[Guest Post] Fashion on a Budget: Why is it so hard?

Cassandra writes…

Being a college kid and loving clothes and fashion doesn’t always mesh well.  Trying to buy cute, flattering clothes on a budget doesn’t have to be impossible, but lately, CERTAIN affordable stores (*cough* Forever 21 and Wet Seal, I’m lookin’ at you! *cough*) have decided that the best way to show off a sleek, young silhouette is to slash the pattern into stripes…. Now, I’m all for stripes and prints done the right way, but looking like an item got wrinkled before the printing process isn’t exactly chic.  Take this otherwise acceptable tank top from Forever 21:


And the placement of those stripes! What a way to make your hips look gigantic…. Sheesh!

Another culprit was found at Body Central:

But the worst of all was found at Wet Seal:


Not only does it have stripes, but foiled dots and ruching too!  Whatever happened to “less is more”?

Up until stumbling across these monstrosities, I didn’t even know this style had a name… Sublimation. Now, I don’t remember a whole lot from high school chemistry, but I think sublimation is when a substance goes from a solid straight to a gas. What on earth does that have to do with this style? Maybe the rest of the pattern evaporated right off the fabric?? All I know is that even though I have to buy on a budget, when I buy a shirt or dress, I want the whole thing, pattern and all!

So, fashion jury, what’s your verdict? Does buying on a budget mean we have to settle for less? Do we just have to accept that flattering fashion can’t be bought on a college kid income? Or should we realize that a passing trend doesn’t signal the downfall for affordable fashion?


  • December 17, 2009


    This is an interesting dilemma for me because I recently gave up a very high-paying job (one that allowed me to frequently shop for designer items — nothing in the $600 and above range, but still) to pursue my passion, which unfortunately comes with an “I can barely pay my bills” salary, at least for the first few years. So while I’m lucky enough to have accumulated a few choice designer items, I have to wait for the rest of them to hit the clearance racks. I check Rue La La, Gilt Groupe, and Haute Look frequently, and if there’s a particular item I have my eye on, I’ll check eBay. I actually got last year’s DvF Sophia Loren dress for about a quarter of the price by stalking the item on the internet for a good five months until it finally showed up on eBay for under $200 (the dress was originally $400).

    Still, buying something over $100 is a splurge for me these days, so I’ve taken to patrolling the sale racks (both physically and online) at stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic, as well as at Norstrom and Saks. I’m also lucky enough to live an hour away from an outlet mall that carries Theory and Tahari, to name a few. No, I no longer have the budget to have a completely designer wardrobe, and even designer sale items are sometimes out of my monetary grasp (at least right away — I’ve become very good at saving and waiting patiently). But I believe that by having a few good designer/high-quality pieces in your wardrobe, you can mix-and-match them with lower-end pieces in a nice, clever bit of subterfuge. So far, it seems to have worked for me. When I last wore my Seven jeans (which I got on sale at Rue), they got so much attention that no one even noticed that my little flannel vest was straight from the Forever 21 clearance rack 🙂

    Good luck!

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  • December 17, 2009


    The prints are unattractive, but the colors are heinous!

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  • December 17, 2009


    like a horrible updated version of tye dye on some 80s inspired clothing…it could only be more wrong if it also had random slashes of sheerness lol
    methinx or at least mehopes this will be a flash in the pan trend…stay strong cas

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  • December 18, 2009


    u know what annoys me most? the awesomest dress in the best cut that really flatters your body… AND THEN…. having such heinous prints on them. sigh.

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  • December 18, 2009


    i agree that those are awful… ive always hated that look, it just looks sloppy.

    when it comes to budget though, ive got 4 stores that im constantly frequenting, and ive managed to make a very decent wardrobe for very very cheap- marshalls, ross, tj maxx, and nordstrom rack.. and in each stores, walking straight to the clearance rack and staying in the clearance rack.

    and of course thrift store hunting. i got some adorable betsey johnson shoes for 5 dollars at a goodwill, and in amazing condition.

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  • December 18, 2009


    Oh this “print” (or whatever the hell it is) isn’t confined to just Forever 21. Wander through Macy’s or Steinmart. Every suburban soccer mom is wearing a top with the mangled printing press look. How did this become a trend?

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  • December 18, 2009


    I agree with Kat. I’m also a poor college student, like you, but I still get some designer pieces. Sales, coupon codes (most online stores have them these days), and ebay are my best friends. I’ve gotten Siwy jeans for $50 (less than jeans at Hollister) before. It’s all about shopping smart and being patient. 🙂

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  • December 18, 2009


    Oh, god, you don’t know how many people in my town wear this kind of stuff. It’s been around for years.

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  • December 19, 2009


    i’m convinced that shirt is bad all around, with or without the slashes…
    .-= charles´s last blog ..On Ribs…. =-.

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  • December 21, 2009


    i hate this style too. always loathed everything with nasty ‘painty’ looks. although i can just about stand top No. 2

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  • December 23, 2009


    I’m in high school, and so many of my friends love WetSeal and Forever 21, yet whenever I go in to either of the stores I am not as impressed. The stores are huge and overwhelming, and the material is so cheap! Half of the stuff at the store is overdone (like this ‘Sublimination’ thing). I have a small frame (okay, fine I’m really short) and the stuff just makes me look wide and frumpy. It is not designed to fit well! I also have a limit on my budget, but usually I go to H&M. Sometimes its hard to find something cheap and chic there, but they have a lot of good deals. Also, thrift stores are great too.

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  • January 4, 2010


    I hate hate hate this style. It must be stopped at all costs. Perfectly nice clothes are being maimed.

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