Finding fashionable gifts need not be complicated

Dana Larson

Dana Larson

By Missy Smith

Some of you out there may be lost when it comes to picking gifts for friends and family, but never fear. I braved the crowds on Black Friday, scoped out the stores and am here to tell you what’s hot, what’s not and what to buy all the fashion-forward people in your life this holiday season. Don’t you worry though, I am a student too, so I’ll show you how to do this without putting too much of a strain on your debit card.

A must-stop for the preppy shopper who would rather play it safe with a classic look is American Eagle.

A representative for the store said sweaters and hoodies are a must-have for everyone on your gift list this season.

A simple cable knit is a staple in any woman’s closet; you can never go wrong with a simple sweater. The Winterland sweater starts at just $34.50, and comes in seven different colors: light blue, navy, purple, heather grey, black, cream and red.

Those hoodies that fly off the shelves at AE are mostly purchased for men. Most guys I know live and die by their favorite hoodies. Often times, I will see them wearing the same hoodie for a week straight, so $39.50 seems like a decent price for something so versatile. I’d suggest steering away from white, though; guys can get pretty dirty, especially the ones I know.

If you are just looking for stocking stuffers or secret Santa gifts, AE has great accessories to go with its clothes. Keeping with the season, check out its hats, scarves and mittens. They are warm, cute and start at $15.50.

If you want to go a little less preppy, Old Navy is the stop for you. Its cute, cheap clothes are not quite J. Crew and not quite Express, so they sit just happily in the middle of not too trendy, but not too traditional.

On the Old Navy Web site, there is help for the clueless. The company has anticipated that people sometimes feel lost in the holiday season, so it supplies a holiday gift guide, outfit ideas and more. This guide helps customers see the latest trends and score the best deals, which is perfect for the college student.

Pick up a few button-down shirts, a steal at only $10 apiece for every guy you know. You can afford it with that price, and while you’re at it, pick up an Old Navy logo performance fleece. This comfortable, affordable fleece fits under most coats and will warm you up on the bitter, windy days that Illinois sees during the winter, at only $15.

On the women’s front, there is a stunning strapless crimson velvet dress that screams elegance and sophistication. It is the perfect dress for a night out or a last-minute family holiday party, and at only $29.35, it is just too perfect to pass it up. I know I couldn’t!

Lastly, the “piece le resistance” is my favorite store, Forever 21, which caters mostly to women, but has a small collection for men as well.

Its extensive collection of witty screen T-shirts for men starting at only $14 can be paired with one of its many zipper sweatshirts. It quickly becomes the perfect outfit for both class and the bar scene.

More importantly, Forever 21 carries an extensive woman’s collection that keeps my roommate and I constantly checking its Web site for new clothes. It carries three different lines of clothes within the brand, and is sure to appeal to any woman you know.

As a gift, try any of the store’s tops. Keep in mind that sequins, metallics, jeweled necklines and silk prints are in this season. Though prices vary, they are on the relatively inexpensive side. Between its collections of going out clothes to work clothes to comfy clothes, there would be little reason to visit any other store when shopping for women. Also, remember you can ask any of the sales associates for help picking out a gift.

If none of these ideas seem appealing, you can always pick up a gift card to any store or mall, or just give a Visa gift card that is usable almost everywhere.

No matter what you choose, there is an entire world of possibilities out there this holiday season, with plenty of deals for the bargain shopper. So scour those Sunday ads, look online, and check out the mall in your area to see what’s available.

‘Tis the season to be shopping!