348 and Maine street Never have I heather: J. Crew colors
348 and Maine street Survivies fashion edition: check yourself
348 and Maine street Nicer weather is no excuse for jorts
348 and Maine street Don’t forget it: the survivies style guide
348 and Maine street When layering for cold weather, denim doesn't work
348 and Maine street: Final thoughts: style advice for your wardrobe and your life
This is it, kids. I have nothing all that clever to say to you underclassmen as you greet the summer, or to us seniors as we face the abyss. There is the temptation to use my space here to say something important and profound, but I’ll try not to.
The only thing I have to say, really, my final piece of style advice, after these years of tremendously dubious pieces of style advice, is this: Make an effort, but don’t worry too much.
It sounds like I’m trying to confer upon you some advice for life more than advice for style. Maybe I am. Maybe they’re the same thing.
I’ve missed too many things worrying about how I look. Don’t do that to yourself. If you have time left at this place, really be here with the people around you—despite its flaws, Bowdoin can be truly extraordinary. If you’re about to go into the world, there’s too much else that matters more than small vanities.
And for all of us, I have hopes. Before you stop reading as I veer dangerously close to preaching, know that these are very small, very modest style hopes. Here is what I hope for your style:
I hope you dress in colors. I hope your clothes are too loud. I hope you dress in black. I hope your clothes are the coolest.
I hope you wear an astronaut suit in space. I hope you wear a scuba suit deep in the sea. I hope you get a dramatic haircut.
I hope you don’t go broke spending money on clothes. I hope you buy yourself a stupidly extravagant accessory for no reason. I hope you buy something for an unbelievable sale price.I hope you are comfortable in your clothes. I hope you realize that comfort is not always everything. I hope you push the boundaries of your style. I hope you try things on before you reject them.
I hope you own a pair of shoes that make you feel invincible. I hope you own a pair of sunglasses that let you be invisible. I hope you dance in an enormous tutu. I hope you dress up for a grand ball.
I hope you never wear shorts to work. I hope you underdress obscenely for a casual Friday. I hope Bill Cunningham photographs you. I hope Anna Wintour declares you a style icon. I hope there’s an exhibit about you at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
I hope you have to unbutton your pants after an extraordinary meal. I hope you wear a fantastic hat on a train. I hope you wear a uniform that doesn’t belong to you.
I hope you change 12 times in one day. I hope you wear the same thing for a week straight. I hope you try hard to pull something off and fail miserably. I hope you pull something off you never thought you could.
I hope you wear something that saves your life. I hope you wear something that nearly kills you. I hope you offend everyone with something you wear. I hope you die wearing something you love.
I hope you have a signature style. I hope your clothes can take you anywhere. I hope you ruin your favorite outfit because you had too much fun in it. I hope your clothes become a record of your life.
I hope you wash your clothes regularly. I hope you own something you never wash. I hope you take something from the dry cleaners that isn’t yours and keep it.
I hope these things for myself, too. Let’s hope we can have everything we hope for. Thanks for reading.
348 and Maine street: Survivies fashion edition: check yourself
I have a style-themed Ivies drinking game for you.
Drink every time you see someone wearing: jorts, Ray-Bans, Croakies, anything neon, a romper, a sundress, flash tats, a bro tank, a douchey visor, a backwards hat, Chubbies, anything with an American flag, a bandana, multiple pairs of cheap sunglasses on one head, a vintage flannel shirt tied around a waist, an ironic T-shirt, tie-dye, or a beer helmet. Just kidding. Don’t play this game. You will die.
Here’s a better Ivies drinking game. It’s like Where’s Waldo meets the Fashion Police meets stumbling around a field like Amy Winehouse on an average Tuesday (R.I.P., Amy. I’m still not over it).
Drink if you see any of these things: a suit, a coat of armor, a full length tutu, a boa, a boa constrictor á la Britney circa 2001, pasties á la Lil Kim circa 1999, anything Madonna in her current pantless incarnation would wear, assless chaps, or Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols wearing something colorful. These are things I have never seen at Ivies. Any and all of them would be thrilling. So, actually, don’t take a drink if you see one. Instead, call me immediately and I’ll buy you a bottle of Veuve.
That’s enough about drinking games. You’ll get enough of that in the next week. What you won’t get are some glorious style rules to make your Ivies your most shocking yet. So here, without further ado, collected over many years and despite many lost brain cells, are my Ivies 2015 Rules:
1. Don’t wear anything you’re not prepared to lose.
2. Don’t wear anything that isn’t easy to take off and put back on. (Hey, you never know what’s in store under the bleachers.)
3. Don’t wear anything that won’t give a little as you bloat. (Three to six days of constant drinking does spectacular things to the human body.)
