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Fashion by Felicia

Felicia Caponigri | Monday, October 10, 2011

There often seems no end, dear fellow fashionistas, to the mountain of misunderstanding we lovers of fashion face. This is a problem of grandiose proportions that needs our immediate attention.


Often, our love of fashion is ridiculed and taken entirely out of context, leading to descriptive labels applied to both men and women such as “shallow,” “insecure,” “stuck up,” “narcissist” and, the one we women loathe most of all, “high maintenance.”


It’s time we were clear about what it really means to pay attention to and love fashion. The aforementioned labels only address the perceived (often incorrectly) results of a love of fashion, not the impetus for that love. A desire to dress with an eye towards trends and general chicness, paying attention to the detail of the color palette, fit and the overall message of one’s ensemble indicate not an obsession with one’s self or feelings of inadequacy without the proper outfit, but rather a desire to visually communicate with the rest of the world and to participate in a shared set of ideas and messages.


When Coco Chanel began to use jersey as a fabric, she wasn’t thinking about the fame it would bring her. She wanted to wear something more comfortable in which she felt she could design and think better. Likewise, when a fashionista takes longer to do her hair, make-up and pick out an outfit for her everyday commitments, she is not worried about what other people will think. Rather, she is selecting items that will amplify her natural strength and confidence to attain the goals she has set for herself. She is no different from the engineer who slaves over his drawing board, the architect who checks that last foundation plan or the entrepreneur who revises his business strategy.


We all strive towards worthy goals our methods are simply different. Perhaps the fashionista is so misunderstood because her method is simply more visual than all the rest, more public, more flamboyantly fabulous. Now, what item embodies this misunderstood glamour more than any other? Why, anything leopard of course!


Leopard is the one pattern that screams strength and confidence. Like our primitive ancestors who clothed themselves in the animal skins of yore for protection against the elements, leopard is best used as an added confidence boost in the face of life’s uncertain academic weather midterms, long study sessions, evening entertainments, job interviews, and let’s not forget those pesky “high maintenance,” label-dropping naysayers.


The key to this pattern is to not wear it from head to toe, but to instead incorporate it into a monochromatic ensemble. Wearing black pants and a black t-shirt? Tie a leopard scarf as a belt, wear a leopard sweater or even leopard shoes.

Today, designers have been using leopard in more than just the traditional pattern, incorporating cream, red and sometimes even blue to the mix. This simply makes leopard all the more versatile.


A word to the wise: Matching different leopard patterns is not for the faint of heart. As with gold accessories, think of yourself as a canvas. Frame yourself with touches of leopard and stick to the same overall color scheme, whether that’s black, brown and camel or cream, black and red. Men, I suggest you let the ladies be the leaders of the pack on this one. “High Maintenance” never looked this good.


Contact Felicia Caponigri at fcaponig@nd.edu.

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