Correspondence from Chicago

by Sophie Johnson
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

It is getting colder. The days are getting shorter. The wind is getting stronger. Finally. I know I’ve been waiting to employ “the layered look” (sooo chic right now) since mid-June.

Before I go any further, I must preface this column by telling you that while I think of myself as pretty progressive (sweat shops = bad; negative body images = bad; expensive clothing in general = bad), I have a weakness for fashion magazines. I’ve been putting off admitting it for far too long, and now I feel I need to embrace my love for couture, eclectic fabrics, and Harper’s Bazaar. And on the record: I hated “Project Runway”’s Jeffery throughout the whole third season (glaring neck tattoos? Dumb!), but his final collection was the best.

Naturally, a perk to living in Chicago is taking trips to Wicker Park to check out the skinny, skinny girls (how I love the skinny, skinny girls; they’re just like hangers for beautiful clothes) in their hipster outfits. I obviously knew that my wardrobe was going to quadruple while I was here, so I intentionally did not bring very many clothes. This was just the excuse I needed to invest in a slew of vintage-y sweaters from the myriad resale shops scattered around the city. After extensive research (read: staring at the skinny, skinny girls for hours), I have deemed myself a fashion deity. As the Pioneer does not currently have a regular fashion writer, I pen this column for the good of Whitman-kind.

Let us start with the basics: No, Whitman students, you do not have to wear Carhartts. Nor do you have to wear Birkenstocks, tie-dyed t-shirts, or linen pants. I looked in the Whitman Students’ Handbook, and contrary to popular belief, these are not requirements to fulfill your status as a student on this campus. The administration does not necessarily want you to wear ugly clothes. So go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief. Then I suggest you find a Goodwill donation center post-haste.

I guess it is okay to own sweat pants and sweatshirts (I personally like the bookstore’s semi-new version of the “gold” Whitman College sweatshirt), but it is certainly not okay to limit yourself to them. One day a week (preferably following a legitimate all-nighter) is the maximum amount of times any single person should wear sweats or pajamas. I know that life is hectic, so I grant your waistline one day of breathing room. But that’s all.

This is where a reliable pair of jeans becomes necessary. As I do not constitute “khaki” as a legitimate color (let alone something that should ever be worn under any circumstances), the only option for comfortable day-to-day wear is denim. This can be tricky, I know. I like Levi’s, but that’s because I have big hips.

Skinny jeans are all the rage right now, and while some argue this is nothing more than the re-marketing of the vastly unflattering tapered jeans of the early ‘90s, I think they’re miraculous. I don’t know about you, but I have always been rather proud of my calves. I am pleased to be able to don denim that shows off their shape without being impractical for winter. The close fit is very warm, and they can double as leggings under mini-dresses. What a fantastic resource!

But it does bring me to a very difficult topic: the jeans tucked into the boots look. I have heard from reliable sources that this look is somewhat ubiquitous among the fashionably-forward on campus these days, and has gained popularity even among some of the fashionably-flawed. This is certainly controversial.

Let me just get this out there: I have tucked my jeans into my boots before. My best friend, Kim (incredibly well-dressed), does it all the time. I think the key is that you have to be careful about it. First, it is important to choose the right boots. The look does not work with leather boots (too wannabe porn star), nor does it fly with Uggs (can anyone say “2005”?). Choose a boot that is understated but slouchy (Target has some great ones that all the indie scenesters are wearing right now), and make sure you are wearing very skinny jeans. If the boots-in-jeans look is seamless rather than bulky, it can look very sophisticated.

In terms of jackets, pea coats are always safe. But why be safe? Punchy red and green are the colors for coats this season (skip an ostentatious tweed; it’s on the way out). Get creative with cuts and styles (mid-length is very in). Sure you’re only going to be wearing it for one season, but what else are you going to spend your money on? Food? Food will only make you fat.

I think the looks for men are basically self-explanatory: Please dress like my boyfriend. I like him and he dresses well. Men’s clothes are boring.

In summation, I think it’s safe to say that, in a lot of ways, fashion is more important than anything in the entire world. If you look hot in what you wear, people like me are going to idolize you. And you know what my motto is: The better you dress, the more likely you are to end world hunger and war and stuff like that.

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