4. Don’t wear anything that will be uncomfortable to spontaneously and uncontrollably nap in.
5. Don’t wear anything you’re not prepared to have contaminated by any of the following: cheap beer, cheaper boxed wine, champagne showers, impossibly sticky vodka mixed drinks in “inconspicuous” water bottles, impossibly pungent whiskey in “inconspicuous” flasks, unseemly amounts of Malibu and Kalhua and fruit punch, inexplicable puddles of mud, extra-staining grass, ketchup, mustard, relish, ice cream, pizza grease, a stray piece of chicken, chili dog drippings, body paint, cigarette smoke, cigarette burns, trace amounts of marijuana, tracer amounts of coke, traciest amounts of purple drank, blood, sweat, tears, vomit, urine, feces, semen, truffle butter, and that horrifying fluid inside of glow sticks.
6. Don’t wear anything you don’t want to see in photographs for years to come.
7. Don’t wear anything you’d be embarrassed to be transported in.
8. Don’t wear anything you’d be embarrassed to be medevac-ed in.
9. Don’t wear anything you’d be embarrassed to die in.
10. Don’t wear comfortable shoes: The primary dilemma of my life is deciding whether to wear comfortable shoes. I have not yet been able to bring myself to. This is because they are uniformly ugly. My feet always hurt.
11. Don’t wear Crocs. This is an addendum to the above because a Croc enthusiast I know tells me that Crocs are more than just a comfortable shoe, but in fact a lifesaving device: It is apparently possible to eat Crocs in a pinch. I have not confirmed this as I am a fashion columnist and not a food columnist, and I cannot bear to look it up. Do not wear Crocs, do not eat your Crocs. Just no.
12. Don’t wear wool. I just don’t think it’s a good idea.
13. Don’t wear anything truly offensive, like a swastika or a full length white hood with eye holes and a pointy top.
14. Don’t wear anything explosive, like a suicide vest.
15. Don’t wear anything flammable.
16. Don’t wear anything microwavable.
17. Don’t wear anything orange.
18. Don’t wear anything flannel. Flannel is for winter. I cannot say this enough. This is a celebration of spring. I’ve have seen every variation of every flannel shirt available for sale on this planet during the past six months. I seriously do not care if lumberjacks and those assholes who make pickles and beeswax candles in Brooklyn think they are appropriate for this season. Please put away your flannel. 19. Don’t wear ruby slippers. Dorothy needs them to get home to Kansas.
20. Don’t wear a certain blue dress with a conspicuous stain. Monica needs it for her TED Talk.
21. Don’t wear a pantsuit. Hillary needs it, you guys! She has to wear a different one every day for the next 16 months!
22. Don’t wear a cape. No capes. “The Incredibles” taught me that.
23. Don’t dress up like a zombie. It’ll be redundant. See above note on the transformational effects of heavy drinking.
24. Don’t wear a backpack. YUCK. What do you think this is? A school?
25. Don’t wear a parasol. Or carry one. Or own one. There’s a better way to protect yourself from the sun. It’s called sunscreen. Unlike a parasol, it doesn’t make you look like an insane person.
26. Don’t wear anything from Lululemon. Lulu is a huge bitch and we’re in such a fight. But really, no athletic wear. And if you say the word “athleisure” to me, I will send you to President Barry Mills’ office for foul language.
27. Don’t wear anything from Dolce and Gabbana. They’re weirdly and stupidly homophobic. Seriously, they just made Elton John’s enemies list. And if you were planning on wearing Dolce and Gabbana to a filthy concert weekend, please redirect some of your disposable income my way.
28. Don’t wear a strap-on. Or maybe do. It’s up to you, but just be aware it's maybe bordering on poor taste.
29. Don’t wear anything even remotely appropriate for Karen Mills’ etiquette dinner.
30. Don’t wear anything your grandmother would approve of.
31. Don’t wear anything Lena Dunham would approve of.
32. Don’t wear anything.
348 and Maine street: You’re still you when people are watching
Someone once said—the Internet is indecisive on who said it first—that true character is who you are when no one is watching. It’s one of those clichéd sayings that people turn into posters with hip fonts and photographs of mountains. It has not yet, to my knowledge, appeared on a Hallmark card, but only because I’m not sure it’s appropriate for any occasion I can think of, even though it does belong to that general family of phrases.
It’s also a phrase that I’ve always bristled at, though I’ve never been quite sure why. I first heard it from a gregarious great aunt, whom I love very much and who amuses me very much. Over the course of a family weekend, she kept repeating a story—not without a hint of righteousness—that she had found herself in the wee hours of one morning, alone in the house, polishing her silver and china, for no reason whatsoever. Of course, in each retelling, her punch line was that you really find out who you are when no one is looking.
I remember thinking, uncomprehending of the viciousness I felt, that doesn’t make you a good person. And I feel no less bothered, still, every time I hear such sentiments. Ultimately, I feel it’s judgmental and invasive. It invites, into those moments when we are alone, into our most private moments, a policing eye that sits in the corner and wonders aloud if you’re really a good person after all. I don’t think we need that in our lives—the world, unfortunately, is judgmental enough; why should we invite that to be with us when we are alone?
