Many teens are faced with two burdens as the seasons begin to change and the school year gets rolling: 1) They have little money to spend on new clothes and 2) They feel they can't utilize their summer clothing during the winter months.

Clothing prices seem to be skyrocketing, and those rising costs coincide with the lack of money that most high school and middle school students have in their wallets. But one way to stay stylish without breaking the bank is shopping on consignment.

Before reading on, you need to rid your mind of any prior negative thoughts you have regarding used clothes. Many people have visions of consignment clothing being dirty and unfashionable, but venturing into great consignment or secondhand stores such as Plato's Closet, 1022 Union Road, West Seneca; the Clothes Horse, 3527 N. Buffalo St., Orchard Park; Goodwill; Salvation Army; Amvets, and many more may actually prove to be a fruitful experience.

Although many teens are immune to importing anything into their closet that doesn't have the original price tag on it, they would be surprised at what can be found if they look.

"They have never been pushy with me and are always friendly," said Liz Vesneske, a junior at Hamburg High School, about the employees as consignment shops. "Everything, for the most part, was fairly new and in good shape, plus its cheap, which is great."

Liz has been taking advantage of all secondhand shops have to offer, making her way through neatly and meticulously organized and displayed clothing based on color and style, for the past three years.

"Their clothes really appeal to any style you can think of," she said. "You can get a good deal on great brands that are much more expensive if not bought on consignment."

Many people are surprised at the treasures they can find when they take the time to look at secondhand stores. Finding something "new" that is stylish and low-priced is nothing shy of fashion nirvana.

Sometimes, if all the stars align like they did two years ago for Hamburg High School senior Natalie Stormer, girls can even find their prom dress.

"Going to junior prom as a sophomore, the last thing I wanted was to be stressed and I knew that looking at the Clothes Horse would be much less hectic than the mall," Natalie said. "I guess that having a less stressful experience was what brought me there in the first place. I wasn't overwhelmed by the magnitude of options that come when you go to a department store."

Like Liz, Natalie was astonished at how serious they take organization at consignment shops. "Every time I have been there, things have been organized and always easy to find. Nothing has ever been out of place. It most definitely wasn't a free-for-all like I imagined," she said.

"Finding my prom dress sophomore year for a fraction of its original price definitely persuaded me to go back again the following year, and, of course, led me to finding another beautiful dress," Natalie said.

For teens who are short on cash, reusing summer clothes during the winter is also a possibility. Let's start with shorts, which most teens reserve for days at the beach, but they can most definitely be used during the winter months, too. Take a fashion basic such as black leggings or opaque tights and wear them underneath either a dark denim or black knit pair of shorts. Dressing them up will keep them looking less like a summer piece and more like an all-year-long staple. It is a perfect way to bridge the gap between summer and fall, pairing it with knee-high boots or flats.

Fall is all about layering, and printed tank tops and classic cardigans can become the best of friends. Bright summer colors not only will brighten your mood during those gloomy winter months, but the splash of color will contrast with the warm earth tones of fall and winter to create a new look. The same goes for lighter dresses, which can be worn with a cardigan in an offset color and bright-colored tights.


Shaylyn Livingston is a senior at Hamburg High School.