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Fashion by Felicia

Felicia Caponigri | Friday, September 23, 2011

There are certain times in a fashionista’s life when she fears she has got it all wrong.

These moments are, without a doubt, harrowing enough to reduce even the strongest among us to bite and ruin our perfectly-manicured nails, baptized in the latest shade of trendy OPI nail polish. Even our male counterparts are prone to this niggling sense of fashion doubt, just witness Mr. Fitzgerald’s Letter to the Editor, “Is a Scarf too Metro?”

We may descend the stairs in a Audrey Hepburn/Sabrina-inspired sheath and heels, excited to dine at a hip Fondue restaurant by the Pantheon in Paris, only to find we are distinctly out of touch with the cool skinny jeans, white T-shirts, comfortable flats and Superga sneakers adorning the rest of our group — not that I’m speaking from personal experience, or anything. In the ensuing identity crisis we may ask ourselves — “Who am I? What am I doing here? Will I ever attain that breezy nonchalant attitude I channel through my accessories? Fashion, my love, why are you deserting me?” Again, not that I’m quoting from personal experience or previous fashion meltdowns.

But then we remember — the clothes don’t wear us, we wear the clothes. We are the masters of our own fashion destinies and the identities we project through them. Searching for that perfect outfit doesn’t make us fashion addicts, it makes us the authors of our own fashion sensibility. And, like any great literary genius, we need a tried-and-true story point to begin our individual fashion journeys. What item of style could live up to plot-points the likes of Ernest Hemingway’s “Moveable Feast,” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby” or JD Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye?” Ladies and Gentlemen, only the leather jacket will do.

The leather jacket is the essence of cool. It screams attitude and fierce independence. Its cool factor stems from its origin as the uniform of early 20th century aviators and its exposure in Hollywood movies of the ‘40s and ‘50s. Soon, everyone wanted a piece of the leather jacket’s action.

Even Europeans have appropriated this look to project American rebellion and continental cool. When buying a leather jacket you can go for faux, but be advised the real deal is worth the investment. Try the jacket on a few times and stretch the sleeves a little to make sure the material is supple enough to mold, yet define, your upper body. We’re not going for the T-Birds and Pink Ladies look, so the best cut is the modern motorcycle jacket — square with a racing collar. Of course, go with what fits you best and what makes you feel the most confident. While black may work for some, a less edgy dark brown may feel more apt for others.

This look works for both women and men. Women— throw it over jeans and a T-shirt or even over your favorite cocktail dress. Casual or dressy, it makes any outfit a combination of strength and feminine savvy. Men can work leather with jeans and a T-shirt or with dress pants and an Oxford shirt, reminding us that there’s self-assured steel underneath that easy handsome exterior.

Start your leather jacket journey with selections at zara.com. 

Contact Felicia Caponigri at fcaponig@nd.edu

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

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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 | Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dear Gentlemen of Notre Dame: Languish no more. The time has come. “Fashion by Felicia” has heard your cry and is here with the fashion tips you have eagerly been awaiting.

 

I know how stressful your days are — you are the Fred Astaires to our Ginger Rogers. You think: “What, just because she does everything backwards and in heels she gets all the attention? What about me, wasting away as I attempt to accomplish all my ‘bro’ social events, turn in that business plan for my start-up, and impress my Econ professor at 8:30 in the morning? Isn’t my fashion presentation just as important as hers?”

 

Yes, you are right. After all, we women of Notre Dame do have to socialize and learn with you – it is fitting that you are anxious to look just as good as we do. As Fr. Hesburgh once said, the men of Notre Dame are the cream of the crop, and the women are the cream of the cream. So — let’s delve into the proverbial fashion harvest together!

 

And so we will. It is getting close to harvest time here in the gorgeous Midwest, and the temperature is getting chilly and somewhat unpredictable. You find the air at 8:30 am bristling, while by lunch it’s back to summer. The evening then returns to cooler temperatures following air conditioning and heating adventures while indoors. Sweatshirts may solve the problem, but then they have to get scrunched into backpacks or thrown over the shoulder at lunch like an unattractive sack of potatoes. Jackets prove to be the same problem. Let’s face it — you just can’t show off those toned arms of summer the same way in a long-sleeved T-shirt.

