Thursday, February 23, 2012

chic city spotlight: ithaca, ny

ever wonder how they keep it chic in the ivy league?
well, now we know.
a good friend, a.d., a law student at cornell,
gives us her first-hand account
of the fashion in ithaca. 

if you could describe ithaca fashion in one word, what would it be?


i have never been to ithaca, but i know cornell is ivy league. are there fashions that seem to be prevalent among ivy leaguers? 

the typical prep look is prevalent. my favorite preppy mainstay is the L.L. Bean boot. I have the 10" shearling lined variety and they have proven indispensable on a snowy day. i also like the 6" unlined version as they are surprisingly fashion forward with tights and a black sweater dress or skirt. the Barbour jacket is my personal favorite new england/ivy league item and is still a bit underground outside of new england. it is actually an old british hunting brand heavily patronized by the royal family. i got my first one last fall, and last semester in london, i noticed that nearly everyone had one, so took advantage of the lack of import taxes and got a second one. on a nice day (above freezing), i opt for my liddesdale, and on a colder day, when i am not wearing a wool overcoat, i go for the ladies utility jacket. pairing barbour and bean boots gives off a cool, yet functional outdoorsy vibe.

fill in the blank. if you wore _______ in ithaca, you would stick out like a sore thumb.

cowboy boots.

having lived in memphis, nashville, and ithaca, how do the fashions of each city differ from one another? 

because ithaca is in such an extreme climate, function defeats fashion for many months of the year. the challenge here is to look good without compromising your health. those who are not committed to fashion wear a lot of down and warm (though offensively unfashionable) boots. In memphis and nashville, we dont experience such drastic conditions, thus allowing more leeway in choosing clothing. in turn, more emphasis is put on looking nice and more people care about dressing fashionably. though it is true that fashion in memphis and nashville is largely similar, having gone to vanderbilt, i experienced a subset of nashville fashion, where bigger cities influenced the fashion narrative. overall, vanderbilt was very preppy (no surprise). for boys, sperry's, polos, khakis, bright colored chinos, and button-downs were the most prominent options. in addition, texas seemed to have a lot of influence, and cowboy boots were worn often. girls, on the other hand, in addition to the preppy mainstays (headbands, bows, lily pulitzer dresses on game day, etc.) were exposed to a wider range of regional fashions with new york providing a heavy influence when it came to accessories (big fashion houses like chanel and gucci were in heavy rotation for bags). there were some items that were so ubiquitous that one could infer that there was some sort of accessory pack each girl had to buy upon matriculation (david yurman rings/bracelets, tory burch flats, vera bradley tote, pearl earrings/necklaces, burberry quilted jacket). 

what brands or stores are popular in ithaca?

hunter, ugg, the north face, patagonia, l.l. bean, frye and j.crew are popular brands. it's safe to say that there is no good shopping in ithaca. there was a good boutique, morgan's, but it is closing in a week or so. 

what trend do you see everywhere in ithaca right now?

fur hooded down coats are really big right now. also, leggings and uggs seem to be the default outfit. scarves are also really big, on both guys and girls. they range from functional pashmina-type scarves in basic colors, to statement scarves. guys tend to stick to masculine patterns like herringbone and plaid, but can also appear very fashionable with the right scarf-jacket-shoes combination.

which trends do you wish you could stop seeing in ithaca right now? 

people wearing shorts in 30 degrees

what do you anticipate will be popular in ithaca this spring? 

nearly all of the people that I see are students, and of that 90% are undergrads. greek life is huge here, and i know that my eyes will be assaulted by a barrage of the dreaded neon sorority trucker hat, tank top, and corresponding fanny pack combo come spring. 

1-10. how much does the average girl in ithaca care about her appearance?

i would say 8. it's not that they don't care about their appearance, but there seems to be an unspoken rule governing what can be worn. everyone generally looks put together, but there is very little creativity or diversity in doing so. 

on an average day, what would the typical girl in ithaca be wearing?

most days, nearly 80% of the girls i see are wearing black leggings, uggs and a long shirt.  

by the sound of things, 
there is enough time to get heads out of the books
and perpetuate the age-long tradition
of making preppy chic.

special thanks to a.d. for taking time away from the books to indulge our fashion curiosities.

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