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Keep Calm and Style On

Jes Christian | Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Friday marked the closing of the ever-so-long-awaited first week of school. On that day, I woke up well rested to the sounds of birds chirping and without the help of the unwelcomed marimba chimes of my iPhone alarm. Once I managed to lazily maneuver out of my loft, I began to consider the positive prospect of a day left entirely unscheduled, minus a single hour-long Spanish class standing in my way. With plenty of time to spare before I had to leave my room, I began searching through my closet for an outfit as great as the day before me. I pieced together a look of bright colors, beautiful patterns and feminine cuts. I accessorized with a thin pair of silver hoop earrings, salmon shades and a pair of beaded bohemian sandals. I threw in a touch of confidence before I grabbed my acid-washed denim backpack and headed out the door.

As I walked across campus towards Debartolo and casually scrolled through recent posts on Instagram, I glanced up to meet the gaze of an anonymous passerby. The student looked away, and we continued walking our separate ways. I resumed my Instagram investigation, but when a turn was fast approaching, I looked up again only to catch another individual watching me. I smiled, and she smiled back before the large crowd of students leaving their morning classes hid her from my line of vision.

Perplexed, I let the peculiarity of the reoccurring incident bounce around in the back of my mind throughout my one class. When the class was finally through, I reevaluated the series of events, catching a few more looks on my way down the steps. As I walked through the doors, I saw my friends calling me and went over to join them. Immediately, I was bombarded with a series of questions about why I was dressed so nicely and who I was trying to entice. When I began thinking of a response, the cause of all the stares dawned on me – I looked particularly nice that day.

I laughed and told my friends that I wasn’t trying to look good for anything or anyone in particular, but I just felt like looking nice. They rolled their eyes and laughed in disbelief, and as we began walking, a huge question popped into my head that left me even more puzzled – why is it that looking particularly nice sets one apart from the normal Notre Dame collegiate crowd? Why do I have to be heading somewhere special in order to look classy on campus?

After pondering these questions for a couple of days, I realized that the regularity of this sort of reaction is a result of a particular fashion culture that has been established here at ND. Somewhere between the single-digit, fashion-forbidding winter temps and the heavily sports-oriented culture on campus, many students have gradually let style to fall by the wayside, allowing for casual clothing to become the University’s dominant form of fashion. Even more importantly, many of us have allowed the dominance of casual clothing to cause us to focus a significantly higher amount of attention on well-dressed individuals. This focus on the fashionable minority undoubtedly drives those afraid of being over-observed away from pushing the envelope and dressing their best.

As someone who finds a person’s expression of distinctive style to be almost as telling, if not more so, than speech itself, I find this to be somewhat concerning. I want my fellow classmates to feel free to wear what they want to wear because a fashionably diverse campus is a campus that can make a colorful statement without saying a word. And that’s what fashion is all about.

Therefore, I propose the following challenge for students of this grand university we know so well. Do not allow a pre-established culture of casual style to hinder your desire to dress nicely. If you want to look good, then choose to look good. If you want to wear the dress but are leaning towards the safe bet of a T-shirt and shorts, wear the dress. If you want to wear the combat boots but are hesitant because you’ve spent your life in Jordans, wear the boots. I believe this campus is full of a wide variety of fashionable students with the potential to dress to impress all the time. I understand most students here on campus and around the world do not have Visa Black Cards. They are not celebrities, and Versace and Alexander McQueen are not tossing free designer collections their way. I am not implying we should all be dropping a pretty penny for a new closet. I am pushing students to take a stand, dust off those standout pieces in the back of the closet and help make looking good an everyday campus norm. I am pushing students to venture into that store full of striking clothes they love but don’t think they can pull off to hit the mall, buy their favorite pieces and dare to be bold. If you’re hesitant to wear what you want to wear, then you’re hesitant to be who you want to be. Don’t hold back. Branch out and dress to impress yourself. You’ll be shocked at who else is impressed.

Contact Jes Christian at jchrist7@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Observer.

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Keep Calm and Style On

Jes Christian | Friday, August 24, 2012

Though summer is coming to a close, the start of school does not mark the season’s final hoorah! Summer styles are still out and in full effect all around campus. I’ve tracked down a few Notre Dame students who are rocking some of summer’s biggest trends. Here’s the breakdown on why these trends are so hot, why they work so well for your fellow Irish classmates, and how to transform them so that they’ll work for you!

