Style

Essentially by Katja Vujic

My skin care routine was changed forever about a year and a half ago, when I started using this one product. It’s customized to my skin, provides everything from acne prevention to moisturization to makeup removal, and I’m the only person who has a bottle. That’s because it’s homemade by my mom. It’s a face oil, a concoction of essential oils blended with a base oil that makes my skin look and smell amazing. My mom became really interested in essential oils back in 2012, when I was a junior in high school. She started using them for aromatherapy purposes, offering a cotton ball doused with a few drops of peppermint essential oil instead of the usual Vicks chest rub for clogged sinuses. Today, she has a drawer full with dozens of essential oils, and she makes everything from hand salve to lip balm.

The popularity of essential oils has surged in recent years. According to a 2016 report by Grand View Research, the trend will continue: the global essential oil market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.6 percent from 2015 to 2022.

Emily Kanter, 31, is the co-owner of Cambridge Naturals, one of Boston’s primary spots to shop for essential oils. Though the store, which opened in 1974, has been selling essential oils for decades, they haven’t always sold so well. “It was a small percentage of the population that knew what they were and how to use them,” says Kanter, “and we’re seeing much more interest now.”

Margaret Clark is the founder and president of Nature’s Gift, a company that has been selling essential oils online since 1995, and an expert who has been formally studying the uses of essential oils for years, though it began as a hobby for her.

Clark’s highest-selling oil is the Bulgarian Lavender, while Kanter’s is the Cambridge Naturals brand French Lavender. “It’s extremely versatile,” say Kanter. “It’s excellent especially for stress and for relaxation, for sleep. It has benefits for skin and hair. So it’s a very frequently used essential oil.” In addition to smelling amazing, lavender oil can even help with migraines and menstrual cramps.

Other top sellers are tea tree oil, peppermint oil, lemon oil, and rosemary oil. For every ailment, there are essential oils that can be beneficial, according to Clark and Kanter. Here’s a quick starter’s guide:

  • Skin balancing: Rose, Frankincense, Chamomile, Lavender, and Helichrysum.
  • Acne: Tea Tree, Lavender, Chamomile
  • Stress relief: Lavender, Citrus, Petitgrain, Peppermint
  • Injuries: Kunzea ambigua, Tea Tree
  • Antimicrobial: Thyme, Eucalyptus, Peppermint

These oils overlap, with multiple benefits, so it’s also important to consider what works for you. “I think a lot of people get really hung up on what the specific medicinal or studied purpose of an essential oil is,” says Kanter, “and I think there’s some value in choosing essential oils based on what smells really good to you.” Depending on the purpose you’re using an essential oil for, you will have likely have to smell it all day, so it’s a good idea to use one which makes that a pleasant experience.

The other important way to ensure a pleasant experience with essential oils is to make sure you dilute them. Although some companies capitalizing off the current trend claim that their oils don’t need to be diluted, it’s unlikely that that’s true. “We have learned that any oil used undiluted can cause lifelong sensitization, a type of allergy,” says Clark.  Although some are lucky and have used undiluted oils directly without problems, “You do not know which time you use it will trigger a sensitization reaction.  Once that happens, you will never be able to use that oil, or oils with similar constituents again.”

According to Clark, it was common teaching that tea tree and lavender oil were fine to use undiluted, but today’s research suggests otherwise. Generally, essential oils should be diluted with a base carrier oil - a vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant. That sounds a little gross, but carrier oils can be beneficial to skin as well. For example, Clark suggests hazelnut oil as a base for oily skin.

“Jojoba oil is a really nice, neutral, and relatively cost-effective oil to dilute them in,” says Kanter. “And it’s actually excellent for skin as well, so it makes a nice body oil, massage oil, et cetera.” Jojoba is one of the most popular carrier oils, but if you are creating a blend it’s a good idea to look into the carrier oil that would work best for what you’re making.

