WWD, the publication for fashion’s most devout followers, occasionally takes time away from covering Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez to check up on college fashion. Earlier this year, it ranked the Big Ten universities for style. Michigan topped the list at No. 1 (note: No. 1 only in the Big Ten. The University didn’t crack the magazine’s 2003 nationwide list). Here’s what the magazine said:
“Aoberliberal Ann Arbor ensures that there’s a motley crew of fashionable types available – from the label-heavy out-of-staters to scenesters, punks, hippies and, yes, Mods – and the retail scene here is equally eclectic – After all, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.”
OK, most of this is true. Fashion diversity is Ann Arbor’s most redeeming characteristic. “Aoberliberal” is questionable, especially since two recent activist demonstrations – one against Coke and the other against hate crimes – failed to materialize because nobody showed up. Aober-rich and apathetic would be more accurate.
But do we really have “it” to flaunt? I’m taking the campus head on with what needs to go, what needs to stay and what we need more of:
Big sunglasses: Flaunt it. Even in winter – especially in winter. This was an easy trend to pick up on – it started years ago. It will end soon, so bust out while you can. Sure, it’s easy to bash sorostitutes for their homogenized style, but nothing is demode about huge Chanel sunglasses the size of a small infant. It makes the right statement: “I don’t see. I am seen.”
Uggs: Cut them up and use them as compost. I’m sorry, ladies. It’s over. (Men, for reasons explained next, are OK). New York and Paris have moved on to better boots: brown leather mid-calf and black knee-high flats seem to be popular. It’s time for a shoe with some sophistication. Back home in New Jersey this Thanksgiving, I was not so shocked to see high school girls wearing the same clothes as University students (e.g. Uggs). This is wrong. Let’s grow up. Uggs are comfortable, you say? So are Birkenstocks, but those aren’t acceptable on Park Avenue, are they? I think you know the answer.
Androgyny: A timeless classic. Style should show wit, and, in certain circumstances, dissonance. Women in blazers and ties, men in moon boots and women’s jeans – all are fair game. Be careful, though; The line between camp and crass is a fine one.
North Face: This company insists on staying in business, and I think the University supplies half of their annual revenue. It’s dull, and it’s everywhere. I understand; the jackets are warm. But if I can survive this Artic winter in wool and cashmere – like civilized people do – you can too.
Single-breasted pea coats: I don’t know why but I just hate them. They are, in general, just unshapely, as if the jacket is hanging on a coat rack instead of on a human body.
Skater Shoes: I think I have a kind of fetishistic affinity for these shoes. Perhaps it’s because they are so obviously clunky that, when worn with well-fitted jeans, they become spunky.
Big ass scarves: You know my stance on this. Size matters (as do pattern and color, mind you). The bigger, the bolder, the better.
Sweatpants, sweatshirts: The only thing that should be “sweaty” is a man.
Ski jackets: No.
Tiny designer bags with big Jansport backpacks: Have you ever seen this? Someone walking along with a backpack filled with books, and then a tiny Vuitton purse? No! How unsophisticated, shameless and peculiar. What is the message here? “Just because I have to study doesn’t mean I can’t buy nice things?” Buy a large bag that looks good and kill two birds with one stone. And on that note –
Backpacks: Personal peeve, and I know I’m dissing 75 percent of the campus with this one. But as college students, we are adults, and adults do not carry backpacks. It reeks of high school. Would an editor at a hot magazine carry a backpack? How about an investment banker? A professor? I’m cool with messenger bags, totes, handbags, boho bags, garbage bags, shoulder bags, gym bags, shopping bags. Anything not seen on your average 13-year-old. There are a lot of options out there.
Maize and blue: I can’t change the fact that our school colors are interminably out-of-style. Maize and blue? Who thought of that? But I do have some school spirit, so I cannot dismiss them completely. Here is my suggestion: accessorize the maize and blue. I went to my first football game a couple weeks ago (Indiana), and I was appalled. Not by the maize and blue, but by how few people took the opportunity to creatively dress up the school uniform. Why not show off your new blazer, sunglasses or belt by throwing it over the same colors everyone is wearing? That way it gets noticed.
Aymar likes to wear sweatpants and a sweatshirt, with Uggs and a North Face jacket, carrying a maize and blue backpack with a tiny Coach purse. He can be reached at email@example.com.