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When Fashion and Funds Conflict: Riah’s Budget-Friendly Guide to Being Stylish

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bowling Green chapter.

Love fashion but struggle to keep up as a college student? Here are my tips to express yourself without breaking the bank.

Wardrobe Must-Haves

When in doubt, go back to the basics. It would help if you had some closet staples that you could use as a base for your outfits. Your staples will depend on your style, but here are some of mine for example:

  • Neutral-colored tank tops and long-sleeved shirts
  • Black leggings
  • Denim jeans
  • White and black skirts
  • White and black shoes
  • White-collared button down shirt

I’ll bet that you have most of these things in your closet. If you don’t, hit the thrift stores! Not only is thrifting eco-friendly, but it’s also budget-friendly.

Main Pieces

You want to have some statement pieces to pair with your staples. Again, this is subjective to your style, but here’s some of mine:

  • Colored/patterned skirts
  • Sweaters
  • Band t-shirts
  • Jackets
  • Different colored shoes

Putting together an outfit

You do not need tons of clothing in order to make a good outfit.

Something to remember is that you do not need tons of clothing in order to make a good outfit. You just need a few staples and a few statement pieces, and you can mix and match them to create different combinations. Use the items you have in your closet in ways you never have before. There are various routes you can take to determine your OOTD. I like to center my ‘fits around my statement pieces.

One important thing to note about me is that my style depends on my mood.

Sandwich Dressing

When I want to be comfy but cute, I’ll pair a band tee with a long-sleeved shirt, jeans, and shoes (typically high tops) that match the color of my shirt.

Have you heard of sandwich dressing? That’s what I applied here. The Wardrobe Consultant defines this concept as coordinating two similar items (the bread) (usually of the same texture or color) and then adding something different in the middle (the filing). In my case, my top and shoes would be the bread, and my jeans would be the filling separating them. This is a simple formula that can help you create balanced outfits.

Sandwich Dressing in action. Here, the black top and black shoes act as the bread, and the white pants are the filling.

Consider the lengths and fittings of your clothing. Mix and match them!
For example, my friend likes to put together outfits that consist of a “little shirt, big pants.” To do this, they might wear flowy pants and a tight-fitting shirt.

Other combinations may include:

  • High-waisted pants/cropped top
  • Baggy sweater/leggings
  • tank top or form-fitting tee/sweatpants
  • Flared leggings/tight top

Accessories take your outfit to the next level
Here are the things I consider when accessorizing: Does this need a pop of color?

If I’m wearing a black dress, I might consider adding an accent color. Traditionally, people like to add red to black, but I’ve been a big fan of adding hot pink. Pairing a black dress with hot pink heels and a hot pink bag was definitely a favorite move of mine.

If I’m wearing an outfit that is mostly one color but has some of another (ex; a navy blue shirt with yellow text, then I’ll try to add more of the accent color. From my example, I might add a yellow scrunchie to my hair.

Girl In Sherpa Coat
Arianna Tucker / Her Campus

What do I need that I can turn into an accessory?

For hot and sunny weather, you can wear your sunglasses on the top of your head until you’re ready to wear them. It’s a cute look that keeps your hair out of your face.

Chilly weather? Consider tying a light jacket around your waist. Of course, this depends on the fit you have on, but personally, I love a good jeans, white top, and flannel around the waist moment.

The Lalaplaid Shirt Jeans
Her Campus Media

Advanced Tips

As a self-proclaimed sewing girly, I like to use my skills to repurpose my clothes and prolong their wearability.

  • One of the most common rips in clothing occur on the seams. Fear not, this is an easy fix, and should you learn what to do when this happens, you will never have to experience the dread of throwing out your favorite items of clothing due to rips ever again. The Spruce Crafts (https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/how-to-mend-a-ripped-seam-1106538) has a guide to successfully repairing your ripped seams.
  • A raised hemline can make all the difference in your clothes. By hemming pants to shoe length, they automatically give a more elevated look. If you have an awkward length skirt, you can hem it to your desired length. If you have an impossibly long shirt, you can hem it and make it shorter.

Hemming is one of the first skills I learned on my sewing machine. Ask your friends and family if they have a sewing machine you can borrow or learn on. Most likely, someone will be able to help you out!

  • Add embellishments to otherwise basic pieces. I’ve been a huge fan of adding fabric patches to my jeans. It’s a cute, crafty look that takes me no time at all to put together
Riah Leskovac

Bowling Green '27

Riah is a freshman at Bowling Green State University majoring in fashion merchandising and product development. She spends her free time drawing, watching movies, going to concerts, and making clothes. Her Spotify stats feature Twenty One Pilots, TV Girl, Paramore, and Girl in Red.