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Top 10 Best Stores for Fashion on a Budget

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At some point in your life as a stylish college girl, you’ll face an important choice: buying clothes, or buying books? Since books are non-negotiable in college, if you want to maximize your (few) leftover dollars, you need to know where to shop.

There are tons of discount clothing stores out there, but which ones are worth shopping at, and which aren’t? Some discount stores are fabulous, but most are really just cheap! There are tons of stores, like Forever 21, that have low prices and cute stuff… you just need to know which ones to visit.

If you have champagne taste on a beer budget, dollar store clothing is not gonna cut it. You need to shop at the right places.

To help you out, here’s the official College Fashion love list of the top 10 best stores for fashion on a college budget . Visit these stores, shop right, and no one will know that your outfit didn’t cost a fortune!

10. Wet Seal

Wet Seal

Coming in at number 10 on the list is discount fast-fashion retailer Wet Seal.

It’s a staple of every mall in America, and a great place to shop for trendy tops to wear to parties, blingy jewelry, and cute accessories. It’s like the less-chic, trashy club frequenting cousin of Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe.

To combat the tackiness and find the great pieces when you shop at Wet Seal, you need to develop a good “taste level” (as they say on Project Runway), the fashion know how to separate chic & adorable from tacky & awful. The pieces are all mixed together in this store, so it’s important that you know the difference between what’s trashy and what’s not.

9. Urban Behavior

Urban Behavior Store front

Urban Behavior makes it to number 9 because while I haven’t shopped there, my little sister loves the store and recommended it to me. She’s fabulous and dresses really well, so I’m betting they must have some good stuff in there!

If you’ve never heard of it, Urban Behavior is basically another Wet Seal, except less focused on clubwear, and with more casual basics.

When you visit an Urban Behavior store, you’ll find simple tees in a rainbow of colors, preppy jackets, and trendy denim, all at prices well below what you’d pay at Abercrombie, J. Crew, or the GAP. What’s not to love?

8. GoJane

Stores like Forever 21: GoJane

GoJane is my favorite online store to buy dirt cheap sunglasses, jewelry, and designer knockoff shoes from.

If you haven’t checked their website out yet, you don’t know what you’re missing!

A quick word of warning: just because their accessories rock, that doesn’t mean their clothes do too! While GoJane carries a large selection of dresses, tops, and more, they just aren’t as stylish or cute as they could be. Some are just trashy and gross.

The moral of this story: buy the sunglasses, jewelry, and cheap shoes! But skip (most of) their clothes.

7. TJ Maxx / Marshall’s

TJ Maxx store logo
Photo by ztil301

To start off, let me say that I know they aren’t the same store, but they’re owned by the same people and are very similar.

Okay, if you’ve ever stumbled into a T.J. Maxx and picked up a pair of Seven For All Mankind jeans for half price, then you know why the store made this list!

In case you don’t know, T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s are chain stores that sell name-brand clothes, shoes, and even furnishings at low, low prices. It’s kind of like a treasure hunt whenever you go to one – you never know what you might find!

Check either store out if you’re looking for some real designer names at slashed prices!

6. DSW

DSW Shoes

All the shoes you could ever want, most of them at great prices. What’s not amazing about DSW?

If you have a shoe problem like I do, I’m sure you understand my love for this store. Hundreds and hundreds of incredible shoes all in one massive space!! So. Much. Fun.

Since DSW stands for Designer Shoe Warehouse, I have to comment on the prices: some are great, others are not so cheap. But as opposed to stores like Payless (which rock, don’t get me wrong), DSW has a wider selection and more cute options. That’s why it’s on the list!

5. Charlotte Russe

Charlotte Russe store front

It’s my favorite discount store for girly dresses and trendy pieces, as well as the occasional accessory. Yes, I love me some Charlotte Russe.

In comparison to the other discount stores like Forever 21 and Wet Seal, Charlotte Russe isn’t a whole lot different. Still, I have a certain affection for the store that I just can’t explain.

Maybe it’s all in my head, but I think Charlotte Russe is just classier than those other stores. With nicer pieces than Wet Seal, yet fewer designer knockoffs than Forever 21, it’s a nice middle ground in the budget fashion world.

Very rarely do I see something at Charlotte Russe that I wouldn’t wear in a million years, and that’s really why I love it so much.

4. Forever 21

Forever 21 Store front

Inventor of the designer knockoff, and the ultimate source for “fast fashion”, Forever 21 is one of the most popular discount clothing stores in America!

I shop at Forever 21 with two purposes in mind – to find trendy pieces that I might only wear a few times, and to buy the occasional designer knockoff.

Just like its cousin Wet Seal, Forever 21 does sometimes have some trashy, cheaply made clothing in stock. When you shop there, remember to keep yourself in check, look for quality fabrics, and don’t buy anything you wouldn’t think of getting at twice the price.

3. Vintage / Thrift Stores

Thrift store shopping for vintage clothes
Photo by paulo delacruz

What budget fashion shopping list would be complete without a nod to vintage stores? They are the best place to find one of a kind pieces, fashion treasures, and unexpected style.. all at extremely low prices.

Thrift stores only made it to number three on the list, however, because shopping there can be dangerous to your wallet if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Some vintage stores simply sell nice designer clothes that are old – and the prices reflect that. While those are fabulous places to shop, you’re not going to get much on a college budget. You want the real thrift stores.

