Were you that guy in eighth grade with the JNCO jeans with the 48-inch leg opening, or the girl who wore N’Sync concert T-shirts every day because you thought they were cool?
How many of you begged your parents to buy horribly clunky Doc Marten’s for you in middle school?
I remember a time when my wardrobe consisted of seven different wind suits that matched a plethora of high-top tennis shoes and my bowl-cut hair, and sadly, I am not making this up.
The point is, when we start reminiscing about our younger years, there isn’t one of us who isn’t mortified about what we were wearing.
Fortunately, we have the capacity to look back, laugh and learn from our mistakes. And with the new school year comes hordes of freshmen invading campus looking to reinvent themselves and straggling seniors nearing graduation and a career that might not include khaki cargo shorts and flip-flops in the dress code.
The following tips outline three basic ideas for developing your personal style that will last you through college and beyond.
No matter how classic or trendy the styles, if your clothes don’t fit properly, you’re going to look tacky and cheap.
Women: Forget about the number size you wear and look for how the clothes fit on your body. Just because you can squeeze your butt into those size-2 jeans doesn’t mean they fit.
Guys: Comfortable does not necessarily mean baggy and over-sized.
Look for pants that not only fit in the waist but also in the length and the rise, which refers to the length from the crotch to the waistband.
A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY
Investing in a few classic and basic high-quality wardrobe pieces to build on is a must. Perfectly fitting jeans, solid-color T-shirts and tanks, and neutral, classic-cut skirts and slacks are all great examples.
Remember, the higher the quality, the longer they will last and the more times you can wear them.
So, though the right pieces might be more expensive, they end up being more economical in the long run.
Go for wool or cashmere sweaters and Pima cotton stretch tees for durable luxury.
For both men and women, try lined wool or twill slacks in neutral colors with legs that drape straight down from the widest part of your thigh, because they are easily dressed up or down and are still very comfortable.
And men, stay away from front-pleated pants.
ADDING PIECES OF FLAIR
No, I don’t mean pieces of flair like Jennifer Aniston’s character wore in the 1999 comedy “Office Space.” I am talking about personal touches that give you complete ownership of your outfits.
If this doesn’t come naturally to you, just ask yourself, “What do I want people to think when they see me?”
If you want to reflect that you’re a big music groupie, incorporate vintage-band tees with some chunky, off-the-wall accessories.
If you’re going for that just-rolled-out-of-bed artsy look, have an old, Salvation Army blazer tailored to fit, tousle your hair, and throw on some dark jeans and a pair of Chuck Taylors.
More of the bohemian type? Load up on some intricate scarves, dangly earrings and detailed bangles.
The key is balancing your classic basics with just a few trendy pieces in each outfit. Looking to the stars doesn’t hurt either.
Find a few celebrities who pull off the style you’re going for and use what they wear as inspiration for your clothing choices.
Just remember that style is yours, so be creative and make sure you’re comfortable in whatever you wear.