Cheap Challenge: How 5 Teens Each Spent $100 To Make An Outfit

Photo: Courtesy of November Sky Rivera.
With all this talk of how teens shop, we found ourselves wanting to see it in action: how members of Generation Z choose the stores they're visiting, how they scan through the racks, and what pieces they actually buy (especially on a teen budget). That's why we sent five teenagers $100 each to create an outfit of their choice — and they reminded us that it is possible to score pieces that are "so you" without having to spend a crazy amount of money.

Between fast-fashion retailers and thrift stores, the five looks ahead may be budget-friendly — but look anything but cheap. Click through to see what they scored and how they styled them, and the reasoning behind each outfit. If there's one thing we admire from Gen Z's aesthetic, it's their way to make anything, whether it's from Zara or their mother's closet, totally their own. And that's exactly what these girls do.
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Photo: Courtesy of Salem Mitchell.
Salem Mitchell, 18, San Diego, CA

The Store: Zara
The Pieces:
Top: $9.99
Pants: $21.59
Shoes: $29.99
Total: $61.57

How did you decide on these specific pieces?
"I actually went shopping with my friends, so they helped me make the final decision. But I decided on these items because I felt like I'm tall enough to start wearing more pants and jumpers and lengthy stuff (even though I'm only 5'6"), so immediately I knew I wanted pants. Everything else just came together!"

What do you typically look for when you go shopping?

"I usually look for colors/patterns that complement my skin tone. Color is usually what jumps out at me and makes me want to pick something up off the rack. Also, something that flatters my body type and height."

What store is your go-to and why?
"If I'm not online shopping, my go-to store would probably be Topshop. I feel like they have something for every possible occasion, and, in my opinion, their clothes are pretty well-made, too."
2 of 5
Photo: Courtesy of November Sky Rivera.
November Skyy Rivera, 17, Los Angeles, CA

The Store: Crossroads Trading Co.
The Pieces:
Paraclete Lettermen Club Jacket: $28
Denim Milkyway Dress: $22
Doc Marten AirWair Shoes: $48
Total: $98

How did you decide on these specific pieces?
"My two friends and I went to Crossroads Trading Co., and they helped me pick out a bunch of stuff. Finally, we narrowed it down to a few favorites and started compiling an outfit!"

What do you typically look for when you go shopping?
"Typically, I look for something I feel the most comfortable in. I usually opt for oversized shirts or short dresses. I'm not really into pants."

What store is your go-to and why?
"My go-to store would probably be Shareen Vintage in downtown L.A.; it's a huge warehouse full of vintage dresses. I love it because whenever I go, I leave with a bunch of stuff for a reasonable price. It's where 80% of my wardrobe is from, and it's one of the only stores where I can find clothing that I truly fall in love with and can wear for a long time."
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3 of 5
Photo: Courtesy of Sophia Trunova.
Sophie Trunova, 18, Kiev, Ukraine

The Store:
Zara
The Pieces:
Top: $29.38
Pants: $33.91
Shoes: $33.91
Total: $97.20

How did you decide on these specific pieces?
"For my look, I chose a white shirt with a print because it looks more interesting than a basic one, and clothes with emojis and different stripes are 'in' this season. Talking about the pants, I am really in love with structural garments like these trousers. For the shoes, I selected marsala sneakers to add another color to the outfit."

What do you typically look for when you go shopping?
"I look for clothes that catch my eye, and I always buy what I love, not what I need. Also, I have learned one rule about shopping: If you can't stop thinking about it...buy it!"

What store is your go-to and why?
"My go-to store is Zara, because they have such a large selection of trendy clothing at a good price. At Zara, you can find everything you want."
4 of 5
Photo: Courtesy of Monica Moraru.
Monica Moraru, 18, Toronto, Canada

The Store:
H&M
The Pieces:
Blazer: $29.99
Pants: $29.99
Shoes: $39.99
Total: $99.97

How did you decide on these pieces?
"It’s hard to say no to a pink power suit in the sale section at H&M. It has all the things I love — including wide-leg pants — so I had to have it. I am known to be a monochromatic dresser, so a good two-piece look is always a go-to for me. Plus, it’ll be a great outfit to transition into the fall."

What do you look for when you shop for clothing?
"Shape, material, and color. I love oversized, drape-y silhouettes and pale colors, so I naturally gravitate toward those items when I’m shopping. I’m into a quirky mix of minimal Japanese design, '70s styling, and anything resembling what Gucci is doing these days, so I’m always keeping my eye out for looks that fit the bill."

What store is your go-to and why?
"I like pairing up a mix of vintage and current pieces — I usually go to Value Village for affordable and unique items, H&M and COS for elevated basics, and local consignment boutiques like VSP for one-off designer pieces."
5 of 5
Photo: Courtesy of Jaira Miller.
Jaira Miller, 18, Los Angeles, CA


How did you decide on these pieces?
"I usually look for clothes that are not only cute but comfortable. Being comfortable in my clothing is my #1 thing."

What do you look for when you shop for clothing?
"When deciding on clothing items, I first think about what else I'd be able to wear them with, and then I think about if it's worth the price."

What store is your go-to and why?
"I do most of my shopping at thrift stores. My favorite would be either Crossroads Trading Post or Wasteland, because I'm always able to find great finds at both, and they also sell designer clothing for the low."
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