DePaul students choose personal style over trends

DePaul students choose personal style over trends

New York City’s runways might host the nation’s largest fashion week, but the sidewalks of DePaul boast just as many streetwise trends, if not more.

Street style at DePaul, where college education meets urban Chicago, is about students feeling comfortable in their own skin.
“I don’t feel like I need to look cute, but I dress that way if I feel like it,” DePaul freshman Julia Cary said, wearing white Target sneakers, a PCX Apparel crop top and patterned Goodwill pants.

“These are my favorite pants. They were like $3. Thrift is way cheaper; why would you shop anywhere else once you see how inexpensive it is?” Cary said.

Since cost can determine what students on college budgets choose to wear and buy, thrifted clothes offer an opportunity to find practical pieces at reasonable prices. But wearing thrifted clothes is also a trend within itself. Cary’s black-and-white patterned pants from Goodwill also satisfy the minimalist palette trend, which is popular in either black and white or all neutrals.

Along with admiring what others wear, style inspiration can come from online sources like Instagram posts, Pinterest boards and fashion blog posts, some of which are based in Chicago. These different accounts aid students in deciding what to buy and planning outfits.

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  • Senior Kristie Jones

  • Freshman Taylor King

  • Freshman Mia Randazzo

  • Professor Matthew Girson

  • Freshman Matt Linn

  • Junior Lucette Maroon

  • Junior Ashton Sanders

  • Freshman Julia Pelizzaro

  • Freshman Julia Cary

  • Freshman Nick Gricus

  • Freshman Esmahan Elasmar

  • Junior Rusk

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“I think Chicago style is a little more eclectic — we take inspiration from the trends in New York and L.A., but we don’t live or die by them. Our style simply (comes from) what inspires us. Chicagoans tend to do more of their own thing, but above all, it’s about the balance of stylish and practical,” Jess Keys, who runs Chicago-based style and beauty blog “The Golden Girl,” wrote
“Casual but simple” clothes sold at chain stores like H&M, American Eagle Outfitters and Forever 21 often sell for “good prices,” DePaul junior Lucette Maroon said, making chain stores familiar choices for many students. At lower prices, customers can buy more pieces for the price, making the fall layering trend more attainable. Maroon’s matching pieces from these shops allow her to get ready for class quickly in the morning. That saved time can be used to sleep in longer.

However, when the cost of clothes is lowered, some see “quality over quantity,” as DePaul junior Ashton Sanders said, and this lack of originality turns him and others off from big brands.

“Even if something’s cheap, I won’t buy it if I think it will wear out quickly,” DePaul freshman Esmahan Elasmar said. “If jeans are above like $20, I won’t buy them.” Usually costing less than $15, Forever 21 jeans seem to fulfill a wardrobe staple cheaply, but might wear out too quickly in the wash. Still, this store’s racks can be searched for the season’s statement jeans, like those with pops of color, rips or extra zippers.
The cheapest option is to avoid shopping for clothes. DePaul freshman Taylor King hasn’t needed new clothes in over a year, but when he does shop, he looks at outlet stores that offer more reasonable prices.

His style, which usually includes button-up shirts, is “a combination of growing up in the South, where we dress nice, and also my skater street style,” he said.

Another student-friendly store that sells more formal attire is Express. DePaul senior Kristie Jones wore blue Express pants and a Nordstrom Rack top to a job interview. DePaul freshman Nick Gricus sported Express for mock trial tryouts. For class, though, both dress more casually, Jones in her skinny jeans and Converse, and Gricus in a sweatshirt and jeans.

On college campuses, “everybody has their own thing going on,” DePaul sophomore Jacob Vurpillat said. He personally prefers comfort, admitting, “I wear sweatpants to class sometimes.”

Sweatpants in a college classroom are hardly an unusual sight, though, and students aren’t too often judged harshly for them. One style perk of living in Chicago is that “Chicagoans can’t tell if you’re not wearing the latest trend, and even if they can, they aren’t going to care,” as Keys said.

DePaul freshman Mia Randazzo describes the sweatpants-in-class style as “comfy and loungy,” which for her means attending classes in leggings and T-shirts. She likes to shop at budget-friendly stores like TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack for clothes that fit her style.

“I think Chicagoans put more emphasis on style than they do on fashion. From my perspective, the majority of Chicagoans don’t pay tons of attention to the latest trends in New York. Of course, they influence us in many ways, but I don’t think they’re top of mind the way they are in NYC or L.A.,” Keys wrote.

Sometimes, classes can affect what people choose to wear. “As a studio art professor, I normally wear jeans and a T-shirt — something I wouldn’t mind getting paint on,” DePaul art professor Matthew Girson said.

In Chicago, the city itself can influence what people decide to wear. DePaul freshman Hannah Shalabi said, “I try more because I’m in the city.” It seems like students dress more business casual for Loop classes than those in Lincoln Park.

Mainstays like ripped. well-fitted skinny jeans appear steadily on campus, though high waisted jeans paired with booties are a new trend.

“I love a good contrast heel even better when it’s metallic, studded or glitter. It’s the perfect upgrade to the little black boot!” Jena Gambaccini, who runs the ChiCityFashion blog, said.

Oversized sweaters make yearly returns for fall, and might be seen this year paired with trendy jogger pants. Students in bomber jackets, snapbacks, chokers and high top shoes walk the hallways of DePaul and sidewalks of Chicago.

“Overall, everyone is well dressed,” Cary said.

One of the reasons Cary loves her Goodwill finds is because no one else has them. To find unique pieces, many students look for thrift or vintage clothing.

Thrift shops in Chicago:

“Urban Outfitters tries to fake the vintage look, but it’s not authentic,” Sanders said. His Friday outfit featured a vintage biker jacket from L.A., a vintage Andrea Bocelli T-shirt, sweatpants and classic black Nikes. The light blue bandana tied around his ankle finished his “punk rock look” with a pop of color. Not only are vintage shirts often softer than newer ones, but can show unique photos or quotations that don’t appear elsewhere.

“I only like vintage pieces that are really, true vintage — the good stuff,” DePaul junior Rusk said. Even though he had only “woken up 10 minutes ago,” he managed to pair classic Doc Marten shoes with a worn-in green sweater. To class, he normally wears “fly clothes in a ’70s style.” Centering a style around a genre can focus an entire wardrobe.

“In NYC you see a ton of black, timeless basics. In the Midwest, people experiment with a lot more bold patterns, color, etc. I think we tend to be more casual than New Yorkers (jeans and cute heels are the basic Midwestern uniform for a nice restaurant or party) but more dressy/less bohemian than L.A., for example,” Keys said. The trendy jeans and heels combination can be seen across campus all weekend, especially at night.

When it comes to dressing for class, “it seems like some people don’t care how they dress, but a few people do, especially newer kids,” Rusk said.

Some of the best outfits can be seen at the beginning of the year because “students try to seem put together,” Shalabi said, who favors jeans and “semi-cute” crop tops to help her make good first impressions.

“As the year goes on, I might regress into a more casual style,” she said.

Many might agree. But a sense of style endures, even if some days (or finals weeks) are more fashionable than others. As iconic fashion designer Yves Saint Lauren said, “Fashion fades, style is eternal.”

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