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5 New Back-to-School Trends for 2011

Back-to-school 2011 is all about pairing bold, bad or bright accents (like neon-hued high tops) with your wardrobe basics.
Back-to-school 2011 is all about pairing bold, bad or bright accents (like neon-hued high tops) with your wardrobe basics.
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The signs of a new school year are probably evident every time you look in the mirror, having decided on an annual hair color (darker is fab this fall) and cut (perhaps pixie, a la Emma Watson). But there's oh-so-much more fashion prep to be done before the first bell rings.

Before you do some serious trend shopping, it pays to take stock of a few wardrobe basics. The minimum? Leggings, plain tank tops and camis, well-fitting jeans and a couple of neutral, floaty cardigans for girls -- basic tees, jeans and a hoodie or two for boys. Then, get down to business -- adding only the Fall 2011 trends that suit your style. The key, as you've no doubt already discovered, is to add elements of sensational seasonal looks to those you already love to wear.

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Now that you've got a game plan, it's time to get game. Here are five back-to-school trends we adore.

Bold prints go best with neutral layers.
Bold prints go best with neutral layers.
Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

You may not have spent your summer traveling the world, but your wardrobe can look like you put plenty of stamps in your passport if you go back to school with the perfect blend of tribal prints.

Girls, look polished by wearing a sheer ethnic-print scarf or oversized shirt with a pair of black skinny jeans and a fitted jacket. Or, infuse neutral Boho layers with a kick of style from a tribal-patterned belt, headscarf or jewelry.

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In addition to tribal prints, you'll want to layer other textures and patterns, too. So keep your eye out for florals and stripes; find vintage-inspired oversized patterns or classic '80s stripes on maxi dresses or tunics paired with simple leggings.

Guys, adapt the look by layering bold prints with solid colors -- a wide-striped tee under a simple hoodie or a neutral toned-tee under a wild button-down shirt.

A blazer in basic black gives your outfit structure while letting your favorite pieces shine.
A blazer in basic black gives your outfit structure while letting your favorite pieces shine.
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Even if it's against your moral code to take without returning, you should institute a liberal "boyfriend's closet borrowing policy" this fall. That way, you can go back to school in guy-inspired threads -- our favorites are the oversized long blazer (yes, boxy shoulders are back) and bomber jackets (which are too classic and cozy to ever really go out).

Girls, wear a blazer well by pairing the its structured lines and crisp lapels with contrasting styles, such as skinny jeans or leggings with mini dresses or lacey tops. Give it a "Gossip Girl" look by selecting a blazer with a private school vibe, incorporating details like piping, pins or crests.

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Guys, you can wear a blazer or leather bomber jacket and make just about anything else look more stylish. But consider this your warning: As soon as the weather turns truly chilly, your best girl may try to permanently borrow your bomber jacket. That's because this tough piece will look Hollywood chic over a vintage maxi dress or her fave pair of faded jeans, and will remind her of you every time she wears it.

Pair eye-bleedingly bright pieces with solid blacks or whites for maximum effect.
Pair eye-bleedingly bright pieces with solid blacks or whites for maximum effect.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

There's a faction of fall fashion that's as colorful as an iPod display: neon (as in, like, totally '80s DayGlo) jeans. Whether you're a guy or a gal, you can put a serious spin on your wardrobe with neon spandex-blended denim. Pair your punk-inspired jeans with a plain T-shirt, hoodie and patent leather boots. And by patent leather we mean "A Clockwork Orange," not Shirley Temple. Think savage, not sweet.

Or, make a splash with neon high-tops. Guys can pair them with, well, just about anything -- from preppy shorts to straight-cut jeans. Girls can use these shoes to rock a casual vibe -- just wear your neon kicks with slightly flared jeans spilling over them -- or a rocker vibe, with skinny jeans tucked in at the tops. Finish the look with a plain shirt and hoodie and, for the girls, a few bright accessories. (We heart oversized rings).

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And don't worry about blinding your best buds with all that color. They'll have their Wayfarers on.

