The art of looking good without going broke 

Cheap Threads

Let's face it. The college years aren't known as a time of expansive budgets, especially when it comes to things that don't quite qualify as necessities. And no, that $300 pair of Prada sunglasses doesn't make the necessity cut-off, like it or not. So instead of blowing four months' worth of grocery money on those amazing sandals you spied in the window display at Bob Ellis, learn to be a smarter college consumer.

Besides, the chance of said sandals getting destroyed by some hammered frat guy who manages to dump an entire Solo cup full of cheap beer on your feet is much higher than you may initially realize. Trust me — my own over-priced shoes have been ruined in similar scenarios on more than one occasion, and it isn't pretty.

In such uncertain circumstances, the only sensible thing to do is to master the art of looking good without making a steep financial investment.

For a true thrifting experience, head to the Community Thrift Store in North Charleston (5300 Rivers Ave. 843-554-3733). A favorite among City Paper staff, you'll find an unbelievable, and slightly overwhelming, amount of stuff here. Racks upon racks of men's, women's, and children's clothes take up much of the store's large space. There is also find a swell selection of belts, hats, and bags hanging on the far wall. Spend two hours here and you could have an entirely new wardrobe for the price of a single designer dress.

For a similar selection, check out one of the many Goodwill stores in the area. Visiting Goodwill is always an adventure; you never know what you might find. It's a great place to get basic accessories like leather belts and scarves, which are always in style. But don't stop there. Spend some time digging through the shoulder-padded bridesmaids' dresses of the '80s and you may spot a perfectly chic little black dress hidden among them.

If you're the type that shivers at the thought of a thrift store, try the Butterfly Consignment stores. The Butterfly group, which includes sister store Victoria's Consignments (920 Houston Northcutt Blvd. 843-884-5534), has locations downtown and in Mt. Pleasant. With high-end brands like Ella Moss, True Religion, and Trina Turk, these consignment stores offer some of the best deals on designer clothing around. For those of you who are firm believers in the power of expensive jeans but don't have the budget to spend the requisite $200 on a pair, this is the place for you. Here you might find those Joe's Jeans you've been eyeing but at a major discount. Don't forget that these consignment stores aren't just a place to spend money; they also present an easy opportunity to make a little extra cash. Before you go shopping, grab that pair of Paige Jeans that no longer fit you (thanks a lot, Freshmen 15) and consign them. If they sell, you'll get 40 percent of the profit.

Other thrifty faves

Love Me Again 183 Coming St., Downtown. (843) 475-5123. shoplovemeagain.com. — Vintage treats and $2 deals.

Exchange Factor 5128 Rivers Ave., North Charleston. (843) 747-9625; 283 Meeting St., Downtown. (843) 965-5559. factorfive.com. — Vintage clothes, tchotchkes, and accessories.

S.C. Thrift and Resale 1670 Highway 17 N., Mt. Pleasant. (843) 971-0552. scthriftandresale.com. — Proceeds support Center for Women. Furniture and clothes.

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