High fashion at low prices

Crystal Hohenthaner

Crystal Hohenthaner

While I was out shopping with my family after Christmas I noticed that a few of the really popular items at the stores are way overpriced and would be super easy to make at home.

So, in the interest of saving a few bucks for my more fashion forward friends, I have searched out easy ways to spark up your wardrobe for under $20.

Right now accessories, sparkly accents and detailed jeans are making the big fashion statements, especially with people who are under 30 years old.

Trendy Knits

Knits are hot hot hot this season, both on the runway and around your neck on those cold winter days.

Unfortunately that means they are also pretty expensive, but you can make and design your own fashionable kits even if you only know one crochet stitch.

Simple rows are all that is required for a sassy new scarf, and the poncho modeled at left is a series of single crochets and dropped stitches.

These techniques can be learned in an evening. There are a lot of really great yarns available at any craft store for the knitter and designer in you.

If you don’t want to make it yourself just find fun scarf and, instead of taking it off when you come in from the cold, throw it over your shoulder and make a major fashion statement of your own.

Even knit shawls are popular, if you feel like taking a chance go for the shawl.

Sparkle and Spice

Jewels, beads, glitter, sequins and broaches and all things that sparkle are making clothing shine this season. All this sparkle can be added by even an amateur tailor.

These are mostly popular for ladies’ fashions and ladies can dress up the plainest of t-shirts and re-vamp older favorites with fresh style and personal flair.

The fun of this is you can design it yourself. Make a sparkly design all your own on an old shirt and sparkle on!

Satin and Lace

Designers are really excited about style contrasts right now. Like dressy high heels with ripped up denims. Or formal suit coats with t-shirts and other casual attire.

An easy way to add formal contrast into a casual college student’s wardrobe is to incorporate pieces made of more formal fabric.

Velvet, satin and lace are as formal as fabric comes and the addition of such fabrics is easier than you might think.

Adding a strip of velvet down the seam of a pair of jeans or letting a satin and lace camisole, like those shown at left, peek out from under sweater will class up the contrast in your attire.

Sparkle and lace are a great combo and lace with sparkles already added is available by the yard at Wal-Mart and other craft outlets.

This sparkly lace can be a great way to trim and old top and make it new.

Cut and Run

A lot of the most expensive shirts on the market today are simply t-shirts with their collars and sleeves cut off.

The good news is you can do this yourself and no sewing will be required. Jersey fabric (the standard t-shirt fabric) only rips and unravels when under extreme duress.

So go ahead and cut the hems off of your t-shirts and don’t worry about re-hemming them. Turn those crew neck tees into v-necks or boat necks without fear. Just cut and run!

Layered Looks

Another common sight in stores these days is layers. Sweaters with tanks, tees and even button-ups under them are super fashionable right now.

The designers are trying to trick you into buying new outfits when you could be making your own. Instead of buying that sweater that comes with a tank top under it, just put a tank top under one of your favorite old sweaters.

Heck, add a little lace to the top of that tank and you’ve got two of the hot looks in one. You can even fake a layer buy sewing a piece of fabric into the collar of an overshirt.

Ruffles and Roushing

Gathered details are another very popular accent for tops this right now. Extra seams that add a bit of a ruffle are all over shirts right now.

Drawstring gathers are also really popular. These are often called roushing and, as in the picture below, they are found on everything from pants to shirtsleeves.

These gathers create different shapes and add interest to the pieces.

It takes a bit more skill but adding roushing or gathering your self can sass up your wardrobe.

If you are planning on adding these details yourself there are a few things you need to remember.

When wearing gathers of any sort keep in mind that the detailing draws the attention and has a tendency to make the body parts under the gathering look larger.

This means ladies with small busts are going to want to find tops with gather detail to enhance their shapes.

It also means that if you think you have a big backside, you don’t want roushing anywhere around your rump.

Always remember, accents accentuate.

Beautiful Belts

Belts are the height of fashion and a really safe way to make a big statement. Again I want urge you not to be fooled into paying the high prices that designers and department stores are charging for belts.

Fabric belts are the major accessory of the moment and you can make one yourself for around five dollars.

An eighth of a yard of fabric and one seam can get you a belt to die for.

Over break I took the two pieces of fabric above, sewed them together and as a result I have a new favorite belt (Shown at left; isn’t it cute?)

It is also popular right now to use old ties or gaudy old silk scarves as belts.

For those who want to incoporate a flash of color without being to flashy, the belt is the place to do it this year.

Satin belts are very popular as well. You can make one yourself with three yards of ribbon. The yellow and blue belt below right is made of three pieces of ribbon that are different widths.

After arranging the ribbons, one seam on a sewing machine – right down the center of the ribbon – did the trick.

Buttons were then added to fasten the belt, but one could simply tie a knot to keep the belt on.

Bold Broaches

Anyone who pays any attention to clothing must have noticed that broaches are super chic right now. Aside from being a great way to add that sparkle to a shirt, bag, coat or outfit, broaches are also a nice way to soften a look.

Floral broaches, for example, can add a splash of color and a dash of femininity to your look.

Many tops and hats come with broaches, but don’t be tricked into buying another shirt or hat when all you really want is a broach.

Adding a broach to what you already have in your closet can freshen up your overall look or add a lot to your new Christmas outfit.

Brassy Bags

As college students we know that it is important to have a bag to carry around with us. Usually that means using a big, bulky book bag. However, there are currently many more alternatives available.

All of the alternatives are much more fashion forward than the average backpack. Most noteworthy among the bags are the single-strap messenger-style bags.

For an evening out, however, the clutch purse is a big deal right now. If you are heading out for a night on the town and you don’t want to take all of you important information with you, grab your ID, lip gloss, a bit of cash and throw them in a small stylish bag.

Dirty Denim

Among the most prevalant looks around is well worn in denim. Now, you can either pay Abercrombie and Fitch prices for your lived in looks, or you can do it yourself.

There are products on the the market designed specificly for these purposes. All you have to do is drop by your local craft store and ask for some help.

Bleaching products have been developed to fade jeans without compromising the integrety of the fabric. There are also new dyes on the market that are meant to simulate the “dirty denim” look.

If you’re too cheap to pay for dye, a pot of coffee in a washing machine can do the same dirty trick.

If you like the torn and distressed look cheese graters work nicely on the thicker seams and sandpaper can make nice progress on the knees and seat of a pair of jeans.

Plus, a nice detail can be acheived by cutting the hem out of a pair of jeans. The fade marks are fun and it can give you a bit of extra length if you need it.

For those of you who are into the nrecent fad of ripped jeans i have great news for you. You can rip your jeans and then keep them from ripping any further – at least for a time.

There are fabric glues on the market that are designed to keep tears from tearing more and frays from fraying further.

These are avialable at all craft outlets and Aleene’s, a company that makes craftglue almost exclusively, can be reached on the internet.

Have fun with fashion this season, and remember, do let those designers get all your money!