Fashion and clothes have always been important to younger generations. It’s an easy form of self expression, and is easy to change with young, developing personalities. In today’s world, where fashion is at the forefront of every Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat feed with hashtags like #outfitoftheday, #styleinspo and #onfleek, even college students on a budget want to be trendy.  However, being “on fleek” can be costly, especially if you attend a school where high-end brands like Free People, Kate Spade, and Lululemon are popular.

At Samford, it’s common to see expensive fashion and “athlesuire” brands adorning many students on campus. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it can be difficult to keep up for students who live by their Excel sheet budgets.

Thankfully, there’s another option if you don’t mind putting in a bit of effort and are willing to accept that you aren’t the first, or maybe even second owner of your clothes. Thrift shopping is a great alternative to buying clothes at full price. Not only are clothes much cheaper this way, but you can also find unique pieces that wouldn’t be available in mainstream clothing stores.

Thrifting can allow you to find great unique pieces that give your style an edge.  Grace Martiniere, a Samford graduate, says that she loves thrifting because she can “find something vintage but has come back in style. It is usually a little more unique than something I would find in a mainstream store and I feel like I found a gem! You can find some funky old prints/patterns on classic pieces and I really like that.” Right now trends from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s are circulating back into mainstream fashion with bellbottom jeans, bomber jackets, denim on denim, velour and chokers. These are items that older generations have recently thrown out of their wardrobes from those decades, and would be fun finds in a thrift shop.

Thrift shopping isn’t only about hunting down one-of-a-kind vintage pieces. It can also be a great tool for wearing current trends at a fraction of the price. Stores like the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, AL are notorious for having multitudes of cheap designer brands. Ellie Pitchford, a current Sophomore at Samford, has found designers like Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren at over 80 percent off. “I found a beautiful brand new Ralph Lauren evening dress for $23 dollars. The [original] Ralph Lauren tag had it priced at $250.”Using thrift shopping to save money on mainstream brands can be a great tool for college students who, according to US News and World Report have an  average clothing budget of around $250 a semester. This is still on the generous side, and thrift shopping could help a college student reduce their clothing budget to $100 or less per semester.

For all the unique finds or cheap trendy clothes thrift shops have to offer, there are still many people who prefer to buy all of their clothes new. “I generally describe to others [that I] dislike secondhand clothing [because] I would rather put all the wear and tear on clothes than have some of that already done. I have shopped at thrift stores for like theme parties because the clothes are cheap, and why should I spend more money on something I will most likely only wear once,” says Bailey Fawcett, a Samford Junior.

Whether you thrift to find funky vintage statement pieces or designer deals, it can be a budget saver for college students. The next time you’ve got an urge to expand your closet try a thrift shop, you never know what you’ll find.