High Class Broke … Broqué

Illustration by Alyssa Long

Alyssa Long
Art Director

Being a college student with expensive taste is like having an extra layer in your hierarchy of needs that never truly gets fulfilled. Miranda Priestly lives in a penthouse at the top of the hierarchy, squinting judgmentally as you spend your disposable income on textbooks.

Sometimes it isn’t just the $2.78 in your bank account that makes you feel poor. It could be the 8 a.m. midterm you just crawled out of after pulling an all-nighter. Maybe you wore pajamas to class once and now you can’t stop. 

Perhaps you decided to study downtown and found yourself in a Starbucks line, contrasting sharply with a squad of Montecito moms who look about your age. Before you decide to drop out and join them, here are some tips for embellishing your lifestyle on a budget — and no, I don’t mean decorating your window sills with empty alcohol bottles.

The most obvious way to express your excellent taste is through your wardrobe, and what better way to do this on the cheap than to go thrifting? Alpha and Destined for Grace in Goleta are a couple of local and inexpensive treasure troves, but don’t be discouraged by the aisles of grandma cardigans and high school orchestra t-shirts. 

The trick is to have patience, go often, and look through everything. For best results, try shopping for what looks good on you rather than going for trends that will quickly fall out of style. Ask the employees when exactly they put new items out so that you can have first pick. If you’re looking for a more curated selection, try Crossroads or Punch on State Street.

Now that you’re dressed to the nines at a fraction of the price, your home needs the same treatment. If your mood is a direct reflection of your space, then you will inevitably feel like a pauper when your housemate stacks empty Bud Light boxes and calls it a shelving unit. Décor simply requires a bit of creativity. 

You can buy old records for about a dollar each from a local thrift shop and hang them up for a vintage vibe. Opt for pre-owned, framed artwork or mirrors to class up your space, and invest in some inexpensive candles for an element of luxury. 

If you’re willing to get crafty, learn how to macramé a wall tapestry or DIY some hanging shelves, both of which are much easier and cheaper to make than you might expect. Thrift some fancy dishware, so that even if you’re eating instant ramen again, you’re doing so in style.

The next logical step is to feel expensive on the inside. A skincare routine, no matter how basic, is a great way to end the day when you’re mentally and motivationally bankrupt. 

Serums from The Ordinary are under 10 dollars, and your skin will have no idea you didn’t break the bank. Brew yourself some tea, put on a drugstore face mask, and take some much-needed time to re-charge.

Finally, you must protect this wealth of positive energy you’ve accrued. If time is money, the fastest way to go broke is by over-committing yourself. Learn to say “no” to things and people that unnecessarily drain you. 

Schedule time for creative endeavors, trips to the beach, study breaks, volunteer work, people who uplift and motivate you, and anything else you might need to remain sane amidst the quarter system mania. 

While Isla Vista living might be worlds away from your Kardashian aspirations, with a little strategy and creativity, you can live expensively without much expense.