Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Whether you're heading back to the office or re-entering the classroom this fall, here's a little tip from the style fairy: March right in with a very deliberate, confident, look-at-me bang. Why? Because fall 2011 is all about putting yourself out there.
Before this season, the catwalk was dominated by dainty, flowing fabrics and soft pastels on every model's frame. This season, on the other hand, packs a gigantic dose of colorful pizazz.
"The last two years have been very feminine, sexy, ladies who lunch," noted Anna Barr, a Paris-based runway analyst who forecasts trends for BeautyStreams. "This fall is all about a primary palette of technicolor blues and oranges and bold geometric patterns."
We're talking the graphic triangles, optical patterns and symmetry of the iconic Art Deco period paired with tribal prints, masculine metal accents and the kind of neon color scheme that'd make the '80s proud.
This fall is all about a primary palette of technicolor blues and oranges and bold geometric patterns.
- Anna Barr, Paris runway analyst for BeautyStreams
Accessorizing: Head to Fingertips
If you purchase just one accessory this back-to-school season, please, let it be a hat. This necessary accessory never goes out of style, but it's back with an especially fiery popularity this season. The best part? It can be matched with practically anything hanging in that wardrobe of yours and can be worn year-round -- though it'll keep your head especially toasty in the cooler months.
Hats that are particularly trendy this back-to-school season include the fedora, baseball caps reminiscent of 1940s women's baseball teams and the chauffeur-style hats that topped the heads of Louis Vuitton runway models this year.
If hats aren't your thing, build your outfit around a flashy statement ring or necklace. Choose something angular and geometric in a hue bright enough to get noticed across the room -- and don't shy away from clashing colors. Hues worth embracing this fall include orange, red, purple, green, yellow and anything that belongs to the neon family. Also hot are metallic pieces in silver, gold and bronze.
Scarves are a back-to-school season must. They protect your neck from blasts of chilly autumn air and keep you looking fiercely stylish. Opt for either a brightly hued number or a boldly patterned scarf to keep up with fall 2011 trends.
As for incorporating these accessories into your outfit, choose just one or two accent pieces and leave it at that.
"There's still a recognition of understated elegance and repressed wealth," noted Monica Barnett, an alpha buyer for "Lucky" magazine and stylist for Kim Kardashian's ShoeDazzle. "Wear less jewelry and focus on one fabulous element."
Accessorizing: Torso to Toes
Though a lot of attention is focused on the upper half of your body via bracelets, rings, scarves, hats and necklaces, the bottom part deserves pampering, too.
Accessorize from the torso below via sexy, patterned belts that accent your fabulous figure, killer shoes worth drooling over and bags that are both utilitarian and beautiful to look at.
A belt helps keep your overall look a feminine one amid the masculinity of fall 2011 trends, Barr explained. Choose a wide belt with a bold color scheme or a faux animal print and wrap it around your waist to create -- or highlight -- an hourglass shape.
Follow the same advice when it comes to the colors and patterns of your back-to-school handbag. Whether you're sporting a mini purse or an oversized messenger bag, choose one with an animal or tribal-inspired print in a flashy hue. It'll get you noticed in a good way.
If you're sporting a bold belt or purse, keep things more subtle when it comes to your feet. This fall, nude-colored heels and flats are mega popular when paired with flashier pieces up top.
"I'm obsessed with heeled penny loafers or tassled loafers," noted Jessica Zaino, an influential "Glamour" magazine blogger who's hosted popular Style Network TV shows such as "The Look for Less" and "How Do I Look?"
Keeping things simple up top? Then let your feet sing in a pair of leopard print heels or ballet flats.
Maximizing Your Fashion Budget
Watching trends ebb and flow is loads of fun for a style-hungry fashionista, but updating your entire look every three to four months can leave your wallet feeling depleted. And really, a moneyless wallet -- even if it's the same one in all the magazines -- is not a pretty one.
To really stretch your dollar, follow Zaino's advice: Find a runway or magazine look you love and create a similar getup with more accessible, affordable pieces.
"Take notice of the hot fall high-end trends via magazines and websites and then hit up local department stores like H&M, Zara and Forever 21 who, no doubt, will be creating the look for less," she advised.
Another money-saving tip is to buy accessories that are both inexpensive and have the potential for a long life. Think non-designer sunglasses or glasses and hats. These accessories are the easiest and quickest way to update your look without laying down the big bucks.
If your budget is seriously restricted and allows for no splurging whatsoever, express yourself via nail polish.
"I support neon polish on the nails for an Indian summer feel well into winter," noted Zaino.