Aztec
Action
Name: Anna Lei
Year: Junior
Dorm: Pangborn
Anna was easily noticeable as she strolled along North Quad. Without seeing her, one might think that a mustard-colored knit hat and black combat boots would be more appropriate for a colder season. However, combined with her Aztec-inspired racerback tank top and backpack to match, each piece came together and worked well to create a standout bohemian look. Anna’s high-waist jean shorts earn a gold star as far as the trends of Summer 2012 go. High-waist shorts, skirts and pants have been taking popular clothing stores by storm since summer styles took center stage months ago. Cultural prints also had their big debut only a few seasons ago, and this summer has in no way slowed the trend down. Want to create your own “Aztec Action”-inspired look? Stop by American Apparel for a large selection of high-waist styles and Urban Outfitters for cultural prints. Want a knit hat for summer? Go for a color that’s a striking contrast to your own hair color. Blondes, try a deep brown or forest green, and brunettes and dark-haired ladies, rip a page from the book of Anna and go for a brighter yellow or blue!

Sponsor
Spirit
Name: Adam Mena
Year: Senior
Dorm: Off Campus
For you boys out there who are lost in the fashion world and need a hint of summer inspiration, take a look at this outfit that Adam has picked out. What makes this look great? Well for starters, Notre Dame is sponsored by Adidas, the popular sports brand, and so our fabulous student-athletes are constantly repping the brand almost as much as they do Notre Dame! Being a student-athlete himself, Adam has given a wonderfully classy spin to this sporty campus trend by choosing a simple black top with gold brand detailing. This sleek tee grabs our attention enough to allow for a nicely muted bottom-half of the look, as Adam is wearing some classic khaki shorts and (hold up!) what appear to be matching Adidas brand boat-sneakers! Athletic wear is an obvious summer trend for guys all over campus and beyond, but Adam takes it to another level with this clean-cut and classy look. I bet this wouldn’t have been the first thing you pictured when you thought of a “jock look,” but Adam’s giving you a good dose of jock-chic! Want a “Sponsor Spirit”-inspired look? Hit up, you guessed it, Adidas for some upscale-sporty pieces. For a pair of sensible khaki shorts, try Gap or Hollister. Also, don’t feel obligated to stick to Adam’s color scheme! It’s awesome, yes, but branch out and try something else and it could turn out great! I wouldn’t mind seeing a similar look with a little more color on campus one of these days!

Downplayed Prep
Name: Logan Renwick
Year: Junior
Dorm: Knott
There are numerous things that make Logan’s look a great summer choice for many guys, despite its slightly preppy nature. The salmon-colored shorts and crisp white polo are indeed staples of prep style, but the casual Adidas flip-flops veer off the traditional beaten path and give Logan a more relaxed and down-to-earth look. Classy black-rimmed glasses have grown to be one of the biggest eyewear trends of the year. This pair works particularly well with the other pieces of this ensemble, capping off the look with a very studious statement. Without even uttering a word, Logan shows us that he’s put together, practical and playing it cool. Want a “Downplayed Prep”-inspired look? Checkout American Eagle for the polo and shorts, Adidas or any sporting goods store for the sliders, and a local or online eyewear retailer for a pair of black-rimmed glasses.

Contrast Queen
Name: Rachel Boggs
Year: Senior
Dorm: Off Campus
Ladies and gentlemen, Rachel Boggs has arrived! Bright pants are one of the summer’s hottest trends, and in this pair of red skinny jeans, Rachel makes it easy to see why! The look is given even more of a striking pop, as it is matched with a classy ivory button-down, and yet the brown rose-buckle belt gives it a hint of sensible neutrality. Look closely at Rachel’s shoes and you can see that she’s wearing a pair of Aztec-print Toms, joining Anna on the cultural print bandwagon! Rachel’s mish-mash of earthy-toned bracelets also adds a nice and neutral touch to her standout look. Nothing, however, can truly take away from the color in this getup, and if you can pull it off as well as Rachel can, then there’s nothing wrong with that! To create your own “Contrast Queen”-inspired look, try a store like J.Crew or Polyvore for brightly colored pants, and a Forever 21 or H&M for a great selection of sheer tops. For a mix of neutral bracelets, try some fun street vendors or an Aldo near you.

Flawless Floral
Name: Sam Vassanelli
Year: Senior
Dorm: Pasquerilla West
Sam’s floral print dress is a classic summer style that never seems to get old. Flowers are a clear indication that the spring and summer seasons have arrived, and with this tropically-inspired color scheme, this dress is a perfect way for Sam to truly capitalize on the sun and fun – the season’s finest characteristics! A simple pair of black spaghetti-strap sandals is a perfect way to offset this attention-grabbing garment. Messy buns have also become an ever-growing trend in the world of hair and are great for an effortless-chic look. The culmination of these three pieces results in a look that says, “I’m doing the most without doing the most, and I look great doing it!” Sam indeed looks great, and if you’re looking for a similar floral style then try an online shop like Modcloth or Lulu’s. For sandals like hers, try a DSW or Nordstrom’s.

Summer may be winding down, but you still have time to end it right with some of these great summer trends! Try them out, and if you commit to the look, then you can’t lose!