Behind my preaching here is, of course, the fact that my impulse never has been and probably will never be to polish the china for no reason when I am all alone. When no one is watching, I’m not sure I always like myself. I sit there, guilty of sloth, guilty of gluttony—guilty probably of all the sins. I say to myself, over and over: this is your character, this is who you really are, and it doesn’t matter what you present to the world, because here and now is the truth—you’re no good, you’re no good at all.
But it does matter very much what we present to the world, who we are with other people, who we are when everyone is watching and there’s nowhere to hide. I think, actually, that matters more. Or it’s worth more, to me anyway.
We have our darkest, ugliest hours alone, when no one is watching—and those hours are no truer, no more indicative of who we really are, than when we get up and get dressed and go into the world. There’s no such thing, for me, as who we really are. There’s no essential and secret identity lurking beneath the surface, sneaking out in the dark. We have the power—we must—to be who we say we are, to be who we want to be, to be who we present to the world. What this has to do with personal style and self-fashioning is everything—although I’m not sure I can adequately express why. But it’s something like this: self-presentation is as important, if not more important, than who we are “inside.” Personal style can be freeing from the idea that we are who we are when no one is watching and there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re not stuck with the self we find when we are alone, that’s not the truth—there is no truth. We’re all pretending, we have the pleasure and the freedom to make it up. And while I am not sure style alone can really silence voices of judgment and eliminate the moralizing forces that police us, from within and without, it can laugh at them and give them the finger. Somehow, this sums it up: Isabella Blow wore a silver lamé dress to her suicide. I’ll leave it at that.
348 and Maine street: This awards season’s hottest accessory: perspective
It’s awards season! That means, of course, that the swanky people are getting glammed up (to mixed results) and gliding and sashaying up red carpets all across Los Angeles.
It also means that most of my day is consumed by practicing acceptance speeches in the mirror, which, by the way, is an inexhaustible exercise because there are so many kinds of speeches. Sometimes I’m totally surprised; sometimes I faint; sometimes I know I deserve it and say so (Kanye); sometimes I’m a perennial winner with an outrageously charming combination of aw-shucks and glamour (Meryl Streep).
But what does awards season, this season when it becomes commonplace to hear some famous face say nonchalantly that all she’s done today is gotten dressed and how she’s been doing her hair since three Tuesdays ago, mean to us? We aren’t gliding up red carpets, but stomping through the snow.
All day, when I’m not thanking the Academy, I hear Michael Caine from “Miss Congeniality” in my head saying, “Oh my God, I haven’t seen a walk like that since ‘Jurassic Park.’”
We don’t have all day to get ready for the world to see us, but have to get up and get out and get coffee and get to class. As for hair even if we had time to for Frédéric Fekkai to spend two weeks whipping our tangled tresses into some daring dos, it would be to no avail: hat hair is inevitable.
It would be easy for us to say, “Awards season has nothing to do with us. We’re not interested in dressing up; we’re just trying to survive the next blizzard.” And, to a degree, that’s right. We’re just trying to live our lives and learn things and have fun; we can’t spend much time thinking about keeping up appearances without getting seriously lost and confused.
Yet I think it is way too easy, for me anyway, to look at celebrities on various carpets and think that they look effortlessly fabulous and believe we are failing in some way if we are not ready for the red carpet or the runway or some camera that takes panoramas of our asses and toenails (or whatever goes on at E!).
I’ll readily admit that this might just be me and my delusions that I could be whisked away at any moment by Oprah in her helicopter and given some honorary award with a hefty cash prize and a movie deal and a book contract and a handsome husband.
But I think that there is a really difficult line that we straddle here between getting on with our lives and feeling like we are on display in some way. It is not unreasonable to think that on any given day, someone could take your picture and put it on the Internet.
Of course, having your photograph show up on your friend’s Instagram with 56 followers is not the same as having it show up on every pop culture website with millions of views and comments speculating what happened to your face. But it’s not entirely different, either.
It’s not fair for us, here, to put pressure on each other to always look good and beautiful and camera-ready. We don’t have glam-squads. We live here; we work here; we study here; we play here; we sleep here. Walking into the dining hall or walking into the Union should not feel like walking the red carpet. It does sometimes, and I know that’s not only me.
And yet I’ve been guilty as anyone, guiltiest probably, of saying that it’s important to put on beautiful clothes and look good. For me, that’s not necessarily a contradiction: you cannot help but feel better if you feel comfortable and confident and expressive in what you wear.
I’m sorry, but nobody is their best in sweatpants. That doesn’t mean that their best is in a suit or a dress. And that doesn’t mean that some days you wear sweatpants and some days a suit. Neither make you a better person, neither should induce shame or guilt, and I’d rather see someone dressed down who is comfortable with herself than someone dressed up who looks ill-at-ease in an itchy costume.
