STYLE GURU BIO: Elizabeth La Barbera

Hi! I’m Elizabeth La Barbera, and I’m Smith College’s Style Guru for the semester. I’m an Italian Studies major, which means fashion is always on my radar as a big part of the Italian culture. I’ve always been interested in fashion but believed it was something I couldn’t take part in until recently. Although my own personal style is always evolving, my mindset towards it shifted quickly after an internship in a showroom before my junior year abroad.  My appreciation for fashion blended with my self-identity and paved the way for my year in Italy because of my first experience in the industry.

Working in a showroom exposed me to upcoming trends and connected me with both designers and buyers. I was also inspired to dress the part, and experiment with my own style. This continued into the following year, when I was abroad in Florence. My personal style evolved as a byproduct of living with Italians and embracing their culture. A black leather obsession was born after seeing a hundred leather jackets down every street. I changed my mind about wearing sunglasses inside. I learned to dress for the season, not the weather. Italian women took all of my ideas about fashion and showed me how to root them in style. Now that I’m back for my last semester at Smith, I can connect what I learned then to what I want to write about now.

As a student of a women’s institution, I’ve learned that the work Smith does for women parallels the same type of work the fashion industry engages in daily. I’ve been inspired by women’s relationship to fashion as a universal identifier and a window to history and culture. I have chosen fashion as my lens because I believe it tells us more about our evolution than any other cultural element. Fashion tells us about what’s happening right now, which makes it the best way for me to keep updated weekly on what’s happening at Smith. Every Wednesday I’ll be connecting the fashion industry with Smith’s culture, reminiscing about my days as an Italian street style observer, and learning from every student I write about.