Back to school: Look cool for cheap
The biggest mistake when getting ready for school, be it first grade or grad school, is looking like you tried too hard. Back-to-school style should be effortless and, in a recession, it should be cheap. Here are a few Deal Diva tips and sales.
• Don't fear "used." Consignment shops offer gently worn items in styles that don't look like Grandma's knitting. Find name brands like Gap, Express, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch and Bebe for a slice of the original price at Plato's Closet (Carrollwood, South Tampa, Palm Harbor, Largo, Brandon), and Off the Rack (Largo). While you're there, trade in your old, clean clothes for cash.
• Thrift stores are full of cool stuff, and you can even call some of it "vintage.'' Instead of paying $30 at the mall for a chintzy, distressed T-shirt that looks like it was born in the '80s, pick up the real thing at the Salvation Army or Goodwill (please, PLEASE, just wash first - your teacher will thank you). A new Goodwill superstore just opened at 3365 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. When people ask where it's from, tell them — you'll sound hip and ironic.
• Check off-price retailers such as TJ Maxx and Ross for school staples. You can find new backpacks and sneakers for half the price of what you find at the mall. You'll also spot fun stuff, like ceramic roosters and hot cocoa mix. A fun day for the whole fam!
• Tax free week is DOA this year, but you wouldn't know it at JCPenney. Get a discount equal to the sales tax through Monday.
• Need uniform pieces for the mini-people? Sears is knocking 40 percent off Dockers khakis and white polos for kids through Aug. 15.
• At Payless, certain shoe styles are 40 percent off through Aug. 18. Train your eye to scour Payless shelves for discount tags sticking off boxes. In Florida, we can wear summer clearance stuff all year. And for $7, who cares if neon tangerine wedges go with only one outfit?
• Now at American Eagle, get up to $15 off jeans. Some already appear well-worn, so you get the look without the laundry duty of hardcore thrift shopping.
~ Deal Diva Stephanie