It’s never about what you wear; it’s how you wear it. Dress for yourself and wear what makes you feel most yourself.
For those of you who are really confused and need some serious style rules, try this: Take your worst clothes, the clothes you wouldn’t want to be caught dead in and simply give them to Goodwill or a similar charity of your choice. Or throw them away if you have no soul.
That way, the next time you feel exhausted and unable to make any effort to get dressed, you will be forced to put on something better, and will probably feel better. Or, as someone wise once said, go through your wardrobe and gather all your party clothes and get rid of everything else.
That way, life is always a party.
You still can refuse to have your picture taken, though. This is Maine and there are no glam squads and it’s cold. But also, if you’re smart, you should, like me, wear a tux or a gown under your clothes at all times in case Oprah comes to fetch you on short notice.
That’s all for now, I need to go practice my speeches.
Meaningful mustache: the messages behind cultivating facial scruff
I can think of no better time than the middle of Movember to reflect on the mustache. Using the mustache as a symbol of men’s health awareness is really kind of a brilliant marketing move, as those things go: it’s the most homegrown, hairiest and distinctive of all those wonderful ribbons for various health concerns. So in recent years, and not without historical precedent, the moustache has come to symbolize health.
But the mustache, the thing itself, means so much more to us. It will never be, nor never can be purely a statement of advocacy. The mustache is complicated.
I am a little troubled—I think only a little—with the idea that virility and hyper-masculinity (which are also tied up in the mustache) come to stand for health, as if effeminate men—or at least hairless ones—don’t deserve it. In the same way, I am troubled by the co-opting of the color pink by the breast cancer awareness movement, as if less feminine women, women who don’t care to be “pretty in pink,” are excluded in some way. I’m still conflicted, but I do think it is important to consider what else we may be saying when we consciously try to make a statement through style and self-presentation.
A wise acting teacher of mine always says that while on stage, we are communicating something with everything we do, whether or not we are trying to. The same is true for personal style: it always is saying something, saying a whole lot of complicated things, really. So we have to consider what we think we’re saying with how we groom and how we dress. Personal style is always making a statement, even if you think you’re not trying, and that statement is, in some ways, always political.
I can just hear readers grumbling, saying that it’s just facial hair, it’s not a big deal, it’s fun, it’s for a good cause. Yes, to all those things, but it’s just not that simple. Because there is, of course, one moustache that nobody talks about during Movember. It’s probably the most conspicuous and infamous mustache of the 20th century, and it is a case study in how personal style, especially the mustache, can be transfigured and transformed in its significations.
I am talking, of course, about Hitler’s mustache. It has come to stand for terror and tyranny and evil, but also can tell us much about the co-opting of style and how there is nothing inherent about the meaning of our dress and hair and mustaches: meanings accumulate culturally and historically, and we cannot ignore them.
There is nothing evil, inherently, in the Hitler mustache. Called the toothbrush mustache, the style was somewhat popular in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and was most famously sported by Charlie Chaplin. The story goes, of course, that Hitler was a great fan of Chaplin’s films and copied the look. So this mustache took a journey from minimalist aesthetic statement to hilarious comic device to symbol of evil. It did not begin as Hitler’s mustache, but it certainly became his, and only his.
Meaning accumulates and sticks. As much as I adore Charlie Chaplin, I could never grow such a mustache (even if I had the sufficient facial hair). There is an argument to be made about reclaiming the toothbrush mustache, and other styles the Nazis appropriated. We could try bringing them back and robbing them of their oppressive power, as certain words in black and gay cultures have been re-appropriated. But I’m not sure that’s possible and I’m not sure we want it to be.
We cannot scrub the histories of styles: we can consider them, we can look at them, we can even play with them, but we can never remove them.
Trendy styles, as mustaches are now, try very hard to erase any controversial meaning or politics from themselves.
That’s dangerous and irresponsible. Wear a mustache if you wish, if only for the month, but think about it. Think about it beyond the canned answer. Mindlessness about personal style is inexcusable.
P.S. I cannot write about mustaches without giving a shout-out to my dad. My father is one of the last, great wearers of a serious, un-ironic mustache. He has had it for nearly 40 years. It is universally beloved and it is never going anywhere. I often see my father in crowds where he could not possibly be, but it turns out to be just another man with a mustache. Should I be worried about face-blindness?
348 and Maine street: Dressing to look homeless is distasteful, not humorous
There was a time in my life when I spent most of my energy trying to dress like an eccentric, using clothes to exclaim my difference and announce to the world that I was special. “Pay attention to me,” my style said. “You will pay attention to me.” My wardrobe reeked of desperation, or maybe I was just strange. Maybe I still am. Some would say that I still dress wildly and weirdly. Some days, at my most insecure, I deck myself out in my loudest clothing, hiding behind the neon sign of an insanely printed shirt or a scarf made of vintage saris. We all have those days. Most of us hide at home in sweatpants; I go out and beg to be seen.
