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Runway on the Hill

Arts & Culture | March 4, 2013

The world of high fashion at times seems untouchable. Just a four hour train ride away in the bustling streets of New York, models—many younger than most Tufts freshmen—strut down runways and set the scene for next season’s style. Television leaves us fantasizing about Carrie Bradshaw’s latest full skirt and wondering how Blair Waldorf finds a headband for every outfit. However, shows like The Rachel Zoe Project, America’s Next Top Model, and Project Runway hint that high fashion is also present in the real world. Of course, Rachel Zoe dresses celebrities for red carpets. Tyra Banks chooses one girl each cycle to model the kind of clothing Rachel Zoe styles. And Heidi Klum sorts through designers whose work will show up on the bodies of, let’s face it, Rachel Zoe’s clients. The high fashion industry is linked together, and as Heidi Klum would say, “You’re either in, or you’re out.” Based on the simple fact that most of us are college students paying tuition, it would seem likely that most of us are out.

How can we feel glamorous here at Tufts when the closest thing we have to a runway is the pavement on the Academic Quad? In the hectic life of a college student, the contrasting colors of a shirt or the sharp shoulder pads of a coat seem low on the list of concerns; Winter Bash isn’t exactly the place for Oscar de la Renta striped ball gowns. With engineers making robots, pre-med students doing three labs a week, and IR majors reading for days on end, fashion can sometimes feel like a fluffy, superficial subject in comparison. But fashion envelops our culture and doesn’t have to be limited to the runway.

In September, designers presented their Spring/Summer 2013 fashion lines at New York Fashion Week. Now, looks are beginning to hit the stores. Just because a monochromatic orange outfit or an avant-garde ruffle might seem impractical on campus is no reason to disregard runway looks completely. Let these trends guide your style this spring:

Black and White.
This timeless minimalist color scheme is one of the most wearable trends this spring. Spring designs show these colors contrasted across the body, from Chanel’s polka dotted top to Michael Kors’ vertical striped blazer and short suit. Model Karlie Kloss stunned the Ralph Lauren crowd in a floor-length sequined black maxi, paired with a classic white collared button-down and a black top hat. While this entire outfit might be too dramatic for class, its pieces are perfect alone. Invest in a white button-down, and pair it with cropped black pants or a flouncy skirt. Add a patent-leather belt and a striking accessory and you’ll have this trend down.

The veiled look.
Silk chiffon, organza, and mousseline are the top three fabrics used in this feminine fad. Rochas presented a flowy, white, transparent and pleated maxi skirt with a crop top and cardigan, while Sophia Thaellet tucked a yellow V-neck sweater into a veiled high-waisted terracotta skirt. It’s not necessary to show a bare midriff in order to master this trend—instead, show skin through pieces that reveal the mid-thigh and shoulders. This look will add that lighthearted springy touch to pieces you already own.

Eastern Influence.
This spring, traditional Asian graphics and designs were revamped for the runway. Emilio Pucci and Mugler both showed short kimono-style structured wrap dresses. This trend includes angular shoulder pieces and belted tops, both of which minimize the waist. Don’t be afraid to drift from typical spring pastels in favor of deeper, primary colors that will pop.

Flounce and Frill.
Let ruffles take center stage on your peplum shirt, your neckline, or down the slit of your skirt. As shown by Gucci’s lushly sleeved floor-length white dress and Acne’s frilly collared two-toned blazer, ruffles can go almost anywhere.

Intricate Overlay.
From Calvin Klein’s white strapless dress veiled with a black interlocking web to Céline’s fishnet low V neckline, designers took classic details to a new level. Make a statement with bold, textured prints and overlaying fabrics. Again, it’s okay to stray from pastel colors with this more gothic trend.

Leather.
Drifting from the hard-core vibe, leather this season is rich and sumptuous. Jason Wu combined multiple trends with his gray leather chiffon veiled midriff-bearing dress. Saint Laurent paired fitted black pants with a corset-like laced up neckline on a black leather jacket. Switch things up with leather shorts, then add a feminine touch with a lacy top or chiffon ruffled blouse.

Many of these trends can be purchased on a college budget. Rent the Runway (RTR) provides upscale dress rental services. With constant sales, wonderful customer service, and designer dresses for as little as $50, RTR is perfect for that event where you want to turn heads—and you’ll never have to repeat an outfit again. Similarly, Rue La La has a membership-based business model, in which a surplus of high-end goods are bought and then sold at discounted prices. The merchandise stays in “boutiques” online for only 48 hours. Bluefly also sells discounted designer pieces, at 10% to 75% off retail prices. The site has personal shoppers available for added convenience.

This spring, take advantage of both the runway trends and the Internet revolution to be a player in the world of high fashion. Uptown or downtown, uphill or downhill, it doesn’t really matter. Let yourself feel glamorous.