 

What would your European counterpart do? Well, he’d keep that attractive short-sleeved T-shirt on and accessorize with a scarf — the key element to any man’s je ne sais quoi fashion appeal. The scarf for men sets off serious fashion radar. It says you’re conscious enough of the elements, but independent and man enough to drape and wrap fabric. The ideal scarf for the chic man is made of cashmere for the winter months and a cooler cotton or mix for these transitional seasons.

 

Length is key — when simply hanging around your neck, the ends of the scarf should reach the lower end of your torso. A short scarf will make you seem childish. Thickness is also important — delicate scarves are for your female counterparts. You can fold the scarf in the middle, drape around your neck and pull the other end through to create a simple knot or wrap the scarf multiple times around your neck, tying the very ends in a small knot.

 

In terms of color, match the scarf to your overall ensemble. A navy scarf looks great with a white t-shirt and jeans. Try a light caramel color to go with a leather jacket or that black suit you wore to impress those corporate career fair attendees. Feel free to play with brighter colors too — I’ll bow to your manly judgment on this one. To finish the look, throw on killer sunglasses and, if you’re feeling particularly daring, a hat. With a look like this, we women will be asking, “Who needs European men?”

 

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

Contact Felicia Caponigri at fcaponigri@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, September 5, 2011

Weekends are like foam on a latte, chocolate in a brioche or bubbles in champagne. They are simultaneously a part of our accomplishment-driven week and its most defining and anticipated element. Oh, the fun of dancing, primping and general relaxation. There is nothing like dedicating yourself to you and you alone as books rest comfortably on your shelf and Monday’s cares seem miles away. I thought I knew how to properly ring in the weekend before I came to Notre Dame’s hallowed halls. I foolishly thought hors d’oeuvres in Paris by the Eiffel Tower, a few evenings at Maxim’s, aperitivi by Florence’s Ponte Vecchio and a Eurostar trip to London could have prepared me for football weekends. Darlings, I freely admit ⎯ I had no idea.

Tailgates, cheers, mad pep rallies, fans who put new meaning into the word loyalty, not to mention the most amazing football game after-parties give European parties a serious run for their money.  Anyone who has seen me watching one of these prized football games knows this fashionista is clueless about the game. I have no idea what a sneak, extra point, block, rush or field goal is, and quite frankly, I am too overwhelmed to ask. Should you find the need to educate me please feel free to get in touch (although I make no promises as to how much information I’ll be able to retain).

Due to my lack of general understanding about the actual point of the weekend, the most important part of my planning revolves around what I’m going to wear to all these events and less on who scores a touchdown. What fashion item could possibly facilitate the shift from European experiences to athletic celebrations this side of the Atlantic? Fellow style mavens, throw open those closet doors and break out your LBD. Here comes the little black dress to the rescue.

The LBD is the one item every closet dies to have. Its most redeeming characteristic is its versatility. As Coco Chanel knew when she made the color a de rigueur part of her collection, its dramatic nature complements everyone. Moreover, in contemporary fashion circles the LBD can be worn in absolutely any style. An Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s sheath, a floor length Grecian gown or a strapless knee length dress can take you from your office reception to a dinner with friends and family. A mini version of the dress, in halter, spaghetti strap or one shoulder form, is the perfect spice to add to any after-the-game fiesta. Just think, you won’t have to worry about beer or other beverage spills ruining your outfit. You’re wearing black, so no one will ever know!

Just remember the LBD’s goal ⎯ flattering your figure. This is best accomplished by staying away from ruffles and other fluff. Streamline your look, and if you do want detail, go for lace or cutouts instead. While it might be tempting to keep those jeans and the coveted “Shirt” on for evening jaunts after the game, let’s take inspiration from those lovely ladies sashaying around our study abroad cities. Electrify fellow Notre Dame fans next gameday with your own fashion moves off the field. After all, who said only football players can have all the fun and attention? With the LBD, we’ll show them how to play in style.

The views in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer. Contact Felicia Caponigri at fcaponigri@nd.edu