Street Style: Coffee Shop Chic

Name: Sara Farrell
Year: Sophomore
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
Concentration: Environmental Studies

While panning for fashionistas in the stream of students flowing through the center of campus, this nugget of gold caught my eye.  Excited that I asked her to be my model, Sara put down her Starbucks cup and took to the brick runway.

Sara describes her personal style as a “beautiful mess”.  This makes sense considering her taste in specific pieces, which alludes to a flexible wardrobe.  Upon asking Sara about her favorite trends, she told me that she loves commando boots.  Especially during these frigid days, boots should be your footwear of choice.  She also appreciates leggings, which continue to be popular in women’s fashion.  You can also find pleated dresses with a high neckline in her closet.

Paying homage to her birth state and the upcoming season, “winter in California” was the inspiration for Sara’s dress.  Her outfit was dominated by black and nude tones, a combination that has always intimidated me.  One of my style rules that I have held dear since high school is to never mix black and nudes, but Sara made me question it.  She tutored me in how to pull off the contrasting duo – don’t overthink it; subtlety will go a long way.  Pairing a cream cowl neck sweater that she brought from PTA Thrift Shop with black leggings from Forever 21, she demonstrates this delicate engagement.  Her nude textured flats from LOFT, which match her sweater, further enhance the effect.  Sara completed her outfit by accessorizing with a pair of pairs: H&M rose lens sunglasses and diamond stud earrings.  Although the palette was limited, simplicity colored her outfit.

The paralyzing choke hold of finals is just around the corner, but that is no excuse to dress down.  Instead, you should take after Sara and dress with an elegant simplicity.


Fashion for a Better World: Creating Change in the Triangle Area

Fashion can tell the stories of who we are and who we want to be. When you wear a bold dress or a piece of jewelry handed down to you by a grandmother, you are not simply trying on meaningless objects. The pieces transform when you wear them—that skin-to-fabric contact creates a bond—a fantasy, a reality. On a less personal note, fashion can tell us about the cultural and social norms of a time. Yves Saint Laurent’s 1966 tuxedo suit, Le Smoking, made a strong statement about female power, as it was the first popular tuxedo suit for women. Similarly, in 2001, Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer show, Voss, questioned the modeling industry’s obsession with creating a standard formula for female beauty. Thus, fashion has an impact on the way we feel, think, and see.

However, popular cultural and a majority of the world seem to have one view of the fashion industry, a view filtered through the lens of such phenomenon as The Devil Wears Prada. This image of the fashion industry consists of a cold, snobby, and cutthroat consumerist realm based in New York and inaccessible to the rest of the world. But if the fabulous designers from Friday night’s Fashion for a Better World show have anything to say about it, that perception of the fashion industry will be shattered. A part of UNC’s larger Global Entrepreneurship Week, Fashion for a Better World emphasized the power of rising female entrepreneurs and the growing market of sustainable fashion in the Research Triangle. Hosted by Symbology, a label that uses fashion to empower female artisans, the event showcased works by six different female designers. Additionally, Brooks Bell, founder of an enterprise-level testing and optimization firm, spoke about her experience as a female entrepreneur and the necessity of taking small risks to build confidence. Mor Aframian, from Redress Raleigh, also celebrated the modern female entrepreneur in her speech about the emergence of a sustainable fashion industry in North Carolina.

But it was the surprise celebrity guest speaker of the night, five-time Grammy nominee Nnenna Freelon who so eloquently captured the spirit of the entire night: “It’s not just about looking cute, it’s about spreading the love and the wealth and the beauty…So we can all feel good on multiple levels.” Nnenna also spoke to the notion of creating this sustainable fashion industry right here in North Carolina when she succinctly stated, “Bloom where you are planted.” You don’t have to go to New York, Milan, or Paris to interact with fashion. There’s an entire fashion industry blooming in the Research Triangle, and during Fashion for a Better World, the audience was finally able to witness it. And what I saw was not just any fashion but fashion with heart. Fashion grounded in social and environmental consciousness.