On the whole my style has tamed. My clothes are simpler, and I care less what people think. However, it’s in a much different way than I claimed before. Sometimes I worry that I’ve become too conventional, that I’ve lost my nerve and verve in dressing. But I don’t think that’s it.
For better or worse, the way we dress speaks volumes. Unfortunately, much of what it says has to do with outdated ideas about class and gender and lots of other things, and it doesn’t help that the fashion industry is really, really shitty most of the time. Sometimes it is vapid, but sometimes it is dangerous in telling us what we are supposed to look like and who we are supposed to be.
I still think that style matters—matters very much. Every day we get to wake up and ask ourselves who we want to be, who we want to present to the world. I still care. I think we all are presenting some version of ourselves to the world with our clothes, and it’s empowering to be in control of that.
In light of all this, I am distrustful of any style that pretends not to say anything or not be in control of itself. I have noticed a pretty disturbing trend at this school—and elsewhere—which I will call homeless-chic. A certain set of well-off young people dress in unwashed, mismatched, old clothes. It is a look that tries to say “I don’t care at all.” But we all know that these people spend hours at vintage stores, and hours putting these ensembles together.
It’s not only false, it’s not only ugly, it’s also kind of offensive. It strikes me as a contemporary collegiate take on slumming. Having control over your style and the way the world perceives you is admittedly a luxury. So when you have that choice, and choose to fetishize those who don’t, it is a really questionable decision.
I don't know what this look is trying to say besides, “Isn't this ironic? I'm rich, but I look poor! Isn't that funny?” No. It really is not, so cut it out. Dressing ironically will never go out of style in certain circles, but there are some things we just do not do, even ironically. One could not get away with blackface ironically. I’m not sure if this issue is that different: one does not do “homeless” ironically.
Think about the message your clothes are putting into the world. In some ways your dress will always say: “This is who I am, this is who I want to be.” I can say with certainty you do not want to be homeless. Look at your life, look at your choices.
348 and Maine street: Don’t forget it: the survivies style guide
I’ve got so much to say about dressing for Ivies that I’ve decided to make this week’s column a kind of Style Survivies—a guide for sartorial concerns of this very special last weekend in April.
Let’s start with one timeless Ivies dilemma: how to wear as little as possible without freezing to death in this icy purgatory we call Maine.
Now I could tell you to stay warm and be comfortable; that it’s not worth worrying about your outfit when you’ll be standing and dancing and prancing around outside for hours. I could tell you to bring a blanket, or that the key is lots of layers, but the truth is that at some point, no matter what, you will get cold. You’ll survive.
The next great style dilemma of Ivies is this: should you wear clothes you don’t care about, or a fancy outfit?
Here’s the thing: everybody wants to look nice—you have more fun when you feel good about how you look—but during Ivies, anything you wear is destined for disappearance or destruction. I could give you this rule of thumb: if anything you’re wearing is ruined, will that distress you for more than five minutes? If the answer is yes, put it down and pick out something else.
Because, at some point, something will spill all over you and stain your outfit. Is it purple drank? Vomit? Barbecue sauce? It could be any or all of these, but you’ll never find out; it’s a mystery that begins and ends with you screaming, “What the fuck is all over me?”
But if you’re just wearing old clothes (or if you’re drunk enough), this panic should subside in seconds.
Also, any removable item of clothing—which at Ivies is almost everything—is likely to get lost. If you realize something’s gone within an hour of losing it, and you spend anywhere from 15-75 minutes retracing your steps, then you’ve still got a chance, of seeing it again. If you haven’t seen it in hours, or it is a pair of sunglasses, odds are you’ve lost it to the Ivies abyss.
No one likes losing things, but it’d be a shame to let it ruin your day. Very few people like stains either, but I personally think they add character and individuality to any outfit.
I cannot overstate this however: sunglasses are the most likely thing to go missing. So even though croakies usually strike me as something that should only be worn by middle-aged whitewater rafting guides, this weekend I might revise that stance.
Because no matter what, at some point, the sun will duck behind a cloud—maybe for minutes, maybe for hours—and you will want to take your sunglasses off your face. And that is how you’ll lose them.
“Should I wear a hat to Ivies?” you may ask, “And if so, what kind?” I could tell you that maybe you should wear a hat, and, really, it could be any kind from sombrero to fez. But remember: at some point, you will want nothing more to do with your carefully-chosen chapeau, and, having no where to put it (see above about things getting lost).
I could advise you on Ivies footwear. Is it time for some fun spring sneakers? The season opener for Sperrys? Warm enough for sandals? Or should you stick with those boots you’ve been clomping around in all winter? There are pros and cons to all these approaches, weather being as variable as it is. No matter what, at some point you will probably decide you wore the wrong shoes. But as long as you can dance and frolic in them, you’re good.