When you shop at the real thrift stores, you need to be careful with your money. Know how to separate the amazing finds from the “I’m just buying this because it’s cheap” stuff. Don’t end up with a bunch of 80′s tee shirts that you never wear, just because they were too cheap to pass up!

Vintage and thrift stores are amazing, and you should definitely shop at them if you can. Just be mindful of what you’re spending your money on, and make sure to get things you love.

2. Target

Target Fabuless spring fashion advertisement

You probably knew that Target would make the list. That’s because it’s the worst kept secret of stylish women on budgets everywhere.

If you haven’t shopped at Target, you haven’t lived!

While they are technically one of the huge discount megastores, Target is miles apart from Wal Mart or KMart when it comes to fashion!

The clothes at Target are way more stylish than you’d think – they often do collaborations with designers like Rogan, Erin Fetherston, and Isaac Mizrahi. Also, their new GO International line is fabulous, with $20 dresses that look like they cost $100.

Even if you don’t have a Target in your area, don’t worry – everything is available online, and ready to ship to your door. Just another reason to love them!

1. H&M

H&M inside

Ah, Hennes & Mauritz – in my mind, a true fashion paradise.

Right now, I bet at least a quarter of my wardrobe is from H&M, and I’m proud of that fact!

Whether you’re looking to buy a trendy item to wear for the current season, or a classic piece that will last you years, H&M is a great place to start. They have EVERYTHING you might want – from cute tops and fabulous dresses to sparkly bangles, scarves, and even shoes!

The best thing about the store is that their pieces are truly stylish – they carry things that look like they could have been on a runway, not the empire-waist lycra tops you’d find at other budget fashion stores.

Bonus style points for H&M: They do amazing collaborations with celebrities and fashion designers – noteworthy collections include Madonna for H&M, and Roberto Cavalli for H&M!

One drawback: online shopping isn’t available in the US, but hopefully it will be soon. If you don’t have on of their stores near where you live, enlist a few stylish girlfriends & make the trip to check one out! It’s well worth your time, I promise.

Your Thoughts?

Now that you know my top ten places to shop on the cheap, I want to see your lists! Which stores are your favorites, and what are your fave things to buy there?

Leave a comment & tell me your top ten budget stores!

Posted on on September 3, 2008 / Filed Under: Shopping / Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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112 Responses to “Top 10 Best Stores for Fashion on a Budget”

  1. 1
    September 3rd, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    I love charlotte russe and I totally agree with you on thinking it’s more classy than the other stores. I alos love target and h&m. I refuse to shop at forever 21 because their return policy is terrible.

  2. 2
    September 3rd, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    I absolutely adore your list! I’ve been waiting to see a list of budget-friendly noteworthy shopping places instead of websites (even though I love the Coupons Weekly you do) since you can see the fabric and it’s easier to return.

    My Top Ten (no particular order)

    1. Old Navy–you can find some real gems
    2. Kohl’s–it’s really diverse in style there, so I know I’ll find something I like
    3. Dillard’s–when it’s on sale, you know it’s good quality and they
    4. Gordman’s
    5. T.J. Maax
    6. Outlet stores
    7. Marshall’s–I love the dresses there.

    I go to a couple of international trips once every five years, so I do some shopping there. Most of it’s much cheaper there. (I just pack nothing, and get a lot of stuff.)

    I don’t have a H&M, Forever 21 or Vanity (very cute accessories) where I live, so sometimes when I go visit a friend who does have those stores, I hit up those places. I love them all, and they’re definitely on my Top Ten list.

    I also like Talbot’s Outlet Stores and Shoe Carnival.

  3. 3
    September 3rd, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Definitely agree with H&M. That place has such great clothing – sure, they have some expensive items at times. But really, every time I go there there are a lot of really amazing items on sale.

  4. 4
    September 3rd, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Love the list! I’ve never actually heard of Urban Behavior so, I’ll keep my eyes open for that. Target & H&M are also by far my two favorite places.

    Old Navy, like Shar said, is good for basics. Sometimes I peek into Ross and some stores like JCPenney is great especially when you look through the sale rack!

  5. 5
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Alexa – Yay, I’m not the only one loving Charlotte Russe. And oh, I didn’t know about Forever 21′s return policy – what’s so bad about it?

    Shar – Ooh, I forgot about Kohl’s! They have some really great stuff. You’re so lucky to travel out of the country that often, I wish I did that!

    Katte – Ah, I know. H&M=love

    P – You’ve got to check Urban Behavior out, I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews. I don’t know what Ross is though… care to explain?

  6. 6
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    URBAN BEHAVIOR ROCKS MY SOCKS.

    Ahem. However, my closest one just closed and I am DEVASTATED. Where else am I going to get my 5 to 10 dollar dresses?!

    H&M never did anything much for me. I found much of their things fit strangely. It may be just me.

    Shoe Carnival is another goodie. Especially when they have sales, oh my! I got a 7 dollar pair of real suede boots, in GRAY!

    I’ve also gotta say though, if you have a Steve and Barry’s near you, and it’s well-stocked with Bitten, then go!!! I love SJP’s line and the quality is pretty good and it fits perfectly!

    I also love New York and Company for when they have sales, because they have really nice work clothes that you’re going to need!