And as Kanter suggests, it’s important to do research when shopping for essential oils, as well. Before buying, look into the company and their practices. But don’t believe everything you read on the internet - some companies are spreading misinformation. “A lot of brands say that you can take essential oils internally,” says Kanter, “but to the best of our research, that’s actually not true by and large, and I caution people in doing that. That’s something we never recommend to our customers.”

Both Kanter and Clark caution against multi-level marketing companies, many of which have made quite a name for themselves in the industry. “There are companies who have jumped into ‘the essential oil craze’ looking for a quick profit,” says Clark, “and there are suppliers who have been doing this for years because it is their passion. I try to find out how long the company has been in business, the background and training.  If they are not willing to share that information, I move on.”

When shopping, Clark says there are basics which should always be on the label: common name, Latin name, country of origin, part of plant used, and how it was grown (organic, wild harvested, conventional). She says oils should be packaged in colored glass with safety caps and orifice reducers. “And beware of prices that are too good to be true,” says Clark. “Rose Oil and Sandalwood can not sell for the same price as Tea Tree or Orange.

That said, there are cost-effective companies which sell good quality products. Kanter recommends Aura Cacia and Vitruvi when shopping with cost and quality in mind, as well as the Cambridge Naturals brand, which partners with a company called Vitality Works to produce its own essential oils. “We’ve been to some of the farms that they work with, the biodynamic and organic farms in New Mexico. We trust them implicitly for their quality and the creativity and expertise they put into making their products in general,” says Kanter. “It makes it affordable for our customers, and it’s nice because it has our label on it.” As for higher end labels, Cambridge Naturals also carries products from Snow Lotus and Simpler’s Botanical. These companies, like Nature’s Gift, offer more unique and less-known oils like holy basil, bergamot, and blue tansy. “If you’re really excited about essential oils, it might be worth it and you might find some great uses for them,” says Kanter.

Photo by: Soleil Hyland

Personalized Work Uniforms by Alessandra Settineri

One of the more forgettable aspects of a job is having to adhere to the dress policy. Whether you have a uniform or minimal wiggle room in what you can wear, chances are that how you dress on the job is different from how you dress off the clock. You get the sinking feeling that a dress code strips away your individuality; a uniform turns you into a copy of every other employee. But, if you find the loopholes in your company’s dress code, you’ll find that those limits can help you open up to the most liberating expressions of your style. Here are a few college students who found their way around the workplace by packing a little personalized flair in their look:

Jake, Starbucks barista

Dress Code: Employees must wear pants, shorts, skirts or dresses in black, gray, navy, brown, and khaki (no white). Jeans may be worn in darker washes and hues only (no light tones). Starbucks® promotional T-shirts may be worn.

What’s your usual style?

“My style changes quicker than New England weather. I love anything tight fitting; skinny jeans are a big part of my wardrobe. I also love 90s apparel, so you can find me in baggy sweaters, oversized jackets, sweatpants, and lots of denim.”

What aspects of your style do you sacrifice or compromise for the sake of meeting the dress code?

“It’s very hard to appeal to my love for the 90s when I am at work.”

How do you make your work uniform personal?

“I hardly ever wear anything but jeans. I love them, and they make my butt look great[…] For shirts, I usually try and wear a patterned collared shirt that allows me to express myself but also stays within the company’s regulations. These patterns usually involve polka dots and flowers. I also wear my ‘work Vans’ that I have owned since getting the position over two years ago. They started as all black Vans, but through all of my shifts they are now completely destroyed, but I like how they tell my story as a Starbucks barista.”

Kayla, ice cream scooper at J.P. Licks

Dress Code: Company apron, no yoga pants or bottoms of a similar fabric, close-toed shoes, and a hair covering. Wearing company shirts and hats is encouraged, but not required.

Usual style?

“I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever had a very distinct style[…] I think I dress pretty casually, but I do own pieces that I think are very loud on their own. But I wouldn’t necessarily call my entire style loud.”

What do you sacrifice or compromise?