I could tell you that the most important Ivies accessory is not your hat or your sunglasses, but the tricked-out water bottle you’ll use to stay, um, hydrated. And I could beg you not to put any drinks with milk in it, because you will regret it, and whomever you spill it all over will probably kill you.
I could tell you all these things, but I won’t. Because for once, I don’t care.
It’s Ivies. Just have a good time and do whatever you want. Ivies is a time to take risks (with your style) because you can play them off as drunken jokes. Plus, very few people will remember. Happy Ivies.
348 and Maine street: With spring in your step: dressing for April showers
And then, suddenly, spring was upon us. It happened without warning while you were sleeping, like Lindsay and Oprah’s friendship or Kimye’s Vogue cover.There seems to be some confusion as to what spring is. Perhaps it is easier to say what spring is not: It is not winter and it is not summer. Shocking, I know, but I have it on good authority from scientists and my kindergarten teacher that spring is, in fact, it’s own season.
I thought this was common knowledge, but it turns out, like the whereabouts of Amanda Bynes or the Malaysia Airlines flight (my theory is that she hijacked it), spring is unclear.
It seems, thanks to global warming toying with our seasons like Blue Ivy plays with her Bugattis, we’ve forgotten what spring is. Well it’s time spring got the respect it deserves.
What spring is not is wearing the same clothes you’ve been wearing all winter, only fewer of them.
Flannel, for example, is strictly a winter affair, and just because you can now wear it without a coat does not mean you should. In fact, you shouldn’t.
The same goes for your bulky winter sweaters, your down vests and your fleece-lined pants. There is a time and place for all these things. But that time is not now and the place is not here.
A word on shoes: I appreciate that spring is a particularly tricky time for dressing your feet. Puddles abound and navigating your way to class without falling into one is a treacherous game. But this does not mean you should continue to wear your winter boots.
We know that Bean Boots are a horror and an assault on the senses, and that has never been more true than now.
Wear Hunters or some other rain boot if you must. It is the rainy season, and your feet are probably going to get wet. That is, they are going to get wet unless you are able to use your eyes and see the puddle coming up ahead and, imagine, avoid it.
If you can look where you’re going—any preschooler can teach you how—you can wear whatever shoes you want. Maybe something a little less clunky and a little more fun.
And then, on the other hand, we have the people who think that just because the sun is finally shining, it is suddenly and magically a day at the beach in August.
Here’s the thing: it isn’t. So take your flip flops off and go to class.
When the temperature slips above fifty, I know it is tempting for some of you—though I really can’t understand why—to wear shorts all the time, always and forever. Do not do this. You look extraordinarily foolish and overeager.
Shorts should be approached gradually and with caution, and only after the thermometer has topped 65.
But if you must wear shorts, please, for the love of Oprah and all that is good, keep to muted colors and pastels, and throw out the ones that fall in the same family of hues as road signs and stop lights.
And, really, I’m looking out for your health and comfort.
Dress for a summer heat wave, and you’ll freeze to death after the sun goes down.
Bundle up for a winter squall and you’ll have a heat stroke midday. The only way to survive spring is to dress appropriately for the season.
So put on your bunny suit, pick up a basket of eggs and matzoh, and hop on your merry way.
348 and Maine street: Crime of comfort: wearing sweatpants in public shows a lack of effort, still not cool
I thought we had evolved beyond this. I really thought we had. It was foolish of me to think so. But I really hoped, for a moment at least, that we could actually be civilized and prove we are better than our neanderthal ancestors or our mouse cousins or our martian counterparts. (I don’t know anything, obviously, about genetics or astronomy.)
What is this atrocity of which I speak? What is this disgrace to our species? No, it’s not that we still can lose whole airplanes in this age when our every movement is tracked and satellites can see an ant take a shit under a house.
It’s also not that the Russians still think it’s acceptable to take any piece of land that Vladimir Putin wants to use to frolic shirtless with his horses or play the so-called most dangerous game with Angela Merkel. And it is not even that anyone still can’t marry everyone else.
All these things are, of course, disgraceful.
But the real tragedy of the human race—one that plays out day after day after day—is that people wake up in this country—at this school even—and of their own free will put on sweatpants and go forth into the world.
We are, it seems, worse than the chimpanzees, for they don’t think it acceptable to drape themselves in fraying fleece and tattered terry cloth.
Yes, here and now I declare sweatpants an enemy of the people worse than Putin and Malaysia Airlines combined. Until last week, Fred Phelps was Public Enemy Number One, but now he is gone and rotting in a hell-hole with Hitler and Bermuda shorts.
If you must wear sweatpants in the comfort of your home when you have a date with Ben and Jerry and Lindsay and Oprah, I have no objection—as long as you don’t tell me about it. But as soon as you step outside, you expose the world to the horror of sweats, and you yourself become a blight on humanity.
Why can’t we be bothered to make a little effort and get dressed and care a little more about looking presentable?
Why must we be comfortable all the time? Why must we dress as if to take a nap, anywhere and anytime?