  7. 7
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Well, i can definitely agree with target :), they have such nice work clothes and would prefer to shop there for those kind of things. Oh and the tops as well are pretty too :D, since in from outside the US, i haven’t really heard of the other shops that you have mentioned….

  8. 8
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    oh and thrift stores aren’t too bad either :).. i haven’t been there but i am bound to..

  9. 9
    September 3rd, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    i love charlotte russe, but sometimes find that their clothes don’t fit me well. :(

  10. 10
    September 3rd, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    -For me Forever 21 is the best for cheap trendy pieces! If there was an H&M around here it would be my #1 as well,.
    -I’m also a huge fan of tj maxx, my mom & i would shop and bond there because they carry clothing we both like.
    -I would say topping my list would be thrift/vintage stores just because I really like wearing clothes that no one else is. It’s just a great place to find unique pieces

    xoxo

  11. 11
    September 3rd, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    This is my kind of list! I would probably add Urban Outfitters, just don’t pay full price. I couldn’t live without Forever 21 , Target and H&M. I’d love to hear your top 10 for shoes, specifically, too :)

  12. 12
    September 4th, 2008 at 12:16 am

    I’m so glad C. Russe made the list. I <3 their layering camis! I bought a back-to-school top there and I’m more excited to wear that then my new Lucky jeans! <3 <3 <3

  13. 13
    September 4th, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Basically if you want to return something at Forever 21 you have to sell your soul. I only buy from there if I can’t find anything anywhere else.
    I love Target and Old Navy, and definitely Marshall’s and thrift stores. I’m going to be on a small budget for the next several years if I want to pay off loans, so these places are my favorites.

  14. 14
    September 4th, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Target= AMAZING. So happy it made this list.
    The other one that I LOVE is a consignment-like chain called Plato’s Closet. They deal strictly with gently used teen and young adult clothes, and have really rigid rules as far as what they take (LOTS of current A&F, Forever 21, AE, etc.). So I definitely love them! You can look to see if you have one near you at their website, platoscloset.com.
    =]

  15. 15
    September 4th, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Wow, never heard of Urban Behavior, I’ll have to check that out online. And I fell in love with H&M when I visited New York. It’s so depressing they don’t have stores near me.

    I agree with the Urban Outfitters comment. The one in my area always has a huge sale area which I’ve had a lot of success with.

    I also love Buckle when they have sales…though admittedly I give in more than I should and dish out for Ed Hardy and Lucky jeans more than I should. TJ Max/Marshall’s is a great alternative :)

    Thanks for the list!

  16. 16
    September 4th, 2008 at 10:56 am

    I’m ALL about Urban Behaviour and F21 (and of course thrifting!)
    SO wish we had Wet Seal and especially Target in Canada :)

  17. 17
    September 4th, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    aw old navy should definitely be on this list. Urban behavior is in Canada. Sad =( I’ll never see one. it’s weird that you guys are saying charlotte russe is classy because here it’s really trashy and cheap looking.

  18. 18
    September 4th, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    i totally totally agree with h&m being 1st!!!!!!

  19. 19
    September 4th, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    I love TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. I actually was addicted for a while and would go to a different store each day to see what I could find, it really is like treasure hunting. I used to work at TJ Maxx my freshman year of college, but I didn’t even realize how awesome it was until like a year ago. I think I like Marshall’s better though, I usually find better stuff.

  20. 20
    September 4th, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I would be interested to hear your opinion on the top ten online stores. Some of the stores you have mentioned are no where near my small town.

  21. 21
    September 4th, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    I also love homegoods – which is owned by the same company as TJ Max.

  22. 22
    September 5th, 2008 at 11:40 am

    I found a really inexpensive store in Florida, but they are all over. Its called Papaya. Great clothes with the same style as Forever 21 and very inexpensive. Here’s their website: http://www.papayaclothing.com/shop/

  23. 23
    September 5th, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Kohls and Old Navy used to be my favorites, but in the past year every time I’ve walked into one of them I’ve just walked right back out.

    I COMPLETELY agree with Target and H&M. H&M is way more popular in Europe than in America, and I have no idea why. It is so fashionable and so cheap. My favorite by far! Good choice!

  24. 24
    September 5th, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    I love all these stores, especially Charlotte Russe. Although a few items I’ve gotten there seem to be have been poorly made… They ripped only after a few wears (and I know you they’re not meant to last years, but it was still disappointing).

    I disagree with what you said about go jane. I’ve bought a lot of clothes from there, and have been happy with almost all of them. The pieces I hated were easy to return though, because they have an awesome return policy. It’s just like what you said about Wet Seal, you need to have a good eye for cute vs. tacky.

  25. 25
    September 5th, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Great list, I would definitely agree on TJ Maxx and DSW. The only issue I have with Charlotte Russe is that their clothes do not last long because the quality isn’t the greatest. If you’re strictly going by price then it is affordable but the material isn’t usually the best.

    Sophie

  26. 26
    September 6th, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Great list! I might have to check out GoJane. I’ve never heard about it.

    I’m also a big fan of deparment store clearance racks. You can find some great stuff for incredibly cheap, but it takes a lot of effort. I have a really cute sweater that I scored for $1.50 (in the summer).

  27. 27
    September 7th, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Interesting list, to be honest, I haven’t shopped at many of these stores. I suppose I’m not very trendy anyhow…

    My favorites are Abercrombie and Hollister, since I find some great deals on very cute things that actually fit me right. It’s hard to find clothing in other stores that have the right fit for me.

