On Figuring Out Fashion at NYU
Apr 30, 2018
Fashion and I have a complicated and mostly contentious past, but before coming to NYU, I thought I had finally figured out to how dress myself somewhat well. However, it became very clear to me on my first day here that I’m still a lost cause in a cold and confusing world of designer brands, makeup fads and the long list of fashion do’s and don’ts (I’ve spent a lot more time in the don’t category than I would like to admit).
I didn’t know Gucci even made sneakers until I noticed that half of my Cultural Foundations class was wearing them on the first day of class. I thought Louis Vuitton and Louboutin were the same thing until I was laughed at and corrected by my new, fashion literate friends. I was told by the same friends that my Fjallraven backpack went out of style in 2016. I had never seen so many men wearing jewelry and chelsea boots. Of course, I had no idea what Glossier was.
One of my good friends, a tell-it-like-it-is type who happens to be particularly style savvy has not minced words in giving me fashion feedback. She once told me I looked like a Peanuts gang character when I wore a particularly boxy Brandy Melville T-shirt my mom had given me as a Hanukkah present. Another time she called me a “frat-boy” because of a certain sweatshirt and flannel combination.
The year is almost over, and with the help of some properly fitting jeans, a real winter coat and some creativity I can say my fashion sense has slightly improved. But as I find myself caught in the trend and gravitating closer to the fashion orbit, I can’t help but ask myself, is NYU’s fashion culture extra or awesome?
While there are certainly some examples of true superfluousness (a certain, particularly expensive looking boy in my Social Foundations class comes to mind), I think NYU’s fashion forwardness speaks to the drive and creativity of the students. The friends I have made and people I have met here —
particularly those with good style— are some of the most ambitious, interesting and just plain cool people I know. Sure, up-to-date style is a luxury — NYU students are, on average, richer than most — but style can also be a way to show personality and maturity. People who dress well seem to really have their sh-t together.
As for me, I’ll probably never own anything by Balenciaga, but my NYU peers have inspired me to want to up the ante on the wardrobe front. This summer, maybe I’ll actually take the time to find some nice tank tops — or, dare I say, dresses — and give the Peppermint Patty getup a rest. And who knows, maybe next winter I won’t wear the same pair of Doc Martens every single day. Maybe just every other.
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A version of this appeared in the Monday, April 30 print edition. Email Alison Zimmerman at [email protected].