The key to finding affordable and stylish back-to-school fashion is as much about where to go as it is about how to shop. While some stores on the list below may seem obvious, the key is to peruse wisely, which means with patience. Go in the middle of the weekday after a shipment, or early on a Saturday morning when nobody is around, and give yourself plenty of time to infiltrate the racks. Methodically pilfer each section for those perfect, beautiful bargains. Try the juniors and the adult sections, as well as areas reserved for the other gender — you just never know where that score's going to pop up. Don't be afraid to make several trips to the dressing rooms. Here are our recommendations, from local to chain.
With 43 stores in over 15 states, Buffalo Exchange is the leader of the re-sale fashion industry, offering trends for both sexes and name-brand clothing and accessories traded locally. Bring your vintage frocks for cash or store credit in trade. Store credit includes all purchases of designer name brands, new merchandise, leather, and more. Average clothing price is $15. 145 W Olmos Dr, (210) 832-8838, buffaloexchange.com.
Texas Trash Clothing Exchange
You can buy the latest fashion at Texas Trash, which has new merch coming in weekly. Managers purchase items from customers every Sunday, including designer wear, club wear, and jeans, with specialty in urban styles like goth and punk. They also sell Dickies, American Eagle, Gap, Mossimo, Christian Audigier, Ed Hardy, Levi's, Tripp, 7 For All Mankind, Juicy Couture, and more. 2100 McCullough Ave, (210) 259-6028.
"Don't pay full price for fabulous," and you just may score a pair of $15 Nikes, Britney Spears or Polo Ralph Lauren perfume for $20, Tommy Hilfiger jeans for $25, and even JanSport backpacks for $15. The Michael Kors snakeskin handbag trending now is half off. Don't pass up the bath and bed stuff that's not only a steal but perfect for stocking the college dorm: soaps, candles, incense, and pillows for every finicky head.
Here you'll find the usual affordable clothes and back-to-school furniture. However, T.J. Maxx also has an array of other fashionable finds, like Marc by Marc Jacobs earrings, Michael Kors flats for $50, and L.A.M.B. Williamsfield signature tote bags at more than half off, or a Furla wallet for $69. It's a one-stop shop for the whole family, as it includes stuff for all ages, like Tory Burch sunglasses, backpacks, lunchboxes and more.
This is where to go for eyewear, accessories, and clothes. Find a pair of Ralph Lauren or Nine West sunglasses for $11, or men's Polo shirts starting at $16.94. Shop in the store or online for the 40-percent-off red-dot clearance discount, running now through August 29. Other finds include linens at a bargain, home goods, and gifts.
Stop in for name-brand shoes for adults, as well as fashionable handbags for as low as $24.99, wallets, and even passport holders for that study-abroad trip. Check the back racks for clearance items, where you can find name brand shoes like Blowfish, MIA, Steve Madden, Skechers, Keds, and New Balance as much as 30-70 percent off. — Désirée Prieto
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