Curating an Outfit for Under $30 101

Article and photos by: Gracie King | Feature Editor | mhk1724@jagmail.southalabama.edu 

Picture this: you’re right in the middle of wedding and grad season, with new trends emerging after every high-end fashion show. You get an invitation to an event and realize you don’t really have anything spectacular to wear. Sure, you could go with the same printed floral dress or pressed khakis that you always wear. Or, you could visit some of the more budget-friendly stores around Mobile to curate a totally new, fresh and trendy outfit. 

Whenever I’m struggling with outfit inspiration, I first like to go through Pinterest to really nail down an idea. What kind of impression am I looking to make? What kind of outfits will look good on my body type? Try to think about what you want the overall ensemble to look like.

Now, it’s time to build the foundation. Whether it be a bodycon dress or graphic button-down, finding the staple of your outfit is priority number one so you can get to the fun part: accessorizing!

One of my favorite go-to places for the base of an outfit is Plato’s Closet, located on Aiport Boulevard. At Plato’s Closet, employees rifle through bin after bin of donated clothes to put out the name brand and nicer items at a marked-down price. They also pay you for some of your clothes that may not fit, looked better on the hanger or you’re just not loving anymore. 

TJ Maxx and Ross, also on Airport Boulevard, are great places to find some basics for your closet, like a spring linen blazer or a graphic baby tee. If you need a simple addition to a bold look, these are definitely the places to go. 

After you find the foundation of the outfit, it’s time to start adding shoes and accessories. Plato’s Closet, TJ Maxx, and Ross all have a relatively robust selection of accessories that require a sense of perseverance to go through. It can be overwhelming to decide on what pieces would look best with your new look, so I recommend going in with a plan of exactly what you’re looking for. When sticking to a certain aesthetic or style, you mitigate the risk of spending too much at one location. 

If you’re having a hard time finding the perfect accessories to match the new ‘fit, it may be time to get even more creative by going to a craft store, buying some beads and charms and designing your own jewelry. I personally love to make my own jewelry, as it’s much cheaper and I know I’m getting exactly what I want.

Michael’s (currently relocating to the Pinebrook Shopping Center on Airport Boulevard), Hobby Lobby and even Dollar Tree all have a rather wide variety of crafting material to either design some new pieces or give a makeover to something in the back of your closet. 

Whether you’re trying to curate a vision through your outfit or you just want to update some of your wardrobe, doing so on a broke-college-kid budget can be very difficult. Many people utilize fast fashion sites like Shein and Romwe to achieve a desire look, as the prices are extremely low and can also usually accommodate more to plus sized shoppers. 

There are pros and cons to both fast fashion and shopping around locally. At the end of the day, what matters is being comfortable in the clothes you’re in.