With the icy winds of November settling in on the campus of MSU, the time has come to retire the miniskirts, tank tops and yes, the flip flops, and answer the call of adaptation. A few simple tips and tricks can help you stay warm, look hot and leave your pockets with that less-than-burning feeling. This is your 100 percent style-guru-free guide to turning the chilly walk down Farm Lane into your own personal catwalk (sorry – stilettos not included).
[blouse] The easiest way to avoid wandering into the abyss of apparel clichés this season is to remember one simple rule: don’t be a cookie-cutter type Barbie doll; instead, be a D.O.L.L.
The D.O.L.L. rule serves as a mechanism for memorizing four basic guidelines:
D – dress to fit your body
When dressing to fit your body, think comfort. Not only does a pair of painted-on jeans or that “vintage” t-shirt from sixth grade make for some unflattering lines, it just looks uncomfortable, and probably is. Clean lines are a key element of fashion in any weather. Remember neat lines are slimming, making you stand out for all the right reasons.
O – outfit yourself for success
Always dress for success. Especially in college, there are possible connections everywhere, and often the key to success is being remembered. When it comes to class, no one should be dressed for a night at Rick’s during their biology lab, so retire the high heels and low-cut tops during study hours. Try substituting more professional elements instead. Always look fresh, even if that shower is still hours away, and remember that being comfortable in an 8 a.m. class does not have to translate into wrinkled or barely-there pajamas.
L – leave some things to the imagination
Remember that no outfit in winter should rival a Victoria’s Secret commercial. The fashion of 2006 focused on the less-is-more rule, at least when it comes to skin. Save the Wonder Bras for that owl-themed restaurant and think chic. A classy, body-skimming top layered under a v-neck draws the eye to a line similar to a plunging bar-top, but doesn’t expose everything. Class never goes out of style, especially when you’re attending one.
L – let your personality show through.
Always let your personality be the key to your look. The important thing to remember when breezing through any fashion magazine is that you don’t need a whole new wardrobe to get the look you want, and that any person can become a trendsetter when they don’t get lost in the fads. All of the above looks can be personalized for any individual body type and style and are by no means fashion dogma. A strong personality will always be the best accessory.
No matter how much money is spent, every fashion diva will have an “I have nothing to wear” episode every now and then. To keep the distress to a minimum, look to this season’s most popular styles as a guide. Before heading to the mall in those old sweats, check out what may already be lurking in your closet to create these eye-catching looks:
Layer Me Lovely
Layering is a trend that came on the scene a of couple years ago, but is finding new definition this winter. “You start seeing people being more expressive,” said James Ohngren, manger of the East Lansing American Apparel. During this time of year their customers often layer a hoodie under a puff vest, he said.
[layer]Velour is also a big seller for American Apparel during the winter months. “Layering” no longer just means two cotton tank tops and a cropped sweater. Instead, this hot trend focuses on combining the unexpected.
The ever-popular leggings serve as a great layering tool, but remember to keep them under clothes – while they may be labeled opaque, with the right beam of light even black leggings become a peep show. Keep them under dresses, skirts, even shorts for a great accent that creates a flattering shape for your legs.
“They remind me of elementary school,” math junior Colleen Birkenhauer said, “I think they look ‘80s.”
Complete the look this winter by wearing them under an oversized sweater or tunic.
Try layering a dress over a long-sleeve top with a sweater. Put it over some jeans tucked into boots, drape a scarf around the neck, and the look is complete. While the look doesn’t have to match perfectly, keep the use of bold patterns to one item, pulling colors from it for additional pieces. When done right, layering flatters the body.
“I like layering, I think it makes people look skinny,” advertising freshman Sara Porcari said. Whether the result is simple or complex, keep this tip in mind: when layering, look for pieces in lighter fabrics, saving the heavier ones for a jacket or sweater – otherwise you may start to look bulky, not to mention be sitting through your class in a personal sauna.
Accessories can be a nice way to layer, as well. Necklaces of similar colors and varying lengths are perfect for layering, but please, keep it to a minimum. Three is the magic number (or so says Blind Melon and Schoolhouse Rock.)
While silver still remains the favored metal of generations X and Y, gold is making a major comeback for accessories. Simple gold chains are perfect for layering.[bling2]
Necklaces have also latched onto the oversized trend. Stores ranging from Express to American Eagle to Forever 21 are selling extra-long chains with basic ornaments such as a wing or heart locket. Beads have also gotten a makeover. Strands of solid beads can also be layered, but leaving them alone, or doubling them around the neck can be boring. Instead, look for necklaces with odd and varying beads. The hottest necklaces have all sorts of decorations hanging from them along with beads. Unique necklaces can be found in your mom’s jewelry box or at a local thrift store.
Oversized earrings in bright colors are adorning lobes this season, but when in doubt, colored stone studs or pearls are a perfect, chic alternative.
