One thing I have learned over the years… back-to-school shopping is serious business. Especially if you are a teenaged girl. This is no time for funny business or lollygagging leisurely through the mall. This is no time for stopping for a Cinnabun or a Pretzel Dog, hellz no! This is a Search-and-Destroy mission with a concrete deadline, for God’s sake! And that deadline is, you guessed it, the First Day of School.
If you are a clueless amateur, a slow-moving retired person, a Dad of any kind, or an otherwise inexperienced back-to-school shopper, then I strongly advise you stay home, lock your doors and, whatever you do, DO NOT venture out to your local mall during the weekend before school starts. If you do, you could run into vicious packs of Teens On A Fashion Mission, and, I promise you, if you get in their way, they will take you down. Or possibly stab you with a sensor tag.
Back-to-school shopping takes weeks of preparation and planning. You don’t just walk into Forever 21 without a plan, and grab the first thing you see! No. NO! That’s what an amateur does. If you’re a Professional Fashionista like my daughters, then you spend weeks and weeks beforehand studying all of the fashion websites, saving screenshots of cute outfits and accessories, and then taking notes and organizing your finds. It’s kind of like studying for the SAT College Entrance exam, only way, WAY more important. This actually means something and has much more far-reaching effects.
For example, you can’t just show up for the first day of school wearing an old T-shirt and last year’s jeans. Good God, that’s Fashion Suicide. In fact, go ahead and throw out everything in your closet from last year. Never mind that it all still fits perfectly fine, and you thought you looked awesome in it just three months ago. No, you don’t want to be seen in that old crap! If you show up in last year’s trash, your friends will think you caught a brain-eating amoeba from the public pool this summer and lost all of your fashion sense.
Every girl knows that the First Day of School outfit establishes your Group Identity for the entire year. Duh. Which is why the weekend before the Big Day is like a Zombie Feeding Frenzy at the mall. For example, there was a huge sale on comfy cardigans this weekend at The Garage (yes, this is actually a clothing store in the mall, go figure), and it was so competitive at the folded cardigan table that it looked like a pack of starving wagonneers had just found an Oasis on the Oregon Trail. Like I said, this kind of shopping is not for wimps.
So again, that first-day-of-school outfit is everything. If you screw this up, you could be lumped into the wrong Group, and that could get ugly. Every girl is different, so you may want to establish a particular identity apart from your friends, and that’s OK. The best way to do this is with the perfect outfit. According to my girls, here are six common High School Fashion Groups you may want to choose from:
1) The Music-Savvy Hipster. First you will need a giant, oversized pair of black-rimmed Nerd glasses from the 1980’s. Clear glass, non-prescription is best. Then you need a one-size-too-small pair of super skinny painted-on jeans. Because you won’t be able to breathe all day, your pinched-nose, sour-face look will add perfectly to your Hipster reputation. Then you need to order from E-Bay a year’s supply of old Indie Rock t-shirts sporting super-cool bands that you’ve never actually heard of. Add a pair of checkered Vans and your good to go!
2) The Goddess. You will want to wear 14 different products in your perfectly highlighted hair. Then spend a disturbing amount of your daddy’s money at Abercrombie and also Guess. Make sure you buy a pair of Prada shoes and a Versace purse to match every single outfit. You have to have a different perfume to match your many moods. To establish this look, you will need unlimited access to an American Express gold card.
3) The Sporty Girl. Your strategy here is that you only buy clothes from Academy Sports and Outdoor. On the first day, you wear hot pink Nike running shorts, a lime green Adidas tennis shirt, and a pair of neon yellow cross-training shoes. No need to purchase any makeup, or even a hair brush for that matter. You’ll save a ton of money on this option.
4) The Perky Cheerleader. First, you’ll need an assload of butt shorts from Butt Shorts ‘R Us. Then you pair those with overly tight fluffy pink sweaters with plunging necklines to show off your bouncy “assets”. A must for this look is large, colorful ribbons to tie on to your ponytail each day. Top it all off with 4-inch glitter heels and shiny metallic nail polish and you’ve got an awesome new look!
5) The Brooding and Mildly Disturbed Goth. To establish this look, you will want to wear black, and only black, and shop only at Goodwill or possibly a used Halloween costume store. Other people’s hand-me-downs will symbolize your disdain and disgust for the material world, and black will symbolize your unique suffering and angst and your special brand of anger at your parents who “just don’t understand you”. Don’t forget to pierce and tattoo every part of your body. Add garish makeup, again from the Halloween store, a pair of black Converse high tops, and bam! you’re a drug-addicted Goth Punker.
6) The Brainy Geek. For this look, you’ll want to go buy plenty of high-water jeans from Sears, several short-sleeved Izod shirts with the little alligator on them, a pocket protector for your pens, and a graphing calculator to carry in your back pocket. Don’t forget to wear chunky blots of white pimple cream on your face, and whatever you do, never, ever wash your hair. You’ll be in high demand because all the other students will want you to do their homework for them.
Of course, I’m just being sarcastic. The truth is that every girl is a mixture of some or all of the above. That’s the great thing about being a girl!
So, as you can see, there is nothing more important to a teenage girl than securing the perfect outfits for Back to School. My daughters hit the mall last weekend with the speed and precision of savvy professionals. They were fully prepared to start a Slap Fight with anyone who got in their way. They knew what they wanted and exactly how to manipulate Mom into spending way too much to get it. Maybe it’s because I remember being a teenaged girl myself, and hell yeah, fashion was everything. Even if it was the hideous fashion of the 80’s.
I’m proud to report that Amanda and Emily went back to school this week looking super fantastic and totally prepared for a new school year. At least in the area of Fashion. They’re about to endure hours and hours of lectures, learning, homework and high school politics. May as well look GREAT doing it, amIright? Just sayin’.