I am no longer MIA now that I’m back from my cruise, which turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life. While exploring the Caribbean was a much needed break, I had to go back to reality almost instantly because the day after I got back I had to get on a flight to California, which is where I am currently, to help my sister move into her college dorm.
Even though my sister and I are going to literally be on opposite ends of the country, our semesters start on the same day, which happens to be a week from tomorrow. I know our schools aren’t the only ones starting soon either, a bunch of schools are beginning the fall semester within the next two weeks, and some have already started.
My favorite thing about the back to school season, at least in grade school, was going back to school shopping. Even though now I’m in college, I still like picking up a few new things before the semester starts, especially if there’s a drastic change in the season such as summer and fall.
I haven’t really updated my wardrobe in a long time, but I needed to get things for my cruise so I killed two birds with one stone and got some things I could use for school this semester too.
When I was deciding where I wanted to shop, I ruled out some of the big stores like Forever 21. If you have read some of my other posts, you’ve probably realized that a lot of my clothes are from Forever 21. They have a big selection of cute, trending clothing, but recently I’ve noticed that it’s over priced for the quality of their merchandise. Not only that, but I can only get one or two wears out of thing before they rip.
I personally would much rather spend $50 dollars on a shirt that is good quality and will survive many wears and washes than a shirt that is $10 and rips the second time I wear it.
Another store I ruled out was Charolette Russe. I was in desperate need of shoes, and usually I go to Charolette Russe because of their variety. However, any sandals I buy from there wear out so easily, and I need sturdy shoes that will get me from each end of campus without a problem.
One time one of my shoes, that happened to be from Charolette Russe, broke while I was walking to class, on a test day. That definitely wasn’t my favorite day of the week.
Aside from quality, another reason I ruled out stores like these is because they are everywhere and it’s not uncommon to see or know someone with the same shirt as you. I like things that don’t have people saying “I saw that in ____.”
At first it was a struggle trying to shop for specific items when I already ruled out some stores that I KNOW would have what I’m looking for, but I managed to find some awesome deals at stores I like and have heard of, but don’t always go to.
If you’re doing some last minute back to school shopping, or just shopping in general, I’m going to share some stores to check out that have a lot of quality apparel and are not nessecarily uncommon, but not everyone and their mother shops there.
Francesca’s is pretty well known where I’m from, but it’s rare to meet someone who will have the same thing. Francesca’s is pretty much just an average boutique, and if you are thinking ‘well it’s a boutique so of course it’s good quality,’ think again. The general appeal of boutiques is that they have unique merchandise that is also good quality in an upscale atmosphere, but this is not always the case.
One boutique that I’ve frequently shopped at does not live up to those standards. While the atmosphere is upscale, the quality of the clothing is actually less than average.
I bought a dress there for one of our football game days, and the strap broke when I tried to take it off that night, and that’s not the only thing I’ve bought from there that’s ripped.
Even if something hasn’t ripped (yet), the fabric of everything I’ve bought from there is very thin, like paper thin. I have to be extra careful when handling it.
What makes it worse is the price. The cost is in the three or four dollar sign range, which in my opinion is way too much to be paying for clothing that makes you feel like you have to put it in a glass box.
Francesca’s clothing is really cute, good quality, and less expensive. Every article of clothing I’ve ever bought there feels durable, but not cheap, fake, or plastic.
When I saw this pineapple romper I fell in love. It’s cute, comfortable, and I’m not afraid that it will randomly get a hole in it. Plus, I doubt I’ll see anyone else with it.
The jewelry selection is really nice too. I’ve had many statement necklaces break but the one I have from Francesca’s is still in tact.
Some pieces do feel delicate though, usually the ones with thin chains. But, no matter where you buy it from, anything that’s has a thin gold chain will feel dainty.
Also, while most retail stores have a specific style that they’re known for, Francesca’s caters to babes with all different looks. You can tell by the way the mannequins are dressed in the store, or just by browsing the clothing racks.
In one corner, they might display a more southern look with a flannel, jeans, and belt, and in the other corner there might be a more beauty look displayed with a kimono or maxi skirt.
Francesca’s doesn’t just sell clothes and accessories though. somewhere in the store there’s a table with fun decor items, mugs, and novelty items.
