First Hot Seams Article of the Semester: Preparing for Fall’s Great Fashion Hunt

The temperature’s dropping, and we’re finally settling in and getting back into academic mode. But is your closet ready for all the events, parties, concerts and classes you’ll be attending this semester? Before registering for classes, you probably consulted your friends, former professors, academic advisors and the annual course handbook. Why not take a similar approach to getting your wardrobe ready for the semester? No, what you buy for the fall is not a life-or-death situation, but it is important to prepare properly in order to do it well. 

PURGE BEFORE SPLURGE  

First, assess what’s currently in your closet and organize your clothes into three piles: one for items to save, one for items to donate and one for items to store for a different season. If the item seems dated, try selling it to local consignment stores such as Avalon Exchange. Try on everything as well. Determine what needs tailoring and what will never fit. The last thing you want to do is purchase 10 pairs of jeans when you only have two good tops or wear clothes that don’t fit you properly.

LIST IT OUT  

Once you’ve assessed your current items, write down a general list of needs vs. wants. Magazines and window-shopping tend to aid in this process. Include on the list items that need replacing or have been absent from your closet for some time, such as a sturdy black belt or a nice interview jacket.

PLAN AND PRIORITIZE  

Like everything else in life, you can’t always get what you want. Either time or money or both will be constraints as you head to the Galleria or West County Mall. After making your list, determine how much you want to spend and how you will acquire the funds for your fall wardrobe. Do you need to create a savings plan or will one check from home be enough? Keep that number as locked as possible and save whenever you can. In fact, tax is lower at the Galleria than at West County, but the variety of stores also differs. Don’t forget about 15 percent-off student discounts at stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic!

Now that you have your list and know how much you want to spend, determine which items are essential and which are not. Remember that needs vs. wants list? A strong book bag should take priority over another swimsuit, even though swimwear goes on sale in the fall, especially since we’re land-locked.

COMPARE  

One thing I do is try things on in stores and shop around for good bargains online. If any flash sale sites such as Gilt.com or myhabit.com feature any designers I like, I’ll be able to make my purchase with confidence, knowing that the item should fit well and won’t have to be returned. Also, some middle-market retailers “imitate” the styles and trends set by higher-end designers and make them more accessible to the masses. Did you fall in love with the bold color blocking and graphic stripes streaming down Prada’s Spring 2011 runway? Spanish retailer Zara (with its closest store located in Chicago) sells clothing resembling those trends.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT 

Once you buy new items, try integrating them into your closet by having a mini fashion show or playing dress up. It sounds silly, but when you’re rushing to get to class on time or get invited to a random dinner with your floormates, you’ll always look effortless and chic.

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