07/31/2012 11:58 am ET Updated Sep 30, 2012

Back to School Shopping Tips

I know these tips are usually best fitted for soccer moms, but let's face it: college students buy new school clothes too. Maybe a combination of apathy and an extremely tight budget don't make for the perfect back-to-school shopping situation, but we all still like to look good. At least an outfit or two is standard, and who doesn't need to stock up on the basics? Follow these tips from a retail employee (me), and you'll be able to improve your wardrobe without a large impact on your wallet.

Shop Now

In the next few weeks, stores will be flooded with coupon-clipping moms and screaming children grabbing everything in sight to complete the perfect back-to-school wardrobe. I don't know about you, but this sounds like a nightmare. Unfortunately for me, this will be my reality either way, assisting and ringing up the transactions of these frenzied families. But most of you out there will not have to endure the insanity. Late July/early August is a great time to go shopping, it's the calm before the storm. Few people are shopping right now, because they're waiting for all the new fall items and backpacks to come in, and for all of the door busters and back to school sales to start. Stores will be empty, allowing you to shop in peace.

Skip the Fall Items

All of the sweaters, scarves, jeans, and boots that we all love and need for the fall and winter are just starting to hit stores. I know it's hard to resist when they look so shiny and new, but please do.  Unless there is some crazy awesome deal, I can almost guarantee you will be paying too much. All of these items have just come in, and back-to-school shoppers want them, badly. So stores are not putting these items on sale, because people are going to buy them either way; so might as well maximize profits, right??

Stock Up on Basics and Spring/Summer Items

Since every store carries basic items like tank tops, t-shirts, socks, and underwear, stores are in competition to get consumers to buy their version of it. Therefore, they are all running sales and specials on them, so best to grab them while they're cheap. Another great steal is anything the store has from spring and summer. All of these items are now considered "last season," and they are trying to get rid of them. This is great news for you, since you can still get a good two to three months of wear out of them, and you can layer most of them when it gets cold outside. Cute tanks can be paired with a cardigan, skirts and sundresses look great with boots and tights, and all of it can be worn again next year.

I know we're all too cool to look like we tried too hard or laid out our first day of school outfit the night before, but we all still care. Well, most of us. And most of us are also broke, so it's great when we can look good without paying too much. Hopefully with these tips I've offered, some of you out there can accomplish this goal. Happy shopping!

By Emma Thornton, Florida State University