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Shopping smart on a student budget

(10/20/15 7:41pm)

Whenever I advocate being fashionable, people challenge me that fashion isn’t exactly college budget-friendly. In my opinion, those people probably haven’t learned the ways of smart shopping. I hate buying anything at retail price. Any clothing item in my closet can retail from $10 to $280 but I have never paid any more than $180, and that evening gown was an investment. The breakdown can get very detailed, but the average cost of my daily wear and business casual is probably $20 an item. So where do I start? At the bottom, of course. Secondhand shops are hopefully old news to everyone here on campus, from the Rice Students Selling Clothing Facebook group to the many Goodwill and thrift stores near campus. While I don’t go thrifting as often as I should, I always manage to find great deals on designer items or unique pieces when I do. I highly recommend searching for coats and jeans at thrift stores before going to the mall.For the most part, I like to shop in person because I enjoy the experience of going from store to store, trying new things on, and leaving with my new treasure. I always check to see if there’s a student discount, which is sometimes in-store only. LOFT, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Club Monaco, J. Crew. Madewell and Steve Madden all offer student discounts, though they may vary by location.Some of these discounts apply for your entire purchase, while some, like Club Monaco, apply to only regular-priced items. For this reason, I don’t always use the student discount if I can find a better deal in the sale section. Always go to the sale and clearance sections in a store first. Yes, those are old collections but trends don’t come and go as quickly as you think, and if something looks good on you, it’ll always look good, no matter what the trends are.I also try to time my shopping trips with sale weekends. Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving (which are separate from Black Friday deals) and winter holiday sales are only a few of the big sale weeks of the year. On top of those sales, if you subscribe to your favorite brands’ mailing lists, you’ll receive emails about their flash in-store sales or “secret” sale weekends. Of course, they’re always having online sales of some sort as well. Admittedly, I window shop way too much and waste so much time, but sometimes I’ve found an item I tried on in-store but didn’t buy because it was too pricey, only to find it on sale online.Though I prefer to buy clothing in person, there are some stores that are online only and carry really nice pieces. ASOS offers a student discount online and Everlane has very good quality basics that I prefer over Gap’s. Just make sure you read the return policies, as some online stores can get picky and it could be a hassle to return things that don’t fit — a common problem when shopping online.My shopping philosophy ends with shopping for pieces that are either unique and stand out, or classics that can be combined with many different pieces to give me plenty of outfit combinations to choose from. This is particularly important for students because you want to be able to maximize the number of outfits you can get out of a small closet space and a small budget.Thanksgiving month is coming up, which is the perfect time to look for great deals, so good luck shopping!



College is the time to experiment with your fashion style

(08/27/15 12:06pm)

Before matriculating in 2013, I had little hope for finding a large crowd of fashion enthusiasts on campus, and my first semester proved me right. Free T-shirts and sweats was the norm. There was the rare fashionable individual here and there, and the only exceptions to the T-shirts and sweats combo were career expo days and Associates’ Nights.Thankfully, I discovered 6100 Main, the tiny, tiny fashion blog dedicated to our campus. I began to write for it, and envisioned it becoming the campus fashion blog one day. It was an ambitious vision at the time because no one seemed to care about what they, or anyone else for that matter, wore.Magically, the summer of 2014 seemed to instill a sense of fashion upon the majority of our student body. Or the class of 2018 just elevated the entire campus’ style scene in one fell swoop, who knows. I came back to more chino pants and button-downs on the men, and an even more stylish women’s fashion scene. From boho chic West Coast to NYC street to Southern tea time chic, from Asian street to European posh, our campus style was slowly becoming the epitome of our school’s “diversity” mantra. Rice, you had finally proved me wrong. Not only did you prove that you actually do have a sense of dress, but you also showed enthusiasm for styling and fashion — a sort of new and improved attitude toward actually caring about what you look like, what you are wearing. It honestly took me by surprise, especially the exponential increase in recognition 6100 Main had received lately. (For that, thank you!)Another summer has passed, and we welcome a new class on campus. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that being stylish and fashionable isn’t necessarily a sign of being a snobby rich kid, an airhead, a “Mean Girl” (or “Guy”), etc. I encourage you to continue this upward trend of caring about fashion and trying out new styles. Remember to take chances and wear what you like, whether or not your roommate hates it!College is the prime time to be ridiculous and experiment with your style. Whether it be loud and bold or just plain and old, your style can physically represent a part of your personality. They tell us not to judge a book by its cover, but let’s be honest: We do judge books by their covers. Covers both protect the pages of the book and make a statement. Use fashion to feel put-together even when your life is in shambles, or to make a social statement. I feel like Beyonce 2.0 when I step out in a white button-down half tucked into high rise jeans, paired with black heels. And when I wear all black? Everyone seems to understand: “I don’t bother you — don’t bother me.” (Yohji Yamamoto). Just as music is a universal language, I believe fashion is too.It’s been a great joy to watch our campus style scene evolve, and I look forward to seeing what this new year brings in terms of fashion. If you ever see someone hobbling across the quad in heels and a blazer on the way to lunch, go ahead, laugh and shake your head. Or stop me to say hi and let me take a picture of your #riceootd (outfit of the day) for Instagram!Bonus tips: Guys, I wholeheartedly embrace the “chino paired with short sleeve button-downs” trend. Chino shorts and pants can be dressed up or down, and can be regular-conservative-khakis colored, or progressively-fashionable-pastel colored. While rolled-up long-sleeve button-downs make any person automatically ten times more attractive, short sleeve button downs are your chance to show off those nice arms you’ve been working on. Ladies, most of y’all know the drill already — loose-fitting dresses are your friends and pointy-toe flats give the same leg-lengthening effect as any pair of heels.