Zephyr Basine's 'College Fashion' blog goes to head of the class -- with style

Fashion features prominently in the blogosphere, but fashion geared toward college students remains less prevalent. That's why Zephyr Basine took ahold of that old business school adage: Find a need and fill it -- and launched College Fashion, a popular blog dedicated to all that is stylish for the college and 20-something set.

Basine says she created her blog because a lot of other fashion sites were missing the mark with a college audience. "A lot of these sites were written for 40-year-olds or teens," she says. "There just wasn't coverage on what to wear to class or how to decorate your dorm room."

What started as a personal blog in 2007 for the University of Massachusetts sophomore turned into a full-time job through graduation and beyond.

As a self-proclaimed workaholic, Basine managed to keep a 3.5 GPA while juggling classes with growing her blog. "I skipped class a lot because I was really into the site," she says. She graduated in 2009.

Graduation meant Basine had to decide what to do with the blog she had dedicated much of her college years creating. She says after a discussion with her boyfriend, she decided to give College Fashion a trial as her full-time job. With more than a million page views per month, the readers of College Fashion appear pleased with Basine's decision.

College Fashion offers advice on filling your closet with budget-friendly trends, but according to Basine, the coverage extends beyond clothing. The site offers tips on what to pack when traveling, easy hair and make-up tips and stories from study abroad students.

Given the college audience, don't expect advice on outfitting yourself in head-to-toe designer garb. Instead, the site features counsel on negotiating trends on a budget. Basine tries to show a trend outfit for under $100, but recognizes that budget is not an absolute term either.

"Everyone's perception of cheap is different," Basine says. "We don't want to tell people what should work in their budget." If you want to see how much a piece on College Fashion will run you, you have to do the math yourself: the site doesn't post prices of featured pieces, but instead links directly to the retail venue you can purchase it from.

In September 2009, Basine began hiring regular contributors to produce content for the site. She posts ads on her site for writers. She says these women should be in college and already reading the site. Basine works with 15 weekly writers and eight biweekly contributors. These women attend universities across the country, which is what makes up the strength of the college voice, according to Basine: Her site is for college students by college students.

Articles from these contributors range from career advice such as "How to Get an Internship of Your Dreams" by Sarah of Binghamton University to the beauty tips in "3 Department Store-Quality Mascaras Under $10" by Nicole from the University of Southern California.

In addition to these regulars, College Fashion also has nine contributors scouring colleges for trendy gals to include in the "Look on Campus" feature. This concept puts a college focus on the street-style highlighted by blogs such as The Sartorialist and Face Hunter.

Both writers and readers have a say in what gets posted on the site. "We focus on pleasing our readers and writing about what they want to know about -- so we take suggestions from readers, come up with our own ideas, and bounce things off each other," says Basine. "The ideas come from all of us; it's totally collaborative."

In addition to managing all of the editing, design, business and overall concept, Basine also contributes to the site. Her favorite post is "Wardrobe Essentials for College Girls," a list she complied by looking into the closets of herself and her friends.

While you may count down the days to summer vacation, the end of class doesn't mean a break for College Fashion. Basine says readers can expect stories on finding the best bikini and how to dress for a barbecue. In May, she plans to look for more contributors doing weekly, biweekly, or Looks on Campus posts.

Clothes to Free, appearing Thursdays, is a weekly fashion-on-a-budget column by Money College blogger Alysse Dalessandro. Send Alysse column tips at MoneyCollege@walletpop.com.
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