My favorite ones are the ones that have to do with coffee, cats, and wine. (and that’s a lot of them)
If I haven’t convinced you to check this place out yet, maybe I will when I tell you that Francesca’s has a 10% student discount with a student ID, making it a perfect place for back to school shopping.
When I was younger I used to think Macy’s, or any other department store at the ends of the mall, were boring and “uncool” places to shop. As I got older I realized that Macy’s is actually awesome.
They carry a lot of designer brands and have great sales all the time, and extra money off if you have a Macy’s card.
I remember getting some bathing suits and jeans there a long time ago, and they lasted forever. I also have gotten my suitcases from Macy’s, and they are also very durable. I’ve gone on many trips where my luggage has been thrown around, and yet they are still in almost perfect condition, but I can’t say the same for past suitcases in that situation.
I say almost perfect because one of my suitcases has a broken front zipper, but I’m pretty sure that’s only because I tried to put way, way, too many things in that pocket.
When I was shopping last week, I went there looking for a mini backpack and gladiator sandals. I was so lucky to spot a brown leather rampage backpack that was 70% off, and when the cashier rang it up, it was even cheaper than what was advertised.
However, I didn’t get so lucky with the gladiator sandals. There weren’t any on display, and I tried scanning the clearance section, but it was nearly impossible.
Everything was thrown on top of each other and nothing was organized. The shoes weren’t even organized by size, there were 10’s next to 7’s, and on top of that, not all of them were in pairs.
It was similar in the clearance section for bathing suits too. Some weren’t even marked so you couldn’t tell if it was actually on sale or not.
I would say that that is one of the store’s, or at least the one I went to, biggest flaws. To be fair, that particular store was located in a big touristy mall, but still.
Other than that, Macy’s is a great place to shop. One particular thing that I really like that is also in other department stores, is that each individual department has their own checkout counter and sales workers.
You don’t have to walk across the store to make a purchase and you can get individual attention. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like Macy’s is underestimated.
Currently there is bad news and good news about Macy’s. The bad news is that they are closing about 100 stores around the United States, mostly because of how big the online shopping market has gotten.
The good news is that there will be extra great sales! That might have been why I got my backpack so cheap. Take advantage of it while you can!
I have never walked into a store that had everything organized by color until I walked into Charming Charlie. Literally, every table of merchandise is dedicated to one specific color.
This makes it easier to find something if you’re looking for a piece in a specific color, and it’s really aseptically pleasing. Even their website has a color tab!
There is also a big selection on every category of merchandise, unlike some stores that sell mostly clothes with a smaller handbag or jewelry section.
Besides everything being color-coordinated, the best thing about Charming Charlie is that they have quality, boutique like items at Forever 21-like prices.
Their sale section is something to look at too. The only downside is that the sale items, or other things that aren’t in the color coordinated sections, are spread on different racks and shelves throughout the store. However, everything is still very organized and you aren’t overwhelmed or digging around to find what you want.
When I was there, I found a perfect tan sun hat, brown cardigan, and this nifty portable charger keychain that looks like a tassle. If I spent more time browsing, I probably could’ve found many more cool and stylish items.
- Shop Local
Local shops and boutiques are perfect for finding unique things, and they are usually good quality. Depending on the store, the inventory can be handmade or donated.
In Tallahassee, there is an area called Railroad Square Art park full of vintage shops, cafes, and galleries.
If you’re not sure about local shops in your area, do some research. Google is a great place to discover local areas. A lot of towns also have a website where they may list local things to do and places to go. But for the true inside scoop, try asking some locals in your area that have been living there for years. They are bound to know some hidden gems.
If anything, start at a Goodwill or another thrift store. Goodwill’s inventory is all donations and they are constantly stocking new items.
Living in a college town, everyone donates bags and bags of items to goodwill during move out season. They also have a lot of Florida State merchandise that has been discontinued or is a lot cheaper than it would be in the bookstore.
Shopping local is a great way to find unique merchandise, but it is also a great way to give back to your community.
I’m pretty sure I beat the record for my longest post ever, but I had a lot to say about my recent shopping experiences. I think it’s important for everyone to know that they can get quality clothing without paying 800 dollars. There are so many more options that what I have listed, you just have to do a little digging.
dress well. eat well. live well.