Today, we begin a style column. If you are hoping for advice on creating a more stylish and fashionable you, here are my three cardinal rules:
1. Find a style that works for you and stick to it. Make this look an extension of yourself. Maybe, if you lack imagination, are from New York, or are Johnny Cash, you wear only black. Perhaps you are never seen without a barrage of metallic sequins hanging from you. Or maybe you always rock a psychedelic hat or a big swanky ascot. Whatever. The possibilities are endless.
2. Never become a slave to trends. Yes, trends can be wonderful if they work with your look and you make them your own. But more often, they can be dreadful. Iris Apfel, style darling, once said, “A trend can be a wonderful thing if it works for you. But if it doesn't, it's useless, and you can look freaky.” I agree. Von Dutch caps, anyone? Remember Ed Hardy? Need I say more?
3. There are no rules. Style is about making clothes work for you. Do whatever you want. Wear white in November and florals in January. Mix stripes and plaids. Wear Gucci with Goodwill. Just be yourself. No one’s true self involves sweat suits.
These are all of my rules. If you would like more advice on how to dress yourself, perhaps you should ask your mother why you have not yet mastered this skill. So then, you ask, if I'm not going to tell you to wear chunky bangles or tweedy accent pieces this November, what will I write about in this column?
Before I answer, allow me to expand on what I won’t be talking about. I won’t be writing about the fashion happenings and hot looks on the runways of New York and London and Paris and Milan. If you’ve been paying any sort of attention, you know that I think obsessing over trends is tasteless. More practically, however, we are not in New York or London or Paris or Milan. We are in Brunswick, Maine, shrouded by pine trees. Diane Von Furstenberg is, at best, 348 miles away (assuming that, when in New York, she never leaves her penthouse in lower Manhattan—you wouldn’t either if you had that swanky pad). It makes little sense for me to write about Emma Watson’s latest graceful nip-slip because I wasn’t there, you know I wasn’t there, and surely you can read about it (as I will) elsewhere.
So then, we’ll be talking about style, as I see it, here at Bowdoin. And while there are no rules to fashion, there are devastating opinions, and I get to express mine here—it is, after all, my column. And, though I have my misgivings, we will be looking at trends. We’ll talk about whom they might work for, and how to avoid looking freaky, unless that’s what you’re going for. Let’s start with a trend that I think, to paraphrase Ms. Apfel, is freaky for everyone, and all together useless.
It first crawled onto campus at the start of the year, like that tireless stomach virus or the STDs we refuse to keep to ourselves. And just when I think we’ve beaten it, that the cold weather has killed it, it appears once more (or twice or three times—this fad seems to travel in packs). Yes, I am talking about the recent vogue for bare feet. Whether this shunning of shoes, both outdoors and in, was taken from Italian grape stompers, dirty hippies at Woodstock, or some trendsetting toddler in its BabyBjorn, it is deeply disturbing on college students. Not only is this trend useless but it's also mightily unsanitary and risky, especially as cold weather sets it. I can appreciate a good free-footed romp at the beach, but the only other places I can condone exposed toes is in bed and in the shower (though unless you enjoy staph infections, I don’t recommend this in your dorm).
And besides, shoes are so much fun. Shoes, like all clothing, express who you are and who you want to be. The only thing your bare feet can express is fungus, hammertoes, and the infrequency with which you bathe. Shoes are so lovely: from Birkenstocks to Blahniks, Timberlands to Louboutins, shoes allow you to announce your true self like almost no other single piece of clothing. Are you practical in your Keen clogs or, um, optimistic in your J. Crew wedges (attempting the stairs to Crack basement)? Are you smart or sexy? Grounded or flighty? You can be any of these and so much more with just a quick change of footwear! So embrace shoes—and you’ve no excuse now that Zappos has an iPhone App and free shipping both ways. But more important than all the fantastic style opportunities just a tiptoe away, I (and I’m surely not alone) no longer wish to see your crusty piggies traipsing through Thorne at dinnertime.
With that, we’re off to an exciting adventure in style. We may be 348 miles from the clacking of Anna Wintour’s pumps in the Garment District, yes, but we are marching to our own marvelous fashion beat. Marching, mind you, with close-toed shoes.
Evan Horwitz is a member of the Class of 2015.