    Most of my casual basics come from American Eagle, another great place for deals… But I suppose these three stores make me a total prep. :) But at least I’m not breaking the bank with any of them! (Unfortunately, I’m still afraid to buy anything off of Banana Republic sales racks… I need courage for that store.)

    The one who said Dillard’s sales racks I have to agree with. That store is great, just not the full price stuff. (They have some killer mark downs on designer clothing sometimes.)

    Personally, though, I don’t like Old Navy… I find most of their stuff to feel ‘cheap’ to me. (Both not fitting right, feeling like it’s cheaply made and then stretching out rather fast and then totally not fitting right.)

  28. 28
    September 8th, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Thrift stores for the WIN. There’s a wonderful one across town from my parents’…it’s in a mediocre area and it kind of smells funny, but I have, for example, a pair of Blue Cult jeans that still had the tags on them that I got for about 15 bucks. A couple of microfiber Kate Spade bags, neither of which were more than a ten spot. Need I say more?

    I would add Steve & Barry’s to the list. They went bankrupt, apparently, which I both didn’t understand (their clothes are awesome), and did (they are INCREDIBLY cheap). I mourned the closure of the Racine store…but there’s one not too far away, I just need to get out to Schaumburg! They’re a great shop for basics, I don’t think anything in the store is more than 20 bucks, and they’ve got the SJP Bitten line, Dear by Amanda Bynes, and a few other named lines. Whee!

  29. 29
    September 10th, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I agree with some other commenters that you need to add “thrift stores” as maybe a number 11 for those who can find good ones. But I strongly recommend college girls, like myself try Ebay. I have purchases tons of incredible stuff on ebay, and I pay the same prices for special items that I would pay for stuff at forever21. Plus, I never see other girls wearing the same dress I have on.

    http://ebayfashionaddict.wordpress.com

  30. 30
    September 10th, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Elana – Thrift stores are already on the list… they’re number 3. I love vintage and thrift with a passion, and ebay is nice too!

  31. 31
    September 11th, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    I agree with alot of these stores, but would add kohls and Ross to the list.

    Ross:
    dirt cheap stuff designer bags, clothes, shoes, and dorm stuff ! Downside is you have to really dig to find the goodies (not organized) and they can be really crowded. Not all stuff=good quality

    Kohls:
    Not bad quality stuff, large acessory selection. Look for the $10 card they send in the mail a few times a year!

    Aero:
    Small selection, mostly lounge-wear. Small sizes (may be good or bad), but they often have big sales.

    Forever 21:
    Always one of my fav. stores for years, with some gripes. Have worked & shopped there.They have A HUGE variety of clothes and accesories, and you can always depend on them to stay up on the latest trends. The downside: Really inconvenient return policy (either way they keep your money) and most of their stuff go bad after a few washes. I call it “seasonal quality”. b/c I buy alot of stuff there but also end up donating/throwing away alot of it after a few months. Their prices have also gone up the past few years, but still affordable. They dont really have sales either.

    H&M:
    I have a hard time finding clothes for job interviews, the office, etc but this store carries really cute, affordable workplace outfits in the smaller sizes. However, their fabrics aren’t really comfy to wear, and the quality is not always good….and in my opinion, their prices are affordable but not cheap.

    Target
    One of my fav stores, but not really for clothing. They seem to have alot of the bigger sizes available more than small ones. In my opinion, their pieces are comfy, affordable, and generic. They update the looks, but don’t always emphasize on trend. I can always recognize when seomeone wears something from there, not that its necessarily a bad thing. My preference is just that I want to be the only one in a room with that outfit!

    Anyways these are just my opinion. I shop at these places alot so just wanted to give some input :-D

  32. 32
    September 14th, 2008 at 11:50 am

    AHH anything bu H&M!!!

    Perhaps it’s because I live in Las Vegas and everything is expensive here but this store is NOT budget friendly.
    The clothes and the prices do not match up here. I’ve seen the listing on the website and it makes me really upset. Plus, their sizes are not always the most flattering for girls.

    I would add Old Navy to the list…. I loves it when I need some quick clothes for a decent price. Oh…and I loves ROSS too! :)

  33. 33
    October 13th, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Tagret’s GO collection is GORGEOUS! I went in for cleaning supplies and fell in love with this top: http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/ref=sc_pgb_r_3_0_16275561/601-5048501-6063310?ie=UTF8&frombrowse=1&asin=B001EQALM6

    Now I have to wait for it to go on sale…

  34. 34
    October 20th, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Try Pinkice.com and greatglam.com,

  35. 35
    October 24th, 2008 at 2:06 am

    Anyone hear about Buffalo Exchange?
    You can sell/buy/trade used and new clothes. I got some barely used rock and republic jeans for 30 dollars! They have a lot of other designer clothing and shoes, too. It also depends which ones you go to. I try to go to the stores in more affluent areas because there’s more stuff!

    I really don’t like Old Navy at all. The pants and shirts fit very strangely on me. I did get a great deal on a wool coat ($30) last year when their coats were 50% off. I will definitely be waiting for their sale on coats.

