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the stylist’s notebook | chic & in college

21 June 2009
Dear La Couturier,
I love your fabulous blog and look forward to reading it every time you update. I was hoping you could help me with a small problem. I go to college in a very rural town (I am a total city girl and stick out like a sore thumb). I do not like to follow the set winter uniform of juicy sweats with uggs and a northface, I prefer to actually get dressed in the morning. My only problem is that the streets are horrible, there are a lot of hills which I have to walk up and down all day and in the winter I am dealing with roads and sidewalks perpetually covered in ice and snow. Heels are somewhat out of the question just because they make walking very difficult. It is also extremely cold all of winter. I am starting to think about shopping for my school clothes and I was wondering if you could help me come up with some chic outfits (including shoes) that would work with my circumstances. Merci!
Sincerely, Votre amie Sarah

college, typically

Ah. The age old question of what to wear in college to avoid the uniform garb of college sweatshirts, sweatpants, UGGS, and Juicy Couture tracksuits on the good days. A round of applause (or a standing ovation, perhaps?) for those who make the effort to resist a downward descent in abandoning individuality and style for the sake of comfort and/or laziness from a combination of all-nighters and parties.

I kid. It really isn’t that dramatic; dressing down isn’t bad, per se. The usual college student’s sweat-something wardrobe is one of practicality, which deserves equal recognition. But letting your collection of gorgeous boots and dresses lay to the wayside is a bit disappointing; dress up (once in a while, if everyday isn’t tangible). Tell the campus who you are. Steal the spotlight; the professor is sure to notice you among the sea of ubiquitous college tee-shirts in variations of the school colors. A bit of acknowledgement is always appreciated in classes of 40+, non?

Of course I know not of the subject; I still (sadly) have a year of high school to complete before moving onward and forthward to the college phase. In the meantime, however, I have begun to stock up on basics to avoid the cycle of (gasp!) sweatshirts and sweatpants.

{the inspiration: vanessa hudgens.}

Many will either object to this idea, or bethink me as either (a) completely insane or (b) thoroughly incompetent. I must disclaim that although I do love the girl and her style, I must say that in an unbiased point of view, Vanessa has both her ups and downs, fashion-wise. Which makes her real, and her style tangible, for the rest of the public. Like ever teen-turned-young adult, she has her sweatpants/UGGS/Juicy tracksuit/Ed Hardy cap moment – which, of course, isn’t considered too fashionable (see photos above). At the same time, some of her non-red carpet ensembles are easily translated into your wardrobe – easy, doable, yet so chic. Dressing for college is about practicality and comfort without sacrificing your individuality or style. If Miss Hudgens were to be in college, I would say she would be one of the better dressed on campus.

what to wear; college 1

{the foundation.}

long cardigans, crocheted beanie, layered tees, skinny jeans, flats.
vintage tees or henleys, skinny jeans, boots/black flats
leather jacket, layered tees, crocheted beanie optional, aviators (a la vintage Ray-Ban), skinnies, boots
crisp button up shirts tucked into jeans.

{the basics.}

Comfort and practicality are two qualities of high value, especially in such a case. Running from class to class, books and papers in hand, is almost synonymous to hap-hazardous endings: (a) exposure to not-so-nice weather and therefore slipping/tripping/falling (b) rushing, thus the tripping/slipping/falling (c) dodging through crowds of people leading to tripping/slipping/falling. It’s all potentially tragic. Which is why we love preventative methods of dressing!

Flat shoes. Ballet flats and flat boots are (dare I repeat this phrase again) a girl’s best friend – especially in the winter months. The former act as practical means of footwear and immediately dress up any outfit; the latter for its warmth and practicality. Anyway. Flat shoes are so much more practical (and comfortable for most), preventative of any accidents. Leather is, of course more practical, but suede and patent add a bit of extra dimension to any outfit. Some boot lovin’ (all of which can be worn in the fall, winter, & spring): black Minntonkas lace-ups, Minntonka Shell Fringe booties (so cute!), over-the-knee Stuart Weitzman ‘5050’ boots, Steve by Steve Madden “Insayne” boots, & classic Hunter wellies. The Frye Engineers should be an option too! I’ve heard they are the sturdiest, most well made, all-weather boot. I have yet to purchase one for myself, but nearly every Frye-buyer can vouch for the quality of the boots.

boot lovin

As if you couldn’t tell that I have quite the predisposition for black boots…

And if you cannot forsake the heels… Wedges and chunkier and/or stacked heels are your safest bets. By far comfier than your average stiletto, and more durable too. My favorites: BCBGirls ‘Petler’ Boot, We Who See Sculpted Bootie; Sadie Slouch boots; Elly boots.


