Back-to-School Essentials

Phuc Pham | Staff Photographer

There are two types of people in the world: there are those who anxiously await the shelves of their favorite retail stores to line with fall knits and wools, and there are those who wish they could skip the preparation altogether and fast-forward to the first day of school. Yes, it’s that time again. It’s time for us to trade in our flip-flops for wing-top oxfords and our beach bags for backpacks.

As much as we’d like to deny it, September 27, the first day of classes, is rapidly approaching. The manner in which we greet (or abhor) the upcoming season is a foreshadowing of how we’ll conduct ourselves this quarter. So what better way to welcome fall with open arms than by preparing for it with some back-to-school shopping?

Never fear, Anteaters, for I’ve prepared a list of what I consider to be essential  in a college student’s fall 2012 wardrobe. Whereas high-fashion magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair devote six-page spreads to covering ridiculous feather jackets and sky-high heels that you can’t afford to buy, much less wear in public, I’ll only report on the staple items that are more likely to be seen on Ring Road than on the runway. That way, we can all shop-till-we-drop comfortably; yes, even those of you who’d rather take a test than set foot in a boutique.

Collared button-up shirts are always prep-school classic and popular with both male and female students. It’s a versatile staple piece: you can wear them long-sleeved under a cozy cardigan on a blustery day, or you can go sleeveless tucked into shorts when the sun comes out. There are also a variety of fabrics (chambray and silk, for instance) to choose from.  This fall, however, it appears they’ve become even more popular, as designers and department stores have unleashed a flurry of button-ups in brand new hues with collars adorned in spikes and edged in metal. Whether it be simple or embellished, you can never go wrong with a button-up.

Garnet and emerald and cobalt, oh my! What do these unique colors have in common? They’re now present in jeans. Colored denim is a trend that exploded in the fashion world this past year, and it continues to do so as stores release hundreds and hundreds of shades of denim dotted across either end of the color spectrum. The reason why colored denim is so essential is that it can easily make a plain outfit look fashion-forward. With your bright jeans being the star of your outfit, you need only a muted top and a pair of boots or flats to complete the look. I think it’s safe to say that colored denim is a staple item that is here to stay. Be on the lookout for fall’s favorite colors, burgundy and honeycomb.

One footwear essential that has stepped right off the runways at Gucci and Alexander Wang and into the closets of college students everywhere is the riding boot. Long, slender and rich in texture, this equestrian classic is perfect for crunching autumn leaves or running to your lecture all the way in PSLH. The riding boot is leather and has a rounded toe, but all similarities stop there. There are different buckles, colors (cognac is my favorite) and lengths, but all riding boots do the job of making your outfit appear polished and put-together. Although there are cheap boots everywhere, I recommend you make an investment: the best pair of riding boots will last for years and age and color beautifully like good wine.

And, of course, no Anteater in their right mind can step out in cold weather without a chunky scarf hugging their neck. Whether they’re tasseled, knitted or circled, scarves are necessary accessories for back-to-school weather. You can wear a vivid, patterned scarf to brighten up a dark outfit. You can throw on a creamy circle scarf to soften a tough camo jacket. You can even drape one over a dress or dress shirt and call it a casual day. If you’re a woman and want to highlight your scarf, pull your hair back into a high ponytail or a topknot to give your neck-warmer the attention it deserves. Who says you can’t be fashionable and practical?

So stock up now on your fall essentials before you focus on buying your textbooks and highlighters. Once you know which items to look for, shopping gets a little less stressful and life gets a little better. Your new buys will ensure a great first day of school, indeed. And you’ll find that when wearing your back-to-school best, you’ll feel ready to take college classes and professors by storm. Or at least, you’ll look good trying.