Fashion Advice: Teen Fashions For Less

Dear Budget Fashionista,
I am a 13 year old teen and I am in a bind for back to school shopping. I’m completely overwhelmed with this season’s trends and I don’t know where I get them all for less. I got your book and read it thoroughly and even highlighted it (i tend to go over board). My one problem is I don’t have any source of income. I get allowance from my parents (a mere $10 dollars) and that can’t buy me anything. Are there any way i can get this year’s trends and also make money?


At thirteen the best option in terms of making money is to either work the babysitting gig route, or, if you’re crafty, you could make something to sell to your friends and relatives ( I made friendship bracelets, which I sold for $2-$5 a pop for about $25 a week). You could also ask your parents for extra projects around the house that you could do to make extra money. Most parents will appreciate the fact that you’re willing to work for the extra dough, instead of assuming they’ll just give it to you.

In terms of this season’s trends.. definitely head to Wal-Mart and Target. Because your parents probably shop at these stores anyway, try and slip a few of the styles into the shopping basket. It may be a little easier to convince your parents to spend at a Target/Wal-Mart than to get them to spring for a shopping spree at stores like Charlotte Russe or Forever21. For example, leggings are a fall must have and at Wal-Mart they cost about $7 dollars. Knee length jersey knit tunic, skinny jeans, and lace blouses are also very popular and can be found for well under $20 at these stores.

I’m posting this to the site because I’m sure TBF readers will have additional pieces of advice for you.

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    Catherine Brock

    As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine,, Refinery29, and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.

    Blog Comments

    I was definitely in this predicament only a few years ago. 

    I suggest looking through your mom’s/aunt’s old clothes.  A lot of the fashions are very eighties this year and you can definitely find something. 

    Also, sign up for mailing lists on websites of stores you like.  They often send out coupons that you wouldn’t get in the store.

    Lastly, be adventurous! See what you can make for yourself.  I’m not much of a DIY but there are plenty of websites that will show you how to take something you own and update it.

    Good luck~

    I agree with the comments about Wal-mart and Target and have a couple of suggestions for you.

    When I’m at Target( even for something else) I head for the clearance racks first.  They have great stuff on clearance and it’s an excellent way to bulk up on stuff.

    If you know the trends and what looks good on you, you can shop these racks and find the stuff which works.

    My second suggestion is to look around to see if there is a good consignment or thrift shop in your area.  Vintage is cool and, once again, if you know the trends and what looks good, and what you need, then you can find good stuff.

    My daughter was in soccer and went through T shirts for practice like you wouldn’t believe. I always bought them at thrift shops.  You can often find great shirts, jeans, and othe things there.

    The key to shopping these stores is recognizing good labels and fabrics.  Consignment stores are more pivky than thrift shops, do the clothes are in better shape, they are also more expensive. But you can find really good labels, even designer and luxury fabrics there.

    Good Luck,

    Try to find a close friend who has similar style (and has a similar clothing size or shoe size!).  See if she is willing to trade items or pool items with you. Trading is especially great when it comes to dressier items, accessories, etc. that you don’t wear as often.

    Also, don’t forget thrift and consignment stores. Thrift stores are great for costume jewelry and fun tshirts. If there is a Plato’s Closet (consignment store that carries lots of stuff like Express and Limited) near you, you may want to check that out.

    Finally, if you have some basic sewing skills (you don’t need to know how to do anything fancy), you can make items like winter scarves yourself. Scour a fabric store for fleece-type material. You may also be able to find lace trim that you can use to update a shirt you already have. Sometimes you can buy smaller, pre-cut pieces of fabric or lace at a discount; ask if the store has these.

    Try updating an old cardigan or collared shirt with new buttons. You can get interesting ones at a craft store for well under $10, and they’re easy to sew on in place of the old ones.

    Try asking your parents if they have any odd jobs around their office.  Filing is dull, but if you do it without complaint you can make some money.  Try Goodwill for clothes that no one else will have!  Plus, you can update some of your old clothes with ribbons, scissors, layering, or even a new hairstyle.  Add a new twist and you won’t need to buy nearly as many new things.

    I remember having the same problems when I was in school. Trading is the best. My best friends and I were close to the same size and we traded clothes all the time. People thought we were rich because we never wore the same thing twice. Funny thing is we just looked like we never wore the same thing twice.

    I know I’m a little late…but try stocking up on accessories @ places such as H&M, Forever21, or Wetseal (all of these stores carry jewelry, belts, and purses that are much cheaper than Claires and sometimes even Target). Then grab a few basic tees (i.e. Forever21 is having a 2fer on plain tees—2 for 12). Wear the plain tee with a few long necklaces one day and then wear it again with a cinch belt. And there you have it: two totally different outfits! Good luck!!

    The most stylish girl in my class had a closet of 12 items.  Unbelievable I know.  But she was the most stylish person in the school.

    Organization is the key. 

    1.  Identify what LOOK you want.
    Go to your public library.  Look at Vogue, Elle, Glamor etc.  and identify a current “look” that you think will fit your body type/personal style. Some libraries will even let you take out the magazines.

    2.  Identify the pieces you need as GIFTS.
    Make a list of 2-3 must have pieces that you will ask for as birthday/holiday gifts.  These should be “bigger” pieces like a jacket or brandname jeans or boots.  Make sure that everything in your wardrobe works with everything else.

    3.  Identify the pieces YOU can BUY.
    White t-shirt, black t-shirt, leggings, accessories—basics you will pair or layer.

    4.  Identify the things you will MAKE
    Ask your mom/female relatives for their old costume jewlery—get a pair of pliers and get creative.  Or buy a length of black silk cord (Walmart sewing section) and get hang some dramatic bead(s) off it.  Again, check out your library!!  They may have the “101 Things to make with a T-shirt” book on the shelves (steal T-shirt from dad).  Hit the internet for DIY clothing:
    Jeans skirt:

    Aeropostale has super cheap clothes. Target doesn’t have great materials and if you want to spend your money at least make it worth wild! The sales at old navy are also amazing too. You can find skirts there as low as 3 dollars! You just have to look in the right places.

    Make sure you have the basics such as tee’s, sweaters, skirts, jeans, and shoes. Once you have those items you can get more fashionable items such as dresses, jewelry, hats, trousers, tank tops, blouses, and fitted tee’s. It’s important that you organize your closet in to categories such as color, items, or lengths.

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