Fun fall fashion tips for all wallet sizes

By Janam Anand

The smell of fresh beginnings welcomes us as we ease into a new fall routine – new classes, new roommates, new friends and – gasp, a new wardrobe. Even though we are nowhere near January and the start of 2010, back to school is a perfect time to make some new resolutions. All the latest fall clothes are just beginning to hit the stores, and chances are that the money from your summer job is burning a hole in your pocket, screaming that wonderful phrase, “Back to school shopping!”

Though the depressing economy may be nagging us to keep our wallets shut, there is little reason to actually curb our fashion addiction. With financial and personal constraints in mind, there are tons of ways to be fun, original and enthusiastic with one’s wardrobe. Monetary constraints can get you down when you feel like you have nothing to wear, but again, be creative.

“Do-it-yourself” techniques, though daunting at first, can add an entirely refreshing dimension to your wardrobe for very little money. A box of dye from your neighborhood craft store can turn that dingy old blouse into a bright, fancy show-stopper, while a two-dollar seam ripper and a cup of bleach can do amazing things to an old pair of jeans, à lá Abercrombie and Fitch. Walk into the nearest AC Moore, a Goodwill store or even a flea market in Northampton, and you will be shocked by the goods you can purchase for just under $20.

As far as trends go this fall, the runways have provided us with just the right combination of avant-garde styles mixed with everyday wearability. The leather jacket, for instance, has long been seen as a token for ruggedness, edge and intimidation. First popularized by the slick-styled teens in “Grease,” then by Harrison Ford in “Indiana Jones,” the leather jacket has since found a practical and popular home in the mainstream. Whether worn for a night out on the town, or just on a casual stroll to class, the leather jacket adds a bit more spice to an outerwear item. Guys and gals, both, can opt to accessorize any dressy top, or even just a casual tee with a leather jacket. To ensure that you do not land yourself in a complete deficit, head to your local Forever 21, where you can find a cropped biker jacket for $38.90, and a more distressed version for just $34.80. Guys, too, can find a distressed, hooded leather jacket for a modest $39.40 on the Forever 21 Online Catalogue.

When it comes to trends for college students, jeans are the obvious choice. Jeans are forever a wardrobe must. They provide comfort, versatility and are always good for a person on the run. From day to night, casual to formal, lectures to meetings, and everywhere in between, denim is the one clothing item that is never out of place. Jeans go with everything and there is a pair out there to flatter everyone. This fall, the jean trend has taken a turn for the better. Gone are the days of ultra low, second-skin styles. The fall 2009 agenda calls for a non-traditional spin on jeans. The ultra- trendy boyfriend jean is a popular choice for fall. This generously cut, slightly slouchy style gives off that effortlessly cool vibe so many strive to attain. The comfort factor is, perhaps, the best feature of these jeans. They are perfect for any affair. Of course, these are not actually boys’ jeans; they are women’s jeans cut to look like guys jeans fitted to a woman’s body. They are appealing for fall and work well with flats.

Guys, on the other hand, are being introduced to a rather experimental style of jeans. A pair of straight cut, dark rinse jeans are a wardrobe staple every man should have in his closet. These are the jeans you can wear on casual Fridays, for nights out, around town on the weekend and on many more occasions. Proving that you do not have to spend a pretty penny to acquire such a resourceful item, the Gap recently re-launched its denim line, serving up classic, perfect-fitting jeans like its Authentic Fit for a promotional $34.50. At such a reasonable price, you will want to buy several pairs and wear them everywhere this fall.

Shoe fashion trends for fall 2009 differ from previous trends with strictness of forms and colors. The new season seems to be much more practical than in previous years. Of course some fashion designers present their lavish lines of footwear as well, but in a time of economic decline, it looks defiant. Try to choose easy-to-wear styles. The color palette for the coming cold season looks dark, and seemingly mystic. Deep grays, black, reds, bold violets and moody shades of blue display themselves from an inconceivable side. The main trend for this fall is the ankle boot. First introduced in a strictly formal and oxford form last winter, this trend has since adapted to the various climates and conditions under which it is followed. A flat suede or leather ankle boot, perhaps with a zip, bow, or some buttons, can easily accompany skirts, dresses, jeans, as well as tights. The key, however, lies in quirkiness. This cute style can add even more of a flare, if worn in one of fall’s moody colors.

Last fall’s calf-length flat boot is gingerly growing into a knee-high, and even over-the-knee boot. The key to this fad, however, is to keep the rest of the outfit simple, dark, and clean. This extravagant trend can look rather overwhelming, and maybe even distasteful, if worn in bright colors, and with a plethora of accessories. Nevertheless, those who live for boldness can opt for this trend in a small heel, or better yet – none at all. Charlotte Russe offers a simple, flat, over-the-knee suede boot in a classy navy blue tone for an affordable $39.99, and the ankle boots start at a sensational $24.99.

Guys can expect to see loafers galore throughout the fall, and even into the winter. This previously Euro-chic trend has finally found a home within the American hipster scene. On a more casual note, moccasins, and simply crafted but brightly colored sneakers are considered slick, stylish, and up-to-date. Visit your local Journey’s for styles starting at $54.99.

As we ease our way into fall 2009’s strong silhouettes and edgy trends, a few essential concepts may be worth following:

-The wackiness of the 80s-era is at your fingertips. Break out those colored tights, hit up a thrift store and purchase a padded blazer, and revive those polka dots.

-Chained bags, such as those from Chanel’s vintage collection, are found in abundance at the local TJ Max, and may be no further than your grandmother’s attic.

-Tailored coats and capes do not have to cost a fortune. London-inspired trench coats and heavy sweater capes can be found at H&M and Urban Outfitters, respectively.

Most centrally, however, your style is your own. Use fall 2009’s flair generously, but adapt it to your own personality. You will be floored by the icon you see in the mirror.