“Hair, for sure. Constantly having my hair in a ponytail bothers me[…] It’s kind of messy usually, but it sort of adds [to my style]. I really hate my work sneakers; they’re just about the ugliest pair of shoes on the face of the earth. Like neon green and pink and black Asics I got as hand-me-downs. I will give it to them though—they were the first pair of shoes that didn’t make my feet feel like they were going to fall off.”  

How do you make your work uniform personal?

“Making my work uniform personal has really been a shoulders-up kind of operation. I rely on accessorizing, so a lot of the time I’ll wear earrings. I’ll get a lot of compliments from customers and my co-workers as well about these pom-pom drop earrings that I have.

And then I only ever wear my ‘Emerson College Dad’ hat[…] sometimes it lends itself to connecting with customers that will end up starting a conversation.”

Khadijah, eyewear consultant at LensCrafters

Dress Code: Professional-looking clothing, modest attire. Clothes must be white, grey, or black. Must wear black shoes that are either flats, dress shoes, or smart boots. Every week employees can wear a pop of color in an accent piece.

Usual style?

My style on an everyday basis is generally casual and comfortable. I wear a lot of basics. I'm generally not adventurous with patterns or bright colors; I usually wear a lot of dark colors and a lot of burgundy. I'm usually wearing jeans or leggings and then a sweater. I also generally wear Vans or boots[…] I would describe my style as simple, casual, and slightly edgy... or at least I'm trying to inject a little edge into it [laughs].

What do you sacrifice or compromise?

“The thing I compromise on is absolutely my shoes. I really just wish I could wear my nice comfy everyday Vans instead of having to wear flats or heeled boots because they're really not that comfy and a few hours on the job I really start to feel it.”

How do you make your work uniform personal?

I make my work uniform personal with my makeup. I often will wear a statement lipstick or wear some cool highlighter to give my whole look some life[...] If your outfit is basic but your makeup is slaying, I feel like it almost makes up for it. I also try on a lot of glasses at work and generally wear the more outrageous ones because it's fun. The last shift I worked, we got a bunch of new glasses and I wore a pair of gold Ray-Ban's which were sort of outrageous but helped me add a little fun to my outfit.

Art by: Morgan Wright

The Mindfulness Behind Mending by Mia Zarrella

Inside the top drawer of Antoine Timbers’ ‘18, wooden Piano Row desk, among various household supplies like batteries and extra tubes of toothpaste, is a large red sewing kit. Twenty spools of colored thread are packaged with small red scissors, measuring tape, safety pins, a thimble, buttons, and other supplies necessary for repairing clothing. Visual and media arts major Timbers assures that he has a better kit back home in Virginia, but this is the kit he uses at school.

In today’s consumer culture where consumption and waste have been normalized, a sewing kit in the top drawer of a 21-year-old’s desk is a novelty.

A century ago, or even 20 years ago, this would be a different story. Yet, today, a 2015 documentary titled The True Cost reported that the world consumes 400 percent more textiles than we did two decades ago.

Availability and affordability of clothing today has lent itself to mass consumption. And with mass consumption, comes mass disposal.

According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the average U.S. citizen throws 70 pounds of clothing away annually, contributing to about 21 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste every year. Perhaps that’s why a sewing kit is so charming today. The sewing kit signifies there’s still sentimental value in textilesthat people still have a desire (and the skill set) to mend and not just replace.

Timbers started wielding a needle and thread when he was 10 years old as a way to avoid unnecessary spending. His grandmother and mother guided him in patching up socks, jeans, and sports jackets.

“You could throw it away, but if that specific thing meant something for you, why would you get a new one?” says Timbers.

Aside from economic repercussions, there’s a ecological consequence to wastefulness. Textile disposal has grown by 40 percent in the last decade and the Council for Textile Recycling isn’t seeing much growth in diversion (only two percent), which means our landfills are getting bigger.

According to Massachusetts’s Energy and Environmental Affairs’ web page, Massachusetts residents dispose of 230,000 tons of textiles every year and 95 percent of the material (cloth, leather, and rubber) could be reused or recycled.

