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Your Crash Course in Back-to-School Fashion, 2012

As summer winds down, so does most students’ summer break. Don’t let the back-to-school blues get you down though. A new school year means a great excuse to catch up on the new fashion trends and show off your new duds to everyone on campus. We talked to a couple of experts who gave us a sneak peak of this school year’s essential wardrobe additions.

Caroline Tseng is the creator of street-spotted.com , a website devoted to recognizing the supreme fashion sense of college students, particularly in New York (she’s quickly spreading to other cities around the nation). She and her team document average students with above-average style and give us a lesson in dressing.

Mary Jo Miller of The Art Institute of Atlanta knows a thing or two about back-to-school fashion, as academic director of the Fashion Department. She fills us in on some of the up and coming student looks for fall.

Gilded and Glitzy

Don’t be shy about letting yourself shine. Fall 2012 is all about the glitz, and we’re loving every sequin. “

What recession?” says Tseng. “We saw tons of sparkle and pizzazz happening on the runways.”

To pull of glitzy without looking gaudy, follow some of the leaders of the trend, like Prabal Gurung, Michael Kors, and Bebe. Want to look rich without breaking the bank? H&M is stepping up the shine with their new collection in collaboration with Anna Dello Russo, Fashion Director and Creative Consultant for Vogue Japan.

Flashback to the 80’s

Yes, the 1980’s trend is still going strong. Give a nod to the decade of neon and big hair by donning puffed-shoulder blouses, bomber jackets, and long blazers, suggests Miller.

Gatsby Girl

Get swept up in the romance and glamour of the 1920’s.

“Reflecting the 1920’s Jazz Age and the upcoming release of the Gatsby film in December, there will be a trend back to soft sheer dresses, delicate lace, whites/pinks/beiges, and of course, pretty floppy hats,” says Tseng.

Some of our favorite designers, like Tory Burch and Ralph Lauren have nailed this look. Also try shops like Club Monaco and Modcloth for pieces with a 20’s vintage vibe.

Bangles and Jewels

We’re loving the layered bracelet look, and the more the better. Miller suggests mixing up different textures and styles for a cool eclectic look. Layer your cuffs and bangles and don’t forget those friendship bracelets that were so hot this summer. They still have their place in the fall.

“Brooches are making a comeback this season also,” says Miller. Avoid looking like your grandma by pairing old-school brooches with more up-to-date duds.

Finely Furry

Fur has been big for a while (and faux fur is getting just as much attention), so it’s no big surprise that it’s making a comeback for the cooler months. However, this fall’s version of the trend is less in-your-face and much more subtle.

“Instead of going all out and covering yourself in a huge Eskimo-worthy bearskin, it’s time for just a touch of fur,” says Tseng. She recommends getting in on this trend by showing just a hint of your animal side, with fur lining, subtle animal prints, and spots of fur.

Head Gear

Ditch the floppy beach hat from summer and get into the bold headwear trends of the fall. Other accessories that will be popular are slouchy beanie hats, flowered headbands (again, the 80’s), and sparkly hair pins,” advises Miller. Don’t you wish you had kept these accessories from when you were a tween?

Wax On

Forget about natural fabrics and designs, some of Fall 2012’s biggest hits are glossy, plastic, and unabashedly synthetic. “Shiny and waxy, like fresh cut jello, there’s going to be a huge trend of this crazy, almost plastic-like touch. Charming yet grown up,” says Tseng. Acrylic, vinyl, and even cellophane are adorning dresses, accessories, and even outerwear.

Look to designers like Blumarine, Miami, and Acne to nail the look without looking too synthetic.

Fancy Footwear

Bright colors are still taking center stage, this time in the form of athletic shoes, which aren’t just for the gym anymore. Also popular are patent leather flats, chunky platforms, and leopard print flats.

English Charm

In complete contrast to the plasticy futuristic trend, is the delicate and flowery trend of English charm.

“Sophisticated, delicate, lacey, floral, and oh-so-pretty, English charm is coming across the pond,” says Tseng. Go all out with high necklines and Peter Pan collars on pretty floral dresses.

Get the look from designers like Michael Kors, Free People, and Asos.