Student discounts, shopping for college and Project Runway's ninth season

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J. Crew's 2011 fall looks are referential of classic Americana silhouettes, with touches of bright colors not usually seen in fall collections.  JCrew.com
JCrew.com
J. Crew's 2011 fall looks are referential of classic Americana silhouettes, with touches of bright colors not usually seen in fall collections.

H&M Look Book AW 2011 Women from Barracuda Film & TV on Vimeo.

WHAT'S AFFORDABLE
Going to college can be expensive, but student discounts are a nice surprise that you should take advantage of. Some of the best student discounts are for software and technology. Apple, Adobe, Microsoft and other suppliers offer significant cuts for college students.
If you're a student and buy a Mac computer before September 20, you'll get $100 back to spend in the Mac app store, iTunes store and the iBookstore.
Year round, Adobe offers up to 80 percent off for students and educators. On their Creative Suite, which includes Photoshop and other design software, you can save 65 percent
Microsoft is offering a back-to-school deal where you can get an Xbox 360 for free with the purchase of a new PC through September 3. If you're not looking for another distraction from schoolwork, Microsoft has a lot of other student-only discounts on their new computers.
WHAT'S TRENDY
Fall 2011 lookbooks are already out, and if you like tailored outerwear, bright colors and classic Americana textures you're in luck.
It's tempting to buy a bunch of fun new clothes before heading off to school, but I would encourage all college-bound shoppers to hold back before loading up on back-to-school sales for a few reasons.
First off, space is almost always limited at college. You don't want to be the one who shows up with 12 boxes of clothes that will explode out of the closet, eating up your roomate's space. Secondly, college is a time for you to continue to define your personal style. Be true to yourself, but don't tie yourself down to what you think looked cool in high school. Third, if you're on a budget it actually makes the most sense to save your pennies and buy one high-quality investment piece rather than seven trendy pieces that will look dated in a year.
Save your money and buy a few quality pieces that will last a while - you won't regret it.
WHAT'S NEW
Lifetime's Project Runway has begun its ninth season, sending 16 designers through challenges and critiques from celebrity judges Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Heidi Klum.
Press releases claim this year's guest judges are the best yet, including Zoe Saldana and Malin Akerman.
I've watched Project Runway for the past few years, but at the end of last season I swore a frustrated "auf wiedersen" to Nina, Michael and Heidi. However, watching the trailers and designer interviews for this season has left me a little more optimistic.
I'll be giving Project Runway one more chance this year, and I'll post my thoughts and a quick recap on the Shopgirl blog each week. If you've never watched the show, it's a great way to get an on-the-fly education about what makes or breaks a look from expert perspective, and there's always plenty of contestant drama to keep it interesting.
Episodes air Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the Lifetime channel, and they are also posted on their website on Fridays. Go to www.mylifetime.com/shows/project-runway to get episodes and bonus material.

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