Writing, literature, and publishing major Danika Frank ‘18 started mending her freshman year in college when her black Jansport backpack ripped the night before moving to Emerson.

After watching a YouTube tutorial, Frank says, “I had to sew the arm strap back on and then patched a tear in the front pocket with some cute band patches I bought so it could just look cool.”

Frank has been wearing a pair of torn-up Dr. Martens for eight years. She finds character in imperfections that come from wear and tear and mending.

“Unless something is beyond repair, I’ll hold onto it,” says Frank. “Plus, I’m really into punk clothing and culture, so really, the patches, stitches, and safety pins are kinda cool.”

DIY became a “trend” this past decade, and with the help of blogs and websites such as Pinterest, more people can learn resourcefulness.

Pinterest can teach anyone with Wi-Fi and a little patience to remove the snow salt stains from suede boots by applying a water and vinegar mixture with a toothbrush. Or they can learn how to cover an ugly logo by sewing a patch over it. The power to reinvigorate and repair without spending money can be life-changing, or at least wardrobe-changing.

“Unfortunately, handiwork isn't really appreciated or taught much anymore,” says Frank. “On one hand, it's great that we're no longer pushing kids, young girls especially, to do just housework-based things and are encouraging more cerebral skills, but at the same time, people have definitely lost a sense of practicality.”

Marisa Dellatto ‘18, is another student utilizing her tending skills. The journalism major recently purchased an oversized Italian-made olive green jacket from Emerson’s Free and For Sale Facebook shopping group. It was practically love at first sight.

The patterned silk lining inside was all torn and it was missing buttons, but Delato says, “I’d rather spend the time to resew than not have it at all.”

“I just have your basic sewing kit that you buy at CVS and yarn,” says Dellatto, who has a tendency to buy worn-out clothes at thrift stores and fix them up later.

“Making stuff just takes time,” says Timbers. “A lot of people either don’t know how to do it or don’t give it the time.”

Perhaps the larger issue is that people today don’t care enough about their clothing to restore them. The world is full of new clothing, after all. Right?

Clothing, like plants and relationships, needs tending. When clothes are not given the attention they need to be their very best, they’ll fall apart, much like a deprived succulent.

Frank says, “I think we need to help people realize they can absolutely learn these skills and it would make such an impact, and not just in their own life.”

Photo by: John Huszagh

What I Wish I Could Pull Off But Can't by David Carliner

I have never owned an article of clothing from Abercrombie & Fitch. Whenever friends commiserate about their cringe-worthy middle school wardrobes, I can brag that I avoided the trend of buying $50 shirts from stores that double as sensory deprivation chambers. While I wish this was because 13-year-old David didn’t care about what was “cool” to wear and marched to the beat of his own drum, the truth is that my drum was definitely rented from someone else. I would’ve loved to wear Abercrombie, Hollister, or Limited Too For Boys, but I self-identified as too dorky to wear the first two and the third one is made up. Rather than run the risk of being called a fraud, I self-policed and didn’t even try to dress cool. Boys like my classmate Drew could wear A&F graphic tees that said “You look like my next ex-girlfriend,” but I knew I wasn’t meant to rock that (or have a ton of next ex-girlfriends). I’m now an Adult Person who doesn’t care as much what other people think of my style choices—it’s been years since I would ask seven people for advice before buying a striped polo at Old Navy. That being said, there are still plenty of clothes I’d love to rock that I just don’t think I can pull off. Here are a few.

 

Any hat. For the eight years I spent as a Boy Scout, I had to wear a red beret as part of my uniform, which was an issue on several accounts. For one thing, I wasn’t an adorable French orphan or a hunky military man, which are the only two groups who should ever wear berets. More pressing was the fact that my head's too big for any hat. For eight years I wore a beret with the back cut out of it so it was wide enough so I didn’t look exactly like an acorn. Rough stuff, y’all.