The statement coat. Like the red coat worn by Miss Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl that has now become an iconic signature staple in her wardrobe. Your winter coat should have the same impact upon passerbys; the bold color is not entirely necessary, but wool coats in tweed patterns, blue, mint green, and red make for a colorful statement of your individuality among the sea of black, Nordstrom puffy jackets. The coat need not be expensive; Blair’s was from H&M!

The leather jacket. Perfect for layering as well as that extra bit of warmth; leather jackets are incredibly versatile, adding a touch of edge whilst bringing the outfit in its entirety together.

The scarf. Ubiquitous, versatile, and epitomizing mysteriousness by way of sheer sophistication, the scarf (the more the merrier!) Simply toss it on over any outfit; leave the ends loose or tie it into a European knot to both complete and upgrade (for lack of a better word) your day’s outfit.

Tees of all sorts. Stock up on the basics – black, white, gray – in addition to a few other colors for layering or a simple jeans-tee-boots-jewelry outfit that never goes wrong. Vintage tee-shirts do look quite chic, especially when worn with denim jeans and boots, flats, pumps (if you’re daring). Tucking tees into bandage skirts are also quite the sophisticated alternative.

Cardigans, the long and short of it. For the blasé, I’m so chic I just rolled out of bed and looked effortlessly fabulous look, cardigans are indeed the wardrobe must-have. Somehow wearing them, wrapped or let loose, over leggings and skinnies looks incredibly chic. Miss Hudgens seems to love them; pourquoi? Ah, my darlings, because they work.

Denim jeans. A light wash, medium wash, and dark color; three really is all you need. No explanation needed for these; they are simply necessities of life (for me, personally).

{what to wear.}

Or what I’d wear, rather. My (somewhat) signature of denim cuffed shorts over black opaque tights, black ankle boots, and a tee/top of some sort. Still modest and so simple, but the final product is incredibly different and put together. Little jackets (leather in particular), sunnies, skinnies, layered tees/loose tanks, boots, body chain.  Loose graphic tees (or college tees) tucked into high waisted skirts (knit bandage minis are my preference) worn with/without tights and flats. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.


La C.

P.S.: Happy Father’s Day! (:

P.P.S.: Did I mention how much I adore and look up to President Barack Obama & Michelle Obama? (I only mentioned it in 13 posts in this blog of mine…) Anyway. My love for Mr. Obama has only increased, especially with his letter published in Parade, titled “We Need Fathers to Step Up.” Do read it. It’s beautiful.

63 Comments leave one →
  1. 21 June 2009 4:01 pm

    LOVE the fact that you used Vanessa Hudgens as your style inspiration. She is a style goddess – oh how I would love to raid her closet! 🙂

  2. 21 June 2009 4:03 pm

    I agree with the fact that DECENT boots/booties are the key!
    Lucy =)

  3. 21 June 2009 4:13 pm

    i definitely try to dress along those lines, though my school is all about fashion i guess. but it’s what you gotta do to look effortlessly chic but not dressed down or a horror to what my school stands for :p

    great advice, good choice on vhudgens!

  4. 21 June 2009 4:15 pm

    I loved to read this! I have the very same problem right now. I live in Norway and although it is quite hot in the summer it’s freezing as hell in the winter! And yes, snow and high heels do not go well together:) Thank you for all your tips and inspiration – I’ve come to love Vanessa Hudgens a lot more now!

  5. 21 June 2009 4:20 pm

    Great post and tips for the purpose. I almost wanted to be in college again 😉


  6. 21 June 2009 4:58 pm

    I’m totally devoted to you and your blog. Love it!!!

  7. rossovelvet permalink
    21 June 2009 5:01 pm

    Hmm, those are nice tips, especially the listing !
    I think I’m always ‘overdressed’ even in highschool but it just feels so right !

  8. 21 June 2009 5:05 pm

    These are great tips and I could not give any better advice! A long chunky knit sweater/cardigan are also great for winter months, but otherwise stick to wearing layers of fitted, knit sweaters as they actually provide more warmth and shape than wearing big thick sweaters.

  9. 21 June 2009 8:37 pm

    scarves and flats are my favourites!

  10. mimi permalink
    21 June 2009 8:49 pm

    this makes me feel somewhat ashamed that i have succumbed to actually wearing ugg boots out of my house haha!.. admittedly, its winter in australia and i have 5 law finals so looking good in the next week isnt high on the agenda. however, i will never resort to sweatpants in public no matter how comfy i want to be.

    im loving vanessa for style inspiration. she’s kind of disheveled but well-put together at the same time. very cute!

    • 21 June 2009 9:16 pm

      mimi: Haha don’t feel ashamed! (: At all! I have nothing against UGG boots (I have a pair myself). Sometimes comfort is more important than looking good (: And they truly aren’t that bad. Not as bad as the rest of the fashion community makes them out to be! (;

      bisous! & good luck on those finals!