    TARGET is my favorite! I drop by often and peek into the clearance racks, which offer great deals. Lots of cute stuff for cheaper than cheap! I’m talking $3 shirts. I also go to many different stores in my area to see which ones are usually full of clearance items. Usually, it’s the stores in more affluent areas and overall less foot traffic are the best. Same goes for Ross, Marshalls, TJMaxx. I know this sounds weird, but I am in love with their maternity wear! Too bad there’s not going to be any babies for a handful of years. I am not into a lot of the GO designer things, I would rather just find it reduced at Loehmann’s or Off Sak’s 5th Avenue Outlets.

    OFF Sak’s is a great place to go to for evening dresses! Reduced ZacPosen, Badgley Mischka, Nicole Miller…I wish I knew about this store for prom otherwise I wouldn’t have gone to Windsor.

  36. 36
    October 24th, 2008 at 2:09 am

    * sorry i meant instead of GO designer stuff i’d rather pay for RTW lines at discount stores.

  37. 37
    October 25th, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    GoJane has some cute formalwear, you’ve just got to sort through some trashy stuff to find it. Great list!

  38. 38
    December 28th, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    wear would you recommend getting cute, inexpensive dresses?

  39. 39
    April 7th, 2009 at 1:07 am

    How about Plato’s Closet. You can get some nice clothes there. It may be a little out of season but you can find current and trendy pieces too. Example: A forever 21 dress that was for 10 bucks. didnt fit me, but went to the store and found one very similar. The clothes are used tho or new.

  40. 40
    May 7th, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Knockoffs should not be supported. It hurts the fashion community and large parts of the world.

  41. 41
    May 8th, 2009 at 12:04 am

    TJ Maxx and Target are always my favorites. I can always find something there for birthdays, holidays, and of course, myself.

  42. 42
    July 7th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Ross is like Marshall’s dirty and unorganized twin.

  43. 43
    July 11th, 2009 at 4:26 am

    Ross and Marshall’s you have to spend a lot of time searching and somehow the sizes are always off. Forever 21 was good style but the material is not the best quality. I love shopping online, don’t get too much time to shop at leisure. Found this cute web boutique selling skirts in all sizes and I bought a few cotton embroidered tunic tops they were great. Search for The Little Bazaar.

  44. 44
    July 26th, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Love Culture is great but not in too many locations. It is like a Forever 21 but a little cheaper…the quality is also a little cheaper so make sure you check the hems and stitching before you purchase!

    Also, their website has been under construction for about a year!!!

    One great tip for shopaholics (like myself!!) is that I always have a small notepad around, and when I look through magazines such as glamour, cosmo, lucky etc. I write down all of the websites of the fashion shown in the magazines. A lot of the magazines also include discount codes to use on the vendors website!!!

  45. 45
    August 15th, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    I love Marshall’s and I think forever 21 is okay when you cant afford Delias. My list would be a designer bag form Marshall’s, a dressy top from charlotte russe, sunshades and accessories from forever 21, the skinniest jeans from target, high fashion pumps from dsw, okay lets not forget makeup from claries. A girl has to live up to apperance in a big girls world. If you ever think an outfit cant be re done think again a designer bag and shoes will make any outfit look Haute.

  46. 46
    September 13th, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    I had definitely heard of h&m before, but there was never one in my area. This year I am an exchange student in Europe, and there’s one in the mall right across from the train station (how I get to school). I went and checked it out and I’m so excited that I can shop there all year!

  47. 47
    December 13th, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I wanted to add that H&M now has a shoe line from Jimmy Choo!!!! Yep, you heard right-the motherload of high-end shoe companies collaborated with H&M and they sell for as low as $60!!! Which is amazing, compared to his normal prices of $500+.

  48. 48
    February 22nd, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    This is a great list. Want some more tips on how to have fun in college while sticking to a budget? Check out http://blog.greensherpa.com/index.php/student-life/the-frugal-student-part-6-let-the-good-times-roll/

  49. 49
    July 27th, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    I love your list! Dsw actually stands for designer shoe warehouse. It does have great sales though !

  50. 50
    August 3rd, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Did you know Charlotte Russe gives you a 10% discount with student ID? I was getting my money out an the cashier saw my ID an was like “Oh you’re a college student? We give a discount for that”

  51. 51
    September 3rd, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    I’ll vote for H&M. If you are in Europe then its a great choice. Wish they had stores in US. There are many online stores that have some nice fashion stuff. One of my favorites is http://www.asraistyle.com

  52. 52
    October 17th, 2010 at 11:56 am

    My top 10 places to shop are Forever 21, Wet Seal, H &M, Nordstrom Rack, Charlotte Russe, Target, Old Navy, Macy’s, Claire’s for nail polish and accessories, and some boutiques.

  53. 53
    January 6th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    If you’re lucky enough to have them near you, Nordstroms Rack and Loehmanns have GREAT deals, on all designers. It’s similar to a TJMaxx, except almost all the designers are higher end, from romeo and juliet to juicy to theory & helmut lang, sometimes prices can be even lower than at TJ Maxx, and the stores are extremely organized so you don’t feel like cattle fighting for a good find. I live near New Jersey where there is no sales tax so sometimes I’ll drive almost an hour for these stores.

  54. 54
    February 9th, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    luv it. i hav all of dose stores at a local strip mall lol

  55. 55
    May 1st, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Great list! But I wouldn’t call Forever21 “the inventor of the designer knockoff”. That would probably be Zara which was founded 9 years earlier than Forever21 with the purpose of creating cheaper clothes based on higher-end designs. Too bad Zara’s prices are much, much higher than Forever21…

    You could also add “outlet malls” to your list for those of us lucky enough to have one close. The prices at outlets are ridiculously low! I recently got a $400+ Coach purse for only $95!