The two big hat trends I currently feel excluded from are dad hats and those black, wide-brimmed hats everyone either started wearing because of Beyoncé or American Horror Story: Coven. A note on dad hats: aren’t these just baseball hats? Like, why are we suddenly calling them dad hats when they’ve been around as baseball hats forever? I’m not making it up that we’re doing that, right? Okay cool, thanks for making me feel less gaslighted. I can’t wear those, and I can’t wear Beyoncé hats that make me look like a YouTuber who hasn’t realized yet that he’s not going to sustain himself financially on Ariana Grande parody videos.

Big scarves. There are certain prerequisite skills for pulling off a scarf, such as an understanding of layered outfits, strong shoulders, or knowing how to tie a scarf. I lack all of these, plus I don’t trust myself to wear a big scarf because I’m afraid I’ll use it as a pillow, fall asleep on the T, and wake up at the end of the line.

Skinny jeans. I wish I could rock these on principle, even though every beauty campaign now tells me I Am Still A Person Who Should Buy Clothes Even Though I Have Pudge. If I ever become exorbitantly wealthy I’m going to pay a tailor to sew me into a pair of skinny jeans that I normally wouldn’t be able to pull on over my birthing hips.

A varsity jacket. I promise I wasn’t a total loser my entire childhood, but I feel like any guy who at one point hid in the unlit crevice of the locker room to change for gym class secretly wishes they were sporty enough to earn a jacket with a football patch on it. In 2010, I almost bought a McKinley High School varsity jacket when I attended the Glee concert for the second time (too much to unpack there in 1,100 words). I ultimately decided against purchasing it, which is a decision almost as good as deciding not to sign up for Emerson’s First Kiss video back in 2014. My low-key fantasies of being #masc enough to wear this status symbol may have to wait until my next life when my Moon Volleyball team wins the space station regionals.

Diva cups. Not really a style thing and not applicable to me for self-explanatory reasons, but a lot of my menstruating pals are into these and I think they’re awesome in theory.

Chokers. I’m the kind of trend follower who likes to follow trends lightly, so that it doesn’t seem like I’m trying to fit in when in fact I am. I feel like it’s too late in the game for me to get into chokers, even though I really like the ribbon ones that make everyone look like they’re pledging Kappa.

Jorteralls. Here’s the thing: I’m not meant to pull off jorteralls. They basically don’t exist in my size, which I know from a year’s worth of scouring the internet for a pair. Still, I refuse to lose hope that one day I’ll be browsing at The Gap and stumble upon size 35 jorteralls that make me look resplendent. What could be more fun than a clothing item that obscures my front, showcases my calves, and incorporates denim? People have pointed out to me that I could just buy overalls and cut them, but I guess I’m a jorteralls purist.

Septum rings. Can these come out when you sneeze? If so, I’d end up doing that. And if not, I’d make my septum ring really gross. I breathe through my mouth more than I’d like to admit, and I don’t think blocking off a chunk of my nasal space would improve that.

A tattoo of Joni Mitchell. As much as I’d love to ink my favorite Canadian songstress on my arm, I don’t anticipate my body staying shaped like a human body for more than another thirty years or so. Nobody wants to see Joni’s face sag as my skin sinks, just like how no one wants to see me weep to Court and Spark as I walk around in public. Rompers. There’s something about these glorified onesies that I’m obsessed with, and in my heart, I’m holding on to the hope that there’ll be Men’s Rompers within the next ten years. Gender is a myth, let me have this! I’m pretty prone to moose knuckle so that may be a problem, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Photo by: Caitlin Stassa & Monika Davis

30-Minute Masterpiece by Christian Lopez

I was getting dressed in front of a particular person in my romantic periphery today. After about 30 minutes of frustration, fussing around with different articles of clothing and outfits, he uttered something that struck me in my gut about every inadequacy I have in my body. What he said was this: “I would appreciate it more if those people I know who dress well didn't spend 30 minutes figuring out what to wear."

Ouch. He didn't say this in direct reference about methough obviously I was includedbut ouch.  

