Every year before the beginning of school, my mom would always take my sister and I on a huge shopping spree. As the avid fashion lover I am, this was my second favorite holiday of the year (after Christmas of course). We’d take a special trip up to the Park Meadows Mall in Denver and spend the day buying the newest trendy pieces and some basics-to appease my mom.
As I got older, however, I started working and was able to make my own source of income separate from my previous dependence on garage sale money. With this new constant flow of money, I bought clothes throughout the summer instead of waiting until the end to spend it all.
While I still love the slight adrenaline rush associated with buying a bunch of new clothing items, I’m much more purposeful in how I choose to spend my shopping money. I didn’t know any better back then, which is why I spent the majority of my spree money at stores like Forever 21, H&M, Urban Outfitters, and Hollister. My primary goal was to get as much bang for my buck as possible (yes, it’s a cheesy saying but it’s true). Over the years, though, I realized that this wasn’t necessarily the key to creating that dream Gossip Girl wardrobe that I dreamt of, as many of the fast fashion pieces I bought became unwearable after a year or two due to holes, breaking buttons, and just overall crappy quality.
Now, my idea of a shopping spree is finding unique and on-trend pieces at thrift stores. I still shop at some retail stores, but I limit it to ones who focus on sustainability and ethical production. As a college student, though, I know these places are a bit more costly than your average fast fashion retail store, which is why your best bet is to take advantage of sales! And what better time to do this than before school starts? Here’s a list of the best back-to-school styles that not only keep you on trend, but are also from sustainable and ethical brands.
(also side note!! I’m now part of the RewardStyle crew so now it’s easier for you to shop the products I metion on the little “Shop this post” widgets!)
Ref is having their huge semi-annual sale and, as an employee, I can confidently say that it’s pretty amazing. Clothes are anywhere up to 70% off right now! (that’s more than my discount). Pick up some fall staples like the Cynthia High Relaxed Jean or a lightweight sweater like the Iris top. For trendier pieces, slip into the Jade dress or make a statement in the leopard print Jackie Pant.
If you’re looking for a good quality pair of shoes, Nisolo is the place to go. Their end of season sale is on almost everything from shoes to bags! I recently bought my first pair of sandals from them (the Lucia Block Heel sandal is on sale now) and absolutely love them. The Chelsea boot is the perfect pair of fall booties, or pick up the Paloma mule if you’re more of a mule person.
Everlane is doing an interesting sale this season, called their “Choose what you pay” sale. From a list of handpicked products, you can choose between three price points depending on how much you think the product is worth. While this doesn’t really make any sense to me, (who would pick the highest price over the lowest one??) it’s a unique way to make their sale and brand stand out. Stock up on end-of-season sandals like The Strappy Sandal or prepare for the chilly months to come with The Cocoon Coat and The Modern Boyfriend Jean.
Surprisingly, Adidas is one of the forerunners in sustainable active wear. Although they produce a large amount of products, they have good ethical working conditions and use recycled materials for many of their products. Shop their sale section for specials like the Falcon shoes to hop on the never-dying dad shoe trend and the Believe This High-Rise leggings for those 8:00am lecture classes.
Known for pricey outdoorsy wear, Patagonia actually has quite a few products that can translate to college life. Their end of summer sale has everything from clothing to gear for up to 50% off. Stock up on fuzzy fall favorites with the Los Gatos Fleece pullover or treat yourself to the Switchback Sports Bra and matching Centered Crops to motivate you to finally go to that yoga class you’ve been saying you want to do.