The first designer to send her looks down the runway was Oami Powers, founder of the contemporary clothing line, Judah Ross. Powers noted the importance of personal history in her edgy and eclectic designs. On her decision to go green as a designer, Oami said, “You want to feel good about the clothes you are wearing, you don’t want to feel like you’re having a really detrimental effect on the planet…” A true believer in the Slow Fashion movement, Oami emphasized the need for quality over quantity in her designs. This quality was evident in all her pieces from the night. One particular stunner was this hand-dyed watercolor skirt, no doubt influenced by Powers’ background as a painter. Oami’s attention to fabric and color can also be seen in her other dresses.

Photographs courtesy of Josh Kongmany

Following Powers’ Judah Ross was Kim Kirchstein of Leopold Designs. Motivated by a love for shape, pattern, and texture, Kirchstein has created gorgeous scarves for Leopold Designs in the past but notes that she is now making more of a transition to wearable garments. Her collection vibrated with color and intricate patterns.

Photographs courtesy of Josh Kongmany

This skirt with its blue swirling pattern was beautiful, and Kirchstein’s final look, a fiery dress, was a showstopper. Kirchstein’s clothes had an easy, flowing feel to them, but the colors and patterns kept the designs sharp. On her desire to pursue sustainable fashion, Kirchstein said, “The health of the entire planet is affecting people more on an individual basis [now]…”

Next up on the runway was Mamafrica, founded by Ashley Nemiro, a current PhD student who splits her time between school in Chapel Hill and Mamafrica in the Democratic Republic Congo. This non-profit organization takes a holistic approach to changing the lives of internally displaced women in the DRC who are often victims of sexual violence. Nemiro emphasizes that fashion “is one component, but it’s not the biggest.” Nemiro’s team also teaches health literacy and offers counseling for the Mamas of Mamafrica. The actual creation of clothing is part of the organization’s efforts to create economic opportunities for these women. Of the clothing, Nemiro comments, “All of our stuff is very unique. Everything is one-of-a-kind.” Set against Alicia Keys’ “Girl is on Fire,” the colorful and patterned garments that came down the runway showcased this spirit of individuality. But Nemiro emphasizes that the program not only celebrates individuality but also the creation of community: “It’s important that I know every single woman’s name who comes through the program…Once a woman has come through Mamafrica, she’s always a Mama.”

Photographs courtesy of Josh Kongmany

After Mamafrica’s vividly colorful designs came the softer, earthy hues of Organicality, an eco-lifestyle company dedicated to selling products that contain only organic and sustainable fibers certified under Fair Trade conditions. Carrie Huitt Rueben, the founder of Organicality, has become a leader in sustainable fashion, and her chic collection of laid-back knits was perfect for fall and perfect for the environmentally conscious. Bags and wallets from Callie Brauel’s non-profit, A Ban Against Neglect, completed Organicality’s outfits. A Ban Against Neglect is a non-profit organization based in Accra, Ghana that helps girls off the street in Accra and recycles the plastic bags that litter Accra’s roads. By teaching girls how to sew bags made out of these plastic bags and other materials, ABAN provides a financial boost and an environmental boost to the community of Accra, Ghana.

Photographs courtesy of Josh Kongmany

Marissa Heyl of Symbology closed the fashion show with her Fall 2012 collection. Titled Peacocks and Paisleys, this collection’s crisp patterns, modern silhouettes, and interesting cutout designs created a dynamic set of looks. For example, the flair of this dress and the bright color made for a stunning opening piece. Another favorite of mine was this patterned dress that could easily translate from day to night.

Photographs courtesy of Josh Kongmany

Finally, this modern red dress with an interesting cutout stole the show for me. To round out the collection, performers danced to Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls),” creating an atmosphere of high energy and female strength.

Heyl founded Symbology with the intention of empowering women and creating a source of income for artisans in developing countries. Named because of Heyl’s interest in how symbols are imbued with cultural meaning, Heyl explains the thinking behind Symbology: “[Symbology is] not only a thread that connects us as humans but is interested in the symbolic nature of our dresses, our pieces…Every dress tells a story, something that connects women, empowering women, celebrating art forms that are dying, providing customers with works of art.”

Heyl uses textiles made by artisans in India and provides these artisans with a steady demand and fair income. Her innovative approach to fashion has changed the way in which we view sustainable fashion. In this case, Heyl has created sustainable relationships with artisans in India. She noted how larger companies like Anthropologie sometimes partner with poorer artisans, but after using these artisans, the companies leave. So no permanent solution to their lack of income has been established. Symbology, on the other hand, thrives on these close relationships. Heyl explained that being on the ground and talking to people in these developing countries has served as the basis of her professional relationships with the artisans.

