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by Dawn Bluemel Oldfield
Merchants across America are preparing for a time-honored tradition. Parents and children drive, as if on pilgrimage, readying to re-enter the hallowed-halls of learning. Malls and boutiques beckon, featuring special offers and enticing displays. What is this sacred ritual? Back-to-school shopping, of course!
Shifting back into the school zone after being in vacation mode for the past several weeks can be a bit of a challenge. Bathing suits and tank tops are the way to go on hot summer holidays, but won’t make the grade in the classroom. Break out the school spirit and race to the fitting rooms for must-have head-of-the class fall fashions. Be sure to keep in mind school dress codes before purchasing. A complete list of what is acceptable and what is not can be found on the Allen ISD district website, www.allenisd.org, or the Lovejoy ISD website, www.lovejoy.net The best fashion rule is to follow school rules.
Denim has been a mainstay in back-to-school fashion for decades. In Texas, jeans reign king—equally fashionable at a rodeo, a sporting event or a tailgate picnic as they are at a homecoming dance. Fresh from a trip to fall fashion market, Missie Dillon, owner of Jean Junkie, a jean bar featuring over twenty brands of jeans, and coordinating apparel for the whole family at Watters Creek in Allen, says "Modern, classic or vintage revamped, blue jeans continue to have a starring role in fall fashion this year. It’s the 1980s all over again—but better!"
According to Missie, "This season’s look is a bit more laid back. Boyfriend jeans are huge! They feature a relaxed, baggier fit with cuffs rolled up. Cuffs are great, and a budget bonus. If jeans come long, don’t alter. Just cuff them. It’s a cute look!" Distressed jeans are also in. Older looking, perhaps a bit torn, they have a vintage look, as though they have been a favorite pair of jeans worn for the past 10, 15 or 20 years.
"Embellishments! I can’t say enough about embellishments," Missie enthused. "Flap pockets embellished with heavy contrasting stitching, fun hardware, or sparkles are a hit with all ages. For young girls they are cute with rhinestones and colorful embroidery. Think of them as an artistic way to let your fashion personality shine through."
Black jeans, along with gray and darker washes, are a must this fall and winter. Missie shares, "Get your black jeans! Along with skinny and straight leg jeans—top fashion for teens and tweens—they are popular for all ages this season. They look great tucked into boots. Jeans with zippers at the ankles are really popular and fabulous with heels."
Denim is an essential and popular choice for every wardrobe. It is important to remember when you are shopping to select jeans that flatter your body type. Be trendy, but don’t just follow the trends. Tall, short, skinny or curvy, there is a jean style designed for every body and every budget. There are so many great styles available now, you are sure to find one that is right for you.
Unsure what your jean style is? Missie advises, "Boot cut is classic. They are the number one good ‘go to’ jean that is flattering on everyone. You can’t go wrong with a basic, medium wash boot cut jean. Have a pair of those in your closet and you are ready for any occasion."
With cooler evenings, you will need something to ward off the chill in the air during Friday night football. Missie says, "Jean jackets are going to be big for girls and fashion-forward guys this year. Look for a basic length in fun, distressed washes. They offer a very versatile look that can be dressed up or down." The jackets are perfect with jeans and a sweater for the big game, or chic and sophisticated over a flirty black skirt and classic white blouse for a special date.
T-shirts are a classic, comfy favorite this season. Missie shares, "Art work and graphic designs inspire and offer wonderful vintage looks for fall. There are lots of wonderful colors this year." Take inspiration from the palette of the autumn garden for your attire. Brown is an earthy natural look; gold and yellow are warm and magical, while red emits a vivacious energy, and orange adds a bit of spicy sassiness.
"Plaid shirts, especially flannel (another nod to the 1980s), will be popular this fall. All colors and prints are totally cute with jeans. Animal graphics will be popular, but big animal prints, like zebra or leopard are on the way out. Leggings paired with kimono or peasant-style tops offer a dressier look. Layering, always popular, is more relaxed and casual," Missie said.
Flip flops, once relegated as beach and pool wear, are now acceptable anytime, anywhere. Available in a myriad of styles and colors they easily pass from casual to dressy. Gladiator sandals will transition from summer to fall. However, they are not so practical when Jack Frost starts nipping at your toes! Uggs and ankle- or knee- high boots are all the rage this year. Pair them with jeans or skirts for a comfortable, popular, warmer look. Ballet flats or fabulous pumps can add a splash of color and interest to any ensemble.
In today’s tight economy, accessories can be a perfect and often inexpensive way to add interest or totally change the look of an outfit. Missie predicts, "Scarves, any kind of fashion scarf, are going to be big again this year. Combine different styles of bangles in threes for a glam touch on a wrist. Sport stretchy rings on your fingers in various metals, or adorned with natural stones or sparkles."
Going green, and protecting the planet are big buzz words in the media today. Important reminders that if we all make changes in the way we live and work we can make our world a better place. How we dress can be environmentally friendly, too. Consumers can make a difference by purchasing goods that are made from recycled materials, or that benefit a good cause. Many companies are starting to use organic cottons and fibers. It is expensive, but stores are slowly bringing them in. Some are also donating proceeds to charitable organizations, raising awareness to global needs.
Local artist, Linda Lansing with LLStudio Creations specializes in one-of-a-kind design. Her Eco-Chic! Line of jewelry is made from recycled aluminum. We are also proud to feature Bagala Beads from a new Texas design company. ‘Bagala’ means love, and these beautiful beads are hand made from recycled magazines, posters and paper, so no two are ever alike. A portion of the proceeds support a worthy cause, helping end suffering of women and children in Uganda," Missie said with a smile.
You may have recently seen television advertisements for Tom’s Shoes. The company has a "one-for-one" philosophy. For every pair of shoes they sell, they give a pair away to impoverished children around the world. The shoes are basic loafer/slipper style that is available for all ages in every color imaginable. They have a recycled rubber sole, and the upper is made from hemp. Missie reflects, "Everyone will want to wear them. Not just for the comfort or to make a fashion statement. People have an innate desire to help others. Shoes are a basic need and this is a purchase that serves a greater good."
From homework to pop quizzes or a lost library book, everyday has its challenges. What to wear doesn’t have to be one of them. Before you begin your shopping quest do a little research. Identify your budget. Do you need a whole new wardrobe, or can you update what you have with a few special pieces? Define your personal style; it is a reflection of who you are. Wear what makes you feel good and looks good on you. Always in vogue, accessorize with confidence and a smile for an A+ school year.
Dawn Bluemel Oldfield is a freelance writer.
Photos by Larry Fleming.