Getting dressed is a pretty personal thing, right? Not only because there is something deeply invasive about someone watching you put clothes on, but also because “yourself” is what you hope to be in the end. We know this from every exclaim at the end of piecing together an outfit that sounds like: “I’m just not sure if it’s me.” There is a physical frustration within the body when you can’t seem to fit into anything that communicates who you are.

But he's right, you know? There is a value placed in being effortless when deciding what to wear. The amount of value placed in effortlessness greatly outweighs the value in being conscientious about what you wear. Why does effort equate to invalidation? It took Michelangelo four and a half years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. We don't discredit him for taking so long to create his masterpiece.

How long it takes me to get dressed has always been joked about or scoffed at. I have shown up late to more events than I can remember because of I’m trying to choose an outfit. The amount of time I spend in the morning getting dressed has been on my mind a lot lately. My mindfulness stems from hearing these comments. These words from your mouths, friends, are destructive to my ability to construct my masterpiece. I have been reduced to aiming for a solid ten minutes to get my ass out the door, but haven’t really been successful.

Like today. It was raining and I wanted to wear these green Hunter Chelsea rain boots that I haven't worn since last winter, but they are also clunky and green, like the color of every single raincoat I own. Yet, it was still raining and both were crucial to my outfit.

I felt defeated when trying to come up with another idea of where to start. I have these shoes that I’ve been dying to wear (these satin Superga sneakers that scream party), but couldn't wear them because the rain fucks up satin (FYI).

I was then set back by this comment that my person, my supposed confidant, uttered in a way that seemed to take away all of my integrity. The way he said this was as if I was putting on a costume, not clothes, to take a bow and expect applause. He said this as though I wasn't sincere when I’ve expressed how I only get dressed for myself, just because I fucking like to. This, I thought, he appreciated.

That’s another thing: his comment upset me because, at one time, how I dressed had some type of value to him, or so I thought. He appreciated what I wore, and therefore appreciated who I am. How dare he discredit his feelings after he was the one to solidify them.

Allowing the way I dress to give value to the relationship, a relationship, is futile. Especially when I have made it such a point to keep it an independent process. It was great, however, to have recognition given to my clothing choices because it’s a nod to me, to my personality, and any compliment on the way I dress is a compliment to my soul.

Here’s the point: this comment insulted something of significant value to me: the way I dress. Not only how I dress, but how I get dressed. I would make dressing myself my profession if I could. I already do it like it’s my job, so when my sartorial integrity is questioned I say this: Don’t tell me how to do my job.

I'm fine, we're fine, but I felt called to defend myself on this. There is value I see in myself, in the way that I dress. There is this value, though, because I’m the one who gave it to myself. I’m taking back what is rightfully mine. That is how I get dressed. However long it may take, it’s okay because it is working—and you don’t fix what isn’t broken.

Illustration by Taylor Roberts

Fashion as Art: Museums Around the World by Megan Cathey

Whoever said fashion isn’t art hasn’t been to any of these fashion museums. Musée des Arts Décoratifs at the Louvre: Paris

Paris is one the fashion capitals of the world, and unofficially one of the gluten capitals of the world. So if you find yourself in Paris anytime soon, you can easily satiate both your bread and fashion needs. To accomplish the latter, check out the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, located in the Palais du Louvre’s western wing.

Tassenmuseum Hendrikje (Museum of Bags and Purses): Amsterdam  

Going to the Castle? When you’re in Amsterdam, check out the Museum of Bags and Purses. This museum has both women’s and men’s handbags from as early as the 16th century and up to the contemporary era. Here, a handbag is so much more than a handbag: it’s an artifact that reflects a particular historical period. Plus, it’s gift shop and tea room are supposedly off the charts.

Victor and Albert Museum: London

The Victor and Albert Museum in London is the largest museum dedicated to decorative arts and design, so it’s highly unlikely that you’ll leave without feeling at least a bit inspired. Devote a day to exploring the museum’s textiles, furniture, clothing, accessories, and the John Madejski Garden. Although airfare to the UK costs a pretty penny, excluding special exhibitions, entrance to the museum is always free.

