Need a wardrobe upgrade? Check out these stores for the best deals

by Beacon Staff • November 8, 2006

It's not easy to keep up with all the recent fashion trends as a college student with limited means. Luckily for the fashion-forward student, Boston offers a variety of high-trend and low-cost stores that provide all the latest in fashion at reasonable prices.

One of the most well-known places to find the latest trends for less is HM. The store originally opened in Sweden almost 60 years ago, and today, there are over 1,300 locations in 24 countries. The only two locations in Boston are within walking distance of Emerson College. The first is located at 100 Newbury St. and the second in the Downtown Crossing shopping area at 350 Washington St.

According to the store's Web site, Berlin-based design team Viktor and Rolf will debut their newest line for HM on Nov. 9. It includes casual pieces like jeans, tops, knits, jackets and stylish evening wear for both men and women. Though the evening wear can get a little pricey-cocktail dresses go for about $100-it is still a much cheaper alternative to shopping for designer labels in department stores. HM also offers underwear, socks, accessories and a large variety of great winter coats.

According to HM, all of their garments go through a series of quality tests such as shrinkage, wrinkling, zipper durability and washing tests in order to ensure the quality of their products.

The Web site also provides information on how to care for clothes to extend a garment's life and sizing charts to help customers find the perfect fit. Keeping your outfits in good condition will certainly save you money in the long run.

"The clothes are cheap, but they last a long time," said sophomore print journalism major Andi Rothwell. She admires the fashion sense of celebrities Ashlee Simpson and Lindsay Lohan but doesn't have the money to spend on all the designer duds.

Instead, she opts for HM not only for the affordable prices and quality, but also because the store carries numerical sizes for tops instead of sizes small, medium and large, making it easier to shop.

Another great place to find deals in fashion is Target. Target stores feature styles by designer Isaac Mizrahi, who is well known for his many TV appearances on E! and the Style Network. His inexpensive women's clothing and accessories range from casual to athletic to work attire. "Target is very affordable, and yet there are always great designers to keep the clothes up to date and in style," said junior marketing communication major Nina Arnold.

Besides Isaac Mizrahi, Target is also featuring designer Behnaz Sarafpour for a limited time this holiday season. If brand names aren't enough to lure you, Target offers all the basics for much less than other stores. This season's popular fad, leggings, which can cost as much as $24 at Urban Outfitters, cost a mere $10 at Target. No one will know the difference unless you tell them.

For men, Target offers everything from suits to basic T-shirts, even including some well-known brands like Levi and Mossimo. A pair of men's Levi Strauss Signature Jeans runs for about $17 to $20, depending on size. Basic men's T-shirts cost as little as $8, while trendy screen tees with images from Corona beer to various classic rock bands cost between $10 and $20.

The most accessible Target for Emersonians to visit, accessible by the red line, is located at South Bay Plaza near Andrew Square in Dorchester. Also check out the store's Web site, target.com for information about the featured designers and weekly specials to save on shipping.

For the trendiest items in women's fashion this season, such as chandelier earrings, metallic clutch bags, headbands and waist belts, check out Wet Seal. The store offers a great selection of accessories, often the same things you'd find in fashion magazines for triple the price. There are also many adorable holiday party dresses, all for under $30.

The sale section is a great place to find last season's best at unbeatable prices.

"Wet Seal is one of my top picks," said Rothwell. "It's perfect for club clothes and accessories." The closest location to Emerson is in Downtown Crossing on 7 Winter St. Wet Seal is also online at wetseal.com-a great way to beat the ever-growing holiday crowds.

There are many other places to find quality and fashionable clothes for reasonable prices. Freshman film major Shaun Goldin said, "I like Old Navy and Gap, but I also like Guess and Polo. I'll either go cheap or expensive!" He's willing to splurge on certain items but also enjoys perusing less-expensive stores to find great deals.

Whether you're looking for something specific or just browsing through the racks for fun, keep in mind that it is fully possible to look fashionable without breaking the bank.

Don't get discouraged and remember it is best not to shop when you're hungry or tired, as it often takes time and energy to find the best deals.