Savvy shopping helps save on surprise buys

By Lillian Barkley

No matter how well you’ve packed and planned, you will wind up buying more clothes in college.

There’s only so much that can fit in a dorm room, and even if you remembered to pack winter clothes and rain boots, there’s a good chance that you didn’t pack a Halloween costume or the perfect flannel and cowboy hat combo for a barn dance.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to update your closet without spending as much as a new textbook.

One of the most diverse places to find clothes is also somewhat unexpected: Facebook.

Groups like “Champaign Closet Recycle” and “Free and For Sale” allow students to post new or gently used items that they want to get rid of, usually at a fairly steep discount.

Throughout the year, it’s fairly common to see students meeting at the Illini Union trading bags of clothes for cash.

If you have an interview or job fair and realize you don’t have any appropriate shoes, you can also make a post asking if anyone has any they are willing to sell.

The pages are especially active at the beginning and end of each semester, when students have excess clothes that must be sold before they leave campus. This is also when prices are lowest, with many people selling everything for $5 or throwing in free items.

Both groups are part of the larger UIUC groups page, which requires a University email address. This ensures there are no Craigslist-style anonymous posts.

Another shopping option requires slightly more prior planning. The Market Place Shopping Center in Champaign is just a bus ride away and features staples like Forever 21, Charlotte Russe and Sephora.

Charlotte Russe and Eddie Bauer, also in the mall, offer student discounts, while loyalty programs at stores including American Eagle and Sephora send regular coupons and rewards to members.

Just down the road from the mall is Plato’s Closet, which buys and sells used clothing for men and women. According to their website, their prices are roughly 70 percent off retail.

This is a great option if you need a dress in a specific color for rush, or if you want to get name-brand jeans for less than $10.

Plato’s Closet also has a customer appreciation card where you earn a stamp for every $10 you spend or sell. A 20 percent discount is earned after 25 stamps.

If you’re on a time crunch or don’t want to leave campus, Green Street has a few shopping options.

While Urban Outfitters is known for being expensive, strategic shopping can land some great deals.

Throughout the year, UO offers additional discounts off of all clearance, peaking at 50 percent off. They also have student days where flashing a student ID will give a 10 percent discount on your entire purchase.

You can sign up for the Urban Outfitters newsletter – or just walk past their storefront – to know when sales will be going on.

Ragstock, also on Green Street, has a wide variety of affordable clothes and accessories, but its selection really shines for Halloween and theme parties.

Seasonal racks of flannels, Halloween costumes, ugly Christmas sweaters and Hawaiian shirts hone in on student needs throughout the year. When you spend $10 on an outfit, you won’t feel as bad for only wearing it once. Tweet: How to save on the clothes you didn’t know you needed.

Lillian is a sophomore in Media.
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