Tweens and teens are generally a very particular set when it comes to fashion. Dubbed by retailers as one of the most demanding and discerning demographics, it doesn’t take a market research genius to get the gist: they like what they like, and won’t wear what they don’t (as in "ew!").
But the trendy stuff they covet — the leggings, distressed jeans, tie-dye, fuzzy coats, leopard and camo prints — can be pricey. So to help to stay on budget this holiday season, we set out to find outfits that these fashion-savvy young adults will love, for $50 or less.
Perhaps it’s not as easy as it should be with go-to teen resources out for the count, such as Forever 21, which filed for bankruptcy, and Charlotte Russe, also bankrupt, which shuttered eight Long Island locations this year. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that you can satisfy those teen dreams inexpensively and still be the G.O.A.T. present giver this season.
We gathered some expert tips from shopping moms, teens and a fashion influencer to help soothe your shopping woes.
Robin Salzhauer, 50, and daughter Eliana Salzhauer, 13, of Dix Hills are sort of a tag team when it comes to getting great, fashionable deals. “Eliana loves clothes and wants a lot of them and I won’t pay top price,” says Salzhauer. To that end, Eliana puts together a mental inspiration board derived from styles she likes from magazines and YouTube videos — and mother and daughter hit the discount trail.
“She is a good shopper and she helps me,” says Salzhauer. “Eliana has her go-to places, Marshalls, Mandee, H&M, Mystique Boutique and T.J. Maxx,” to seek out pieces that achieve the looks she loves. Mom keeps an eye out for flash sales at Macy’s, where she buys most of her daughter’s shoes, and other department stores.
For Lynette Pepe, 49, of Glen Head, research is key when it comes to outfitting her three kids, Daniel, 17, Deanna, 15, and Leah, 11. “I’m a cost-effective shopper, but not crazy. I do comparison shop." For some items for Deanna, Pepe will splurge but considers it recycling. “I know it will be passed on to my younger daughter.”
She’s found that the best workout wear at great prices comes from Target and T.J. Maxx but for her son, who lives in sport jerseys, graphic team prints, long sleeve tees and hoodies, she hunts down coupons particularly from Dick’s Sporting Goods. Her youngest favors inexpensive “throw on” dresses and she finds them at Marshalls.
Why spend more when you can get clothing and accessories in surprisingly great condition at a fraction of the cost at thrift shops and consignment stores? At teen-centric Plato’s Closet in Commack they buy and sell gently used goods (sometimes new with tags). Jonathan Ayala, the manager, says “we sell brands that teens and tweens really want to wear.” The website touts an extensive brand list and recently, inventory included a fuzzy pair of Uggs slippers $20; Free People boots, $14; a Van’s sweatshirt dress with tags, $12 and a Rebecca Minkoff tasseled crossbody bag, $40.
At Purple Consignment Store in Port Washington, owner Silvana Da Luca says that teens can find pristine high-end brands. “We have brand name jeans like Citizens for Humanity, Paige, True Religion, AG and Blank for $20; some are normally $196.”
Though she’s not a teen, influencer and fashion expert Jackie Miranne, 34, of St. James, has made a mission out of shopping inexpensively. Her mom happens to be Joy Mangano, the Miracle Mop inventor and HSN honcho. Miranne’s Instagram celebrates, among other things, fashion finds that she discovers for under $100, but she says her methodology applies to teens as well.
“I look at what I see in SoHo and then I see how I can get it for less.” In other words, aim high, buy low. She strongly suggests paying attention to outerwear — “it’s the number one visual and the first thing you see. Make your outerwear interesting like a leopard print or a textural teddy coat."
She believes in thinking about basics before trend. “Don’t forget to get your mock-neck top or basic tee and build trendier things around it. You can get one for $10 at H&M and then add a great and inexpensive snakeskin print slip skirt and tights.” Along with that, she suggests focusing on knitwear — “cool sweaters and dresses are really making a comeback,” and then, there’s the all-important boot. “You can get on-trend beautiful versions inexpensively at DSW, Marshalls and Burlington.”
Don’t be shy about them either. “I remember I had these red booties that were under $40 and I wore them to death. Everybody asked about them and thought they were Saint Laurent. They were unexpected.”