Be cautious when utilizing the fake “bling bling” trend that has gripped accessory retailers from Claire’s to Target for the past few years. A piece or two makes for a striking element or touch of class. Add too many, and you might end up looking like you just wanted out of JLo’s “My Love Don’t Cost A Thing” video.
The Boy’s Club
Structure is the sure way to add class to any outfit. A highly structured piece of clothing highlights the curves and makes for clean lines. Just make sure it skims the body. Blazers with Napoleon-era elements, such as double-breasting or decorative buttons, provide an androgynous effect, without looking too manly. Try a cropped one for a feminine touch. They can be worn over a vintage t-shirt from the Scavenger Hunt on Grand River Avenue for a casual daytime look, and then be paired with a button-up blouse from either The Gap or The Limited for a more professional style. Try adding a vest over a simple solid-colored t-shirt for an easy transition from day to date.
“I like fitted jackets with up-turned collars-they are a mix of military with a renaissance vibe. I would probably wear it [a blazer] with a spaghetti-strap tank, layered necklaces and then jeans or khakis. It looks professional mixed with casual, and it is a nice way to mix up your wardrobe,” said journalism freshman Allison Ribble.
Structure is also found below the belt this winter. Trousers and suspenders are making their way back to the racks. Wide-leg trousers flatter all body types and can be found in a variety of patterns and textures including plaid and tweed. A basic leather belt in brown or black polishes the look. Kate Moss’s tiny waist was recently adorned with a classic studded belt, which is making a comeback in proportions larger than the waist size.
Couture Goes Supersize
Oversized clothing is making its way into a trend once reserved for accessories. This look, made famous by the “rich bum” looks of Mary-Kate Olsen and Nicole Richie is no longer a fad for heroine-chic runway models. This look combines the classic \’80s shapes in oversized sweaters that nearly hit the knees and belts to hold it all on, along with the flowing fabrics of \’90s grunge. “I think right now the typical look is short skirts with legwarmers, tights and knee socks with boots… The look is bulky on top and smaller on the bottom,” Matt Cochrane, manager of the East Lansing Urban Outfitters, said. A staple in this look is a bulky sweater. They are available for all budgets in the mall, but duck into a thrift store first – you are sure to find one there.
“I think sweater vests are really cute,” said general management freshman Claire Chasco. “Long tops over leggings are really stylish. Leggings and jean skirts are overdone.”
For more drama on top, try a tunic top, which are typically long and shapeless, or flowing blouse with Victorian elements such as ruffled collars or bows. However, be mindful not to get lost in a sea of fabric.
“Make sure your clothes look neat – it gives an overall good appearance,” said Ribble.
Oversized items look best when balanced with something small. Place a belt high on the waist to create definition through a tunic top or dress. Try a skinny one to highlight a small waist, or if you feel like you are beginning to drown in cloth. A great pair of tailored leather boots with buckles or cuffs completes the line. Boots with a stacked heel are also popular. The heel is literally pieces of wood “stacked” on one another and then shaped.
[skinny]Classic looks are bringing a sense of old world Hollywood back to the average shopping mall. These looks focus on simple structures and patterns, leaving a clean and timeless look that can be done up a dozen different ways. The key item for this look: slim fitting or “skinny” jeans and pants.
Physician’s assistant sophomore Stefanie Sellenraad is a fan of this look. “I like to wear a zip-up track jacket with ‘spaghetti’ (skinny) jeans and Sperry’s (a nautical, loafer-like shoe).”
However, some students are skeptical.
“They are not flattering on anyone,” said English sophomore Starr Light. However, you can find them in more places now, at a range of prices. These pants are also perfect for tucking into boots.
“I think slouch boots are really cute,” said Chasco. “Slouch” boots, to be frank, look like the wearer didn’t pull them up all the way. They come in many colors, including bright metallic, and are reminiscent of a certain pirate movie we all love. And the fashion world turns a 180, as changing out tall stilettos and strappy sandals for flats has become a popular choice. Flats are available in all colors and shapes from pointy to ballerina to zebra striped. They look best with cropped slacks or leggings.
For back to the \’50s style, a basic cardigan or slimming pencil skirt provide that feel. To “top off” this outfit, a headband is a fail-proof finish. “I like headbands, they make a ponytail look cute,” said Sellenraad.
Can We Have a Little Function?
When dressing for winter this year, one word should be the deciding factor between the flats or heels, skirt or pants, tank top or sweater: functionality. All too often do we forget to imagine sitting in our choices all day long. Don’t be set up for discomfort, or get stuck in the cold. The basic items are easy to find, and will keep you cozy this season. But remember to inject a little “you” into the equation, so you don’t become a cliché.
“The Uggs really bother me – I know it is necessary because there is snow. It gets really old because you see everyone in the Northface and Uggs and leggings,” said Ribble, “When everyone dresses the same way it looks bad.”
Birkenhauer recommends a good sweatshirt as a winter fashion staple, while Light suggests a warm scarf. As for individuality, Barbie may have been a childhood icon, but remember, she had one empty head. Shatter the public mold this season, because every D.O.L.L. needs to come out of its box sometime.