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Making Cheap Clothes Work

By Sarah Hudson
Fashion Columnist

I fully support buying cheap clothing, but let’s be honest: you have to sort through a lot of crap in order to find true bargain gem. Stores like Old Navy, Forever 21, and H&M have made fashion accessible to the poor college student, and we should take advantage of their cheap-chic offerings, but we should also enter these stores prepared for battle. It takes skill, precision, and determination to dodge the offensive snot-green cardigan when it whispers—“I’m only $8.99! AND 25% off…” The purpose of this article is to give you, the thrifty shopper, the proper ammunition to defend yourself against such fashion pitfalls. Hopefully after taking note of the following tips, you will not fall victim to cheap ugly clothes and enter bargain stores armed and ready for sensible purchases. Because remember—it’s not a deal if it’s unattractive.

Beware of cut, color, and pattern. The quickest way to spot cheap clothing is if the cut is a little ill fitting, the color is not quite right, and if the pattern is slightly off-putting. Take for example this seemingly harmless Funnel-Neck Swing Cardigan in “Earthly” from Old Navy. It’s just a basic, comfy cardigan in a classic color, right? WRONG. This shapeless, sad-looking sweater is sure to make you look like a big bowl of lumpy oatmeal. The color, too, is atrocious. But then again if sex and happiness aren’t really important to you, wear this ugly little sweater to your heart’s content. If, however, you do like to be sexy and happy, try this perky alternative: Ruffled-Neck Cardigan in “Cobalt Ink” from Old Navy. This cardigan is more form fitting, less bulky, and comes in a universally flattering color. The little ruffle around the collar gives it something special and makes it appear slightly more expensive. Pair it with a denim pencil skirt, lively yellow blouse, some cutesy flats, and you’re in business.

Just to make sure you get the picture, here’s another cheap don’t: High Waist Bubble Skirt in “Charcoal” from Forever 21.
This little ditty has “CHEAP” plastered all over it. Not only will the pleated high waist cradle any pooch you may have around your middle, but also your pooch will be tragically decorated with this hideous studded belt. Unless you desire to look like a teenage prostitute, don’t wear this skirt.

A happy alternative to such a travesty is the Creative Bubble Skirt in “Cream/Blue” also from Forever 21. This is how you do a print and color in cheap clothing!

The print is modern and the color is spirited. Pair with a simple white tee and some black gladiator heels for a cute spring look.

Keep it classic. Keep it simple. Sometimes when people buy cheap clothes, they buy something a little dangerous because, well, it’s cheap. Like, “Oh who cares that it’s blue satin bustier dress with a polka dot tee-shirt attached underneath?
It’s only $23!” I care. I care very much. And your friends and loved ones care too, and believe me no one, I mean no one, wants to see you in such a repulsive ensemble. There is nothing classic or simple about a satin bustier dress. And here’s just a good rule of thumb—if it doesn’t look good on the model, it’s really not going to look good on you. So why not do everyone a favor and try this Chambray Shirt Dress in “Denim” from Forever 21 instead. The cut of this dress is much safer and figure flattering.

Take care of your cheap clothes. Cheap clothes typically cost less because they’re lower quality, which means you have to be careful with them.

I recommend carefully reading washing instructions, and more often than not, clothes last longer when you wash them on “delicate.” Hanging up clothes will also keep them in better condition than cramming them into a drawer will. Dryers can be cheap fabrics’ worst enemy, so hanging clothes up to dry will maintain their integrity. Finally, you need to know when to let your cheap clothes go. When sweaters begin to pill uncontrollably, blouses get unmanageable sweat stains, and pants rip in the crotch, it’s time to say goodbye. The only thing worse than wearing ugly cheap clothes, is wearing ugly cheap clothes that are falling apart.

So next time you go on cheap-chic mission, keep these tips in mind. Hopefully you will emerge victorious from the battlefield that is bargain hunting.


About wesleyanword

The Wesleyan Word is the official student newspaper of Wesleyan College. Operated and produced by students, The Word is printed twice per month during the fall and spring semesters. Online editions are released every Wednesday throughout the school year. Wesleyan College is a 4-year private residential college for women in Macon, Georgia. Established in 1836, Wesleyan College is the first college in the world to charter degrees to women.


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