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Bowdoin Style Beyond the Bean Boots: Real College Girls Do Real Style

It is hard to find students taking personal style risks at a small New England college like Bowdoin. For the most part everyone plays it safe, dressing in proper uniform both day and night. This homogeneous uniform is likely to include Longchamp bags, Barbour coats and oxford shirts paired with Tory Burch flats or hunter boots for class; and anything more than jeans and a fun top for Saturday night is, as a recent alum said, too “dressy” for Bowdoin.

It is not just one alum who has this mind set, many students are afraid to step out of the box and rock their own pronounced personal style at Bowdoin. For a consortium of such educated and diverse students, I can’t understand why we feel so much pressure to conform stylistically. I know Brunswick sidewalks are about as far from the runway as one can get, but that shouldn’t make us feel uncomfortable heading to class in a fur vest or to crack house in an oversized graphic tee tucked into a bandeau skirt with heeled boots… Right?
For those of you who are uninspired, I’ve included a brief interview with Barnard student and fearless fashionista, Lauren Kelly. Lauren has always been my most fashion forward friend, she wears whatever she wants 100% of the time, regardless of what others may think or say. Even in high school Lauren had a piece of paper that read “Go big, or go home” taped to her closet door, a constant reminder to stick to her unique personal style.

KK: Lauren, how do you always manage to sport such a fantastically distinct look?
LK: I think the most challenging part of styling a look is having a complete wardrobe to pull from. I’ve always had this concept in my head of the “perfect wardrobe”, perfect in every sense: the little black stunner dress, the oxford, the black high-waisted skirt, the “going-out-top”, the everyday blazer, the slouchy tank, the go-to skinny leg jeans, the brown/black/tan shoe of my dreams, the accessories, etc. Since the inception of this “perfect wardrobe” notion, I’ve learned that you really need to love something in order to wear it…However, it’s important not to go on rash trendy shopping sprees; I think it’s wiser to invest in pieces that are timeless. It will save you money in the end.

KK: What do you think about when you’re getting dressed whether for class or for a night out?
LK: When I get dressed, I usually don’t do any planning. I sort of just waltz over to my closet and search for something wild that I haven’t worn in a while. The real work of dressing myself happens while I’m shopping. The first step to being a stylish dresser is to be a smart shopper. To be a smart shopper, you need to KNOW what you LOVE and how to find it. Once you have all this down, it becomes much easier to physically dress yourself for a night out.

KK: What inspires your style?

LK: I’m inspired by the overall aesthetic message that a great outfit can transmit. Not only can it speak volumes about who you are as a person, but it also draws people to (or away) from you, positions you culturally, and allows us all to be artists. I feel that when I am dressing myself for a special occasion, not necessarily when I roll out of bed at 9AM for class and leave my dorm in PJs, I am participating in a true art form. When people say to me, “You look incredible”, “I love your —“, “What the hell is your —“, “Your look is beautiful”, “Why are you wearing that?” I revel in each type of comment since fashion’s purpose it to engage with the people around us.
 Take something away from Lauren’s approach to personal style. Next time you go on a shopping spree, think about how you want to represent yourself aesthetically, discover your look and styles you love—then choose items with that in mind.

*I must add that not all Bowdoin students look the same, check out Bowdoin Style for examples of students breaking the stereotypical New England college mold.

Your style experience doesn’t end here! Get more fashion tips by following Kelly Kopchik on Twitter.

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