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Fashion by Felicia

Felicia Caponigri | Monday, September 13, 2010

I have always been a shameless clotheshorse. My passion for fashion has led me, on a high note, to small boutiques, unknown vintage purveyors, mega-stores (hello my sweet Zara and H&M!) and fashion shows.

It has also led to overstuffed suitcases, serious lower-back issues from running through airports with said luggage because I was up too late the night before trying to cram all those irreplaceable accessories into the top compartment and loud arguments with check-in attendants as to the validity of my having said number of suitcases. Finally, it gave me a nickname of “girl with eight suitcases” for a whole month from my poor fellow male students who had to lug said luggage up the many flights of stairs while moving into my temporary dorm room in the City of Lights.

Yes, the quest for style never did run smoothly. However, it has lead me to some really cool places (Paris and Florence, the altar of Ferragamo at which I worshipped as an intern for a whole blessed summer), which I feel leaves me quite qualified to expound on its importance.

Some will tell you it is a waste of time — why do you take an extra 30 minutes to do hair and make-up every morning? Why contemplate the options of what to wear and color-coordinate the outfit?

Well, darlings, why did you stare in awe at that European woman whom you saw sashaying on Via Condotti or Boulevard Saint Germain while you were studying abroad? Why were your eyes wide with the contemplation of continental savoir-faire? Because it is irresistible, and we all want to be a part of a greater glory, something that inspires us to be more than what we are at that moment.

Part of the life-changing aspect of the study abroad experience lies in its exhortation to enjoy every moment of every day, to take a slower pace and take greater care. That may mean taking the scenic route to class or taking the time to match that bag with a proper shoe. All of us return from our study abroad experience eager to incorporate these newfound lessons into our American way of life, yet soon find it difficult if not totally impossible.

For many, one of the emulated experiences is the “je ne sais quoi” (“I don’t know what,” or, a quality that makes something distinctive) chic-ness and personal style of our counterparts from abroad. The goal of this column is to help this emulation flourish, and to highlight certain parts of the European wardrobe which can easily translate to this side of the pond. So, voila! We will commence with the scarf!

The square silk scarf is an indispensable part of any wardrobe. It can be tied traditionally around the neck, or used as a headband, belt, purse or even, for the very brave (and this is my personal favorite), as a halter top to be worn alone in summer, or underneath a warm sweater in cooler temperatures. A patterned scarf instantly finishes an outfit, allowing your viewer to perceive your whole look as a complete canvas. While a Parisian woman would run to her local Hermès to buy this luxury item, American Apparel has just begun to make them for an affordable college student price of $18. What more could a girl ask for?

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Felicia Caponigri at fcaponig@nd.edu@nd.edu