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Back-to-school fashion trends

By Staff | Sep 4, 2009

When school began again in Rugby, and I couldn’t help but let my mind drift back to school days when I was a kid.

I can still vividly recall the excitement of that first day each year. All the new supplies, new faces and most importantly, the new clothes.

Shopping for new clothes for school was always my very favorite part. For me, being a lover of fashion, shopping at any time is a treat, but this was extra-special since it was the first day of school. The first day of school is the first appearance you have after three whole months so, you have to make it a good one, because first impressions matter.

I know most parents of girls know where I’m coming from. The first-day-of-school outfit is a big deal. It’s sad, but true, that more thought often goes into choosing just the right look than in choosing the school supplies that will be essential for learning. It’s just the way girls’ brains work.

Let’s go back five decades of so. In the ’50’s, girls were wearing their brand new crisp button down shirt, poodle skirt and saddle shoes on the first day of school. In the ’60’s it was important to look cool in your new miniskirt and go-go boots, or if your parents wouldn’t allow it you wore your baby doll dress out the door and then changed into your hot pants when you got to school. In the ’70s, your brand new bell bottoms and platform shoes where part of your first-day-of-school outfit. In the ’80’s, you just had to wear your perfect pair of Guess jeans with a new polo shirt. The ’90s it was a little tougher because it is referred to as the decade of anti-fashion. The ’90s were full of trends but nothing really original except for maybe the grunge phase. I seem to remember a lot of oversized blouses worn cinched with a big belt worn with stirrup pants. Grunge was a problem for me because it was based in minimalism and I usually want to maximize my look.

No matter the decade, no matter the outfit, there were always a few rules to keep in mind when choosing your big debut ensemble. First, it’s important to keep things simple and classic, nothing in-your-face or over the top. You don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb. You want to be noticed, but in a positive way. Plus, you have nine more months to reveal your stylish personality. Don’t blow it all out on the first day.

Secondly it’s okay to be a little trendy, but you have to adapt the trends to your personal style or you’ll end up looking like a major trend-chaser. Sometimes you can look so cool that you’re uncool. Strange, but true. You have to make it look like you aren’t really trying. Make it appear effortless – like you just rolled out of bed and threw something on when in reality you likely tried on 16 different outfits in your room, held a fashion show for your friends and then couldn’t sleep the night before, going over your new look in your head.

And lastly, it’s key to put on the confidence! If you don’t have it, fake it. When you aren’t doubting yourself, no one else will doubt you or your clothing choices. The idea behind a great first day of school is a killer ensemble. Own your look. Confidence is actually the most important accessory.

By the second or third grade, I had already been bitten by the fashion bug. I recall one year I had the perfect first-day-of-school outfit planned, and then an unexpected breakout of the chickenpox threatened my plans. I can see it in my head like it was yesterday. It was a cute red and white gingham knee-length jumper with a perfect pair of adorable white sandals. Chickenpox and all, I pulled it off. I guess I was fashionable in the sense that my red pox matched my outfit. Good thing I wasn’t contagious any more, because nothing was going to stop me from debuting my fabulous, new look on the first day of school.

I realize that most people just throw on the first thing they can grab out of their closet in the morning, But whether you consider yourself a fashionista or not, your clothes say a lot about you. Wearing certain things conveys a subtle message to the general public about how you’d like them to perceive you.

So why not put your best foot forward when it comes to fashion…especially if that foot is wearing a cute summer sandal.

Mullally is a Tribune writer.

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