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Fall Fashion on a Budget: Dress Like a Cool Schoolgirl

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 Here in New York, temperatures have dropped from unbearably hot to only slightly sweltering.  Unexpected rainy days make me yell curses when I accidentally step in puddles that fill my jelly sandals with water.  Obnoxious kids in school uniforms have suddenly appeared on the train that I take to work, smacking gum and wiggling their thumbs at their Nintendo DS’s.  Fall is definitely on the way– a season that only lasts about a month in NYC.  By the end of October, we’ll be wearing  coats and falsely promising ourselves that we will “never again” go through another East Coast winter– so let’s enjoy this Fall while we can, okay?  And what better way to celebrate a change of season than with a change of wardrobe?

Because I suffer from a case of arrested development– and like to pretend that I still live in a time where the only items on my agenda were joyriding in my best friend’s minivan, being “classy” by going to sushi restaurants in strip malls, and doing my AP Calc homework in AP Bio class– I’ll be rockin’ the “Back to School” look this autumnal season.  As much as being a teenager sucks in some ways (zits, angst, not being allowed to show your midriff at school but really wanting to because you are a nasty, hormonally-charged little bitch), it is actually a really amazing time in our lives, guys.  Okay, I’m lying, but the schoolgirl look is cute and totes appropes for this time of year.  Let’s just celebrate teendom for the sake of this article!  Let’s dress like those chicks from Clueless!

Cher Horowitz & Co. may be what Rosa, the cleaning lady at my old job, would call “reetch beetches,” but I promise you that you can look Clueless even if you’re broke.  You see, with the schoolgirl look it’s all about the accessories– and praise be to the Broke-Ass Fashion Gods, accessories are hella cheap.  A simple pair of knee-highs from Target and some thrifted Mary Janes or saddle shoes will be enough to make you feel like one of those perfect blonde cheerleaders who bats her eyelashes to the tune of a 4.0 GPA… that is, until the quarterback knocks her up during junior year after the Sadie Hawkins dance.
As for your hair, buy a pack of headbands from the drugstore for $4.49.  If you have one of those oddly-shaped heads that doesn’t jive well with headwear, try a high ponytail or a French braid.  Think jaunty and innocent, but not too innocent.
The girlishness of your hairdo should be offset by the slutty-short hemline of your skirt.  Everyone knows that teenage girls love to push school dress-code boundaries, but as long as your fingertips can touch the bottom and your Victoria’s Secret Pink underwear don’t hang out, you won’t be getting any after-school detentions.  If you can’t find a plaid mini at a thrift store, try dredging up an old cheerleading or tennis skirt from high school.  Teen Me wasn’t sporty enough to own either of these items, but I did have daddy issues, so fortunately there were a lot of minis in my closet.

Finally, no schoolgirl look is complete without a backpack– the perfect accessory for carrying your books, Trapper Keeper, and that pack of ciggies you plan on smoking behind the bleachers after school.  My personal favorites are made by BAGGU and cost $24-$32, but look much more expensive than their price tag.  If you really wanna get retro, purchase a JanSport (or, you know, go dig your old one out of your parents’ garage for free).

With one or all of these cheap pieces, you’ll be “Back 2 Cool” and ready to party, high schooler-style (which, in my case, meant having “water drinking” contests at Denny’s and watching my burly friend Lueken do the human pretzel behind a dumpster in the parking lot afterward.  Guess if I was popular or not!).  If you really want to be top-of-the-class, throw on a cardigan, a letterman’s jacket, or your crazy uncle’s old Army jacket a la Lindsay Weir.  Being old and broke doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to forget the days when working 10 hours a week at Wetzel’s Pretzels seemed like big money– remember the richest period of your life this Fall  by layering on those cool schoolgirl accessories.

Photo credits: Hips, Lips and Fingertips; Coffee at Luke’s; Fanpop; BAGGU

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Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven is a natural-born storyteller from California, but she
lives in New York now. She likes dogs, nail art, and Mexican food,
but mostly she likes scoring sweet deals at thrift stores. She tends
to have a flair for the dramatic.