Karol Perdomo, a freshman at Hunter College, is sitting in a quiet corner of the school’s library cafe. She pulls a beat up history textbook from her bag with a grimace and flips through its pages preparing for an upcoming midterm. In a city of opinions, ideas, and individuals trying to express themselves it can be hard to make a name for yourself; and in a place like Hunter College it’s so easy to blend in.
Karol wears a black and white striped beanie, a plaid button down shirt with black white, maroon, and gold stripes, a grey zipped up hoodie, dark jeans and black Nike Free Runs and glancing at her study attire I can’t help but wonder how college students are able to use fashion to leave their marks on the world. Are there certain styles they covet and follow? Does it come naturally or without care? Who influences them? I had all of these questions and a few thousand students who could potentially hold the answers—So I wanted to know: What is college chic?
As I slid across from Karol into an uncomfortable lime green chair I asked her how she would describe her style. She thought for a moment, looked contemplatively out of the window and said, “I don’t have one, I just wear whatever is comfortable!” We chatted about jeans and t-shirts and the all encompassing comfort that Vans provide for a cozy yet simple look. So far comfort seems to be crucial for college chic.
She shifts anxiously in the hard plastic chair as I ask her who influenced her style. “I don’t really have anyone,” she says, “but you know Ed Sheeran, right? He wears sneakers at red carpets. He doesn’t care. He’s comfortable with himself.” Being comfortable, it seems, is more important than following what’s popular in the crazy world of high-end fashion. When I showed her some pictures from a recent fashion show she said, “If I saw someone wearing that I wouldn’t really think twice about it, you do you. If you like it wear it!” pointing at her acceptance towards everyone to be their own person and wear whatever makes them comfortable. By pulling from some aspects of Ed Sheeran’s closet, Karol is able to find herself in a world full of shades of black, white, and gray.“Although, I wouldn’t wear pink, I hate pink.” She says as she scrunches her nose up at the bright colors on the catwalk.
I ask her what the favorite part of her outfit is and she taps her chin and smiles, “My beanie!” While it remains a popular fashion accessory especially during the winter months, beanies have been around for quite a long time and have evolved quite a bit from the brimmed beanies made popular in the early 2000s’ to the longer more “hipster” versions we have today. When I joked about being a hipster she put her hands up and smiled “I’m not a hipster!” This idea of being a hipster has spread like wildfire over the past few years and it’s become somewhat of a stigma. Karol puts her hands up and backs away from even the mention of the word. Although her shopping choices reflect what’s popular and comfortable, Karol stresses dressing for herself, “It’s not what I’m wearing. It’s more like what’s in here.” She points to her head and smiles.
I leave Karol to get back to studying for her midterm and I realize a few things to be true so far: college kids like to dress comfortably and blend in enough to be a part of the larger group of “not hipsters,” but stand out enough to be considered their own person.
Written by Samantha Gonzalez
Edited by Anya Ferguson