CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As summer fades and we say goodbye to picnics and outdoor parties, sports fans excitedly welcome fall. They know the days of football and tailgating have arrived. Whether in the stands or from the couch, it's an opportunity to show school spirit and pride.
It's more than just picking up a T-shirt or hoodie at the campus bookstore, sporting-goods store or department store, even if graphic tees are in for this fall. That's taking the simple road.
School spirit style means representing your alma mater with your own style and flair. It's pairing dresses or skirts with coordinating belts and scarves with boots, tights or leggings. And cute hats and gloves keep you warm when the season goes into the winter and will look fabulous too. It's functional style.
If you want to wear a graphic tee, pair it with a cute skirt and a denim jacket; for guys, pair the graphic tee with a patterned zip-up hoodie or plaid shirt for added interest and warmth. Dressing in layers helps with the changing temperatures between the daytime tailgates and the nighttime games or between early-morning tailgates and the warmer afternoon kickoffs.
You might have your game-day look down, but homecoming isn't too far away. Finding a look for alumni receptions and other events requiring business attire might pose a bit more of a challenge for some.
Guys can have fun with accessories too. Pair a dress shirt of a muted tone from your alma mater's colors with a vest instead of just a suit jacket. Ladies can pair accessories with a suit or dress that show off their school colors.
Or, if you're a member of a Greek organization, feel free to add an element of those colors and symbols. For instance, sisters of Alpha Sigma Tau could pair the scarf Stephanie Thornhill is wearing (an anchor is the sorority's symbol) in the accompanying photo with a suit or dress.
Think about the details. It's about the belts, shoes, earrings and even the camisole you wear under your suit. Or, it's a dress paired with a cardigan and statement jewelry or a scarf.
For guys, wear a standard necktie with your school colors in an interesting pattern. And, no, not a tie that has the school's logo all over it. Plaid, gingham or paisley are always winners. Bow ties are also a great option.
The models featured in the accompanying photos wore fashions from their own closets to express their personal style and school colors. The next time you attend an event for your alma mater, whether it's casual or more formal, think about the items you have in your closet and how you might pair them to achieve your own school spirit style.
Check out wvstyleteam.com/spirit for closer looks at each of our models' ensembles and more examples of how to create great school spirit looks.
Jen Wood Cunningham works in personal and professional development and loves classic style. Get tips and trends by following @WVstyleteam on Twitter. More tips and insights are available on the Style Team blog, www.wvstyleteam.com.