How to Afford Designer Goods as a Student

Every time I wear or carry something really nice, my peers at university either greet me with a dirty look, or whine about how they wish they could afford that, or just blatantly ask me, “how could you afford that?” The worst reaction I’ve ever gotten was when a girl got mad at me because I said I couldn’t afford to attend her out-of-town bachelorette (wasn’t a bridesmaid anyway), but she saw me buying new designer things on my Instagram.

So I’m about to unveil my secrets, some of which my close friends know about, and some of which I usually keep to myself, but today is a reveal-all kind of day, so here we go:


Just kidding.
Borrow from your mother. My mother’s accessory closet is a haven. I am so blessed to have such a stylish mom, but that blessing sometimes bites me in the butt when she doesn’t let me borrow her stuff. From jackets to shoes to purses to scarves, I have my own mini Saks 5th Avenue at home to scavenge for the perfect outfit. Edit: I’ve since moved out, so borrowing isn’t as easy, but we still make it work when I’m really in need of a closet pick-me-up.

Sign up for Winners and Marshalls mailing list. This is my mother’s tried and tested method of finding designer pieces. Twice a year, these outlet-style stores have a crazy shipment of top designer pieces, and their mailing list receives invites to shop firsthand. The stores open at 8:00 am on these days, and I kid you not, my mother always comes home with bags bursting with Valentino, Gucci, Ferragamo, Dior… you name it!

Get a part-time job. Anyone who tells me they don’t have time for work while studying is full of it. With a full course load, I was able to balance not one, but two part-time jobs, and in November 2016 even took three trips to New York to visit my boyfriend (now husband) while he was there on business. Good things don’t come to those who wait, good things come to those who get off their ass and work for it. So if you want to spoil yourself, make sure you’re doing something about it!

Get a part-time job in a retail store where you could see yourself shopping – DISCOUNTS! I didn’t realize how amazing this was until recently, having hit a year since I quit a part-time job at Ted Baker, and realizing I still wear a Ted Baker piece of some kind almost every single day. Had I not worked there, I never could have afforded to have racks and racks of clothing from this British luxury designer brand.

Pack a lunch every day. I know what you’re thinking – what does lunch have to do with shopping? In this day and age, with avocado toast and other tasty trending treats, eating out can get hella expensive. Think about it – on average, even grabbing lunch at a moderately healthy fast food place (Aroma, Rolltation, Richtree, etc.) can come to about $15, and in a work week that’s $75. Totalling $300 a month, you just spent a designer sweater’s worth on food.

Establish some ground rules with your loved ones. This year was the first year when I played it really smart for my birthday – when asked what I want, I told my loved ones to just give me money or a mall gift card. This helped me put together enough money to get myself a pair of beautiful Christian Louboutin heels. Moving forward, I’m going to do the same thing every year. It’s obviously unreasonable to ask one person to get me the one luxury item I’m coveting, but when people gift me a fraction of what it will cost me to get what I want, it means more to me than any gift ever would.

Shop vintage. I’ve never actually done this personally, but I know many people who have found incredible pieces at consignment shops. If hygiene is an issue for you, and you don’t want to wear someone else’s shoes or clothes after them (I don’t blame you), you can use this opportunity to shop for handbags, pouches, and find scarves that you can revamp as a purse accessory.

Take advantage of European pricing. If you’re planning a euro-trip or know somebody who is, and there is an item from a Europe-based designer that you are coveting (Louis Vuitton, Kenzo, Valentino, Ferragamo, Chanel, etc.), make sure you save your pennies for this opportunity! Firstly, even when you convert euros to dollars, it is still cheaper to buy these items there, and on top of that, as a visitor you can get a tax refund just for taking the item out of the country when you go back home. As an example, LV’s Neverfull GM would cost you $1921 in Canada after tax. If you would buy it in Italy and get your 12% tax refund, you would save $630 and pay the equivalent of $1291 on today’s euro to Canadian dollar rate. At that point you can buy the purse as well as a wallet and pouch to go with it!

This post is not to convince you that you should go out there and spend your last dollar on the most expensive purse out there. This is just to show that it is possible to shop designer even if you don’t have enough “shopping budget” as you’d like to. I grew up hearing my mother say “we’re not rich enough to buy cheap things” all the time, and I can tell you that my designer clothing have stood the test of time, whereas my fast fashion pieces were discarded faster than they were purchased. It IS possible to shop designer as a student. Happy shopping!

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