Soften skeletal accessories with simple basics, or go glam by adding them to bright, ultra-femme ensembles.
Soften skeletal accessories with simple basics, or go glam by adding them to bright, ultra-femme ensembles.
Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Thinkstock

Even if your fashion sense doesn't lean toward Goth or steampunk (except maybe on Halloween), you can still bleed a little New Victorian into your look this school year.

Guys, adapt the New Vic trend by becoming darkly nostalgic in your clothing choices. Think vintage-style jackets and black velvet loafers a la "The Royal Tenenbaums." Girls, you've got plenty of options, from skeleton-inspired leggings and spine-print flats to bony watches. Urban Outfitters even offers a hinged bone ring. Need more proof that Goth's gone mainstream? We didn't think so.

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Whether you're devoted to the night or subscribe to it only in dashes, adding skeleton-inspired accessories gives an edgy vibe to pretty girl or clean-cut guy looks all season long.

This vintage find would look ultra-modern with figure-hugging skinny jeans.
This vintage find would look ultra-modern with figure-hugging skinny jeans.
Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Thinkstock

Your best bet for new fall fashion? The cape. If you spent your summer watching movies like we did, you know why we're ready to nail this new trend. Everywhere we looked -- from superheroes and villains to superstars -- the cape was king.

You can commandeer the caped look with a glam twist: tie-front capes in military-inspired solids or classic plaids, perfect for adding texture to fall-friendly layers. A cape with a single-breasted button closure gives a preppy feel, while a high collar or hood lend sophistication. Plus, a cape is much hipper than a puffy coat. (Who looks good in those, anyway?)

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Girls, just be sure to pair the cape with skinny jeans and tall boots or sleek flats to avoid looking overwhelmed by loose clothes. Then accessorize with a two-tone handbag -- another hot back-to-school item.

Guys, you can wear a cape coat, too. But if you're not willing to risk the trend, give it a guys-only tweak: the badass duster. You know, the long coat that's part-and-parcel of many superhero/cowboy getups. It's more intimidating than a cape, and more practical, too.

UP NEXT

10 Back to School Fashion Tips for 2012

10 Back to School Fashion Tips for 2012

Looking for back to school fashion tips so you can look stylish and still meet the pesky school dress code? Check out our 2012 back to school fashion tips.


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Sources

  • Brillson, Leila. "The Bony Trend We Love: Skeletons." July 7, 2011. Style.MTV.com. http://style.mtv.com/2011/07/07/skeleton-trend/
  • Chau, Chi Diem. "Pre-Fall's Tribal Prints: Two Ways to Wear It." Jan. 24, 2011. (July 10, 2011) Fashionologie.com. http://www.fashionologie.com/Two-Ways-Wear-Pre-Fall-2011-Ethnic-Prints-Trend-Now-13448672
  • College Fashion. "Fashion Challenge: Style a Pair of High-Top Sneakers." (July 10, 2011) http://www.collegefashion.net/fashion-tips/fashion-challenge-style-a-pair-of-high-top-sneakers/
  • Fashion Allure. "Cape Coat: Winter 2011 Trend." Dec. 13, 2010. (July 10, 2011) http://fashion-allure.com/style/cape-coat-winter-2011-trend/
  • Like Totally 80s. "Wayfarer Sunglasses by Ray-Ban." April 12, 2011. LikeTotally80s.com. http://www.liketotally80s.com/wayfarer-sunglasses.html
  • McGlynn, Victoria. "Fall Trends: The Boyfriend Blazer." May 18, 2011. DailyGloss.com. http://www.dailygloss.com/2011/05/fall-trends-the-boyfriend-blazer/
  • Seventeen. "Back-to-School Trends." (July 10, 2011) Seventeen.com. http://www.seventeen.com/fashion/tips/back-to-school-fashion#/category2
  • TV Tropes. "Badass Longcoat." (July 10, 2011) TVTropes.org. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BadassLongcoat
  • Teen Vogue. "School House Rock: Back to School Denim." (July 10, 2011) http://cafedumonstre.tumblr.com/post/937399802/teen-vogue-back-to-school-with-a-rockabilly-edge

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