Comfort, I think, is overrated. It seems as if the only thing we care about is being comfortable. When did we lose the ability to make an effort in our clothing choices? I’m not advocating for a return to corsets, but you could at least put on some blue jeans—ones that are less than 90 percent elastane. I’m not even saying that pain is beauty. But I am saying that beauty is not sweatpants.
I don’t care if you call them yoga pants or jogging pants or lounging pantaloons. I don’t care if Kanye endorses them or claims he invented them. I don’t care if they’re for sale at Bergdorf’s or on the cover of Vogue.
Please, resist the urge to be comfortable all the time, even if Anna Wintour tells you it’s okay. Grow up and put on some real pants. And after you’ve taken off your sweatpants, take them (and your Uggs while you’re at it) and burn them.
You’ll thank me later, when Putin doesn’t confuse you for a sack of potatoes and eat you for breakfast. Instead, he’ll see you as a civilized human being. He still might eat you for breakfast, but you’ll look damn good as he does.
348 and Maine street: Polartec and puff: woes of Bowdoin’s winter wardrobe
It is tempting, I know, to give up. Between the never-ending snow squall and ever-building mountain of homework begging for your procrastination, I understand the impulse to just throw in the towel, throw on a couple of sweatshirts and give in to false allure of Bean Boots.
Yes, it is a cruel, cold world and it seems like most of each day consists of deciphering parking bans and trying not to disappear into snow banks. Yes, it is a mighty struggle to get out of bed and confront outdoor temperatures that make you question whether this blasted place is even fit for human habitation. And yes, it takes an unsettling amount of time to convince yourself that going to class or having human interaction is more important than staying home in your footie pajamas and binge-watching “House of Cards.” But I implore you, do not give up on getting dressed and looking halfway presentable.
But, I hear you protest, it’s a herculean task just to brave the elements to accomplish the essentials—attending class, getting food and coffee, and going to parties. These, you say, are the bare necessities of the collegiate experience; I can’t possibly be bothered to do any more when the earth is this frigid and I have so much work to do. I don’t have time for basic hygiene, you claim, let alone getting dressed like a self-respecting human being.
348 and Maine street: Clowning around: bright colored pants are a joke
It has come to my attention that we are in dire need of a dressing lesson. I realized we were in trouble because I have eyesight and possess a normal desire to keep my eyes functioning—which is a challenge when confronted with atrocities that make them bleed, like genocide and sequined Uggs. This lesson is called How To Avoid Looking Like a Clown.
Now, to be clear, I have nothing against clowns. In fact, as those who know me well can tell you, I briefly attended clown school. There is great fun to be had in being a clown, but there is a reason I don’t tell many people about my time behind the red nose. With Valentine’s Day upon us, this reason is even more urgent: nobody wants to fuck a clown. Or rather, no one wants to fuck someone who looks like a clown without realizing it. Professional clowns are, as a rule, very sexy and have no shortage of Valentine’s dates. That’s because they know not to take their work home with them.
If you want to look like a clown, and know you look like a clown, and understand the consequences of looking like a clown, I applaud you. You are an eccentric and will die alone. But I suspect that most of the people who I’m talking about have no idea how ridiculous they look and would not like to spend their lives, let alone next Friday, celibate and friendless. But fear not, for I am here to help!
348 and Maine street: Give it the boot: the Beans are better off without lifetime warranty
Yes, I've been away. Yes, you've missed me, like Tom Cruise misses Katie Holmes. And that’s a lot, because now he has no one to play with in his Scientology dungeon.
And did I miss you all? Well, let's just say I missed you about as much as Katie misses Tom, which is probably more than any of us realize. The steady cash flow that comes with being Tom Cruise's wife is more than sufficient to forget anything that comes up during those pesky dungeon games.
Never underestimate the effects of some good old fashioned Stockholm syndrome: you don't really understand how you got trapped in this strange place, the things you're forced to do seem bizarre at best, but pretty soon things start to seem really fun and you wonder if you've been drugged. Maybe you have, but who cares, it's a party. That's pretty much what coming back to school is like, so even if I didn't miss you, give me a week and I'll never want to leave again.
348 and Maine street: Consider the onion: layers help students reinvent back-to-school styles
Believe it or not, it’s September again. Yes, the summer has flown by faster than Miley can twerk. While I must admit that I’m more than a little sad to see warm weather go, I take comfort in knowing it will soon be back again.
So don’t mourn the end of summer. In fact, let’s celebrate the pumpkin-drenched, cinnamon-spiced, oatmeal-munching feast for the senses that is fall. But this is a style column, not a cookbook, so why should you give a twerking ass about pumpkin and cinnamon and oatmeal? First, because those are the new colors featured in this season’s catalogue from the fine (and apparently hungry) people at J. Crew. Second, and more importantly, you should care because these months between sand and snow bring us style at its most delicious.
