Friday, June 11, 2010

Making the Transition: Northern to Southern Fashion

Welcome to Cleats & Couture! For those of you who know absolutely nothing about me, my name is Jamie. I am a 22 year-old graduate of the University of Michigan, and I will be attending law school in the fall at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. I have always been a writer and I decided to start this blog in order to keep up with my own two passions: sports and fashion. I will do my best to post relevant and interesting information from both the world of athletics and the world of couture, along with some non-sequiturs along the way.

This first post was actually written a few months ago as a guest-blogging entry for a dear friend of mine's website. Julieanne Wolvek is the talented author of the blog Afternoon Frosting and I would like to dedicate my first post to her. Thanks for all of your inspiration Jul!

Attending college at the University of Michigan where it’s often snowing in April and 75 degrees in early November has required me to be prepared for any kind of weather at a moment’s notice. Because of this, I’ve accumulated a few basics that have gotten me through living in Mother Nature’s perpetual PMS zone:

Short Uggs ($140/pair). I own a grey pair that isn’t flashy or annoying, and since it’s never really consistently warm until the end of May, I always need a pair of boots at hand to just slip on.

BP black leggings ($16/pair). They’re my favorite brand of leggings, and I own 5 pairs. I wear them to class with v-necks, to work with button downs, and out to the bars with my favorite Free People top and a pair of heels.

North Face windbreaker / rain jacket ($100). I own two, a yellow one that I wore to football games and a black one that I wear most other times. Until it starts getting brutally cold, it’s the perfect jacket to throw on over an American Apparel zip-up.

Longchamp Classic “Pliage” Shopping Bag in black ($145). Yes, every sorostitute on campus carries some variation of this bag, but it’s beautiful, well-made and completely functional. I use it to carry my books/laptop to class, as a purse, and even as an overnight bag (if I’m packing light). If black is too boring for you, it comes in at least 10 different colors.

In short, my Northern/Midwest fashion staples amount to furry boots, spandex pants, a coat, and an oversized bag. In 5 short months (now just two months!) however, I will be moving way south of the Mason-Dixon Line to Tuscaloosa, Alabama as a member of the University of Alabama School of Law Class of 2013 (ROLL TIDE). All in all, I feel that ¾ of my staples will become somewhat obsolete at best, and the one thing that won’t isn’t an article of clothing. So what does that mean? Time for some research and a slight fashion makeover.

While I’m a natural blonde, I’ve been rocking the brunette look for the majority of the last 6 years. I’ve debated for a while whether or not the “southern belle” persona was something only blondes could pull off successfully. But after some diligent research, I’ve decided that a blonde southern belle generally has classic, near-perfect features and wears pearls, while a brunette southern belle can look have a slightly more exotic look while exemplifying the same sophisticated chic idea. While I don't think I'll ever be able to really pull off the Lilly Pulitzer-wearing, pearl-donning princess mold that the South is famous for, I am a firm believer of the saying “when in Rome”. So I have found a way to add some southern sparkle to my closet as I embrace a brand new culture (I even managed to salvage a few of my northern staples too).

The Hat. The hat can go one of two ways, Kentucky Derby or Cowboy. Personally, I will probably buy both but that’s only because I look especially good in hats. Because I fully do not intend on wearing neon flower-print dresses or white jewelry of any kind, a fancy, oversized hat will be paired well with any LBD for outdoor formal events. And let’s be honest, you can never go wrong with a cowboy hat in the south because you know that for every regular bar in town, there’s three country bars. You can find cute cowboy hats for as low as $20, and the less ornate Kentucky Derby-style ones run around $50.
The Casual Shoes. Again, these can also go one of two ways: cowboy boots or my personal favorites, Sperrys. I will also probably buy both of these, as I have a shoe obsession and am a self-proclaimed shopaholic. Sperrys, also known as topsiders or “boat shoes”, come in classic style and also a flat style for women. Both styles come in solid color or plaid. I personally enjoy the classic style in plaid, but that’s mainly because I own a lot of flats. As for the cowboy boots, I prefer solid color leather (like dark brown, because they go with most jeans), but the south seems to have a “more ornate, the better” philosophy. Either way, cowboy boots range anywhere from $70 to $200. The classic Sperrys run around $50, while the flats are about half the price at $30.

The Sun Dress. I know I said I would never wear Lilly or Vera, but I think a classic sundress is essential to throw on if you’re late for class or a coffee date with a new study-buddy. That being said, I’m willing to compromise with the color/print combo the south seems to trademark. My thoughts? Pick one or the other. If you’re going print, stay black and white. If you are okay with a solid, one color dress, pick any color in the Crayola 64 box, although I’d imagine that Burnt Sienna doesn’t look flattering on anyone.

The Sunglasses. While every girl probably has a pair of gigantic bug-eyed shades, only some can be pulled off as always in style. Ray Bans and Aviators aren’t going to cut it down south. My recommendation? A simple, classic, black pair. I just went from a round tortoise-shell Versace pair to a square black Burberry pair, and the difference is astounding. An also surprisingly affordable classic is by Ralph Lauren (which I almost bought), for $70.

And as for my old staples?
Leggings. Because the average temperature in Alabama is in the 70s, leggings will no longer be a staple to my outfit. After asking a few of my resident southern girls, I found out that leggings are often paired with a v-neck t-shirt, running shoes, and a head band. Summary: I get to wear leggings to work out in (or wear around all day pretending I’m going for a run at some point). *New information: Nike running shorts are the leggings of the south. When I went to Tuscaloosa in search for an apartment after graduation, I couldn't walk four feet without running into a girl wearing a pair of these. They come in about 1000 different color combinations, so I will most likely be investing in a few pairs of those.
Windbreaker. Again, since the weather down south doesn’t have a temper, a jacket isn’t always an outfit essential. Summary: I get to wear my rain jacket when it rains. Go figure.

Tote bag. I will be in law school and a tote will be essential. However, hum-drum black may not be the appropriate color, so I will be purchasing the same bag in red, an all-year round hue (I have since purchased this bag and it is absolutely fabulous).

Uggs. You win some, you lose some.

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
–Marilyn Monroe

...So when in doubt, in the fashion world or in life, take a risk. The worst that happens is you fall on your face and you get back up. But at least you’ll know because you tried.


  1. Jamie
    You go girl. You've got looks, brains, a personality and the gift of gab
    all rolled into one. Love the blog and I'll be sure to follow. Congratulations on Law School!!! Looking forward to more of your posts.
    Mk deMaio

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