Saturday, April 26, 2008

"My Fashion Headache" -- A college student seeks a makeover for less!

Thank you to Ashley-Nicole of Ash Magazine. She recently contacted me with her "fashion headache," asking a question that is all too familiar to me.

"I am thinking about getting a new look with the clothes that i have, since I'm a college student, I don't really have the money to do a "How do I look" makeover. In terms of clothes, I guess I want to know how to mix and match what I have and still look stylish."

With the pressure and long hours of school, being stylish shouldn't have to create or add to the stress that may accompany your college life. The corporate professional who is busy all day multi-tasking and wishes for a new look can, I'm sure, also relate to this question (yeah, I'm sorta talking about myself). So I've provided my top 5 tips and suggestions as to how you can alleviate this challenge and feel more confident with what you have, as well as how to incorporate new pieces to your wardrobe without breaking your bank:

(1) Make coffee at home. So Ashley-Nicole, I'm sure you know how fast a few dollars each day can add up. Meaning, if you fork over 2 bucks a day for 5 days out of the week, that's $10 you could always put aside for say, a new pair of earrings, a tank to layer, or a new belt, right? I haven't done this yet, but I like the idea of putting aside a jar or a piggy bank and making it your "makeover" pot of money. Little things can really make an outfit pop! So just because you may not have 50 bucks or $100 for new jeans, you may have $20 to splurge with. That may just means shop sales more often.

(2) "Closet Clean-up" time. When was the last time you actually went through your closet and drawers? If it's been too long to remember, do a little tidying up each day. For instance, tomorrow you might want to pull out everything that truly isn't flattering on you, and figure out where to donate them or who to give them away or sell them to. Then the following day, you may want to pick out your favorites and try them to see if you still feel the same about those pieces. By doing this, I predict that you'll realize just how many clothes you really DO have. Then with what you enjoy wearing, start playing with everything! Remember how fun "dress up" was when you were a kid? Who says it has to stop now.

(3) Get a part-time job at a local retail shop. My first half of college, beginning at age 17, I worked at Natural Wonders -- a novel store that sold water fountains, telescopes, candles, etc. But when that company went bankrupt, I decided to continue to work in retail. As a student, it worked with my hours and even though I lived with my parents at the time, I still wanted my own fun money to...well, shop! So, I applied for Nordstrom, got the job and worked at two "Nordi" locations for three-and-a-half years. One of the best perks of the position as a sales associate? The discount. As long as you can control your spending habit, it can definitely help your purchases. Of course, I felt like I never got paid because I literally returned my check to the store because I bought way too much expensive clothing in the "Savvy" and the "TBD" department. At the time, I wasn't realistic with my place in life.

(4) Get a personal shopper...for FREE! Like many businesses, I charge for my services. BUT, in bringing it right back to my days at "Nordi," I loved my personal customers. I would make appointments, pre-sale to them, and search the store to help them find exactly what they were looking for. Did they directly pay me anything? No. A benefit of shopping there is that you can look forward to good customer service. The next time you are ready to shop, but possibly feel uncomfortable to walk into this upscale store with a limited budget, call the department first. Let them know the sizes you're looking for, your budget, and what trends you want to try. And boom -- you have found a personal shopper. Although she will have to balance you with several customers at a time (meaning, you gotta be at least a little patient), imagine walking into the department and she already has a fitting room set up for you with all of the clothes hanging. Worse comes to worst, and you don't like anything or realize you really can not afford anything she found for you, at least you are experimenting with styles and discovering what you really like. Before you leave, be sure to get the sales associate's card and ask her to get your information and for her to call you when there are sales!

(5) Give Yourself a Break. You are a college student Ashley-Nicole, so this means you are opening the doors to future days of possibly NOT having to watch your cash flow so closely. I used to have a favorite raggedy sweater I wore for years when I was at school -- it made me feel confident. Remember to be passionate about what you DO have, and know that finding your true style comes with time or can change over night. Oh, and if you have a sister or cousin with your similar size and shape, go raid their closet!

Contact me with your "fashion headache," and I will be happy to answer your question or address your concerns. I am also available for phone and/or online consultations, in addition to several other affordable services.


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Ash Magazine said...

Hey Elana, thank you so much for the advice. I never thought about asking an employee at a H&M or Express for help, I'll do that the next time I'm able to go shopping. personal shopper at a department store. And now that school is coming to a close, I will definetly do a "closet clean up" with my wardrobe.