Marissa Heyl’s commitment to creating communities focused on bettering the world through fashion has resulted in not only Symbology but also Friday’s Fashion for a Better World. Heyl brought together a group of women in North Carolina to show how amazing female collaboration can be. The night also solidified the importance of creating fashion to sustain the world and the people who live in it. Most of all, the night allowed me a glimpse of an alternate fashion universe, one where fashion tells the stories of who we are and who we will be. One where snobby exclusivity is replaced by heart and a desire to see change in the world.

Street Style: Pflupé Chic

Name: Meredith McDonald
Year: Sophomore
Hometown: Jacksonville, NC
Concentration: Biology and Women’s & Gender Studies

In the spiritual words of Destiny’s Child, “I’m a survivor / I’m not goin’ give up / I’m not goin’ stop / I’m goin’ work harder.”  I asked Meredith what her inspiration was for her outfit, and with the biggest grin, her answer was: “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child.  I thought this was peculiar.  I’ve heard of outfits drawing patterns from animals, being inspired by celebrities, or paying homage to nature, but I’ve never heard of someone basing their outfit off of a song.  Meredith explained to me that the message the song conveys is the same message that she would like for her outfit to convey.

Independence (and star status) definitely radiate from Meredith’s choice of clothing.  Her outerwear was perfection: a bright red pea coat that was sure to grab attention.  Underneath the coat, Meredith wore a sparkly black top.  She paired the top with a skinny cargo pant in a dark shade of sea foam green.  Both are from Rugged Warehouse.  She slipped a pair of pointed black flats from Forever 21 onto her feet.  To complete her outfit, she accessorized with a handmade black scarf, a pair of black half-rim wayfarers that she bought from Aldo, and a pair of earrings from Beauty Supply.  Meredith’s choice in accessories and their styling made her look like a movie star.  Black was greatly represented in her outfit.  Black could represent solitude, or when seen in a different light: emancipation.

Unlike most people, who adhere to a certain style, Meredith is not confined to just one.  She told me that one day, her outfit could reflect the hippy/earth child lifestyle, and the next, she could be mistaken for the “it-girl” from an adored 80s sitcom.  Her favorite trend is the incorporation of both men’s and women’s clothing in an outfit.  She wants women to know that if they want to add a touch of masculinity to their outfit, then they shouldn’t be afraid.  Meredith shows us that just because you aren’t a superstar that doesn’t mean that you can’t dress like one.

Hot Hues

Reed Krakoff $590

Tory Burch $325

Spring is in the air in Chapel Hill and all I can think about is spring fashion! The doldrums of winter are finally behind us and it is time to reawaken our inner fashionistas. One of my favorite trends for this season is electric color. What better way to jump-start our spring fever than to pile on the neon yellows, pinks, oranges and greens? The designers seem to be telling us that we shouldn’t be afraid to go bold with these colors. They are meant to be mixed and matched, and nothing is “too much.” An easy way to achieve this look is to find radiant accessories that can be paired with any outfit to spice it up a bit. Neiman Marcus has a great selection of luminous accessories by top designers (you may want to look elsewhere for items that are less pricey). But these items give you a good idea of accessories to look for when out shopping for your new spring wardrobe. Good luck!

Dolce & Gabbana $2445

Kendra Scott $75

Oscar de la Renta $345

Oscar de la Renta $995

Campus Style – Walk on the Wild Side

ImageImageI couldn’t help but notice Katie’s ability to add polish to casual basics. This girl is not afraid of denim; she daringly paired her chambray shirt with her skinny jeans and bold leopard ballet flats for a look that works. I love the unexpected pop of leopard!

Read on to learn more about Katie!

Hometown: Carrboro, NC

Age: 19

Year: Sophomore

Major: Art History and Journalism – Photojournalism

What are your hobbies & interests? “Ballet, photography, and reading.”

Describe your style in three words. “Twist on traditional.”

Who or what inspires your style? “People watching, blogs like The Sartorialist and Mr. Newton, movies.”

Where do you like to shop? “J.Crew, Anthropologie, online, and window shopping.”