  56. 56
    May 9th, 2011 at 1:21 am

    beautiful show for grils . this must be inprove .

  57. 57
    May 25th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    if you want you can also try this store called justice or aeropostole

  58. 58
    March 22nd, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    This is truly your best post ever! I agree to no end on what you have posted and I learned about a store that is now one of my favorites (Urban Behavior) <3 THANK YOU! <3

  59. 59
    March 25th, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Where I live there’s only H&M, and very often I’m head-to-toe dressed in H&M. <3

  60. 60
    April 2nd, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Also, Nordstrom’s Rack! You can find great designer pieces for a great price!! I got a D&G Mens Watch for $75, Great Calvin Klein dress $17! Also great for ladies with larger feet they have great sales especially for for size 10-13. Loehmann’s is a great place, high end, TJ Maxx prices.

  61. 61
    April 9th, 2012 at 5:14 am

    I was excited to hear a store name I’ve never heard of…Urban Behavior…too bad it’s like H&M and doesn’t sell online.

  62. 62
    April 11th, 2012 at 8:21 am

    My kind of list! I would probably add Urban Outfitters, just don’t pay full price.

  63. 63
    April 15th, 2012 at 1:35 am

    great list, and i agree H&M as no.1 :)

  64. 64
    April 26th, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    do not get knockoffs! if you can’t afford it (and i can’t) dont look cheap by getting a knock off… wear something from a real down to earth desginer :) and be original!

  65. 65
    April 28th, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Apparently H&M doesn’t offer online shipping for my area, which is the U.S. and also there aren’t any stores in my state….at all. I’m pretty upset.

  66. 66
    May 9th, 2012 at 2:26 am

    I always wanted to see the clothes at H & M, but sadly, the nearest outlet is two hours away, in Hong Kong (I’m from the Philippines reading this blog!^^) They do have Forever 21 here, though, and I enjoyed browsing through the shops featured. Now I have an idea on how to dress up well in a budget-friendly way.

  67. 67
    May 11th, 2012 at 1:20 am

    I was just at Target the other day and i agree, it’s amazing! I found a pair of Vanilla Star Jeans for under $15!!! *Sigh*

  68. 68
    May 15th, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    My new favorite is Joe Fresh, they don’t have many of them at all, but i’ve been to two of them and they have super cute basics for cheap, and them some more expensive trendy pieces. It’s super high quality. If you have one of the like 5 stores near you I am jealous!

  69. 69
    May 28th, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Do you have a top 10 list (online or offline) for women’s sizes? Most of the stores on your current top 10 list do not sell women’s sizes, only misses or juniors. College students now include those of us that have been in the business world for many years and have returned for Masters/PhDs, and if this is the “top 10 for college students”, the list should include the men and women college students of all ages and sizes.

  70. 70
    June 4th, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Hey gurlie girls…Arden B really great too! (I order alot from them!) Check em out on line! ;-)

  71. 71
    June 15th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    For Jewelry I really Like CaliJoules and The Vamoose. CaliJoules is a newer store so they do not have hundreds of products. The Vamoose sells handmade stuff which makes it that much better. For clothes I live for NastyGal, though it can be really expensive. I usually buy my shoes at Urban Outfitters or Dolce Vita.

  72. 72
    July 8th, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Great list Zephyr! I especially agree with H&M-they do have some really great pieces there. One of my favorite clothing items of all time is a black stretchy pencil skirt I got at H&M for $20-I’ve worn it to death!

    I would like to add Zara to the list. While it tends to be pricier, the quality is fantastic compared to all of the other budget friendly stores and everything is classier and more sophisticated. I bought a beautiful trench coat and leather jacket there. One of my favorite stores of all time.

  73. 73
    July 25th, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    I would add Etsy for accessories and even some clothing. Etsy is online and people can sell their homemade stuff from their own Etsy shop. A ton of the jewelry designers make really pretty stuff for cheap, and the shipping is usually only a couple of dollars since they are mailing it themselves. It’s a nice way to buy cheap clothing that is also VERY unique since it’s homemade, and plus you’re supporting a person instead of a company!

    I also think American Eagle should be on there. Their stuff is actually not that expensive and sometimes they have some jems in there that aren’t completely preppy too. Their jeans are like $40 but i’ve had tons of pairs that have lasted me YEARS and they are so consistent on sizing.

    Also I love all the stores on that list! I wish I had an H&M store closer than an 8 hour drive away!

  74. 74
    July 29th, 2012 at 5:41 am

    I think that these are all great places to shop for the value they have but I have more of a sporty casual style; Sometimes a little preppy/ classic, sometimes a little edgy. what other stores would you suggest looking at that won’t burn a hole in my wallet.

    I look for an urban behavior but there seems to not be a single one in the state of Texas!!!!!!!!!!!

  75. 75
    August 5th, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    This is a very good list! I love F21 & Target (just recently H&M) but I’m a plus sized girl so it’s super hard to find trendy clothes. I totally agree about Forever 21′s materials, YOU HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION BEFORE BUYING. I bought a dress once from there for a banquet, and it tore before I got home. I didn’t know about the whole return policy thing either but I just threw the dress away. Forever 21 is also great for quick jewelry but I’m not positive it will last very long but 4.99 for a necklace for one night isn’t bad at all.

