Friday, February 8, 2008

Prep school fashion bubble

I've discovered very recently that I live in a fashion bubble. Heels and cocktail dresses are worn to class on a fairly regular basis (weather permitting, which unfortunately has not been the case recently), ballet flats are practically imperative for more "casual" wear, pearl necklaces and headbands are the daily accessories, tailored blazers and peacoats are thrown on when there's nothing else to wear, and no one cares that you spent $400 on a pair of shoes because that cashmere sweater of the girl sitting next to you in English class probably costs just as much.

I used to read posts from teenage girls on certain web forums complaining about the "Hollicrombie" fashion bubble they live in, where Abercrombie jeans and Hollister henleys are the unofficial uniform and Juicy Couture is couture, and seriously could not fathom attending a school like that because my prep school is such a different world from the majority of educational institutions out there.

Fortunately, a recent trip to Las Vegas with some fellow cheerleaders from outside of my school opened up my eyes to the world of teenage fashion that I had never been in contact with. My friends wore UGG boots, Abercrombie polos, True Religion jeans, Tiffany & Co. necklaces, and Northface jackets -- occasionally layering a Hollister laced camisole underneath.

"Wow, you're so private school," commented one of my friends as we were walking along the Strip. I thought it was an insult at first, but apparently it was meant to be a comment of admiration and awe. I chose to wear a black cocktail dress with comfortable patent leather yellow flats and sweater tights underneath -- it was cold outside, after all.

And so I pondered for the next few weeks about what it meant to look "private school" -- and I have a feeling that 'Gossip Girl' had something to do with this perception of appearances. Yet, I scoff at the complaints of certain teenage girls who complain about the "Hollicrombie" fashion bubble they live in, because the other side of the teenage style spectrum is a bubble too. There shouldn't be an elitist attitude between choosing to wear a t-shirt from American Eagle or a t-shirt from James Perse; when you're choosing between Burger King french fries and truffle oil french fries, the taste and quality of the truffle fries might be superior but you're essentially digesting the same number of calories.

I'm ashamed to admit that while I consider myself a young burgeoning connoisseur of everything related to fashion, I do not know much about typical teenage fashion. I'm blessed to attend a school where I can dress up as much as I want and wear anything I so please, where individual expression through fashion is fabulously prevalent. I've become so indulged in "high fashion" that I don't realize that most of the American teenage population doesn't dress like this. Blair Waldorf from 'Gossip Girl' would absolutely love my school, if she decided to leave the Upper East Side for California.

Yet, style is something we must cultivate on our own -- no matter which bubble we live in. After all, even "fashionable" prep schools have fashion mishaps of their own. Fellow student walking past me, I know those purple-fringed heels cost at least $200, but $40 Ked flats would look so much better with your beige corduroy pants.

Miss Couturable
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