Who is your favorite designer? “Rodarte – The Mulleavy sisters”

What are your favorite trends right now? “Riding boots, layering, menswear inspired clothing.”

Is there a specific article of clothing that you can’t wait to buy? “New boots – particularly J.Crew’s Booker boots.”

What fashion advice would you give to other students looking to improve their style? “Although I love magazines, save your money and look for inspiration on the Internet and to girls on campus whom you admire.  Don’t be afraid though to stand out from the crowd.”

Why did you choose this particular outfit? “I needed to take a break from wearing striped shirts or t-shirts.  All of the pieces that I’m wearing I’ve had for a while and know I’ll wear for many years to come.”

Here’s how to get Katie’s look…

ImageFactory two-pocket chambray shirt, $54,


Black and white vintage ikat scarf, $215,


J Brand super skinny jean, $190,


Kelsi Dagger Jordi – leopard black, $81,

Campus Style — Lace It Up

This rainy day didn’t keep Chelsea from looking chic for class. I couldn’t help but adore her simple, vintage-chic, laidback sense of style.  I loved her outfit complete with a lace top, skinny jeans, combat boots and a utility jacket. I like the contrast of the delicate lace with the tough, army-inspired pieces in her look.

Read on to learn more about Chelsea!

Name: Chelsea

Hometown: Dana Point, California

Age: 19

Year: Sophomore

Major: Global Studies

What are your hobbies and interests? “Going to the beach, listening to live music, playing volleyball.”

Describe your style in three words. “Laidback, beachy, boho.”

What inspires your style? “Surf culture.”

Is there a specific article of clothing that you can’t wait to buy? “A leather bomber jacket.”

Where do you like to shop? “Urban Outfitters, little boutiques at home in Dana Point.”

Why did you choose this outfit? “Because it was cute alternative to a generic t-shirt, yet comfortable for class.”

Would you wear lace?

Marc Jacobs Fall 2011 -- Image Courtesy of Elle

Lace has dominated the runways this fall in the form of Victorian-style pieces, complete with high-collars and ruffles. But don’t be intimidated by this trend. Tone it down by pairing a sheer lace top with your favorite skinny jeans, or a skirt and tights.

Here’s how to get Chelsea’s look…

Lace Tee, $70

Rich & Skinny Low-Rise Skinny Jeans, $79

7 for All Mankind Utility Jacket, $159

Long Gold Chain Necklace, $25

Steve Madden Troopa Lace-up Combat Boot, $100

Images courtesy of Polyvore

Where the Wild Things Are: Animal Hats

As the temperature drops in Chapel Hill, a jungle of hats have sprung — literally. From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the beloved sock monkey, animal hats are a student’s way of fighting the cold with character.

To incorporate an animal hat into your jacket ensemble without looking too juvenile, wear the hat with a solid matching scarf and gloves to keep the rest of your look tame. (P.S. Looking for an animal hat on Franklin Street? Look up at Lightyears. You’ll find them hanging out on the ceiling.)


Quick Picks:

1) Cooperative Woodland Earflap Hat
$34, Urban Outfitters

2) Delux Sock Money Face Wool Pilot Animal Cap

3) Uglydoll Hat — Ice-Bat Blue
$20, Uglydoll Shop

Dear Diary

Not all journals are of the blushing fifth grade variety. These witty, pretty notebooks from J. Crew are all grown up and perfect for anyone who has ever needed a place to doodle, jot down ideas or list, as one journal’s title requests, “Hipsters I Met and Liked”. Best of all, each journal is only $10 so it won’t break the bank when you can’t live without one in every color!

Bright Done Right: Dance Marathon Recruitment

UNC Dance Marathon recruiters took to the Pit and Polk Place this week. Photo courtesy: UNCDM

Love them or hate them, dance marathon recruiters took over campus this week in their bright, wacky ensembles. While their fashion was purposely extreme to attract your eye,  there is one style do that you can take from their purpose don’ts: a little brightness can go a long way.

Incorporate a colored accessory to an otherwise neutral-colored outfit (blacks, whites, tans), and you’ll pop with a coordinated ensemble that like our friendly recruiters’, catches quite a few eyes too.

Quick Picks:

1) Corked Color Necklace
$43.99, Modcloth

2) Crayon Ring
$12, Fred Flare

3) The Sash
$8, American Apparel