    Target is amazing. Whenever I need something quick&comfortable I stop by Target. For plus sizes, I’ve always found their sizing to be a little funny but I don’t mind going a size up or down for the price. The plus sizes also don’t have as much variety as regular sizes (guess that’s what I get) but I still manage to find something lovely every time.

    I would love to see an updated list for this because it is fairly old and with so many new stores&brands popping up, I would definitely love to see what else is out there. I’m a big online shopper so Asos is great! It’s fairly cheap, some things are expensive, but it’s free shipping anywhere in the world. I’ve also found a new love for American Eagle Online because they have extended sizes! <3

    I was also curious to why I had never heard of Urban Behavior&it's because it's no longer in business. I wish I would have heard of it before it closed :(

    Happy Shopping!

  76. 76
    August 7th, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Urban behavior filed for chapter 11!!!! :((((((((((( the only one i know of in the us is in discover mills in georgia.

  77. 77
    August 27th, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Vanity is an awesome place to shop for cheap. Most of their tops are made for layering, and they sell beautiful lacy camisoles in every color of the rainbow! They are also a fabulous place to shop for jeans..check out the “dakota” and “harlow” fits…simply amazing. Unfortunately, they just have stores in the midweast, but you can shop online at evanity.com.
    Trust me, you HAVE to check this out.

  78. 78
    August 30th, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I love H&M unfortunatly the closest one is two hours away. Forever 21 is great too! I don’t like going into charlotte russe (though I will order from their website) maybe it is just the one here but the music is so loud you can hear from the lower level of the mall.

  79. 79
    September 11th, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    I would add Joe Fresh to the list for Canada <3

  80. 80
    September 27th, 2012 at 1:58 am

    I think Old Navy should have at least been on the list! …. You may want to go to a sore near you and check it out some-time. :-)

  81. 81
    September 29th, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Great article! thanks for the info. I also recently discovered this online store (dressmeglam) They have cute things and super affordable!

  82. 82
    October 31st, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I LOVE this list! I often skip over buying myself clothes because I can be somewhat of a miser sometimes! :P But the reality is, I’m a girl, and I NEED clothes! :)

    I actually just took my husband to Ross yesterday to buy him some new jeans. I’m surprised it didn’t make the list, honestly!! It’s very similar to TJ Maxx and Marshalls. We found him some stylish jeans for $15-$20 (less than half of MSRP).

    Thanks for the tips!

  83. 83
    November 20th, 2012 at 1:43 am

    I wish H&M was more consistent with their sizing. You can get an armful of clothes that are all labeled the same size and one will be huge and the other you can’t get over your head. Until they figure that out, I won’t be shopping there.

  84. 84
    November 25th, 2012 at 9:16 am

    i love forever 21 and there clothes are so cute i love this store on my list top 1 store favvvvvvvvvv

  85. 85
    November 25th, 2012 at 9:17 am

    i love forever 21 and there clothes are so cute i love this store on my list top 1 store favvvvvvvvoriteeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  86. 86
    December 22nd, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I’m not interested in going to Marshall’s or Ross…too confusing and unorganized.

  87. 87
    January 4th, 2013 at 6:19 am

    I think Charlotte Russe and Wet Seal are owned by the same people. Wet Seal is for Juniors, Charlotte Russe is more for young women, hence Russe being the classier of the two stores. I absolutely love them both though! It’s been over four years since this was written, and still no H&M online for the US :/

  88. 88
    January 17th, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    I think for sure Forever 21 and BeHoneyBee for sure

  89. 89
    January 21st, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    those stores are all great! I especially like dsw, target, & forever 21. thanks for a great post!
    ps. dsw doesn’t stand for discount shoe warehouse, it stands for DESIGNER shoe warehouse

  90. 90
    January 26th, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    For me it’s Old Navy, Joe Fresh, Forever 21, H&M, Claire’s, Coach Outlet (often have additional mark-down sales), and Pay less Shoes.

  91. 91
    January 27th, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I honestly think Papaya is a SUPER cheap store with all the clothes that are in. YOU SHOULD REALLY GO THERE ITS SUPER CHEAP COMPARING TO OTHER STORES

  92. 92
    February 27th, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    This is my List:
    1.) American Eagle *When stuff is on sale, its pretty decent*
    2.) Rue21
    3.) Wet Seal
    4.) Target
    5.) Belk
    6.) Any thrift shop
    7.) Aeropostale
    8.) D.e.b * idk if many people know what this shop is but its really girly and cheap*
    9.) LuLu*s (AMAZING Online STORE)
    10.) Forever21

  93. 93
    March 13th, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Hi, first of all just wanted to say I really enjoy your site! It’s so beneficial. I recently just moved to New Zealand as an international student and often came here seeking for fashion related advice haha. I do have a question though, upon your recommendation, I checked out GoJane and I know you specifically mentioned not to purchase their clothings. Does this include bikinis or monokinis as well? Cuz I saw a really cute one onsite :)

  94. 94
    April 29th, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I think Nordstorm, American Eagle, Ambercrombie(and Fitch), and Pacsun are pretty cheap too. Lord and Taylor is great for shoes!

  95. 95
    May 28th, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Great article, and so helpful…I had visited Charlotte Russe in New England, was thrilled to find one not far from my home in PA…and you were right on time about the Wet Seal accessories!

