Julie Tice could out-shop the cast of Sex in the City any day. She blows about $600 on fashion every month and would spend more if given the chance. She feeds her clothing obsession with two time-gobbling jobs, but to her, the money is worth it. It pays for much-relished time in the Walnut Street shops and a wardrobe to make any fashionista three shades of green.
Three times a week she hops the train to Abington to work for Ken Crest Services. On weeknights and weekends she heads to Haverford to work at the Merion Cricket Club. Though her school work may occasionally suffer, for Tice, the ends justify the means.
College students, perhaps more than anyone, are prone to the whims of fashion. “Approximately 30 percent of the store’s customer base is college students,” said Larry Deshane, manager of the Chestnut Street H&M. “There is a noticeable drop in sales over the summer months when schools are on break.”
Dressing for success and staying on top of the latest trends are the mantras of our generation and there is nothing wrong with those ideals.
However, according to Director of Tuttleman Counseling Services John DiMino, an unhealthy extreme may occur when excessive working interferes with school work. “Everyone has to prioritize their life, ” DiMino said. “There is a much higher volume of work in college.”
According to Market Research, an international corporate provider of market statistics, there are more than 40 million youth consumers in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 24 who spend $350 billion to $550 billion a year. College students spend about $22 billion of this amount. Not surprisingly a good share of this money is spent on clothing.
Most students are smart enough to realize that this money isn’t growing on a tree in their backyard or raining from the sky. Students earn it through hard work in exchange for precious time.
Fashion connoisseur Tice acknowledges that her jobs can interfere with school at times. “I get stressed out about homework, but I make time for it,” Tice said, adding she doesn’t have to work because her parents pay her rent. However, she still works at least 30 hours a week between the two jobs.
“I would be doing better if I didn’t work, but I like to be able to spend my money,” Tice said.
Jenn Benson, Tourism & Hospitality Management sophomore, works in the English department on campus about 10 hours a week and another 12 hours on weekends with the Sixers at the Wachovia Center. She doesn’t have to work either, but loves having the extra cash so she can shop.
Benson is able to keep up with her busy homework schedule, but said she wishes she had more free time to do other things she enjoys. Even if she has the time, she’s often so tired after work she doesn’t want to go out with friends.
As the old adage advises, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” Students must learn to balance a social life, school and work. Most students can realize this, but it’s easier said then done.
Many students who love keeping up with the latest have found alternatives to paying top dollar for high fashion. They find opportunity in thrift stores and even their own closets.
Architecture sophomore Ayako Oktutani contemplated fashion design as a major at one point and her wardrobe reeks of would have been talent. “I don’t buy [new] clothes; I get clothes for free or I go to a thrift shop,” Oktutani said.
Oktutani turns her free clothes and bargain finds into pieces that are frequently mistaken for designer labels straight off the runway. “I get my ideas from window shopping, my own creativity, or thing I see on the street,” Oktutani said. Her favorite item of clothing is a belt she made from jean labels from various companies stitched together.
If your budget is really in a pinch, there is one method tried and true that never fails. Just say no.
If you find yourself in store and you’re positive you can’t live without that new Express sweater, think about the amount of time it took you to earn the money to buy the item in question. Is it really worth the time you gave up for it? If that doesn’t work, leave.
Give yourself time to think over it and make a decision before returning to the store. It’ll be easier to say “no” when it’s not in front of you.
“Such impulsive buys, without careful deliberation and prior intent, are often later regretted,” according to Dr. Dittmar of the University of Sussex in his research which can be found at www.kent.ac.uk/ESRC/dittrep.htm.
The Sex and the City girls are probably, for now, not the best role models. Sarah Jessica Parker character Carrie may be able to get away with shopping till she drops, however college students need to prioritize as Mr. DiMino reminds, or they may regret it later. One thing is for sure, if your closet is so full the doors won’t shut and your grades leave something to be desired, you may want to reconsider your priorities. After all, vintage wash jeans won’t get you the job of your dreams.
Josh Chamberlain can be reached at Joshch@temple.edu.