How to Shop for a Fall Wardrobe on a College Girl Budget

It’s fall! This means crunchy leaves, blankets, snuggles, tea, pumpkin spice lattes, and a new wardrobe. Warm booties, cashmere sweaters, buttery leather jackets, delicious turtlenecks, funky layers— are you excited yet? Fall fashion is by far one of my favorites and simultaneously the most expensive. How can you curate the perfect fall collection without breaking the bank? Let me tell you, it’s not by shopping at Urban Outfitters or Free People. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Consignment is where it’s at. Consignment and thrifting for clarification are completely different.

Consignment stores generally contain lightly-used, current styles, for a fraction of the price. Whereas, in my experience, thrift stores generally contain a scattered array of everything and anything. So here’s to being economical, environmentally friendly, and fashion forward. These are the top places I recommend as a seasoned consignment shopper.


Common Threads (Boulder and Denver)

Common Threads is a local business and is the upper-tear of Boulder in regards to consignment. They pride themselves on taking in brand new or very lightly used, high-quality items. They carry designer brands such as Louis Vuitton, Alexander Wang, Chanel, Rachel Comey, Isabel Marant, Acne Studios, etc. If you are into the designer brands (I am such a brand snob), this is the place to go. Just a heads up, pieces here can appear unconventionally pricey. When you walk in and see an Alexander McQueen dress priced at $410, it's hard to not feel flummoxed. However, keep in mind that the store prices pieces at around a third of retail... so do the math. Some of my favorite things to shop here are jeans. Who doesn’t need more?

My personal top brands include Rag and Bone, Mothers, Mcguire, AG, 3x1, and Citizens of Humanity. Most of these jean brands retail from $200-$350 new, and I can find them priced anywhere in the mid-thirties to low sixties. Also if you are an athletic person, they have basically new Lulu, Outside Voices, Aio, etc. and price Lulu leggings at around $34. Now if designer brands aren’t your thing, don’t lose hope. They have a plethora of brands such as Madewell, Free People, and Urban Outfitters as well and price these pieces very low. They have weekly sales that change and an amazing sale rack. I’ve purchased a AllSaints jacket for $35 (generally priced retail from $400-$600) and a pair of Dries Van Noten leather boots for $45 (retail ranging from $500-$1000).


The RealReal

The RealReal is an online consignment shop similar to Common Threads in the sense that they are curated towards people who are brand conscientious. The great thing about the RealReal is that because it is mostly online (there are stores in New York and L.A.), there are so many more items than can fit in a small store. Similar to Common Threads, it’s easy to be scared off by the items listed at $2000 but they have amazing sales.

It’s possible to find the same item in multiple sizes which is AMAZING and they offer a great discount for signing up (you must create an account to shop). For first time shoppers, they give you a $25 store credit and almost always have online sales such as 20% off. My best purchase so far has been an A.L.C. maxi dress (retailing for around $250-$500) that was marked down from $145 to $50. I love it. The only downside is that you can’t try on the clothes... but as long as the piece isn’t on super sale you can always return it.


Rags Consignment

Last but not least, Rags Consignment. This store is in Boulder and is a relatively large space. Similar to both of the other stores, they do have higher end pieces but because of the additional space, they have far more items than Common Threads. They have a mix of the designer brands but also carry pieces like Target, H&M, JCrew,Urban Outfitter, etc. and have the space to accommodate anyone’s fashion tastes. Rags had an amazing selection of overalls and jumpsuits last time I was there, and I’m so excited to go back.


Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, consignment can be a hit or a miss. I always tell people to remember that their pieces change on a daily basis, so just because you didn’t find something the first time you went in, doesn’t mean you never will. I’ve purchased $400 worth of clothing (in one go) from Common Threads and the next few times I was in, I found nothing (phew). It’s not for everyone, but I like to shop high quality clothing for cheap... maybe that’s just a me thing.