  96. 96
    June 5th, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    WHY is Aeropostale not there? Although I’m happy Forever 21 and H&M is there..BTW.

  97. 97
    June 12th, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Love this list! I also really love Humble Chic :) Their styles are perfect for me plus I can call them for free style help. I always feel a bit awkward when asking a sales associate for style help.

  98. 98
    June 20th, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    They forgot about Macy’s

  99. 99
    July 19th, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    great list! I totally agree with you

  100. 100
    July 30th, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Have you checked out Chicastic? They have great affordable fashion accessories including handbags, clutches, jewelry, hats and more. The prices are great and the inventory is stocked with so much variety!

  101. 101
    August 29th, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I LOVE Deb Shops!!! Super affordable and a HUGE selection! Plus size available in most stores too! check it out:)

  102. 102
    August 29th, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    The list you have is great! I also recommend thrift shopping… You can find SO MANY stylish and timeless pieces, and each piece is at least 80% marked down, if not more. Goodwill thrift stores are my go-to! I encountered a guy on the street near my house whose outfit was so great, and upon chatting with him, he was so proud that his entire outfit was less than $100! Thrift shopping can definitely save you a lot of cash while still looking great :)

  103. 103
    August 31st, 2013 at 2:48 am

    Nice list, Love gojane. Really nice jewelry.

  104. 104
    September 11th, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    1. Kohl’s
    2. Forever 21
    3. Ross

  105. 105
    October 9th, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    I am re-doing my wardrobe from the ground up. (It is time when you are still wearing the same shirts from freshman year of college and you are two years out of college) The main reason for redoing my closet is that in the past, shopping has intimidated me. While I love to shop, knowing what to buy and how much to spend. Now, I am trying to focus on how much I will spend on certain things. For example, I am willing to go to:

    1. Old Navy–> Has great selection of t-shirts and long sleeves that you can pick up to layer under your sweaters. There is no reason to pay $30 for tank top! Has a decent selection of tops as well, and great jeans.
    2. Target –> Underwear is reasonable, and will not fall apart like Walmart underwear. PJs are comparable to higher end sets.
    3. Forever 21 –> Jewelry, shorts, and the occasional gem of a top.

    For basics such as t-shirts for layering, and other simple things. I have actually found a few great pieces from F21 that are not too terrible.

    For Tops and Bottoms I usually go to:

    1. The Gap –>Watch out for sales. I got two pairs of quality underwear buy one get one free plus a high quality pair of sleeping pants at Gap Body for $40. I normally don’t pay too much for Pjs but these were super soft and very high quality. Plus I live in PJ bottoms during the winter.
    2. New York and Company –> Great clothes at great prices. Some pieces are a little steep but there are some good finds.
    3. American Eagle –> A little young for the over 24 crowd, but every now and again you can score some classy items. For example, I was looking at some moto pants at Anthropologie for over $100. Instead, was able to pick up two pairs from AE for $50 each. (now on sale for $30!). Quality has been better than F21 and has classier pieces.
    4. Little Boutiques here and there –> Sometimes the word boutique sends up images of high $$ but you can find some mid price pieces where the quality is great. Boutiques that are locally owned and not part of a chain are your best bet. You never know where you are going to find one–I found one in a rundown shopping center with amazing pieces from $15-$30.
    5. Oasap–> Great online retailer. Better reviews than Rowme. Does take a little while for the clothes to arrive, but most pieces are high quality. Many Youtubers have done reviews on Oasap.
    6. Papaya–I used to never shop here, but I popped in randomly one day and picked up two pairs of amazing shorts for $16 each. The sizes do run a bit small, but he prices are comparable to F21, but better quality and more ‘classy’ stuff. Shirts run $16-$30. And great selection!

  106. 106
    October 31st, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Can anybody tell me good online stores for sweaters/knitwear?

  107. 107
    November 18th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I agree with your entire lists and I love that you’ve mentioned thrift stores. I have a blog that revolves around shopping on a budget. If you’re interested, click my name to check it out.

  108. 108
    December 6th, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Just a hint about thrift shops. If you can find one in your area, shop in hospital auxiliary and junior league shops. Their clothes may be a bit too mature looking – not trendy enough – for college age shoppers, but once you hit 35 plus these places can’t be beat. i frequently find clothes that I know cost $75 or more selling for under $10 or $15.

    Goodwill and PTA shops in affluent neighborhoods are great places to find bargains. My sister-in-law wore a knock-down-drop-dead silk dress to a family wedding recently. Everyone was commenting on how gorgeous it was. I asked her later where she got it. Her answer: Goodwill for $5.00!!!!!

  109. 109
    December 23rd, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I love everything listed above. But if you’re looking for online shopping I suggest Outfit-Me.com. They are an online women’s clothing company that sells complete styled outfits at what I think is a fair price.

  110. 110
    December 31st, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Thanks! This list really helped a lot I wanted to try new places not on a college budget (not in college) but I will DEFINITLY check some of these stores out but I already love T.J max it has amazing clothing :)

  111. 111
    January 3rd, 2014 at 2:03 am

    lately, I prefer Wet Seal over charlotte and forever 21. I think they have got more styles and discounts than the rest. also love macy’s if not on budget.

  112. 112
    January 19th, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    TJ Maxx is awesome, really great selection…. on some days!

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