Fashion 101

Last week I joined Alison Kaplan and Laura Stephens on a “Fashion in the Media” panel discussion at Fashion Group International’s annual career day. The attendees were students from colleges around the Midwest, but you wouldn’t know from looking at them. These girls (and a few lucky guys) were straight out of Teen Vogue. I’m talking fierce outfits. Not suits and pearls. Dresses. Belts. Hats. Royal blue pumps. Designer handbags.

Writers hate to use expressions, but I’ll just say it (and age rapidly as I do): Times sure have changed. When I was in college, which was not that long ago but longer ago than I care to think about, no one dressed so well. We liked fashion, we took great care in our “going out” outfits, but we didn’t look like we’d walked off the pages of a magazine. Our denim was Gap, our black pants were bootcut, and we wore them with pastel button-downs – not cropped jackets, patent pumps, and channel earrings. I’m not sure I would’ve made it class if I had to accessorize.

During my college tenure, there was the Year of the J. Crew Striped Sweater, the Year of the Jean Jacket, the Year of the Silver Necklace, and the Year of the Tall Boot. All rather pedestrian, but I coveted those trends with the same voraciousness today’s collegiates do their own. The difference is that they’re wearing what we’re wearing, and tailoring the trends to their age. Gone, thank god, are the baby tees and muffin tops. They’ve been replaced with a look that’s lady-like and polished, without being too serious. In ten years, I’m betting the only thing they regret are the leggings.