  11. 21 June 2009 9:31 pm

    i love your posts! so chic and wise!
    i have two years before college but these style tips apply to exhausted high schoolers, also. (especially moi, going into my junior year-yikes!) i love the scarves and leather jacket combo. especially with knee-high flat boots!

  12. Hannah permalink
    21 June 2009 9:37 pm

    I adore cardigans – thanks for including them in this post!

  13. 21 June 2009 10:45 pm

    “effort to resist a downward descent in abandoning individuality and style for the sake of comfort and/or laziness from a combination of all-nighters and parties.” that’s totally what it is. I’m a second year at University and it gets hard to do your makeup and put thought into an outfit when you haven’t slept in a week because of drinking and studying and sometimes a good mixture of the two. I find the number one way to deal with this: throw out your sweats. or keep them like locked up. I don’t have sweats at all, so I am forced to wear something a bit nicer.

    PS: class sizes are more like 400

  14. Jillian (Trendology) permalink
    21 June 2009 11:11 pm

    Wow- very thorough

  15. 21 June 2009 11:15 pm

    Great photos. I loved them all. I hope you had a nice weekend.

  16. 21 June 2009 11:18 pm

    I’m a college student and I agree with your suggestions completely – especially the flat boots in winter, I found a pair that have some sort of furry lining but look like regular leather boots on the outside = the warmth of UGGs without the ugg-ly =P

  17. 21 June 2009 11:23 pm

    This is great advice! I had to think back to my college days (not that long ago, really) and think about what I wore. Mostly all the stuff you wrote here, but I also wore sneakers very often — I’m obsessed with funky sneakers. People definitely wore sweats to class, but not that often; I think the girls made more effort than the guys.

    The only thing I would add is that when you’re buying shoes for school, make sure that if you’re going to wear them in bad weather or if you’re going to have to run in them, that they have some sort of traction. Otherwise, you’ll be very, very sorry!

    Oh, just thought of something else — maybe a way to avoid wearing sweats is to have a sort of go-to “uniform” that consists of things you know you look good in?

  18. 21 June 2009 11:39 pm

    Oh, thank god you didn’t suggest stuffy dressed up clothes. Your style suggestions are “frisbee” friendly, should an impromtu game start on campus.

  19. 22 June 2009 12:20 am

    Great ideas, chill but still more interesting than the regular tee and sweats. I can’t wait till i can get out of my school uniform and wearing whatever I want!

  20. 22 June 2009 12:43 am

    Fantastic advice! I definitely second the statement coat and flat black boot recommendations–those two items will carry a girl through the harshest winter with style and practicality.

  21. 22 June 2009 1:07 am

    nice tips!!!!

    Vanessa, she has pretty face. I like her style!!


  22. 22 June 2009 1:58 am

    My ‘college days’ are long (long!) gone, but I agree with these tips! I am in awe of those who get fully dressed up in 4″ stiletto’s whilst attending University/College, amazing! I needed flat shoes/boots to walk around campus, up & down stairs & hanging around the campus cafe 🙂 Comfort/practicality always came first!

  23. 22 June 2009 2:48 am

    I definitely agree! Check out my blog at

  24. 22 June 2009 3:01 am

    I admire someone brave enough to go to college in such an environment. I’m too much of a city dweller…

  25. 22 June 2009 3:33 am

    I adore the minnetoka’s :), they’re so cute. I think this looks would be perfect.

  26. 22 June 2009 4:02 am

    Lovley post! This works not only for the campus but for everywhere 🙂

  27. 22 June 2009 6:33 am

    Great post, great tips as always!


  28. 22 June 2009 6:46 am

    I am also only in high school (Though I still have the rest of this year and two more years (I am 15) till I am in Uni or college)
    Girls at my school also have the Ugg boots and the Tracksuit thing going on. I swear they were called Ugg boots short for Ugly. Although they are very comfortable for the house when you are ill. They have their uses.
    A Wonderful post!


  29. 22 June 2009 8:43 am

    def chic & perfect for college!

  30. 22 June 2009 1:27 pm

    Love your advice, darling! All those boots are tres fab!


  31. Airam permalink
    22 June 2009 1:50 pm

    Oh, you do write such lovely posts! I couldn’t agree more when you say that being “properly” dressed will make you stand out and make sure people remember you in a large college. Fortunately the music department in my college is quite small, so I don’t have to worry about being ran down or hurrying to classes, but it can sometimes be a challenge to stand out when you’re surrounded by so many creative, talented people.

