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Fashion by Felicia

Felicia Caponigri | Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I prescribe to a certain behavior I like to call “borrowing beyond borders.” This behavior usually is at its zenith at the beginning of the school year and, of course, during the holidays, especially at Thanksgiving.

The steps of this behavior common to any fashion worshipper usually go something like this:

Step 1: While imagining a perfect outfit you’ll put together over these last weeks leading up to finals you realize you are missing one key accessory.

Step 2: As you think more about the key accessory you realize that it won’t just go with that one outfit that will inspire you to ace your presentation, but that it will also go with that lovely dress you are planning to wear to the dorm holiday party.

Step 3: Suddenly you realize, “Wait, I’ve seen that accessory before! It’s in my sister’s/mother’s/grandmother’s/aunt’s/first cousin once-removed/friend’s closet!”

Step 4: “Aha,” you think. “How convenient!” I am going home for Thanksgiving! I can easily borrow said accessory for the last few weeks of the semester. After all, no one will miss their favorite wardrobe member.

Step 5: Over turkey and mashed potatoes you exchange extra niceties. In the midst of passing the cranberries you casually mention to that certain family member how much you love their style, especially that one piece that would fit so perfectly into your own fashion fiesta.

Step 6: You ask to borrow said accessory, but only for one night while you see your old friends for a movie and popcorn.

Step 7: You leave to catch the flight back to campus after the holiday and somehow that prized accessory has found its way into your luggage. How did that happen?

Step 8: Your family member calls you and asks, “Have you seen my (insert name of accessory here) that I lent you?”

“Oh no”, you reply. “Maybe I left it in my room, or maybe it somehow got wrapped in one of my sweaters and therefore accidentally came to campus with me. Oops, here it is! I am so sorry. Of course I’ll bring it back at Christmas.”

Step 9: You wear said accessory, look fabulous and then give your family member an extra big Christmas gift to atone for your “borrowing.” Sound familiar? I thought so.

This behavior is common to all walks of the fashionable life and indeed has even created its own look, which this author has seen in the flesh whilst studying away in the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris. A pair of lived-in jeans with a roomy sweater may be your go-to studying outfit, but tack on your grandmother’s sparkling brooch and not only do you have something shiny to enliven your philosophy reading, but you are also the epitome of “intellectual bohemian chic.”

The brooch is an elegant staple that comes in a variety of sizes and colors. Whether bijou or the real thing, it can dress up a casual outfit or be the ultimate jewelry that compliments a holiday frock.

Pin it close to your collarbone and pair it with understated post earrings, or use it to emphasize that unique part of your dress or jacket by pinning it to the lapel or decorative ribbon. If you don’t find it while riffling through a family closet, Urban Outfitters is offering them for $9.99. At these prices, “borrowing beyond borders” may become a thing of the past … well, at least until your roommate sees it.

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

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The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

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Fashion by Felicia

Felicia Caponigri | Monday, November 15, 2010

There is nothing more exhilarating than attention to detail. What do I mean by this? Exhibit A: East Entrance to Hesburgh Library one dreary fall afternoon. A high heel-clad fashion devotee, laden with a satchel full of books, left arm cradling a mass of notebooks and her faithful agenda, with her right hand clutching her mid-day caffeine fix (a large latte), approaches the doors which will lead to a long evening of research and study. As she looks up, approaching from said library’s interior appears one of her male collegiate counterparts. Thank goodness, she thinks, a gallant knight come to open the doors for me to the temple of knowledge! Alas, ‘tis not to be. Said young man opens said door in question, exits hurriedly, ignoring this damsel in distress, and strides away.

Exhibit B: A few seconds later, this same fashion devotee stares at said doors attempting to find an imaginative solution to their opening which does not involve the phrase “Open Sesame.” A second member of the opposite gender appears. Noting the distress with which his fairytale counterpart is eyeing these challenging portals, he smiles and holds the door open, allowing for the disappearance of the damsel in distress and the appearance of a wide-eyed, grateful princess prepared to render the appropriate thank you to what she now perceives as her knight in shining Armani. Where this fairy tale leads will obviously depend on the results of their first shopping excursion together, but that tale, dear readers, is for another time. The crux of this story lies in the ability of an unexpected detail to change our day for the better. And that is precisely what patterned hosiery has been doing since the invention of nylon in 1935.

On the other side of the pond, the incorporation of every different kind of stocking into one’s daily outfit is accomplished with an unbridled fearlessness. Europeans devote whole stores to hosiery: in these boutiques you can find stockings in every color imaginable (one of my friends once bought a shocking teal variety in Paris’ sixth arrondissement) and every pattern — fishnets, ribbed, checked, even floral!

With the advent of cooler weather, our wardrobes often seem to become dull and monotonous. You may feel as though you wear the same pants or dress ad nauseum. However, with an eye-catching pair of hose, the same dress can become part of a whole new outfit. Pairing a bright red hose with a black dress can instantly make your look pop. You can also match the color of your hosiery to your accessories, making that purple bag you’ve been dying to wear finally work with your final fashion presentation.

While some may think fishnets are questionable attire, Italian women have been wearing them to the office for forever (proof of this lies in any 1960s cinematic endeavor involving the great Sophia Loren). Add a pair to a knee length skirt and comfortable heels, or even better, wear them underneath a pair of pants with flats. The different textures will create a canvas that rivals any Picasso. Moreover, stockings take up negligible room in the small spaces allotted for closets in our time-honored housing institutions: the dorms. Forever 21 offers a wide variety for just $3.50 a pair. Details, you’ve never looked better!

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