Preventing a weather-ruined wardrobe during changing, Midwestern weather

This being the Midwest, it’s hard to say what weather is coming next. First, there was that late-running summer, then a few cold days; then back up to the 80s, followed by icy winds and sunshine. Now that Halloween has passed and the trees are turning brown, all the fun is gone from autumn and it might as well just be winter break— right?

Surviving the season can be tricky, but it becomes much simpler when you know how to deal with each popular fall element. With windblown hair, wet feet and cold shoulders covered, you can focus on remembering it’s only the start of November, and wishing for winter now would mean wishing for finals week, which— let’s be honest here— is a cruel wish to everyone else.

Wind: Great for scattering autumn leaves, but terrible for style

While a simple bun or ponytail may seem sufficient through the raging winds, these hairstyles can betray ladies with even the most pleasant tresses. A simple breeze can be enough to whip a long ponytail into one’s own face— or, worse yet, someone else’s— and any bun short of stage-quality secureness risks unraveling. A French braid, which holds some or all of the hair against the head, is a great alternative to the tried-and-true do’s during this kind of weather, and, despite reigning as one of the “it” hairstyles for some time, they are still incredibly popular.

For those unfamiliar with braiding techniques, turn to the Web; while that may be solid advice for almost anything unknown, the Internet provides countless resources for learning new styles. (Note: Google tried to count, and a search for “braid tutorial” found approximately 20,600,000 results.) After learning the basics, try a few fancier options, like a side braid, multiple braids or a snail braid. If there’s not time to dig through page after page of braid inspiration, head straight to The Beauty Department. This website, complete with the tag “Your daily dose of pretty,” features tutorials, ideas and inspiration, most of which are image- and detail-heavy. A familiar face might pop up in a few tutorial photographs, as one of the females involved is celebrity and fashion it-girl Lauren Conrad. With five pages of posts tagged “braid,” the site offers a variety of wind-defying do’s for long and short hair.

Once a braid is in place, hair accessories can be added to complete the look and ensure wind-preparedness. To keep fly-aways or bangs tucked and secure, a flat headband should be added; avoid overly embellished headbands during breezy weather, as it creates the opportunity for intense tangling should a piece of hair come undone in the wind and wrap around, say, a metal flower adorned to your skull. Forever 21 offers a wide variety of inexpensive headbands that would complete most autumn outfits.

Rain: For days when the umbrella isn’t enough

The classic wet-weather accessory, excluding the much-needed umbrella (it’s expected you already own one of those), is the rain boot. Whether you refer to them as galoshes or wellies, these rubber shoes are made to keep wearers dry and comfortable. Although the classic knee-high look is nice, shake up a rainy day wardrobe by changing the shoe height. Rubber ankle boots can either slip under straight-legged or flaired jeans or over tights or super-skinnies; either way, the look is fresh and equally effective.

Hunter, the popular wellies company, offers several fashion-friendly rain shoes, including ones at ankle height. A rubber ballet flat is also available (the “Jena”, $115) that looks reminiscent of the bottom half of a duck boot. With cuffed jeans, the look would be nautical and fresh.

Those still not on board with water-resistant footwear— after all, when done incorrectly rain boots at non-traditional heights can be dangerously similar to one particular brand of widely-hated plastic shoes— should coat normal shoes with a waterproofing spray. This is vital now and will remain useful in the winter. Look for a brand that is leather-, suede- and fabric-safe and test it on a small part of the shoe first. While these sprays may not keep Chuck Taylors dry in a torrential downpour, they are helpful and efficient.

Cold: Because it’s bound to only get colder

With the size of on-campus closets, there’s no need to explain why having an abundance of outerwear options doesn’t make sense. To get the most out of a coat (and storage space and money), find one with a removable lining. With the inside taken out, these coats work nicely for the autumn temperatures; when re-assembled, they’ll keep you warm on those freakishly-chilly mornings and maybe even through winter.

While this feature can be found in a variety of coats, a non-traditional (i.e. not a pea coat or trench) cut and fabric choice can add interest and edge to an otherwise plain outfit. The Lifetime Collective “Creek Jacket” ($180 at Karmaloop.com) has a cargo-shape and color; this simple, industrial look would tone down a floral-printed dress or add edge to a tee with jeans.