how to be a broke college kid, except better: part 1

I’m a poor, broke, college student that would love nothing more to spend her $’s on travel, fashion and other cool things like art. Yet some how I see my budget draining before my eyes (going mostly to food and rent). So while I slowly go up a dress size because I’m eating breakfast at 11 am and dinner at 11 pm, my budget quickly spirals downward. I’m a food snob. I can’t help it.

What does this all mean?!? Well isn’t it obvious? It translates to less money being spent on shoes, tops, dresses, pants, plane tickets and trinkets. There must be a solution!! and (drum roll) there is: awesome clothes, accessories and travel at awesome prices. Duh.

So because you’ve probably been/are/will be a broke college student, I’ve compiled some stores, online boutiques, and tricks that will help you spend that extra dollar on that fattening burrito and get you that lovely dress you wanted for the vacation you’re planning.

There’s a lot to cover, so I’m going to do this in a few posts.

part 1: the awesome dress (and makeover)

A – you’re in high school and you want that awesome $1000 prom dress
B – you’re in college and you saw a dress you can’t resist even though you don’t have an occasion to wear it, or you do… social mixer. duh.
C – you’re out of college (in the real world) and you need an awesome dress for a night out, gala, mixer, job thing, whatever

If you’re reading this you probably fall into one of the above, and if you don’t, you will (not a 100% guarantee).

So back in high school I wanted an awesome prom dress. Awesome prom dress meant: nothing too long because I like to think I’m graceful, but I’m not, something no one else would have, ever, not even a similar style, AND (as if there needed to be another requirement), it had to be me. Basically, I just wanted that Balenciaga dress.

So I scoured every mall within a 25-30 mile radius of me. And that’s saying a lot because I lived in the Metropolitan Area of NY at the time… hell I even went to Jersey!

So I found an awesome sequin dress that looked like chain mail in Neiman Marcus. Pitfall? It was $700. Definitely not an OK price. So I found a cheaper, lesser version of the dress for $300. I wasn’t content. I resorted to BCBG… nothing.

By now I had gone to 5 malls, 2 states, 2 BCBG’s, 7+ department stores, 1 Loehmanns (no success there), 1 outlet store (Woodbury Commons), D&G, Saks off 5th, Chanel, Balenciaga,… you name it, I went there. Because I was 17 and in high school, just about then, life really sucked.

Then it dawned on me… NYC sample sales. It was an excellent idea. So I pulled for my sample sale resources: Top Button, Daily Candy, NY Magazine, and many more. I found a date when a bunch of sales would be going on in NYC, wrote down some addresses and hopped on a train.

The first sale I hit up was on 5th Avenue. I was pretty scared (slight exaggeration) because I didn’t know what to expect, especially when I had to sign in at the front desk to take the elevator to the sale.

Well lo and behold, I found THE dress. It was everything I wanted: cocktail dress-y (short), sparkly (within moderation), completely unique (it was the only one there, and hell, I was at a sample sale after all). Conclusion? AWESOME PROM DRESS. The best part is that it was 80% off the original price and selling for $180. Holy crap. And it fit almost perfectly.

I was giddy with happiness. The next problem I had to tackle was shoes. So I was all set to take a bus back home from the city, but I missed my bus by 5 minutes. Luckily, that gave me time to look around for another 90 minutes. That was when I found a shoe store that was going out of business. There I found my perfect shoes, discounted (I think I paid $40), gorgeous, and ready to get in my shopping bag. Which, is what happened. Here are the shoes today:

Next stop? Home and to the tailor. I had my dress taken in at the bust because I have no boobs. $15 bucks. I probably never really need to wear a bra, and I didn’t with my prom dress.

I only had one more problem: hair and make up. Some would call that a big problem, but really, its not. I got a friend with a curling iron, some bobby pins, a fancy clip, a LOT of hair spray (my hair never stays curled), and a knack (love this girl) for doing hair. She did an AMAZING job on my hair… for free.

The makeup was easy. I brought my dress to Sephora, explained my event, and got more help than I could have ever asked for.. for free.

So my bill totaled to around $235 bucks + transportation, bobby pins, and $18 eyeliner.
I saved $720 on my dress, $35 on my shoes, $60 on hair, and some ridiculous amount on getting make up done. In total I saved around $815.

And you know what the best part is? I still wear my prom shoes because they’re so versatile. And my prom dress is basically a cocktail dress that I can wear to mixers, nights out, etc.

Conclusions: Shop sample sales and going out of business sales. What you find there will be drastically reduced in price and unique. It takes a lot of work to shop these sort of sales but it’s absolutely worth it.

Here are some free sample sale resources:
Top Button
Daily Candy
NY Mag
Time Out NY
Theses are just a few, and you can find tons more for NY, or whatever big city you’re near. You can also pay to find out about sample sales (i.e. S&B Report).

If you’ve never been to a sample sale before, you might want to read this before going to one.

In the next few days I’ll post Part 2: Know Your Online Sample Sales

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