We’re looking for some new back-to-school sweaters; our top three criteria are comfort (ideally, something like a portable version of a pile of blankets, perfect for spontaneous between-class sleeping opportunities), style, and affordability. Ideas? —Emma and Charlotte, 14, Pennsylvania
The first thing to bear in mind that, in many if not most cases, comfort comes at a COST. That’s certainly true when it comes to sweaters: The queen of all sweater materials, one that’s soft, warm, and lightweight, is cashmere. Of course, it’s also the most expensive of all the options I’m about to show you. If you want to invest in cashmere, you’re looking at prices upwards of $100, though you can get lucky and find something cheaper at a thrift store (and occasionally new, like the H&M option below).
Second in the comfy-sweater hierarchy is wool. Look for merino wool, which won’t make you itchy or uncomfortable, like Shetland wool does for some people (yours truly included). Here are some nice merino sweaters from Uniqlo.
A lot of modern sweaters are made from acrylic or polyester fibers. These are way more affordable, though not generally as soft or comfortable as nnatural fabrics (e.g., wool, cashmere, and cotton). But two of my favorite sweaters that I’ve had for years are actually 100 percent acrylic, and I’ve totally had NAPTIME in them. If you don’t mind acrylic sweaters and want some inexpensive ones in a few different colors, the H&M and Forever 21 picks below are good bets. Can’t argue with variety! You can also look for a sweater made from a blend of materials, like part acrylic and part cotton or wool.
Here are some cute sweaters in a range of materials:
I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of your making this knit cape from Nasty Gal your signature piece. Or, if your dress code allows sweaters with jazzy accoutrements on them, like let’s say CAT ELBOW PATCHES, may I suggest this?
Another idea I’m really feelin’: Amass a bunch of grandpa-esque vintage V-neck sweaters from thrift stores or Etsy. Since they’re pre-worn, they’re likely broken in and ready for you to curl up in already! I searched “grandpa V-neck sweater” on Etsy and found gems like this and this. Hope your sweaters bring you luck, naps, and straight A’s all semester long! —Marie
I need new glasses, but am having difficulty finding good frames! I’d like to get one pair for everyday use (preferably for less than $200), and a cheaper pair (under $50) to use as a spare. Where should I look? —Madeline, 15, USA
For your main pair, you kinda can’t go wrong with Warby Parker. They have tons of options, and if your prescription is basic enough, the frames and the lenses can be yours for just 95 bucks, total. That is pretty amazing! My fave frames on the WP site are Winston, Huxley, and Holt, but there are SO many good options.
The best thing about the site, though, is their free home-try-on situation. You pick five frames, they send them to you in a nice li’l box, and you get to see what looks good on you IRL. Then you send them back and order the ones you liked best. Eyeglasses are one of the hardest things to just guess on, which makes them hard to buy online, usually, so this is a very cool service.
If you’ve got a complicated or especially strong prescription, you can still buy inexpensive frames and take them to a place that will add the lenses you need, but you should get the frames vetted by an eye-care specialist first to make sure they can support the lenses you require. When I was searching for new glasses last year, I fell in love with a pair of huge vintage Balenciaga frames, but my eye doctor told me that the combination of those frames with the Coke-bottle lenses I need would make it look like I was constantly holding magnifying glasses up to my eyes. I ended up with a pair of Moscot NEBB frames. They’re expensive, but I love them a lot, and they’re my go-to pair. Moscot has many other delightful options, some of which are JUST above your requested price range.
For cheap-o spares, my answer is: If we’re being real here, almost any glasses will work as your burner pair. Why not buy $10 fake Ray-Bans, or find wild frames at the thrift store, pop some Rx lenses in there, and make them your emergency glasses? That’s what I would do! —Elizabeth
I just bought a pair of light-wash overalls, but I don’t know how to style them! I want to look feminine—I had Alexa Chung in mind when I got them. How do I wear them without looking like a farmhand or a member of ’N Sync? —Maggie, 15, California
As president of Rookie’s chapter of the National Overalls Club, I welcome you! Now, while I think both farmhands and ’N Sync are incredibly stylish and talented groups of people, I see where you’re coming from. But it’s easy to avoid those visual associations: Just don’t wear your overalls with a plaid shirt or a sports jersey, and you should be in the clear! When I want my overalls to look grown-up and feminine, I wear them with some sort of blouse or crop top and a delicate shoe, like ballet flats. Here I am in a representative look:
Alexa Chung, whom you mentioned, is really good at looking sophisticated in overalls. (Maybe we can get her to give a presentation at the upcoming Overalls Club convention!) Here she is wearing shortalls with a sweet blouse and sandals:
Rihanna has somehow mastered the art of looking incredibly glamorous, yet also like she could beat you in a pickup game of basketball at a moment’s notice, by combining her overalls with an off-the-shoulder crop top, sneakers, and a sweatshirt tied around her waist:
If all else fails, you’ve got basically everything you need to pull off a great farmhand and/or ’N Sync costume this Halloween, so you really can’t lose here. —Gabby
I have arthritis in my knees and ankles, and I have to wear boring black braces on them almost every day. Do you have any tips on how to make those braces look cute? —Vicky, 17, Boston
I’m a total believer in decorating anything and everything, and that includes leg braces. I come to you with my trusty Bedazzler in hand, ready to help you make some magic.
First, let’s look at some inspirational icons. The Elusive Chanteuse, Miss Mariah Carey herself, is so glamorous that when she dislocated her shoulder in 2013, she matched her arm sling to her dress on multiple fancy outings. And when Miss Florida, Myrrhanda Jones, incurred a knee injury during the 2013 Miss America pageant, she bejeweled the shit out of her brace! That is the kind of life I like to live, TBQH. A life of accessorizing, with no boundaries! NOTHING CAN STOP US.
If your brace is made of something you can sew or glue patches onto, I like the idea of accenting it with cute daisies, or getting weird with this li’l space alien and some felt UFOs. If you’re able to paint any part of your brace, I think it would be rad to spray on some glitter, too!
You can also copy Miss Florida’s rad idea of bejeweling your leg brace: Just hot-glue multi-colored acrylic gems like these to it. Or go wild with Washi tape—it comes in so many different colors and patterns that the possibilities are endless. Scotch makes some cute options, too—this route is especially cool because it’s temporary, so you can change it up week to week, or day to day, or whenever the mood strikes! Finally, this company makes decorative cast and brace covers in all sorts of prints. Hope this helps! —Marie ♦
Need help getting dressed in the morning (or any other time around the clock)? Get at Marie and her stylish babe-crew at [email protected] with all your wardrobe queries—just please let us know your first name (or nickname), your age, and where you live.