Campus chic

Pittsburgh is no Milan, no Paris, no New York. We are sometimes classified as the blue-collar, steel-mining, artless crowd. But Carnegie Mellon’s campus is not devoid of stylish coeds. The view from the Cut is quite aesthetically pleasing — just look closer. Leaves are changing colors and we’ve got people ringing in the new season with their back-to-school threads.

This fall, styles hit the fashion world with a lot of pret-à-porter (ready-to-wear) concepts. Silhouettes tapered as the preferred form became simple and tailored. The angular sculpture of Miuccia Prada’s skirts and the inorganic origami-like shapes of Stefano Pilati’s jackets at Yves Saint Laurent are perfect examples. These styles are full of straight lines that define the human body rather than hiding its shape. Fashion has leaned away from the Mary-Kate and Ashley dumpster layers and mish-mashed accessories. For the last few seasons, the women’s form has been similarly swamped, engulfed by huge amounts of fabrics. But the baby doll, bubble, trapeze, and tent have made way for the sleek, long lines exemplified by Jil Sander suits and the lean A-line of Marc Jacobs coats. Simple cuts like the A-line flatten every figure by enhancing the waistline and hiding what you’re self-conscious about. Male fashion has also slimmed down; pants are narrower with hems hitting just above the ankle — a style reminiscent of the ’40s or a swing band’s relaxed class.

And Carnegie Mellon students haven’t escaped the influence of notorious Cory Kennedy, a blogger famous for writing about her “fabulous life” and posting photos of her friends and herself that make for online eye candy. Her hipster and ironically clashing style mixes hip-hop sneaker culture with a vintage twist.

Bevin Hill, a senior voice major, also has that hipster college look. She blends together Cory’s clashing threads with a more sophisticated color scheme that adds a mature taste. Hipster staples include patterned scarves worn like bandannas and comically awkward sunglasses that somehow manage to perfectly frame the face. Hill’s scarf resembles Consuelo Castiglioni’s taste in artsy textiles matched with nudes and monochromatic non-colors. This season’s pinnacle accessory is the “big bag,” and Hill’s white tote is a perfect catch.

Another popular item on campus is the biker bag. Asa Watten, a senior social and decision science major and fine art minor, exemplifies the Pittsburgh biker scene. His pants are a perfect no-nonsense slim fit, and he sports a classic shoulder bag. You can customize a recycled plastic bag online at www.timbuk2.com — they’re environmentally friendly and are possibly the second-hottest biker accessory, next to the self-built road bike.

As Carnegie Mellon is in an urban environment, it’s no surprise that the hip-hop culture has become a big part of our campus identity. Comfy and loud sneakers like those on Christie Ibaraki, a first-year H&SS student, are certainly popular. Ibaraki and Hill took a note from Jil Sanders’s fall collection: muted tones and non-colors that help elongate the form. First-year art major Blair Spotswood Dowd is also sporting the grungy, urban look. Her muted palate really brings out the fun pattern in her jeans.

This season’s collections also feature Japanese influences with deconstructed tailoring. Japanese fashion houses are famous for their sleek simplicity; the no-frills sophisticated look can be found on campus, too. Androgynous shapes are quite popular — men’s clothes get tighter and women’s slacks a bit more tailored. CFA graduate Elizabeth Monoian (‘00) was spotted in Skibo in an outfit both androgynous and sleek. Her style harks back to Comme Des Garçons in the early ’80s. Fall styles have a distinctly sharper, longer line that looks adult and sophisticated.

Of course, it’s impossible to forget this season’s most exciting silhouette change: the return of high-waisted pants. The nipped waistline became popular with Christian Dior’s 1947 line. “It was because women longed to look like women again that they adopted the New Look,” Dior said, as quoted in a 1947 issue of Vogue.

Bailey Grattan, a sophomore political science major, has the perfect form for the ever-popular high-waisted jeans. Her pants are perfectly tapered at the ankle and paired with a masculine polo, creating a great X shape, which emphasizes the shoulders and hips while cinching the waist. “The jeans make me feel like I’m ready for whatever comes at me — a ‘dress for success’ school event or just a night out,” Grattan said. Junior CS major Dominic Dagradi was also wearing a “dress for success” suit to class. He pulled his outfit together with a whimsical punk belt that helped tone down the ensemble.

As New York magazine advised, “The best thing to do in a suit is to take yourself less seriously.” While fashion becomes more casual and less serious, just remember that the right clothes open all doors.