Back to School (and Blogging) + Shopping Tips!

2:07 PM



Hello, I AM RETURNED. (With graphics!!) The end of summer got a little out of hand with the move to the new apartment, financial worries, and ending work/starting back to classes. But now I'm back in school and on a schedule, so consistency should become my middle name! (I hope.)

So since the financial woes are briefly at a rest, and school is back in session, I decided to do some back to school shopping. Every year from the time I was little, I would always do back to school shopping for the year and pick out new clothes that would express my little (read: overly expressive) childhood personality. So for me, going back to school or starting a new chapter in my life always means a shopping trip. It may be weird, but somehow it doesn't feel like I've truly begun anew until I get some pretty clothes to wear and make me feel confident.

This year's picks were small (since my budget is little), but I am VERY happy with the results. And since they actually perfectly encapsulate the tips I want to provide about shopping, we're going to put them together!!

1. Make a list.

Sleeveless button down from Old Navy-ON THE LIST! Check!
Shopping can be either the most fun you'll ever have or the worst experience of your life, depending on who you are, how much you have to spend, and how much time you have. But the FIRST tip I always use is to make a list of what I need. I'm the type of person who likes lists (see: I'm making a list of shopping tips right now), but I find that making a list of what I want to get out of the trip is helpful. It helps me to focus when I'm wandering through all the departments of the stores I'm shopping in, or going through the racks at Goodwill. It's also so I don't go nuts buying 150 sweaters I don't need, since I already have at least 20. Also know that your list is your list, and don't let anybody judge it. I want this button down for underneath of sweaters. Some might find it odd to purchase a sleeveless top for fall, but it works for me and that's what matters. Having a list will also help you to...

2. Stay on budget.

Cute AND budget-conscious! (Only 4.48 at Target!)

Create a budget, and stick to it. For me, I had a budget of $100 or less for my shopping session on Friday. I ended up spending about $88, which was perfectly on point (and $33 of that came from money I found on the street!). If you're a student like me, you know your budget, and if you're not, you should know it too. Whether it's $25, $200, or $1000 (I don't know who you are, but I'm jealous!!), know what you have to spend so that you don't go way overboard and bust your finances for important things, like rent and food. But...

3. Don't be afraid to buy pieces that cost a little more than you're used to.

IN LOVE WITH THIS BAG. Seriously. (Steve Madden, TJ Maxx, $40)
...as long as you're within your budget, that is. This is especially true if they're investment-type pieces that you know you'll wear and love for several years. I have had the same cognac-colored bag for at least five or six years, and it wasn't a top notch piece to begin with. As a result, it ended up with tears, scratches, and holes, and now just looks a little sad and wimpy. So when I saw THIS bag, pictured above, I knew I had to have it. The combination of cognac and black means it will go with literally everything I own. It was $40, which I know isn't a lot to everyone, but that was nearly half my budget for this fall. BUT I also knew that it would be well-loved for years to come, and I couldn't picture leaving the store without it.

4. Know what looks great on you, and what you will wear.

Goodwill find, $5

Goodwill find for $5

Most of us have things we prefer to wear, and that we know highlight our figures well. For me, I cannot live without skirts, and I love to highlight my waist since I was blessed with an hourglass figure. Know what flatters you, and be aware of what you will wear. If you buy items that don't flatter you because they're trendy, you probably won't wear them. This is why I will (probably) never buy harem pants--they just don't work on my short-girl figure. It's kind of like knowing your  The two skirts above have already been worn (I bought both about two weeks ago). But...

5. Don't be afraid to try on things outside your comfort zone.

Purple love. Apt 9 (Kohl's line), purchased at Goodwill for $5

If I'd seen this in a Kohl's store, I honestly don't think I would have picked it up. The color is pretty, sure, but I generally don't try on a top with double pockets on the bust because it's usually, well, a bust (haha, I'm so witty). I only own one or two button downs with double pockets, and none made of a silky type material because it's difficult for the sleeves to stay rolled up and out of my way. But I went for it anyway, and this top is so freaking adorable. I had to have it. The color looks perfect with my bright hair and is a great fall transition piece.

Have I confused you yet on these two rules? Well, when in doubt...

6. Employ the 5x5 rule.

A classic denim jacket in a flattering silhouette? Yes please! Eddie Bauer via Goodwill ($17).
Some call it the 3x3 rule, but I'm a little more stringent. When I try something on in the dressing room, I ask myself: can I wear this with five other outfits in my wardrobe? If the answer is no, then I put it back. If the answer is yes, it comes home with me (like the jacket pictured above).

7. Classics and basics need some love too.

Ann Taylor LOFT via Goodwill ($5)
People forget when shopping for the season that you may need basics to supplement your wardrobe. For me, since I cannot seem to stomach the idea of a pure white long sleeve button-down, the shirt above is going to become a basic staple of my wardrobe. Classics and basics exist for a reason-to hold down the fort and make the other pieces in your wardrobe have something to stick to, in a sense. I'm excited to put this little beauty with both jeans and a pencil skirt.

Most importantly below!

8. Have fun.

Sam & Libby for Target, purchased BRAND NEW via Goodwill ($9)

Whether it's funky oxfords, like the ones above, a pair of bright tights, a statement coat--buy things that make you happy and excited to wear them. If you put something on your list, and it makes you sad every time you try it on, don't get it, for goodness sake. Instead, find things that work for you and that you're looking forward to showing off to the world. (Isn't that the point of shopping?)

BONUS ONE!

9. Do something to take care of you!!

My new 'do!
If you're back to school shopping, like me, then it probably means you're about to head into a new phase and be VERY busy. Don't forget to do something to pamper yourself!! I hadn't gotten my hair done in four months and it was driving me crazy, so I got a last-second appointment at the salon to get a trim and style some pretty new bangs for fall. Whether it's getting a pedicure or manicure, going for a massage, signing up for a gym membership, doing a little self-pampering at home...don't forget to take care of you, on top of your wardrobe. You'll be a lot happier for it.

Happy almost-fall, and I'll be back with some outfit posts in the blog-o-sphere soon!

--Carisa

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