Chatham’s Men Weigh In On Fall Fashion Trends

Author: Angela Billanti

Chatham University’s male students do not agree with this fall’s fashion trends, bomber jackets and athletic wear, even though a spokesperson from H&M confirms these two fads are in this fall.

According to Jess Johns, men’s department manager at H&M Monroeville, these two trends are effortless for young male students to achieve if they want to be fashionable and functional at the same time.  “Definitely the athletic wear, because you can race across campus really fast,” Johns said when referring to practical trends.  Layering pieces such as sweatshirts with a bomber jacket are good for walking outside on campus.

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The Lazy Fashionista: How I came to accept my basicness

I have always liked to think of myself as an individual—I was adamant that I wouldn’t conform to the crowd in middle school and high school. Something changed, though, when I came to college.

At Chatham, no one is really going to bat an eye regardless of what you are wearing. If you want to dress up as a chicken every day of the year, go for it. Sweatpants every day? Sure. Nobody is going to judge you for wearing your pajamas to class.

When I came to school, I didn’t have my mother nagging me to put on real pants, so I turned to t-shirts and sweatpants every day. After a semester, it wasn’t working for me, so I started wearing collared shirts and statement necklaces.

After my first year I realized that neither of these extremes were really me. So for the last year and a half or so, I have been honing my style—finding pieces that work for me, understanding what I am comfortable wearing, and building a wardrobe I’m happy with.

Here is what I have discovered about my style: it’s extremely basic.

Not basic in the solid-colors-class-cuts way. I mean in the every-sorority-girl-in-the-U.S. way.

When I discovered that leggings are extremely comfortable and can function in many scenarios as pants, I immediately bought about five pairs.

I have numerous sweaters that I got multiple sizes larger than necessary in order to wear them with said leggings.

And only last week I put the icing on the proverbial cake: I swapped by destroyed black Converse sneakers for brand new, crisp, white ones.

So, sitting here in my oversized sweatshirt and yoga pants, I have to accept my basicness because, let’s be real; it’s not going away.

Honestly, being basic is the best thing I could do. I am comfortable in oversized tops and leggings. White Converse go with everything and add a little something extra to an outfit. Wearing my hair in a messy bun is functional and allows me not to wash my hair every day.

I think the term “basic” has gotten a bad connotation in the last couple of years. Nobody wants to blend in. Nobody wants to be lumped in with everyone else.

But when blending is this comfortable, and lumping doesn’t make me look lumpy, I think I’m okay with it.

And if someone wants to call me basic?

Well, I guess I’ll be the best-dressed basic they’ve ever seen.

The Lazy Fashionista: 8 definite DON’Ts in the fashion world

It seems like every major fashion publication has its list of “don’ts”—you can’t wear this, these colors don’t go together, people with this body type can’t wear this item of clothing. I take issue with these things; I really do.

Who are you to say that black and brown makes a frown? Or that just because I don’t have a flat stomach, I can’t wear a crop top? Or that wearing Uggs with a mini skirt is a complete faux pas?

Because of my dissent with these lists, I have decided to make my own list of “don’ts” in the fashion world.

DON’T suffer for the sake of fashion: if you can’t breathe or can’t walk, odds are, you are going to spend your whole day/night focusing on that, rather than enjoying yourself. Have fun!

DON’T wear something that makes you uncomfortable: if you know you are going to be tugging on a short skirt or high-necked top, don’t wear it! Again, if you are focusing on something bringing you discomfort rather than having a good time, it’s not worth it!

DON’T dress for a climate other than your own: look, I know that it is still 90 degrees in L.A. at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that all of us in PA should still be in shorts. Stay warm, stay cool—whatever the weather is, you should probably dress for it.

DON’T wear something that doesn’t make you feel confident: trust me, I understand the draw of wearing sweatpants every day for an entire semester—I did it, too! But the thing is, sometimes slouchy pants and ill-fitting t-shirts don’t make me feel like a rock star. But if they do for you, go for it! Find what makes you feel hot and wear the crap out of it!