    The only thing I felt like adding to your post was the importance of grooming, since being well-groomed can make even the most shabby outfit look slightly better. Sweatpants and a plain t-shirt tend to look almost passable if I’ve done my hair properly, painted my nails hand have treated my skin well. The best thing is that so many grooming activities work perfectly with studying! Spend twenty minutes rolling up your hair after a shower, for instance, then keep them in there while you study for a couple of hours, and you’ll have gorgeous hair for the rest of the day 🙂 The same goes for other usually boring, time-consuming tasks, such as waiting for nail polish to dry or for that self tan lotion to be properly absorbed.

  32. 22 June 2009 2:06 pm

    What an absolutely fantastic post!! I have to admit that I am somewhat surprised by the fact I wholeheartedly agree with you on the V Hudgens front lol. Flat boots really are indispensible for winter, plus a slouchy boot is so much nicer than, say, an Ugg.

    With university, I always prefer being over dressed than under dressed. Besides, dressing more thoughtfully than the sweats brigade always makes me feel more confident and happy 🙂

  33. 22 June 2009 2:15 pm

    Great article. I’ve just graduated from uni and I tried to avoid wearing sweats/tracksuits etc.
    I stocked up on tees and various different shoes, and those all served me well. But I did find that the better dressed I was at uni, the more productive I was

  34. 22 June 2009 2:40 pm

    great tips! i’m soo glad winter is over (i’m in the south)

  35. 22 June 2009 3:23 pm

    good suggestions & kudos to your writer for wanting to be dressed up and look cute despite the cold weather.

    Ms. Hudgens has a great attainable style!

  36. 22 June 2009 3:57 pm

    these posts are always so great…hudgens is the perfect college bound student’s inspiration!!

  37. 22 June 2009 4:10 pm

    I always love the adice that you give! Great post!

  38. 22 June 2009 4:28 pm

    Great post! I agree, gals in college should of course be comfy but also be presentable. We all have our days were sweats are just calling our names but girls should try to look nice and less sloppy


  39. 22 June 2009 10:05 pm

    Nice choices. Love the flat boots.

  40. 22 June 2009 11:33 pm

    great advice to college bound gals. i remembered my classmates would look like they just rolled out of bed which were not attractive at all.

  41. 23 June 2009 12:14 am

    I always love your ‘what to wear’ posts! x Sushi

  42. 23 June 2009 4:21 am

    I love all the boots you recommended! I will definitely be referencing this post when I move to a colder climate! xxoxoxo

  43. 23 June 2009 6:04 am

    I’ve missed your blog dearly!!
    greaaat advice, I do think vanessa hudgens wears some gorgeous clothes!

  44. 23 June 2009 10:54 am

    Awww the boot look amazing! I really like Vanessa Hudgen’s style…but I’d never go outside with wearing sweats!xD On the other hand, she looks gorgeous with everything.^^

  45. 23 June 2009 11:46 am

    such a cool post!

  46. 23 June 2009 12:19 pm

    ah, how this makes me miss uni days. all your posts are so informative and helpful, they just keep getting better! Agreed, we should all dress up more – i’d far rather be overdressed than underdressed.

    – nadia

  47. 23 June 2009 2:23 pm

    As always; LOVE your tips:D

  48. 24 June 2009 9:05 am

    nice article thx for this

  49. thebaglady permalink
    24 June 2009 8:44 pm

    I am far from my college days, but I am using these ideas for my winter wardrobe ideas! Thanks LC!

  50. LnddMiles permalink
    21 July 2009 3:37 pm

    Pretty cool post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say
    that I have really liked reading your blog posts. Anyway
    I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you post again soon!

    • 21 July 2009 8:22 pm

      LnddMiles: Thank you so much; I’m glad you liked the post & my blog! (: bisous, xx

  51. 23 July 2009 1:53 am

    Thanks for the tips …love your blog

  52. 6 September 2009 8:37 am

    Hello, you have the most gorgeous site here and I had to leave this comment for you ! Your posts are lovely and you have interesting pictures. It’s all perfect so thank you for sharing them all and best wishes….

  53. jeune permalink
    17 September 2009 1:47 am

    hey there, I really love the tips that you give! By the way, do you know where can I get that Elly Suede Boots on the “stacked heels & hidden wedges” pic? Love it. A lot!

    • 17 September 2009 1:48 am

      @jeune: Thank you! (: I believe they were from Nordstroms (: Hope that helps darling!

  54. Julie_Anne(: permalink
    18 July 2010 2:18 pm

    Vanessa Hudgens Is MY IDOL!:D I Completely Love Her!(NoGayness). She Inspires Me On My Fashion, Make-Up, And Everything Else. It May Sound Crazy But We Look Very Much Alike, Which Is Why I Go To Her In Need Of A Fashion Crisis. Having A Celebrity Looking Like Yourself Helps Alot When You Don’t Know What To Wear Lol.
    Thank You So Much For This Blog, I Kinda Needed It, I Too Have Another Year Of High School, And This Helped Me On My Fashion Crisis Today, So Thank Youu!:D


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