Kobe Fashion Museum: Kobe, Japan

The Kobe Fashion Museum, the first museum in Japan to specialize in fashion, features galleries of fashion from Japan and abroad, a library filled with texts about fashion, as well as space for design workshops and lectures with Japanese designers. Another plus for the museum: the exterior of the building looks like a UFO.

Museo Frida Kahlo (Frida Kahlo Museum): Mexico City

Frida Kahlo is not just iconic for her paintings, but for her personal style as well.

Also known as Casa Azul (“Blue House”) due to its vibrant blue exterior, the museum is in the house where Kahlo grew up, where she lived with her husband Diego Rivera, and where she died in 1954. Riviera created the museum in 1958 to honor Kahlo’s memory and since then visitors have been able to view Kahlo’s paintings, as well as her personal possessions such as her large collection of clothing. At the Casa Azul, you’ll be able to see some of the gowns she wore in her self-portraits, like the dress in “Self-Portrait in a Velvet Dress.”

The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: New York City

The Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Met houses the Costume Institute, a collection of more than 35,000 costumes and accessories from five continents and seven centuries. The Met is famous for its annual Met Gala and special exhibitions, with recent events including PUNK: Chaos to Couture (2013), and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty (2011), which in its three month run attracted over 500,000 visitors. Starting this May, the Met will feature an exhibition called “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology,” which Apple will sponsor.

Museum of Fine Arts: Boston

Boston may not be one of the more stylish cities in world, but what we lack in sartorial prowess, we make up for with our smarts. Similar to the Met’s upcoming exhibit, the Museum of Fine Arts current exhibition “#techstyle” explores technological innovations in the fashion industry. Think digitally printed designs, clothes made from recycled materials, or even from 3-D printers. The exhibit runs until July 10th, and you can get into the MFA for free with your Emerson ID, so really, there’s nothing stopping you.

Photo courtesy of Wiki Creative Commons 

Dare to Denim by Callie Bisset

Tracing back to the 17th century, denim is one of the oldest fabrics in the world. Throughout the years, it has been used for just about everything from upholstery to flags of rebellion. Today, denim is most prevalent in the fashion world. Denim jeans, invented by Levi Strauss in 1873, are typically the essential denim wardrobe piece. Jeans are necessary to a modern wardrobe because they provide a comfortable yet stylish look and go with just about anything—even other denim pieces. Denim on denim is considered a fatal fashion mistake by some. Sometimes referred to as a “Canadian Tuxedo,” the idea of pairing a denim top and pants, no matter the hues, causes some to cringe. But in fashion, “mistakes” can actually be quite stylish. Contrary to popular belief, there are ways to wear denim on denim without looking ridiculous.

The main key to wearing denim on denim is pairing different washes. The combination of different washes ensures that you’ll avoid an overload like the iconic outfits of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake at the 2001 American Music Awards. While their early 2000s attire was certainly a fashion statement, avoiding matching shades of denim in daily life is typically for the best. A great way to do this is to opt for a darker wash paired with a light wash, such as pairing dark jeans and a light jean jacket.

Pairing denim shirts and pants is not entirely out of the question. Denim chambray shirts are a wardrobe essential for many. Kim K rocks these shirts paired with denim jeans. Breaking up the shades of denim with accessories also helps tone down the outfit; a belt can be a great way to separate a top from a bottom. However, for a more subtle look, colored denim is also a great way to incorporate more of this fabric into your wardrobe, and black denim pants paired with a denim shirt creates a chic everyday outfit.

Jean shorts, or “jorts,” are staples of most spring and summer outfits. No matter the style—high waisted, distressed, etc—denim shorts also pair well with other denim items. For festival season, a blue denim fanny pack is the perfect accessory. It can be easily included in your wardrobe and paired with black denim shorts.

