If schoolgirl-as-fashion gives you flashbacks of Alicia Silverstone circa Clueless in a tartan micro-mini and knee high socks, you might have to scrap that image before you read on. Sure, some proponents of this fall 2012 fashion trend have given and will give it a ’90s Clueless bent, but there’s also much more to it than that. The upcoming fall / winter season finds new ways to be inspired by schoolyard dressing that go beyond the usual cliches. Find out more after the break.

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School girl chic this fall: what it is, and what it’s not

So Clueless is one way to channel a schoolgirl look that’ll immediately rope in those who grew up in the ’90s with its fuzzy warmth of nostalgia. Then there’s the Gossip Girl generation. Again, boldly preppy is another vision of schoolyard chic but one that’s been explored thoroughly in recent years. So while both the aforementioned aren’t ruled out, they’re not the freshest ways to wear this look come fall.

schoolgirl chic at edun
Schoolgirl chic at Edun, F/W ’12

Instead, it’s about melding elements of youth with trends from different decades. It’s about thinking outside the obvious box. Take the tartan skirt and socks, sure, but find a surprise way to present them.

School girl fashion: where it’s been seen

For Edun, Sharon Wauchob was “toying with a schoolgirl mentality” and bringing in an 80s edginess, mixing softness of prints with shiny and vibrant colours and textures. Lauren Moffatt’s fall 2012 presentation actually took place in a classroom setting: her collection, “inspired by the innocent and classically undone style of a school-girl”, was brimming with pleats and peter-pan collars and lace-up shoes. Moffatt didn’t sexualise her schoolgirl. Veda, on the other hand, did.

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School girl chic at Lauren Moffatt F/W ’12

Veda’s fall 2012 presentation in New York had a school-girls-gone-bad vibe where tartan skirts were short and paired with thigh-high socks – Clueless style – but with leather motorcycle jackets. Models held cameras as if about to capture and catalogue on the internet their misdemeanours. But away from the short skirts and socks there were plenty of outfits that were more to the elegant side, taking Veda’s rebellious school girl to the school dance after dark.

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School girls gone bad at Veda, F/W ’12

And speaking of school dances, DSquared2 hosted one of the retro variety with their fall 2012 runway show. Cigarettes in hand and bouffant hairstyles on heads, these girls were 1960s ladylike all over but with an edge of delinquent. Swathed in sparkling costume jeweles and bubblegum colours, they were senior students dressing as ladies but acting like girls.

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Retro schoolgirl chic at DSquared2, F/W ’12

Innocent vs rebellious

Broadly you could pin the mood of fall 2012’s school girl into one of two categories, depending on her report card (and hem length). Innocent, or rebellious.

The former is about a sweet, pretty and potentially shy sensibility that’s wrapped up in longer skirts and higher collars, fresh faced beauty and unfussy hair. The latter is the girl who finds ways to turn a uniform into something individual, who wears makeup and sparkling hair pins and socks that are longer and skirts shorter than either are meant to be.

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Innocent school girl style at Lauren Moffatt, F/W ’12

But these aren’t absolutes. The innocent girl has it in her to act up from time to time, the bad girl has it in her to come good. Like Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson at the end of Grease they can go opposite ways and end up meeting somewhere in the middle. And both, for fall / winter 2012, are just as able to take their cues from vintage styles, be it the earlier part of the 20th century or the middle. The innocence of a peter pan collar and below-the-knee pleated skirt can channel the young girl of the 1920s, or, with a hair and makeup change, the 1960s. A varsity jacket and skinny cigarette pants can channel the rebeliousness of the rockabilly 50s, or the clean, modern and androgynous lines of the now. In 2012 the mix of inspirations is a huge one, and you don’t have to stick to replicating just one era – or one type of girl.


DSquared2’s classroom themed fall 2012 campaign

School girl fashion: the elements

There’s no real limit to how you can inject a little bit of schoolgirl innocence – or mischievousness – into an outfit come fall. But here are some of the elements that can kickstart a look, and ones you can easily mix into your wardrobe.

school girl fashion at lamb
School girl fashion at LAMB, F/W ’12

Since you don’t want to actually be mistaken for a schoolgirl skipping class, mix in some leather, statement jewellery, prints or vibrant colour to boldly differentiate.

More school girl chic inspiration

For more picture inspiration from the fall 2012 runways, click on the gallery above.

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