Tag Archives: wardrobe

Go back to school in style

22 Aug

Summer is winding down, sadly, and before you know it, bells will ring to mark the start of the fall school semester. Whether you’ll be shopping for a student or are a student yourself, this back-to-school wardrobe shopping guide will help make the transition a little easier.

Back to basics

While clothes shopping for school, it’s essential to find comfortable separates that can be quickly mixed and matched for stylish ensembles. Basics such as solid coloured tees and sweaters, button-up dress shirts and denim are classic options and can be easily paired with trendier pieces for a more fashion forward look.

This Zara girls denim jacket is a perfect transition piece from summer to fall.

The item that should be in any student’s closet is a pair of jeans. Denim pants have become so ubiquitous on- and off-campus that entire wardrobes can be built around them. For girls, skinny jeans are still very much in style and are verging on classic status. Jeggings are also popular with their combination of a skinny fit and soft, flexible material. For boys, it’s all about straight leg jeans or a slim cut. Coloured denim is hot for all ages but can limit outfit options. To get the most use out of a pair of jeans, go for a darker rinse — they go well with everything and can even be worn to dressier events. For an alternative to jeans, try corduroy pants. Stores usually carry a wide assortment of fun fall colours; it’s also durable and perfect for active kids.

Bundle up with layers

Sweaters are another staple for back-to-school. Whether it’s a simple crew neck or a cardigan, there’s a sweater for every style and it makes a great layering piece for chilly classrooms. Try patterns such as stripes or argyle to add some panache to casual outfits. This is when tees come in handy for the cooler months. Wear them under itchy wool sweaters or pair a graphic tee with a cardigan or hoodie. Stores try to get rid of their short-sleeved tops in August to make space for fall items, so this is the perfect time to load up on T-shirts and tanks while they’re on sale.

A striped sweater, like this one from ASOS, makes for a practical and stylish layering basic.

For students starting post-secondary, the preppy collegiate look never goes out of style. Try pairing casual pants or jeans with blazers over a tee for a more polished look. For girls, finish off the outfit with flats or even boots if the weather is cool. The guys can complete their blazer ensemble with sneakers such as Chucks or Vans. I know fashion may fall to the wayside when you’re dealing with exams and getting to class on time, but starting a new semester also means making a lot of first impressions — on teachers and fellow students. Sweatpants may be comfortable but it’s just as easy to throw on some jeans.

Look classically polished on campus with a grey marled blazer from H&M.

Add some trends

Whether the student is in elementary school, high school or college, incorporating colour and prints into the school wardrobe will help brighten up dreary fall days. Neon’s been big this year and is surprising easy to wear in small doses. Include a splash of highlighter pink or DayGlo yellow to an otherwise neutral outfit. Accessories and sneakers are a simple and great way to add some bright colours and individualize your look.

Tangerine was the “It” colour of spring and summer, but for the fall the trend is blue — especially cobalt. Much easier to wear than tangerine, pair blue with black if you want to channel runway looks. The black and blue combo was spotted in a number of designer collections such as DKNY and Stella McCartney.

A pair of girls cobalt coloured jeans hits multiple trends at once. This pair is from Old Navy.

Most contemporary fashion stores have a kids’ line so shopping for younger ones is made simpler at all price points. Check out Joe Fresh, Old Navy, H&M or Zara, for example, and your child will be scoring aces for school style.

[Article first appeared in the Aug. 15 issue of Richmond Review.]

Spring cleaning: Revitalize your closet for the new season

21 Mar

We’ve all been there — looking in frustration at a jam-packed closet, thinking “I have nothing to wear.” I uttered those very words just last month. So in an attempt to get a head start on my spring cleaning, I decided to reorganize my closet.

Cleaning out your closet is about removing emotion and taking a rational look at your clothes. That’s when the “If you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it” rule comes in handy — a phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of sentimentalists everywhere. It’s important to prune your wardrobe at least once a year in order to maximize outfit potential and not appear like you’re auditioning for an episode of Hoarders. The closet, after all, is where you start your day.

Begin by looking at each piece

I turned to professional organizer and author of Clutter’s Dirty Secret, Alison Roberts, for tips. As a first step in organizing your wardrobe, she recommends trying everything on while keeping in mind what works for your lifestyle.

“It’s not enough just to hold it up and think it will still fit,” said Roberts. “If necessary, have a friend with you so that he or she can give a more objective opinion. No point hanging on to items that aren’t flattering. ‘Keep the best and fling the rest!’”

Categorize everything

Go through and get rid of anything ripped, worn out or pilled. I made separate piles for items I wanted to keep, donate or take to the tailors to update for a better fit. There’s the additional option of selling your clothes at a consignment shop or on eBay if you think it may be worth it. Also check local listings for upcoming events to sell, such as Re-Fashion Vancouver. For clothes you know you’ll never wear but are emotionally attached to, such as wedding or prom dresses, “archive” them by packing them away elsewhere, like the attic or storage closet. Roberts suggested another option for those difficult-to-let-go items.

“Take a picture to remember it by, or write a short paragraph about why you love the item,” said Roberts. “Sometimes those actions will be enough to allow you to let it go. Or think of someone — a friend or family member — that might appreciate the item. Some people feel better knowing that the item is going to someone they know, instead of a stranger.”

An external rack is a great alternative for small closets.

Store and arrange

A good way to get more out of your closet space would be to pack away off-season clothing, such as bulky winter coats and heavy sweaters. Hold onto classic pieces that can be worn in the transition from winter to spring, like blazers or simple black skirts. Some of you may be tempted to hang onto items from previous trends in anticipation that they’ll be popular again, but I say only keep the ones which fit into your sense of style. Just because the boho look was all the rage a few years back doesn’t mean you’ll want to don that peasant skirt again if the trend re-emerges.

There are a few ways to go about arranging your wardrobe, largely depending on your closet capacity. For those more visually-inclined, like me, you can sort the clothes by colour. Most of my jackets, dresses, skirts, and tops which can’t be folded, hang on the rack according the colour spectrum, from red through to purple and the neutrals. A more efficient system, though, would be to sort your clothes by work and casual apparel. By separating office and play clothes, you’ll be spending less time coming up with outfits to wear in the morning.

Pictures are an efficient and visually-appealing way to store your shoes.

For accessories, try to display everything as visibly as possible. Keep belts, hats, scarves and jewelry in see-through containers or hang them on hooks and cork boards — you’re more likely to wear them if they’re in full view. Handbags, especially expensive ones, should be kept in dust bags and stuffed with cardboard, tissue paper, or even old T-shirts to help them keep their shape while they sit in your closet for a long period of time. For shoes, they’d ideally be in the box they came in, with a picture or description on the outside for easy reference once stacked. By being in a breathable container, leather shoes won’t crack or fade as easily as when kept out in the open.

The result of my closet reorganization.

After I finish reorganizing I’m left with two garbage bags full of clothes to donate and ideas on what to find for my wardrobe for the upcoming season. Hopefully you’ll realize you have some great items hidden away in your closet and become inspired to put together amazing new outfits for the warmer months ahead.

[Article first appeared in the March 14 issue of Richmond Review.]