Denim accessories including purses or bags may seem intimidating, but it’s easier to include a denim bag than you may think. For everyday wear, a denim backpack can be paired with contrasting shades. The simple accessory adds just the right amount of denim without being overwhelming. And then there are denim shoes—yes, they exist. Denim sneakers by brands such as Vans and Converse, can add a special touch to any outfit. Though denim shoes may sound like a total fashion disaster waiting to happen, when paired with the right outfit they can build a look. Simply toss a jean jacket over a skirt or dress for a casual look.

Denim skirts are back in style this spring. Button down a-line style skirts as well as basic mini-skirts are perfect pieces for a trendy spring/summer wardrobe. Pair a denim mini-skirt with a different shade denim jacket or other denim accessories. If you want to up your use of this style without worrying about mixing clothing items you can also incorporate a colorblock jean skirt that features multiple shades of denim into your wardrobe.

If you’re still afraid of denim on denim, a great solution is jean overalls. Overalls are a great fool-proof way to up the denim in your wardrobe without risk. Denim overalls vary in styles like overall pants, shorts, or dresses. They range in colors and shades and can be layered over a basic solid colored shirt or a patterned top. Overalls are possibly the simplest way to rock a full denim outfit.

While matching denim washes is only for the daring, at the end of the day do what you want and wear what makes you comfortable. Your fashion is your choice. It's all about the attitude. If you believe you can rock denim on denim, then you can!

Photo by Ebrima Manjang

Every Body is a Beach Body by Lindsay Simmons

Fashion shapes more than the clothes we wear: it is an integral element of our culture. As the summer season—what many of us equate to “beach season”—approaches, the social impact of fashion is increasingly evident. Why? Because of swimsuit culture: in which fashion and society have caused us to obsess over how we look in swimwear. Thin, tanned female models pose for bikini photo shoots, flanked by equally bronzed and well-toned male models in tight-bottomed swimwear. The ad campaigns leave out the comparably untanned, “unfit” masses. There are many people who aren’t models—including myself—who feel the most pressured by the fashion world’s idealization of thinness.

Despite the fashion industry’s pro-skinny propaganda along with societal pressures to be thin and tan, every body is a beach body. Some ads—such as Protein World’s infamous “Are You Beach Body Ready?” campaign—assert that in order to wear a bikini a woman must have the “ideal,” model-esque body. For men, there’s pressure to sport six-pack abs and bulging biceps. When dressing for the beach it’s important that we disregard these unhealthy, negative messages.

So get inspired by more body positive campaigns! Aerie’s recent feature of model Barbie Ferreira for its “Aerie Real” swim campaign is breaking the swim-culture mold by featuring a woman with a body type the fashion world under-represents: the curvy woman. The campaign’s resonance with people across America is setting an important example for other bathing suit advertisers: representation is relatable and attractive to the masses.

Luckily, women’s swimwear trends have been going beyond the basic bikini. One-pieces, crop tops, boy shorts, and high-waisted suits are increasingly popular for women. These are all nice options for covering up potentially sensitive areas of your body.

If you’re like me, you may prefer keeping your bathing suit of choice covered for most—if not all—of your beach day. Swimsuit cover-ups, sundresses, or even just a pair of shorts and a t-shirt can be fun, stylish beachwear. I find myself feeling the most confident during the summer when I’m wearing an outfit with a bathing suit underneath—my easily-burnt skin is also grateful for covering up.

Guys can take a similar approach by pairing their swim bottoms with a comfortable summer tee of their choice. There’s no need to take off your shirt if you don’t want to, and there’s especially no reason to do so when you’re in a nice outfit!

Mainly, it’s important for all beach-goers to feel confident in whatever outfit they choose to sport for their day out in the sun. The options are endless! Disregard body-shaming media that excludes your body type. And articles trying to advise you on the type of bathing suit to wear based on your body type do not have any say in what you wear if you don’t want them to. At best, they can be nice suggestions, but they’re never set in stone.

Why? Because everybody has a unique body. Each person has a personal style and individual preferences for showcasing their body—this goes for beach styles and beyond. Every single body is beautiful, and everyone can sport all sorts of beach wear because every body is a beach body. Power to the beachgoers.

Illustration by Allaire Conte