eing an FGLI student (First Generation/Low Income) can be difficult when finding your own style.Having a college budget on top of not having a lot starting off with can be difficult when coming to a college campus. When people think about their own personal style, the first thing that comes to mind is what brands they usually buy. Here on campus, we joke about how Penn’s personal style as a campus includes Canada Gooses, Aquatalia/Frye black booties, etc. However, as FGLI students we struggle in finding our own personal style when what is deemed fashionable comes with a hefty price tag. I was inspired to write this article because of an article I read on Style Caster called “7 Reasons Why You Don’t Need Money to Be Stylish.” I’ve talked to many people about how we are always a little influenced by those around us and what brands they wear. Knowing we can’t afford the $900 jacket that everyone seems to be wearing is hard because we might want it, but we know we can’t have it. Whether you are FGLI or just someone that needs to cut their clothes spending, here are some of Penn’s FGLI student opinions on how to budget without sacrificing personal style.
1. ONLINE SHOPPING. I know this is scary for a lot of you who’ve had a rough experience of online shopping. It either comes a size too big/small, doesn’t look like it is on the model, or it’s just an awful material. We’ve all been there and done that, but online stores such as Missguided, Revolve, etc. are actually amazing websites that don’t cost a lot. If you just try it out, you will see that there are so many options you might like at very affordable prices.
2. Shop at affordable stores. Don’t shy away from stores that give you massive discount. I’ve found some gems at Nordstrom Rack in Center City and payed less than I regularly would. Save that extra money and treat yourself to a spa day!
3. Thrift stores are the way to go. Most people have the wrong perception on buying secondhand items or clothing from thrift stores. However, rare finds in thrift stores are worth the search. You can find unique items at very affordable prices that help anyone piece together their style either using a statement necklace or an interesting pair of shoes that simply call out to you.
4. You don’t need the latest trend. This is a big change of mindset, as often the point of fashion is to express yourself (cliché, I know). If you think a trend is cute, go for it, but don’t let it influence you to be like everyone else.
5. Stick to a budget. This is less of a way to find your personal style and more of a way to just save money. I’ve had that moment of weakness at Urban Outfitters, where I slide the credit card on the table to pay for a new jacket that I don’t necessarily love. I’ve had the call from parents who ask me about my absurd spending every month. If you just create a monthly budget for clothes, you can avoid that awful conversation with your parents, buy cute stuff every month, and keep yourself in check.
6. Accessories. Most people might think this one is so generic as well, but as a student on a budget, this one has come in handy. I am guilty of wearing the same outfit in the same week, but most people don’t know that because I add on a necklace, a cardigan/shawl, change up the way I’m wearing it, add a unique belt, etc. There is so much you can do to spice up an outfit and make it totally you.
7. Don’t care about labels. The most stylish people in the world are the ones who understand that they don’t need the $2,000 handbag or $300 shoes to make themselves look or feel cool. What’s the point of buying the same stuff everyone else has or wants? How does that let you create your own personal style? What do brands even do? Show everyone how much you spent? Just stick to your budget, find your style, and don’t be pressured! You’ll find your own style in no time. I hope you all have great luck trying create your own style, and know that even though you might not have enough money to buy the big brand names, you can still be the most stylish person in the room.