Attention, Class!

The start of another academic year is just around the corner, so here's an A-to-Z guide for back-to-school gear, gadgets and clothes. Don't worry -- there won't be a quiz.

August 22, 1999|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A: Alarm clock. Start the school year off on time by awakening to the impossibly loud buzz of a big, bold retro alarm clock. That's right -- no digital numbers, no CD option, no snooze button. We're talking old school, here. Look for replicas of the 1939 Big Ben by Westclox at area stores including Bed Bath and Beyond and Pottery Barn. Clocks start at about $20.

B: Backpack. Backpacks are old news, right? Wrong. This year, look for sleek styles that hang close to the body instead of those bulging, turtle-like lumps of years past. Try Jansport's Jam'n Backpack, a heavy-duty bag that even has a pocket for that most important of school accessories -- the CD player. $49.99 at the Container Store in Rockville, or call 800-786-7315.

C: Cords. Flare 'em, cargo 'em, overall 'em, skirt 'em. It doesn't matter, just as long as you've got something made of fine-gauge corduroy to wear. Browns, blues and greens are big.

D: Disco balls. Ignite a disco inferno in your room with a set of hanging silver disco ball door beads from Target. Burn, baby, burn ($9.99).

E: Embroidery. Dainty embroidered flowers and vines are embellishing just about everything this year, from binders and backpacks to jumpers, jeans and zip-up pencil cases.

F: Fake it. Fool your friends into thinking you got a tattoo over the summer by wearing a lacy black or henna elastic choker that will make them look twice. Chokers, anklets and armbands by Tattoo Mania cost about $3 at Claire's.

G: Grip (as in, get one). Need a way to hang onto such important stuff as you're A-plus American history midterm and your stellar report card? Grab a piece of Gripping Stuff, a pinboard that allows you to display notices and messages without using pins. $7.99 to $16.99 at The Container Store.

H: Hippie. Pretend it's 1972 and you are your parents. Don't be caught without such hippie essentials as beaded necklaces, macrame and fringed suede bags and bandannas worn as head scarves.

I: Itsy bitsy. Teeny tiny, itsy bitsy hair ornaments in the shape of glittering gems and flowers are too small to actually hold hair. But the stones, which affix to hair, sure look good. Buy a set of 18 Stick Snappy's for $5 at Claire's.

J: Jeans. This year the word in jeans is dark, as in deep, dark blue, stiff-as-anything denim. Wear it in jackets, skirts, overalls and oh yeah, jeans.

K: Khaki. By now, everybody owns a pair of khakis. Take that khaki love thing one step further with binders, pencil cases and notebooks in hues of beautiful, bland beige.

L: Lunch box. While you were busy growing up, lunch boxes regained their coolness. Use the sleek metal Astro lunch box by American Studio ($5.99 at Target) to pack a PB&J or tote around such essentials as your autographed photo of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

M: Messenger bags. Those bags you see bike messengers wearing slung across their chests serve a purpose -- they hold a lot of stuff and they do it well. For true hipness, check out the Gap's classic messenger bag ($29.50) or its sling pack ($25), a cross between a messenger bag and a backpack that has a cell phone pocket in the strap.

N: Notebook. Stan, Kenny, Kyle and Cartman from "South Park" can come along to school with you in the form of cool die-cut memo pads, and you won't have to worry about them swearing at your teachers. Magnetic memo pads by Colorbok. About $4 at area stores.

O: Organize. This is going to be the year you won't lose your homework, or your backpack or your mind at school. Start the year off by being organized with the Locker Organizer ($9.99 at the Container Store), a heavy-duty nylon shelving unit for your locker with enough pockets to keep your pens and note pads at your fingertips.

P: Pop Tarts. A healthy breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but if you can't have one, sample these toaster pastries instead. Flavors to try: S'mores or Watermelon. (Do your body some good by washing them down with milk or juice.)

Q: Quit your mooching. Stop borrowing pens from your classmates and invest in a pencil case like you used to have before you got so hip. The classic style -- soft, solid-colored, zip-up -- is back. Available at drug stores.

R: Really, really tacky. Put some fun back in studying by bedecking your room with such tack-o-rama details as a two-foot high, teal Furry It table lamp ($24.99), an inflatable Euro chair ($24.99) and a door hook shaped like a giant yellow push pin ($7.99). All are available at Target.

S: Sweater. Forget the heat and listen up; feminine cardigan sweaters and twin sets and solid crew necks with contrasting shoulder stripes are the sweaters to buy for fall.

T: Technical. Nylon, Velcro and all sorts of microfibers and other technical materials are making the labels of pants, jackets and vests read like chemistry textbooks. Don't be put off by the big words. Try some of these easy-wearing, high-tech, modern clothes on for size.

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