DON’T wash your jeans every time you wear them: ain’t nobody got time for that.

DON’T piggyback on trends you’re not into: I get it that all of your friends may be into the hottest new trend—but that doesn’t mean you have to be! If you don’t like something or don’t want to wear it, never conform for the sake of society.

DON’T be anyone other than you: fitting in is pretty cool, but being yourself is way better! Regardless of what you wear, make sure you are expressing yourself in the best way possible.

DON’T let anyone tell you what you can and can’t wear: even me!

The Lazy Fashionista: The ever-present struggle of Business Casual

Allow me to explain something: when I say I am a lazy fashionista, I don’t use “lazy” ironically. Pretty much anyone that knows me understands that I love wearing cute clothes as long as they involve somewhere around 70 to 80 percent spandex.

The resurrection of leggings was a godsend to say the least. Graphic tees are cute now? Count me in. Wearing a beanie instead of washing my hair is a solid option when getting ready in the morning.

So imagine my dismay when I started having responsibilities that required…business casual. It is heartbreaking waking up in the morning and ignoring my comfy leggings in favor of *gasp* slacks.

One of the biggest problems most people have with biz-cas is that they have no idea what it means. While there isn’t a hard-and-fast definition of what the phrase means, I like to think of it as between corporate and relaxed. By that, I mean that jeans and t-shirts aren’t acceptable, but brighter colors, short or quarter-length sleeves, and flat shoes are acceptable.

Through the weeks, I have discovered a few ways to get ready for big-kid events without driving yourself business-casual crazy.

Embrace the basics: invest (or don’t) in some solid staple pieces. Places like Ann Taylorm Loft, The Limited, and J. Crew are amazing for stylish business casual pieces if those fit into your budget. If, like me, those are a bit out of your price range, check out H&M, Target, and Forever 21 for some low-price options. Pick up a blazer, a nice skirt, a couple of nice blouses, and a pair of nice dress pants, and you’ll be good for weeks.

Pay attention to fit and length: the goal of business casual is to look classy and polished. The goal is not to show off your rockin’ body. Keep skirts to about knee length, nothing should be tight enough to be uncomfortable, and be mindful of cleavage.

Layering is your new BFF: this is especially true for the upcoming winter months. Layering a well-fitting blazer or cute sweater over a collared shirt not only adds some dimension and interest to a plain outfit, but also keeps you warm in chilly weather. And those cute skirts really can work all year round—throw on some thick sweater tights in the winter or a pair of sheer or lace-patterned tights in the fall and spring.

Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize: while a “business” dress code is more limiting to accessories, business casual lets you express yourself through the finishing touches. Throw a statement necklace over that plain sweater, or add some sparkly earrings to add a little bit of personal flare to a potentially boring outfit.

When in doubt, dress up: when going into an unfamiliar environment (interview, new job, important meeting, etc.) it generally better to err on the side of caution with clothing. Keep it neutral and professional for the first day or two until you can get a good feel of the environment you are getting into.

Trust me, you can get used to pretty much anything, including business casual attire. And the best part? You can change into sweatpants the moment you get home!

Little Red Riding Vogue: An introduction to the wig theory

As someone who’s interested in fashion, I can’t overlook all of the different possibilities for fashion—all of the places where I can perfect my look. If I’m really trying to put something together, every detail matters. If I’m invested in a look, my accessories, hair, and makeup will communicate the look as well.

In high school I discovered the wonders of hair dye. My hair has been brown, black, a natural red, orange, fire-engine red, black with blond on the bottom, black with blue on the bottom, magenta, hot pink, blond, purple. And with every color I found a new piece of myself. It was like finishing a paint-by-number puzzle. As you get the puzzle together and paint the pieces, you can see more clearly what the picture is.

