Back-to-school in style

Fashion tips for students

I’ll admit, alarm bells sounded in my head at the thought of writing an article on back-to-school fashion. Images flashed before my eyes: an all-consuming, ever-disposing fashion industry that maintains oppression through visibility and invisibility, yet back-to-school fashion. Fashion!

Every day, we get to live in art. We get to break the mundaneness of life and affirm the idea that we can tell our own stories. Areas like The Exchange District, Osborne Village and West Broadway offer local and independent ways to get inspired. Thrift and vintage stores, such as The Ruby Slipper Vintage Shoppe, can provide shoppers with a variety of styles and pieces outside of the norm.

I do not know who you are and I can’t assume your experiences with university have been similar to how mine are and have been, but in the spirit of back-to-school fashion, here are some things I’ll be looking for as we all think about dressing for fall.

1. Function

It’s out with the breezes of summer and back into durable materials, athletic wear all the time (you know, “performance gear”) and stuff that will get better looking the older it gets. You are in Winnipeg, so this trend pairs well with the series of questions your mom would ask you that are now more useful than ever. Is it cold out? Will it be cold later? Will you spend all day on your feet? Clothing is for living in, so look for pieces that work for you.

2. Patterns on patterns

This is a great way to elevate the things you already own and add a loud dynamic to your look. If you feel shy about it, stick with matching two contrasting pieces. For example, try mixing something black and white with something colourful, or pairing a bigger print with something smaller.

3. Collars and turtlenecks are back

These are a great way to update layers and sweaters and look great whether you’re preparing for a job interview or just channeling Denise Huxtable on your way to class. A collar adds polish to otherwise relaxed outfits and turtlenecks are great for hiding your face in for warmth, which is the name of the game as breezes turn into winds, which turn into -40 C plus the wind-chill.

4. Fall is prime accessory time

You know this, but let me remind you that mid-range temperatures mean you can justify wearing the best of summer and winter stuff, including sunglasses, scarves, hats, knee socks, watches. Coco Chanel once suggested that you remove one of your accessories before heading out the door in the name of simplicity, but this maximalist delights in every conversation spurred by unique fashion choices, so accessorize away.

With all this in mind, my final point is to remember that you’re making the decisions. Your body is not a problem that needs to be solved with strategic dressing, so throw out rules that suggest that you need to look a certain way based on your body, your gender expression or other factors. The way you dress is up to you and, when it comes down to it, we get dressed, but then we have to move on with our days. Happy fall!

Published in Volume 70, Number 1 of The Uniter (September 10, 2015)

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