There you are.
Sitting on the corner of a bed made unnaturally high by those flat-top cone things that your dad bought you from Walmart because he heard all of the other dads were buying those bed-elevating flat-top cone things from Walmart for the sake of storage. If there’s one things dads care about, it’s practical storage and good deals. If there’s one thing you care about (besides a million things including your grades, your family and your friends), it’s what the hell you’re going to wear to the frat party that you were invited to tonight without looking like a clone.
Looking like a clone can happen anywhere, of course — it happens in bars and in beach towns and where sequins are concerned on New Year’s Eve — but it’s especially easy on a college campus considering your limited resources. Clothes seem to merge like post-syllabus-week homework assignments the moment you set foot on educational ground (everyone borrows, college is a giant closet), which means that the outfits at this frat party tonight will be more incestual than the hook-up habits of that one co-ed athletics team. Specific sport to remain nameless but know I’m not judging. We’ve all had cabin fever.
ANYWAY. Your outfit. Your outfit. You need something that separates you from the pack. But it’s not so simple as “layer shit + add lipstick.” You have to consider logistics, dirty frat floors and the fact that it is almost always too hot or way too cold inside. Oh, and that someone will spill something on you.
If you hate wearing heels but want to look dressed up…
Reformation pants, H&M bustier, Zara metallic top, H&M shirt, Superga shoes
Start with a pair of sneakers that you feel comfortable sacrificing and then make them the only shoes you wear out ever. You will ruin them. There is a murky black substance that lives the floor of all — ALL — frat house basements and bars and not even the strongest dose of OxiClean can get it out. Your shoes need to be warriors. The bottom of your pants? Probably ruined, too. But the rest of you can risk high shine for the sake of a cool outfit. Add pajama pants (maximum comfort) with a going-out shirt, a bustier layered over (from one of last year’s theme parties?) and a button down. Feel free to exchange it with one of the house brothers so long as his goes with your overall look. It will make a great Instagram.
If you hate wearing tights but it’s freezing and you have to walk to the party…
Reformation slip dress and skirt, Nasty Gal jacket, H&M boots
Dressing up to go out in college is like Halloween as a kid: you can dress ridiculous, but you will be cold. You will regret being cold, and you will wish you listened to your mom when she told you to wear a turtleneck and tights. Thigh-high boots with a low heel solve the tights problem, so long as you’re committed to knee sweat should the party be over capacity. Wear a slip, but add a skirt over it to avoid the clone thing. Then take my word for this: wear a jacket. Wear a jacket. Wear a jacket. Yes, you might lose it. Yes, someone might steal it and then you will have to confront her two days later while standing in line at the cafeteria waiting your turn for the D.I.Y. waffle machine. But “drinking until you’re warm,” Amelia, is not a healthy option. Wear a jacket! Just sew your name in it.
If you’re like, “Ugh, I always wear the same thing, a shirt and jeans”…
Club Monaco floral top, Zara miniskirt as top, vintage Levi’s jeans, Loeffler Randall shoes, Topshop socks
Wear the same thing — a shirt and jeans — then twist a skirt that clashes over your top to act as a belled-out corset. You’ll confuse the hell out of everyone and it will be great; you’ll look great. Slip your feet into sparkle socks and go for the gold with a pair of furry sandals. Yes I know what I said earlier about frat floors, but ignore me for the sake of a non-clone outfit. College is about taking risks!
Special thanks to our model Kira Shipway. Follow Kira on Instagram @kiraship. Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis; styled by Amelia Diamond.