I developed what I called “The Wig Theory”—the idea that if I changed my hair, I could be someone else, the way and actress becomes a different character with different hair and makeup styling. It was so freeing and exhilarating. And as someone who changes their mind constantly, I found myself changing my hair on a monthly basis—if not weekly.

Unfortunately, as many of my fellow hair dye junkies can attest, there is a breaking point. If you dye and bleach your hair too much, you’ll kill it. When I had it blond, I had bleached it too quickly—leaving my hair falling out in chunks at the end. It felt like straw and it had to go.

I went back to a salon for the first time in about four years and got my hair trimmed into a short bob. I had it dyed back to my natural dark brown and got extensions. And I waited for it to grow back strong and healthy.

Fast forward a year and my hair had grown long enough that I could cut off the ends and have completely healthy virgin hair. It was so soft I could hardly believe it was my hair—the hair I’d grown used to being so rough and ugly. I never wanted to dye it again.

But soon, I found temptation nagging me and giving my bangs a trim wasn’t quite enough. I was losing my mind when I stumbled upon a fashion blog on Tumblr. The blogger wore different colored contacts and wigs every day to make each outfit unique. The incomprehensible amount of combinations knocked me off my feet. I was in love.

So I started doing research. I found places to get good, but cheap, colored contacts and circle lenses. I ordered a few high quality wigs and a bulk of cheap ones. When I posted a picture of myself suddenly having long auburn hair and blue eyes, no one even questioned it—they just all loved my new look. I felt empowered and excited.

I started changing it up more often—blond with green eyes, black and white hair with blue eyes, silver hair with brown eyes. Some people would ask about the thought process behind it all, but I never encountered anyone judging me to my face.

And my morning routine was so quick! I never had to worry about having a bad hair day! I would pull together an outfit, decide which color hair would look best with that color scheme, and coordinate my contacts with my makeup.

I was just starting out at Chatham, and no doubt I was confusing people during orientation, but people thought it was fun. They’d ask to see my wigs and try them on. And eventually, my natural hair grew longer and that was enough for me. I packed up my wigs and contacts and settled for brown hair and brown eyes. I was becoming more of a professional and it felt like a more professional look. Eventually I tried a subtle ombré and loved that as well.

But I was started to feel stuffy and boring—and getting a septum piercing just wasn’t enough. My tattoo artist told me her hair stylist was a wizard with color and I started looking up colorful hair. I settled on a red ombré and had it done over Spring Break.

Now here’s the deal. I’m sure people might look at the color of my hair and think I’m less professional than I really am. I have piercings, tattoos, and bright red hair. In some people’s minds, that means I’m not a professional. But I’ll never understand that. I would never judge someone’s skills by the color of their skin—so why would someone judge me by the color of my hair?

To be fair, no one has approached me about my hair yet, but this isn’t just about me. As the last print version of this column this year, I’m asking that we all look at the people around us and appreciate the way they look. Let us love each other’s scars and blemishes. Let us not judge people for their weight or their height. Let us not judge a book by its cover. I promise not to judge you if you can return the favor.

Little Red Riding Vogue: Why I don’t watch shows like “Fashion Police”

As someone interested in fashion, I think a lot of people expect me to watch shows like “Fashion Police.” While I am prone to getting sucked into “America’s Next Top Model” and “Project Runway” marathons, I’ve never been interested in a show that aims to tear people down. One of my least favorite things about the fashion industry is its need to raise up some people while they destroy others. Why do things like “Who Wore it Better” even exist? Why can’t two people wear the same outfit and both be beautiful?

Well it seems I’m not the only one struggling with “Fashion Police.” Recently they’ve gotten a lot of flack for an atrocious comment made at the Oscars. The comment was made about Zendaya—an actress, singer, and dancer.

