Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Budgeting and creativity the new recession trend

Something strange happens the summer before your senior year of college. Things slowly begin falling together as you gradually embrace the notion of independence. Suddenly, the most generic advice grows distinctly clear.

People tell you to do things for you--no one else. People say to study what interests you-- not what someone else wants you to do. People say to spend time with people that bring out the best in you -- not waste time with those that don’t. The sage advice is about creating a sense of self and, in this case, a sense of style.

Regardless of your year in school, there's perhaps no better time to find what works for you--and forget everything else. Forgo spending money on trends in favor of what makes you look your best. Wear what suits your personality and body type. Wear what pleases YOU.

"There are few things in life more pleasurable than shopping, but there is also enormous joy to be had from repairing and revitalizing," said Rita Konig, a contributor th the now-shuttered Domino.

She was actually talking about furniture at the time, but it also rings true in fashion. This year is far less about trends and more about putting creativity to use and modernizing what you already own. Dig around drawers you haven't opened in awhile. Spend some time shopping from your own closet instead of the mall. Not only is it cheaper, you'll end up with a style that's completely different from everyone else.

Usually there's nothing that thrills me more than back-to-school shopping. It brings me back to the days in elementary and middle school when, on one fateful day of August, my mother would hand me a catalog and a pen. I'd circle everything I wanted, then carefully narrow down what I wanted badly enough to buy.

Ironically, back then I hated the mall. I associated it with tagging along on my mom's tedious trips searching through racks of business suits. Those were my tomboy days, when I rejected the glittery pinkness of Limited Too in favor of leggings and oversized graphic tees (my favorites were endangered animal ones sold each year as an elementary school fundraiser.) Not much has changed since then. This duo is still my go-to ensemble on lazy weekends and nights spent in the library.

This year, I'll be rejecting the mall again. My aching bank account has forced me to pull out clothes I haven't worn in years and look at them in a new light.

If you are dying to buy something new, you're in luck. Last year's high fashion trends are still trickling down into cheaper chains. It's easy to score key pieces at affordable price points.

When composing your shopping list, consider a few trends: Leather and tough detailing. Think exposed zippers and studded anything. Layer on chain necklaces--personally, my favorite accessory. Try a bold pair of jeans—acid wash, distressed, or brightly colored. They’re all more versatile than you think and can make an otherwise simple outfit look far more fashionable. Hit up consignment stores to partake in the monopolizing 80s trend. Strong, sculptured shoulders have generated into a full blown trend since Balmain’s now notorious military jacket debuted last year.

Head to the stores (or your closet) and try things on. Keep looking until you find things that are perfect for you. Put pieces together in a way you never have before. The results may surprise you. After all, college is a time of trying new things and finding yourself.

So welcome back, kids. Here’s to a fashionable year.

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