Fashion. Our school is a runway in itself. My biggest tip here is confidence. You don't need to spend $5,000 in Barneys or Bergdorf's to look or feel like a million bucks. Although it may seem competitive at times, at the end of the day we go to school to get an education in the business of fashion.
One of my visual merchandising displays in Fall of 2012
Lots of stores around New York City carry designer names at discounted prices, such as Burlington Coat Factory, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, etc. I'm not endorsing buying yourself an entirely new wardrobe each and every week, but learn to mix and match clothes. Invest in the basics and don't be afraid to show who you are in your clothes. If you know how to sew you can even start your own fashion trends and make your own clothes or alter some of your old clothes into brand-new ones. I know plenty of girls who do this and have no shame in sharing it.
There are also great boutiques in SoHo (like Mystique) that sell the latest trends at great prices. They even have $10 and under clothing racks. Then there are H&M, Zara, and Forever 21. Some people have such a bias against shopping at "cheap" places, but I'm someone who believes that it's the way you wear the clothing, not the label or price tag. You can get such cute accessories at Forever 21 or H&M. $3.25 for a pair of earrings is less than a coffee at Starbucks!
There are also consignment stores. Before this year I never really understood shopping for someone else's clothing or accessories. That was until I entered Beacon's Closet in NYC. It's located on West 13th Street between 5th and 6th Aves. I initially went there to blog about my first consignment store experience (on mercedeschloe.com), but once settled in I felt like I was in designer heaven. I've seen almost every designer name in there, from Yves Saint Laurent to Dolce & Gabana. Of course, like every store, it's hit and miss, but there is something exhilarating about digging (or browsing) through racks for hidden treasure!