Zendaya emerged on the red carpet in a beautiful, sleek, ivory gown by Vivienne Westwood. In my opinion, she looked incredible—like what I imagine Greek goddesses to look like. She was dressed and carried herself with so much class. As someone previously unfamiliar with her work, I would have honestly assumed she was just a model or rock royalty. Even Vogue agreed. They said it best, stating, “Oh, what a difference a serious red-carpet moment can make! If you didn’t know who Zendaya was before tuning in to the 87th Annual Academy Awards tonight, well, you will now: The lissome and lovely Disney actress and pop singer caused a stir on the red carpet in a figure-hugging ivory-toned Vivienne Westwood slip of a goddess gown, replete with flowing dreadlocks: one part Lisa Bonet, one part Venus de Milo, and all very grown up (which is to say, all very un-Disney).” In brief, she was stunning.

However, the “Fashion Police” didn’t seem to agree. The show’s host, Giuliana Rancic decided that Zendaya’s look was worthy of racial profiling—due to her beautiful, dreadlocked hair. Rancic said clearly, “I feel that she smells like patchouli oil…or weed. Yeah, maybe weed.”

Many of the people on the show laughed. Notably though, Kelly Osbourne showed some discomfort and instead of laughing, put her hand to her head in shock. This comes as no surprise now that Osbourne has made it clear that she is leaving the show due to that comment. What began with a barrage of angry tweets aimed at the show (to clear her name and her stance on the situation with her fans), has now lead to an official statement.  Within her tweets, Osbourne explained that she and Zendaya were friends and that she does, “not condone racism.”

Since the airing of the show and the backlash, Rancic has tried backpedalling as much as possible. She began by saying she meant the comment as a critique of the “bohemian chic” style. Then she told “Access Hollywood” that she wasn’t even the one who wrote the joke.

Zendaya has since accepted this apology, stating that she hoped it would be, “a learning experience for [Rancic] and for the network.”

However, Zendaya’s first, immediate statement to the comments was without a doubt the strongest statement made during this debacle. In an image she posted on her various social media outlets, Zendaya stood up for herself and her dreadlocks. She listed many incredibly successful and intelligent people with dreadlocks and insisted that none of them smelled like patchouli oil or weed.

While I agree with Zendaya and hope that everyone involved learns from this, I don’t think there was enough coverage on the fact that Kylie Jenner recently got dreadlocks and her hair was described as edgy and cool. Not only does that support cultural appropriation, but it creates a double standard that if the originators of the style have it, it’s gross or dirty, but if cultural appropriators have it, it’s desirable or stylish. This is where I lose some interest in the fashion industry. It’s about time they wake up and fix this broken system.

Actress and activist Jamie Brewer makes history as the first model with Down syndrome to walk during NYFW

As many of you may have noticed from previous columns, I am a huge fan of “American Horror Story.” Without a doubt, one of my absolute favorite returning actresses is Jamie Brewer. She knocks it out of the park every season. Although she’s been given (and nailed) many different characters, she always gets some of the wittiest, punchiest lines of the season. She is the queen of sass and sarcasm, but her characters almost always have a heart of gold.

“American Horror Story” gave her a breakthrough role as Adelaide ‘Addie’ Langdon in season one. In season three, she returned as Nan the witch. Most recently, in season four, she plays Marjorie, the spirit of a ventriloquist dummy.

However, on Thursday, February 12, Brewer took a step away from acting to pursue another fantastic goal: modeling. Brewer made New York Fashion Week history by being the first model with Down Syndrome to walk the runway.

She tweeted two photos that morning, showing her palpable excitement as she got her hair and makeup done for the catwalk.

Brewer walked at Lightbox (a digital arts and events space in New York City) for designer Carrie Hammer’s “Role Models Not Runway Models” show which was meant to change model stereotypes. Hammer started “Role Models Not Runway Models” at last year’s Fashion Week and has been acclaimed for it.

With Brewer were other incredible women such as computer coders, bankers, CEOs, marketing executives, philanthropists, and more.

Besides being an actress, Brewer is also an activist, artist, and writer. When she was 19, Brewer was elected to the State of Texas ARC Board (an organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities). She also served on the ARC Governmental Affairs Committee for Texas.

