University of Students Reveal Their Secrets for Shopping on a Budget

In the past couple of years, global increases in the costs of raw materials and labor have caused a nearly 10 percent rise in clothing costs.  In response to higher costs, college students budgeting their money are looking for new, creative ways to buy quality clothing at a manageable price.

Many DU students have successfully learned to budget their money without sacrificing their personal style.  They have learned where to find the best deals, how to get the most value for their money, and what to look for while clothes shopping.

Student Lexi Dienstbier shows off a workout outfit she bought at Nordstrom Rack.

Student Lexi Dienstbier shows off a workout outfit she bought at Nordstrom Rack.


What to spend money on: quality vs. quantity.

While shopping for clothing, it seems tempting to measure success by quantity instead of quality.  However, for some students, the quality of the clothing is important for long-term and practical wear.

“I’d rather have one really good piece of clothing that would last awhile than many poor quality pieces,” said 19-year-old Lexi Dienstbier.

J. Crew employee and student, Rachael Scoggins, 20, agreed with Dienstbier.  She notes that something has to be high quality if she is going to spend money on clothing outside of her budget.

“If I’m going to go big on something, it will be something nicely made that catches my eye,” said Scoggins.  “I need to be able to wear it more than once.”

Grace Mader, 19, keeps a list of clothes she wants to buy so that she focuses her shopping budget on what she really wants and needs.

“I look for the things when I go out shopping,” Mader said.  “But, I won’t buy anything unless I think it’s absolutely perfect.”


Where students shop for good clothing deals.

Some students shopping for new clothing turn to consignment stores for inexpensive brand name clothing.  In the Denver area, stores such as Amy’s Closet and Zoe’s sell designer labels at affordable prices.  Unfortunately, the majority of consignment shops are for women and not for men.

Many students, such as Mader and Dienstbier, also look for less expensive clothing on the Internet, utilizing search engines and access to a multitude of clothing suppliers.

Websites such as HauteLook sell brand name labels at a reduced price for both men and women.

Websites such as HauteLook sell brand name labels at a reduced price for both men and women.

Mader loves to find deals and make bids on Ebay, and she proudly flaunts a gold and pink Michael Kors watch as her success in browsing the online marketplace.  To her, Ebay can be a valuable tool for college students looking for certain labels and designers at reduced prices.

“It’s hard as a college student to find places to shop within my budget, which is why I make the majority of my clothing and luxury purchases on Ebay,” said Mader.  “In my opinion, buying things at a mall isn’t worth it.”

Websites such as HauteLook, RueLaLa, and Ideeli offer brand name labels at significantly lower prices.  These websites can hold hidden treasures, with some items marked at 50 to 60 percent lower than their original sale price.


Pointers for students shopping on a budget.

Some college students are experts at shopping on a budget; others are still trying to navigate the world of online shopping and sale searching.  For those who are looking to get the most for their money, here are some tips from DU students:

  • Seasonal sales: When a new season arrives, it’s tempting to immediately look for clothes in recently stocked stores.  However, according to Cristina Desposito, REDBOOK fashion market editor, it’s crucial to know when clothes are marked down in a season.“I usually find what I like in stores, then I watch and wait for sales,” agreed Dienstbier.  “Stores will usually have a sale once very couple of months.  I can get what I want for less.”
  • Make a list: Making a list and knowing what to buy cuts down on overspending and makes for more effective shopping.  It prevents impulse purchases, which can take valuable money away from items that are really important.“In order to buy something, I think you either have to really need it or it has to be something you’ve seriously thought about and really want,” said Mader.
  • Rewards programs: Store coupons can cut costs, and many stores have reward programs that give out free items and discounts to frequent customers.  Stores such as Designer Shoe Warehouse reward coupons depending on how many points have been earned from shopping.“I use rewards points and coupons at stores that I love, but I can’t always afford,” said Scoggins.  “Sometimes, I even use the coupons and rewards points that my mom doesn’t use.”
  • Look around:  Comparing the prices of certain stores is part of knowing where to look for the best deals.  If it’s a specific item, then a search through a few online shopping websites might reveal a better price.“If I know exactly what I want, then I sometimes Google it and compare prices,” said Dienstbier.  “

Leave a Reply