Movements in fashion come from countless places. Now that we’re inevitably heading inevitably toward fall, back-to-school becomes front and center. In the world of style the collegiate look can be interpreted in many ways.
On the popular television show “Gossip Girl” we see the female leads take their school uniforms and tweak them by adding designer touches here and there. Who doesn’t remember the risqué Britney Spears video featuring her wearing a brief version of prep school wear? Like it or not, the uniform look and Ivy League pieces are always in vogue one way or another, season after season. The elements that take you to the head of the class for fashion are quite simple and can be a fun way to express yourself with preppy polish. Let’s do the math for the looks you might find at the Goodwill Store & Donation Center near you.
You’re going to start your education with the most important piece of all, the plaid or solid color wool pleated skirt. These versatile items can range from long to short, and muted to bright in their incarnations. Quality is the key here, so check the labels for the fabric content. 100% wool is going to be a good bet to take you through many fall and winter seasons to come. Wool fibers last forever, and contrary to popular belief, they are not that hard to look after. It is an extremely tough fabric that can be cared for at home without dry cleaning. Periodic freshening with products that work in your clothes dryer is very easy. These goods can be bought at any drugstore or anywhere laundry products are sold, and they make simple work of maintaining your woolens. Skirt styles can also include longer wrap style skirts, pencil skirts, and a-line skirts. This will be the foundation of your “schoolgirl” look, so choose one that fits and flatters.
Next on your back-to-schoolgirl list should be a blouse or top. White cotton pique is a classic fabric, but anything that strikes your fancy should work well. Structure is also important here, so a button down with a Peter Pan collar would be ideal. A Peter Pan-collar is one that is rounded and more feminine in appearance. If you can’t find one like that, just opt for any short-sleeved button- down blouse or perhaps a polo shirt. Satin or silk would also be a nice choice, as long as it’s not too slinky. Since it will be layered under other pieces the fit must be precise.
Another vital piece of the puzzle is the sweater. This could range from a man-styled sweater vest, to a v-neck pullover or even a button-down cardigan. Proportion is the main thing here. You don’t want to overwhelm your outfit with a sweater that’s too big! Longer sweaters work with longer skirts, and shorter sweaters work with shorter skirts. Being able to see all the textures and patterns are what creates interest. You could also swap out the sweater for a wool blazer in a coordinating color like navy or burgundy, as long as it has the requisite prep school polish.
Accessories that give it the up-to-the-minute style are the last part of the equation. Tights of all kinds and knee socks are an absolute must have. They can range from traditional darker tones, to wild colors and textures that help create all-important contrast that define your personal style. What is the fancy footwear of choice for bookish types? That would be flats and lace ups in menswear inspired styles. Saddle shoes, wingtips, and more rub elbows with boots and brogues. This will serve to ground the look, plus keep it playful and fun.
Now that I’ve given you the crib notes on this look, go out and do your own style- research by visiting the Goodwill Store & Donation Center in your neighborhood to pull it all together. Where else can you get your fashion-forward degree for a lot less than retail? You already know the right answer there!