It’s called back-to-school for a reason: this is style at its cleverest, a time when even the most hopeless slackers put in a little effort. But the fact that we try harder is not the real reason fall is the only season when aesthetically minded people walk around without praying for blindness. No, the truth about autumn’s awesomeness lies in the layers. All the best things in life have layers (see: cake, stacks of money, ogres), and fall fashion is no exception. Wearing layers is so fabulous because it’s like being a real, live Russian nesting doll: you can have 27 looks with one outfit.
348 and Maine street: Nicer weather is no excuse for jorts
First things first: Happy Ivies! If your eyes are able to focus enough to read this far, you deserve a medal. And if you make it to the end of the article, I’ll buy you a cookie.
I don’t mean to suggest you’re intoxicated in some way or another— and don’t endorse such behavior—but if you’re sober, then Amy Winehouse is alive and well (which is to say it’s not likely). If you are sober and plan on staying so this weekend, I suggest you flee as quickly as possible—or at least buy some earplugs and a blindfold. This is not going to be pretty.
I’m not just talking about the litter or the vomit or the post-nap flyaway hairs—I’m more concerned with the clothes. Ivies has a style problem. It seems that when Ivies rolls around, or rather stumbles around, the wardrobe of almost each and every student shrinks to two regrettable pieces: the tank top and jorts. If you are somehow unaware of the heinous spectacle that is jorts, then I envy you more than Tom Klingenstein wishes he was a Polar Bear and not a Eph.
348 and Maine street: Fashioning a NESCAC feud on the golf course: Mills vs. Klingenstein
Here’s something that never goes out of style: a good, old-fashioned celebrity feud.
Unfortunately, the tried and true competitors in the catfights of recent memory have devoted their attentions elsewhere. Lindsay Lohan is busy with her regimen of probation hearings and collagen injections. We can’t count on Kim Kardashian, what with her parasitic child—and the baby they’re having, too. Poor Amanda Bynes is lost in a world where cheek piercings are acceptable. They are all too busy to pay any attention to foul fracases and catty conflicts.
But fret not, feud fiends, we don’t need the snarky starlets or plucky personalities of the tabloids to give us our daily brawl; in this idyllic corner of Maine, we have our own acclaimed altercation! With all the flinging and flailing, it has the styling of the best (and by that I mean the worst) feuds of those paparazzi-chased and pampered partiers—only this pickle is more patrician (had enough alliteration yet?) and peppers the pages of Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal rather than TMZ and the National Enquirer.
348 and Maine street: Logo-heavy clothes make winter tomatoes
Some things are hard to find these days. Because I am not a farmer, nor pretend to be a farmer, nor own anything close to almanac, I am not talking about things that are hard to find in the winter season—like blueberries that taste like anything.
Despite my aversion to agriculture (which is really just a dislike of dirt), I must admit that a winter tomato is pathetic on the palate.
By “these days” I rather mean “the modern day.”
348 and Maine street: When layering for cold weather, denim doesn't work
Why do we feel the need to dress as if we might be called upon at any moment to lay railroad tracks or build a pyramid? There is a reason that workwear is worn by those who work in manufacturing or construction or whatever it is they do in the Midwest that is the backbone of America. Workwear is practical. It’s protective and sturdy and reliable. But guess what else? Workwear is ugly.
348 and Maine street: New Year’s resolution: You do you, but exercise more style
This was the week in which we woke up from our long winter’s naps and returned to early rising, feverous note taking, and, of course, the inescapable frigidity of the Artic—I mean, Midcoast Maine weather. Some of you will protest that your vacation was not a long winter’s nap, but rather a series of sun-induced dozes on your towel in Boca Raton. But most of you, if I may be so bold, did a lot of nothing over your hibernation period. Even those of you with deep tans, natural or spray on (which, by the way, will fade), spent a lot of time doing nothing with or without sand between your toes. But now the time has come for you once again to wash your hair at least twice per week, to change your underwear at least once a day, and to do something more productive with your time than watch marathons of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” or “Law and Order.” Now you must put away your Juicy sweats, those heinous housecoats of the twenty-first century that you bought in eighth grade, and put on some real clothes—clothes that will get you to class in sub-zero weather.
348 and Maine street: Holiday Hijinks: Sexy, sensible and certifiable looks
However, in all its joy, the holiday season can be quite hectic and presents some unique sartorial challenges. None of us wants to look like a dowdy Aunt Gertrude in a green holiday sweater.
348 and Maine street: Top of the season: Winter hats that inspire
I can’t say that hats are due for a comeback because they never really went away. But they have gotten boring and awfully predictable. This winter, let’s bring back bold hats.
348 and Maine street: Never have I heather: J. Crew colors
“You look like you just walked out of a J. Crew catalogue!” I often overhear this phrase flung about, usually toward someone dressed in a explosion of pastels or a mélange of heather-tinted animals, vegetables, and condiments.
348 and Maine street: The rules of style: Wonderful, freaky trends
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.