Brewer was the last to walk in the show, wearing an original design–a black dress with a belt-cinched waist. Hammer was quoted as saying the look was inspired by the darkness of “American Horror Story.” The cinched waist was added to the design specifically to show off Brewer’s incredible, curvy figure.

As expected, she brought her familiar confidence and power from “American Horror Story” to the runway. Her red lips showed off her memorable smirk and her walk was as flawless as a more seasoned model.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier for Brewer. I’ve always been a fan of her acting, and now she’s tackled modeling. Beyond that, I also admire all the work she’s done as an activist, and I hope we see more of her on the runway.

Little Red Riding Vogue: Fashion plagiarism

They taught you about it all through your academic career—if you’re going to take something from someone else, you have to cite it. Otherwise, it’s plagiarism. You can absolutely be inspired by someone’s work, but if you don’t give them credit for the inspiration, you’re in the wrong.

One upsetting thing in the fashion industry is fashion plagiarism. So often, I hear of small designers or makeup artists having their looks stolen by big designers. In some cases, when the original designers try to speak up and make a claim for their art, the big designers have them silenced. They ignore any messages, delete any comments—they do what they can to erase the small designer and hold onto the stolen design as their own.

Most recently, I saw a case of this with a favorite Instagrammer of mine. LA-based makeup artist Mykie (better known as Glam & Gore) creates incredible, fantastical looks with makeup. In my opinion, some of them are worthy of Syfy’s “Face Off.” Specifically, she did a look in December that blew me away. She did her makeup in a way to give her skin a reptilian look. But that wasn’t all. She also made a fake skin to go with the look—as if she was shedding her normal face for a snake one.

Her first posting of the look has over 19,900 likes on Instagram. On February 20, Mykie posted a collage on Instagram showing her look being replicated at New York Fashion Week. The problem is, she wasn’t credited at all. Mehron Makeup recreated the look for brother and sister designers Michael and Stephanie Costello without attributing Mykie as their inspiration.

Everyone was stunned by and smitten with a look they thought came from Mehron. Meanwhile, Mykie wasn’t getting any praise for the look she worked so hard to create. Granted, there were slight changes to the Costello makeup, but it was very clearly a copy of her work.

In Mykie’s post, she mentioned that she was grateful to be considered such a good artist that people would want to replicate her looks, but she felt it was unfair that the looks went unaccredited. Since then, both Mehron Makeup and the Costellos have posted apologies on their Instagrams, admitting that the look came from Mykie, and that they are sorry that they did not recognize her as the source originally.

Unfortunately, this is one of the best cases I’ve seen. One of the worst is the recurring theft of designer Jeremy Scott. I used to be a huge fan of his work until he presented his Barbie looks for Moschino in the fall. When I started looking up more information about them, I found that he was accused of stealing the look from independent designer Nikki Lipstick. When you look at the pictures comparing the two collections, it’s uncanny.

When she tried confronting Scott via his Facebook page, Lipstick’s comments were deleted. He even blocked her on all social media. And this isn’t the first time he’s been caught stealing art or phrases from other designers or artists. Most unfortunately, he hasn’t seen any huge repercussions for his latest actions. In the past, he did face a court trial for stealing art and had to pull the pieces that featured it—as the artist was well known and had very distinct illustrations. However, Nikki Lipstick is a smaller designer and more easily silenced. Apparently, if you’re the bigger guy in the fight, plagiarism is fine.

Little Red Riding Vogue: Why Taylor Swift is impossibly fashionable

Although this weather can be pretty discouraging, it’s no time to be dropping the ball on your outfits. That may sound a bit harsh and unrealistic, but look at Taylor Swift for example.

Taylor Swift is, without a doubt, a fashion icon. She never misses a beat with her outfits. They’re always flawless and well-executed. In fact, she’s even been criticized for looking so good.

