Arts and Entertainment

Affordable clothing just around the corner: Frugal fashion is not just for Fannie anymore

By Sandy Shen and Bianca Ho
Published: September 2009

As the value of the dollar continues to shrink, a new trend in clothing has become a fad. Thrift shopping is more and more common as the current state of the economy steadily recovers.

Stores like Wet Seal and Forever 21 are preferred over stores that used to be popular, but slightly more expensive, such as Abercrombie and Fitch. Discount stores, such as Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Filene’s Basement have been even more popular, as they offer designer labels for bargain prices.

The back-to-school season, which normally garners huge revenues for retail stores, revealed a miserable outcome for American Apparel, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Zumiez. Their sales figures have dropped a devastating 29 percent, while a much more inexpensive store, Aeropostale, has posted a nine percent increase in sales. Unlike others, Aeropostale is flexible about dropping its prices frequently and is eager to advertise sales and bargains.

What Stapleton doesn’t realize, is that people are much more willing to spend 50 percent less on clothes that are 80 percent as good.

Abercrombie and Fitch director Craig R. Stapleton explains that the reason for maintaining constant prices was a means of “brand protection –– lowering the prices would cause the store to lose the appeal and luster it currently holds as a “luxury store. What he doesn’t realize, is that people are much more willing to spend 50 percent less on clothes that are 80 percent as good.

South students are joining in on this trend. Sophomore Kathy Sun likes to shop at places like Delia’s and Forever21 “obviously because it’s cheap.

“It’s not bad quality or anything, and you can get more stuff because it’s a lot less expensive,

Junior Campbell Rogers said, who prefers to go to similar places. “I shop a lot at Delia’s, but their clothing is quite expensive sometimes, she said, “I try to buy from clearance or at cheaper places like Forever 21.

Where to Shop:

The Garment District

200 Broadway

Cambridge, MA 02139

Take the Green line, then switch to the Red line, get off at Kendall/MIT, and you will be within a short walking distance to the store.

The Garment District calls itself “an alternative department store, and it truly is one. The store sells both second hand and new clothing from every decade. You can find everything from vintage to current, modern day fashions.

If you’re really adventurous and patient, head downstairs to the infamous mountain of second hand clothes called the Dollar-A-Pound. The pile is replenished daily with fresh clothes.

It’s not easy to find anything wearable among the various sweaters, pants, and sheets (even underwear!) but every so often, with a lot of patience, you’ll find the perfect garment.

Not only are the clothes unique and interesting, but also the prices are more than reasonable. It’s the frugal shopper’s paradise, with inexpensively priced new clothing, and of course, the Dollar-A-Pound’s impossible-to-beat prices ($1.50/lb, $1/lb on Fridays). If you’re really tight for money, you can even sell your retired clothes for store credit or cash.

Filene’s Basement

215-227 Needham Street

Newton, MA 02464

Conveniently located on Needham Street in Newton, Filene’s Basement is the perfect place to shop.
This store specializes in designer items. All the clothing exudes sophistication, and no one will believe the amazing prices you paid for them.

You can buy items from classy labels such as Calvin Klein, Seven for All Mankind, Ralph Lauren, and Armani (if you’re lucky) without breaking the bank.

Filene’s Basement also has great accessories and an awesome shoe section. Head across the street for the second half of the store, which sells men’s clothing, women’s shoes, children’s apparel, and home items.

275 Needham St
Newton, MA 02464-1507

(617) 964-4987

Just down the street from Filene’s Basement, Marshalls is similar in that it carries designer items for affordable prices. Marshalls, however, has a larger juniors section and tends to carry more from your average mall store, like American Eagle and PacSun.

The overall atmosphere of this store is more teen-friendly, as it carries brighter colors and less flashy clothes than Filene’s Basement does. It also carries houseware items like pots, pans, and even scented candles.


Located on the 1st floor of the Natick Collection

1245 Worcester St
Natick, MA 01760
(508) 655-4800

While stores like Marshall’s and Filene’s Basement depend on outside retailers to send them overstocked or undersold items, Forever 21 has the dependability of holding clothes that will stay in stock and probably come in your size.

While at times it is a bit disorganized (and the lines can be absolutely chaotic), the clothes are chic for less, and you can feel like a true recessionista by shopping there.

Another benefit of this store is that it is located right inside the mall, so you can drop in during the middle of your shopping, and get great deals along with an occasional splurge at Neiman Marcus. It is also right below the food court, allowing you to refresh yourself after waiting in those long lines for the changing rooms!

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