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How to Look Professional on a Budget

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

I grew up shopping with my mom and her favorite way to shop is thrifting. She has passed on her love of shopping to me. There is nothing better than finding a designer or labeled piece for a deal. Imagine the thrill of coming across a pair of Lululemon leggings in your size for $5 that are usually $98 at retail plus tax. Many thrift stores serve an important function in their community with their own unique positioning.

The professional-looking attire required for speech and debate tournaments can add up. You don’t have to break the bank to get clothes that look nice and will last you a long time. I like to thrift my tournament wear at local resale, non-profit stores. In the Northwest Arkansas area, some of my favorites are Dress for Success NWA, The DEB Project, and Helping Hands.

“Dress for Success is a global not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” They have several locations throughout the United States and even some international affiliate locations. Our local Dress for Success holds professional clothing sales twice a year. At the last sale I attended in the Spring, I found an amazing green Christian Dior suit for $10 that will be my to-go.

The Deb Project stands for Deserving, Enriched, and Blessed. They have a storefront in Bentonville, Arkansas that serves as a resale boutique featuring clothing, shoes, accessories, and they’ve recently added homegoods. The proceeds from the boutique go to fund foster children’s basic needs, such as: clothes, new socks and underwear, hygiene products, school supplies, non-perishable food items, etc. They provide great clothes for amazing prices in the boutique. I recently found a Banana Republic jumper with the tags still attached for $4.99 which I wore to a wedding.

Helping Hands has been a non-profit in Bentonville since 1976. They are a network of twenty-six churches in Benton County. Proceeds from the thrift store to go serve the residents of Benton County, such as assistance with utility bills. They also run the largest food pantry in Northwest Arkansas. Helping Hands has a large selection of clothes, shoes, jewelry, books, housewares, and furniture.

I’ve listed a few of my local favorites but we also love to visit different stores when we travel. An easy way to search for thrift stores in your area or on your travels is to google search words such as: thrift stores, consignment stores, or resale stores. It feels good to shop for a cause, recycle clothing, and find a bargain! I wish you well on your thrifting adventures.


Kennedy Marrs

Bentonville West High School Sophomore


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