Over the past year or so, people started commenting on how ridiculous it was that Swift would leave a workout at the gym looking better than ever. Her hair and makeup would be so on point that you would think she had just left a salon instead of a gym.

Also, she would often leave in a dress or skirt, and heels. People honestly couldn’t fathom how a human being could do this—even a celebrity. Many people brought up the fact that most of the paparazzi shots you see of celebrities leaving the gym look “normal”—they aren’t wearing makeup and they’re decked out in sweaty yoga pants and baggy t-shirts. So how could Taylor Swift be doing what Britney Spears could not?

But this isn’t the only thing people can’t wrap their heads around. Recently, Swift posted a picture on Instagram of her and her gal pals HAIM (the three-sister band from LA) hanging out in Hawaii. Sounds pretty normal, right? Well what threw people off was the fact that they were standing in a row on a rock path in a pond.  The HAIM girls are all wearing sensible flats, and Swift is wearing stilettos so insane she could probably use them to kill a man. Once again, Swift has proven to be almost more mythical than Regina George.

My last, and absolute favorite, part about Taylor Swift’s fashion endeavors is that it’s been said that the bags you see her carrying around in all of these iconic paparazzi post-workout shots are absolutely empty. That’s right. You heard me: empty. She doesn’t keep anything in them. She uses them for the sole purpose of accessorizing.

At this point you’re probably wondering where she actually keeps her stuff—unless she doesn’t have stuff at all and really is some sort of weird fashion alien that doesn’t need emergency lip-gloss or even a packet of tissues. Well make sure you sit down for this one, it’s a doozy.

Her bodyguards carry all of her necessities in a separate bag. And you better believe they hold onto that thing with the death grip of a Marvel superhero. No one in the world is getting their hands on that bag except for Taylor Swift herself.

Moral of the story: Taylor Swift is a celestial being whose fashion sensibilities straight up floor me. We should all aspire to be so jaw dropping.

Little Red Riding Vogue: Marsala chosen as Pantone’s Color of the Year

Whether you realize it or not, at the beginning of every year, an important decision is made in the fashion world. It affects clothes, makeup, home goods—you name it. This monumental moment is when Pantone chooses the Color of the Year.

Last year was Radiant Orchid. The year before was Emerald. This year, is the year of Marsala, which Pantone describes as, “a naturally robust and earthy red wine.”

So what exactly is Marsala? It’s not a color you use in your everyday vocabulary, but no doubt you’ve seen it before. Marsala is a passionate red with calming natural tones. Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, said, “Marsala is a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us in to its embracing warmth.” Still, how many products can you think of that are exactly Marsala? To make this a bit easier to follow—understand that this decision leaves a broad spectrum.

When Pantone announces the Color of the Year, stores scramble to find what they carry in that shade. Usually, it’s not much. They can easily make products to fit that description, but that would take too long, and by the time they have the product out, someone else has already drawn their customer’s attention. The secret is to stretch the color.

When Emerald was announced, suddenly, any shade of green would do. When Radiant Orchid was chosen, people started stocking products in shades of purple. By choosing Marsala, Pantone has given us a year of red.

The color is chosen carefully based on trends seen throughout different markets. Eiseman said of Marsala, “This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings, and interiors.”

However, The Color of the Year, isn’t the only prediction Pantone makes. They also make specific predictions for incoming fashion. Their Fashion Color Report for Spring 2015 was based on the New York Fashion Week from September 4-11, 2014.

Their predictions for colors are soft, cool hues with natural neutrals. For women’s fashion, they expect an eclectic, ethereal mix. For men’s fashion, they call for uncontrived, natural, deep tones.

Knowing this, Marsala is a smart choice for Color of the Year. It’s deep and warm, but soft and natural enough to come across as an almost neutral shade of red. As Eiseman said, it translates well to different products without appearing gaudy or overwhelming.

All hail Marsala until they choose something else for 2016.