlets are the best, cheaper items and discounts on your favorite stores! I recommend going to an outlet near a holiday or back to school. Stores and outlets alike offer great deals and sales around major holidays and back to school!

14. Borrow clothing from your roommate or friends.

Remember to always ask first though! Having a best friend or roommate that is the same or similar size to you is amazing! Twice the closet, half the cost!


15. Invest in classic pieces that will stay in style for a while.

That way you don’t have to constantly change up your wardrobe each time a trend changes. Remember gauchos in elementary/middle school? Actually, please don’t remind me. (I have 5 pairs, my favorite being a brown pair with sparkles down the side.) Invest in some classic pieces such as simple button down shirts, a nice dark wash pair of skinny jeans, and a nice pair of sandals for summer, boots for winter, and tennis shoes for every season!

16. If you are looking for more trendy items shop at lower end stores like Forever 21.

Forever 21 offers a great selection of both on trend and classic pieces for a very low cost. This way if the trend goes out of style, you’re only out $15 to $20 dollars.

17. Try to shop in store rather than online.

Ever order something online only for it to show up looking nothing like the picture and about three sizes too small? Yeah, me too. Usually you can return, but this can be a hassle and it can be expensive if you have to pay the shipping fees! Go to the store and try things on to ensure you love them before purchasing!

18. Only purchase what you really love and need!

I am bad at this, so I can’t offer much advice. But if you see a top that is SO cute but you have something similar at home, don’t purchase it. If you see a fall vest that looks just like J.Crew but is only $25 but you have three other fall vest at home, don’t buy it. (Actually do, a $25 dollar J.Crew look alike? Who are we kidding…) The point is, make sure you really need and love what you are purchasing. No one needs thirteen white tee-shirts in varying degrees of white.

19. Take a friend with you when you go shopping.

Tell your friend what you can reasonably afford to spend on your outing and tell them to keep you accountable! They can help you narrow down what you need to get and what you can wait on. They can also help talk you out of things you don’t need!

20. Lastly, buy clothes in your own size and your own size only.

Maybe I am the only crazy one here, but if I see a sweater on sale I really want that’s three sizes too big for me I will buy it no questions asked. I am going for an “oversized look.” Then I will take it home and try it on, and it will look horrible! Buy clothes that actually fit you the way they were intended!

There you have it! 20 sure fire ways to ensure you can save and spend your money wisely! Learn from my mistakes and look amazing on a low end budget!

What are some other hacks to stay stylish AF while on a college budget? Comment below and share this article with friends!

Featured image source:
Emma Schaefer

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