How to Switch Up Your Style on a Student Budget

Woman wearing white top and blue jeans
Katie Sullivan

With the immersive culture of TikTok and Instagram reels, it can sometimes feel like we’re being left behind in last week’s trends. We simply don’t have the brand deals or the bank accounts of the style icons and influencers all over social media. Yet if we think strategically, Katie Sullivan thinks we can stay stylish on a student budget.

My guide to becoming the new you begins with focusing on the basics. The basic blue jean you wear to lectures most days and the basic white tee you layer on to run errands are your best friends in this quest.

British pop star Dua Lipa demonstrated this seamlessly in her Vogue 73 questions interview. The beauty wears two looks in her interview with the second modelling her iconic butterfly trademark. Lipa first stamped the butterfly icon at the Grammy’s of March 2021 in a Versace butterfly inspired gown. This kicked off a trend led by Dua herself of butterfly inspired clothing – mainly crop tops headlining the looks of women across the globe.

The power of these tops is in their unique structure; they steal the show meaning you can pull those blue jeans out and chuck your staple Air Force 1s on and strut out the door knowing you’re going to be turning heads – with just one statement piece. To channel your own inner Dua Lipa in Versace you can find a range of dupes at Urban Outfitters, Boohoo, Shein and even Amazon.

Statement pieces are being channelled by both the boys and the girls of the pop world at the moment. If you haven’t seen Harry Styles on tour in Australia – where have you been? But in all seriousness, Mr Styles has been recognised for his flamboyant fashion choices ever since he shot to stardom in his solo career. During the 2020 BRIT awards alone, he modelled three impeccable fits.

Spice it up with a statement tee

The finale bright yellow Marc Jacobs suit with the purple feminine accent set the bar high. His newest trend from ‘Love on Tour’ was most recently showcased during the Australian leg of the tour. Viral TikToks and Harry’s own personal Instagram posts of a bold graphic tee paired with block coloured or textured trousers seem far more achievable for the average university student. So boys- take note from Harry and recycle those jeans and Air Force 1s you feel most comfortable in and spice it up with a statement tee like these from Asos,boohooMAN and Etsy.

Searching particularly in small businesses such as those that are available through Etsy is a your cheat code to finding these statement pieces that really meet your tastes and will encourage you to expand your comfort zone. While you’re at it also check out or even Ebay – who partnered with Love Island in 2021 as their first ever preloved fashion sponsor paving the way for sustainable fashion.

You should look for your future fashion venture in the past

Finding your new style does not mean it has to be brand new. In fact, more than ever on the fashion scene we are witnessing the revival of trends from decades ago. TikToks go viral with individuals discussing what trend will make its comeback next, so I might argue you should look for your future fashion venture in the past. There’s even more of a reason to go out into Nottingham City Centre or Beeston and raid the charity and vintage stores, knowing you’re finding a new era for yourself and helping a worthy cause- whether that be a charity or helping to slow fast fashion.

One trend in particular making its comeback at the moment is the baggy trousers look of the 90s. You can find diversity in every aspect of the simple denim – colour, material, fit and shape – giving you so many options to begin changing up your style without the requirement of a whole new wardrobe.

Begin with your existing wardrobe

My final tip to you is jumping on Google, returning to your GCSE Art colour wheel and taking it to your wardrobe. Make colour your statement! Stack your block-coloured basics to build a vibrant look. To start making the moves for your new fashion venture, begin with your existing wardrobe. Have a dig around to find your brightest baggiest basics and sticking them together.

Or go the other way to monochrome. The clutch the Little Black Dress has had on us for decades is not one to be underestimated; and the power stance an all-black look gives is something no amount of colour could ever match.

Imagine the respect you receive for keeping your all-white look white for a whole day. Maybe consider the latest obsession with all things neutral. Who would have thought beige would ever be taking the world by storm – or anything for that matter? Maybe that’s down to the Kardashian influence…

Katie Sullivan

Featured image courtesy of Silas Sousa via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of DUA LIPA via No changes were made to these images.

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