You may be cringing at the idea of a “budget” senior wardrobe. After all, that amazing senior shoot day only happens once…shouldn’t you splurge on that gorgeous Free People dress or Marc Jacobs watch? I certainly believe in treating yourself and celebrating your accomplishments, but for many, the senior portrait investment alone has a hefty price tag that is hard to manage. No matter your reason (income, extra expenses, fluctuating weight, insecurities, or wanting to spend more on prints later on), maybe you don’t have a high wad of cash to throw at those portrait ensembles. Here are our best tips to saving money and still looking incredible (shhhhhhh, we won’t tell)…you’ll be a savvy shopper and the envy of all your senior class!
-Check out ThredUp, EBay and Poshmark: You can find new with tags and barely-worn designer pieces for very inexpensive prices on these sites. Especially if you find a can’t-life-without-it piece, you can often search for the name on EBay and find it at a discount. The only downside is that often they don’t accept returns, so it helps to try coveted items on at Macy’s or Nordstrom before you place an order on EBay or Poshmark to make sure the size you’re ordering is the right one.
-Try Stitch Fix if shopping is limited in your area: Stitch Fix is a customized subscription box, but you can order just one box at a time. They feature curated, stylish pieces at department store prices, and can be a great option if you want to try things on in the comfort of your own home. You have three days to try everyone on before you return the items you don’t love. You will get a personalized stylist who you can write a note to, and let them know what you specifically want (i.e.: “I want a gorgeous utility jacket, and a stunning maxi dress in blue”), and they do their best to meet your need.
-Use coupon codes and Ebates to make the most of your budget: If you start shopping early on, you may earn an Ebates check before your senior session, to put back towards more clothes. Ebates is a cash back shopping program that works with online retailers to give you 1-10% cash back on your purchases. They issue you a check every quarter with your earnings, and it’s extremely simple to use. We have also had great luck with googling coupon codes before we make a purchase, and if you have a little bit of time, you can try out a whole bunch from places like Coupon Cabin.
-Try the Factory option for well-made, brand-name items: Both Gap and JCrew have factory stores online, that provide clothes from the previous season (or some of the items are made of thinner fabrics or cheaper stylings), but you can find great classic pieces like jeans, jackets, and blouses. We recommend looking for dark wash jeans, midi skirts, and solid color dresses for an elegant and classic look. Some of their pieces are a bit “older” than the senior demographic, so be sure to add trendy jewelry and great shoes to keep it youthful!
-Shop your friend’s closet: Do you have a bestie who’s the same size as you? Ask if she would be willing to share a few pieces with you…chances are, you’re already sharing clothes anyways! Look for basics like tees, tanks, slips and shoes, so that you can spend your hard-earned money on statement dresses and tops instead of staples. Or maybe you know another stylish pal who will be willing to loan you one great dress, or a beautiful necklace to supplement what you already have. It never hurts to ask. Just be sure to return whatever you borrow in dry-cleaned, pristine condition, preferably with a thank you note or her favorite treat!
Saving money on your senior outfits isn’t anything to be ashamed of. In fact, you should be proud you snagged gorgeous items without breaking the bank! You’ll be able to spend more time worrying about which images and prints you want, instead of paying off a large chunk of credit card debt. Happy shopping!