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Yes We Can: Fashion inside the hedges isn't a hopeless case

By Deanne Nguyen     1/29/09 6:00pm

Starting with this week, the Thresher is going to have its very own fashion column. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Fashion? What? At Rice? Um, no." And I'm not going to lie; when I first came to Rice, I thought the exact same way.Every day I watched droves of people walk to class in their hoodies and jeans, pajamas and sweats, without a care for what they were wearing. As someone who chooses to spend 20 minutes of every morning just staring at her wardrobe, who dares to brave the academic quad in heels, I found it disheartening to discover that my peers did not share the passion that I had for getting dressed.

But upon closer inspection and multiple encounters, I found quite a few style-conscious people here, and not just in the piles of magazines waiting to be read in the mail room. I saw very classy high-waisted skirts with bow-accented flats; eclectic yellow skinny jeans with some great old-school nerd frames and suspenders; American Apparel-style colored hoodies on top of white lace dresses; and my favorite: a simple, nicely fitted dress shirt with jeans. I was floored and very happy to admit that I'd been dead wrong: many Rice students, girls and guys alike, have a killer hold on fashion and are not afraid to use it. The active presence of fashion here is not at all an impossible concept to grasp.

I can also see why there's an ambivalent or cynical attitude present. If fashion were a girl, she would be materialistic, self-absorbed, superficial and high-maintenance - a "Mean Girl." And yet, she would be as witty, charismatic and intriguing as the girl next door. Some of us would prefer to ignore her and would rather not be associated with someone so troublesome, while others would want to follow her every move, imitate her and become a part of her entourage. Most of us, though, fall into a third category: people who just want to be acquainted with her without letting her dictate their lives. Unfortunately, many people in this category have had a bad first impression of her or haven't had the chance to meet her properly.

So let me clear that up right now. Allow me to introduce to you: Fashion. I just know you'll get along fabulously.

With this column, I vow to present the many facets of Fashion in all her glittering glory, although with a grain of salt. Like some of you, I love poring over magazines and trends. Don't even get me started on shopping. I religiously study editorials from the likes of American, British and Japanese magazines, as well as whatever else I can get my hands on. I eat this stuff for breakfast.

I also, however, believe in questioning what is presented to me. I am often skeptical of trends magazines try to push and am surprised that so many classical concepts are still underrated. I'll be discussing what designers are showing, what is popular, what is memorable, what is fun to try out, what is hilariously awful and everything else in between. In this column there will be both critiques and acclaims, but nothing will go gently into the night. If it does, it's probably boring.

Ultimately, though, Fashion is nothing more than an inspirational tool to be used as one pleases, whether for artistic exploration, general debates or just to decide what to wear tomorrow. I can go on all day about things I like or dislike and push my style suggestions, but it's all up to you. You can gossip about her, love her, laugh at her, condemn her and mock her all you want, but know that she did get your attention. And that's all she really wanted in the first place.

See you next week!

Deanne Nguyen is a Will Rice College sophomore.

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