I love fashion in much the same way as I love my college and my hometown — passionately. It’s not something that affects me casually; it’s something that I live and breathe every day and something that defines who I am.
Fashion is the outer expression of my inner mindset, just as my occasional Southern accent reflects my upbringing in Memphis, Tennessee. It complements the fusion of tradition and progress that shapes my life as a sophomore at University of Notre Dame.
Let’s be real. There’s an ugly side to fashion too. Buying into what other people call trends often seems beneficial only to retailers. And the superficiality of the fashionable look, including body type and facial structure in addition to garments, as well as its influence over young girls has been criticized time and again by a society desperate to embrace individuality. There’s no question that the industry must address these issues, but for me, the solution is in that very individuality.
Now don’t get me wrong. I read my fashion literature and respect whatever the great and powerful Vogue hails the next big trend. But picking and choosing is much more my style. And that’s what style is all about, really. There’s not one singular look that is fashion. In fact, fashion is a million different looks all trying to say something new and different.
For me, that’s the most exciting part. Fashion means experimenting, risking and inventing; there aren’t wrong answers, and those who say there are must reconsider where trends come from in the first place.
My own style is a mash-up of contemporary Southern prep, classic chic and a dash of vintage charm. I live in skirts and dresses (weather permitting) and like a good Tennessee girl I never forget the value of a strong chevron print or a touch of Lilly Pulitzer. My true pride lies in the high-quality basics that I mix and match to create hundreds of unique looks — my best friend even says he’s not sure he’s ever seen me repeat an outfit exactly.
That’s the secret. It’s building up a selection of timeless basics, and then adding a sparkling necklace, a leather Michael Kors watch, a monogramed bracelet or bold earrings. My own favorite basics from my closet are Bordeaux T-shirts, Cloth & Stone chambray, three-quarter length sweaters from J.Crew and LOFT’s curvy skinny jeans — they fit my body shape perfectly. Never forget those small touches — a fresh manicure and cute shoes go a long way (and luckily my roommate this year loves doing nails!).
This will be my third semester writing FASHIONISTA/O SPOTLIGHT for CollegeFashionista. Each Wednesday I’ll be sharing photos and thoughts from stylish students at Notre Dame. With their help, I hope to show a small part of what fashion means on my campus, which may or may not be what it means on your campus. There’s that individuality, and isn’t it exciting?