“You can’t face the world in a cotton-spandex blend,” Mary Kate said. And maybe she's exactly right. Clothing can more than a necessity to keep us inadequately-prepared-for-the-cold humans warm in the winter months; it is the first form of expression we present to others. The experience of wearing something you feel beautiful in is powerful. The confidence that ensues propels us as we live and interact with the world, and find our place in it. You are all beautiful. Seek accessories as you do ornaments for an evergreen tree, if you've decorated one. I look at those trees and see their beauty and majesty long before they're adorned with bulbs and ornaments. But adding those — especially the hand-crafted ones made by little hands in elementary classrooms — adds personality and cheer. We have the opportunity to express ourselves through our decoration as well, and Mary Kate exemplifies a Fashionista's passion for style perfectly.

Name: Mary Kate Irrgang

Major: Journalism

Year: Freshman

CollegeFashionista: How does living in a college town influence the way you dress and express yourself?

Mary Kate Irrgang: Living in Bloomington has allowed me more freedom of expression with my clothing. I have always dressed a little differently than people in my small hometown, but I always had to tone it down. College towns allow you to go a little wild with clothing.

CF: What winter trend are you excited to embrace?

MI: Hats! I do not own many, but I am excited to start incorporating them in to my wardrobe; they are just so fun and quirky. They definitely add something to an outfit.

CF: Why is expressing your style through fashion important to you?

MI: Expression through fashion is one of the most important forms of expression, because it is extremely personal. You walk around in it; you live your life in it. It can say a lot about you.

CF: Why not just wear sweatpants to class?

MI: I am glad this question was asked. Sweatpants do not make me feel good about myself. The actual feeling of them is great, don’t get me wrong, but they are not something that I would feel confident enough to do a daunting task in.

CF: What is your favorite outfit of yours, and why? What does it say about your style and personality?

MI: This is a really difficult question because I am always getting rid of the old and bringing in the new. Two of my favorite pieces of clothing would have to be a pair of my Mom’s old cowboy boots that I wear a lot. They are extremely comfortable and are completely unexpected. My second favorite piece is a little boy’s blazer I picked up at Goodwill two years ago. It makes the perfect ¾ length blazer, looked great with my uniform in high school, and was only $2. How can you beat that?

How To: Look out for interesting coats, like Mary Kate's leopard printed pea coat. My fellow Guru shares some secrets to finding a statement coat here. My favorite part of this ensemble, though, is her mid-length skirt, of midi, as it's being affectionately called. Asos and American Apparel are all over this skirt, which is, in my opinion, a perfect length for heels. They come in beautiful colors, patterns and fabricts. This one, from ASOS, is plaid and pleated. Do some internet exploring and find one that suits your style. That's the main idea, after all. Find clothing that you are comfortable and confident in, and you will shine. 


On a campus adorned with neon tank tops, it is easy for a mysterious gentleman to go unnoticed. No matter how many times we try to predict a new staple with a cliché, however, Black will never be replaced as King of Shades. Keher's eye for style matches his sense of humor: dark and minimalistic. While sarcastic, deadpan remarks are not prerequisites for this look, well put together and witty men are always in high demand. In his natural habitat, Keher would be playing chess with a beautiful lady in a leather chair with a fine cigar, but I don't want to give too much away. 

Name: Keher Neote

Major: Biology

Year: Junior

CollegeFashionista: What inspires your style? 

Keher Neote: I really cannot say. I simply buy cloths that I find interesting, and that fit me well. I rarely look toward certain magazines or websites for my inspiration; I simply buy what I like.

CF: How do the people around you influence your sense of style?

KN: Other people generally help me by showing me what I don't want to wear, as bad as that does sound. Usually other peoples' fashion shows me the other current trends, or the direction that the current trend is taking. I usually dress myself however I please, but I do like to be conscious of not following the trend exactly, as it becomes very easy to blend in to everyone else. I try to subtly stand out, and be myself.

CF: How do you feel when you're wearing a favorite article?

KN: I feel as anyone would, very confident that I look my best. It helps allow me to be myself; as I feel like my personality is truthfully reflected in my dress sense. This translates to feeling my best, which in turn gives me more confidence, and the cycle continues. Of course, you have to be careful to not let your ego get the best of you! There is always someone out there who looks just as good, if not better than you. That shouldn't stop you from feeling good about yourself though.

CF: Why not just wear sweatpants to class?

KN: I could just never do that. It shows, to me, just a general lack of effort. You never know who you are going to meet or when; you could meet your best friend or the love of your life tomorrow. So why not try to look your best whenever you can?

CF: What does your style say about your personality?

KN: I generally wear very dark colors and shades, such as black, grey, brown, dark red/blue. My humor is similar, I like black comedies, am very sarcastic, and especially enjoy deadpan-type humor. That being said, I do certainly enjoy a good time with friends, and loosen up when with good company. My clothing reflects both of those things; I wear dark colors, and yet try to express myself when doing so.

How To: Keher’s ensemble was composed of layers of gray and black with a beautiful accessory: a rose gold faced watch with a leather strap, (make sure to enlarge the photo of it!). Fossil has a relatively affordable version available here. Men, you can never go wrong with a pair of black jeans. Versatile and stylish enough for almost any occasion, they would be a great investment — check out these from Levi's for a classic, trusted pair.


My mom has often been a huge source of style advice. She and my dad giggle at my outfits sometimes, telling me that they remember the first time that trend went around. Over Thanksgiving, Dad revieled how he and his chums used to rock flared jeans; they would cut a slit in the bottom of the denim and sew triangles of colorful and patterned fabrics into them. While I haven't always yeilded to my parents fashion advice (nowadays, Dad wears his Croc's with socks), who better to learn about revived style from than folks who lived though the first wave? Most memorably, Mom taught me the virtue of natural looking makeup, to always prioritize comfort, and to be brave about trying new looks. This week's Fashionista notes her Mom as her style icon, and what an icon she must be! Lizzy wore a geometrically printed dress which stood out against the landscape of Hoosiers in neutral coats trying to conserve heat. A white leather belt wrapped around her waist and a black coat around her shoulders provided balence. She covered her legs with classic black tights, and donned her feet with fabulous, wine-colored heels. Let me introduce you to my new friend, Lizzy. 

Name: Lizzy Jordan

Major: Music Education

Year: Freshman

CollegeFashionista: What inspires your fashion sense?

Lizzy Jordan: My mom — she's my favorite shopping partner. I think that I could afford to be a bit more adventurous with my style choices and she always encourages me when I consider buying items out of my comfort zone. In her own style, she still uses pieces she bought in the late '70s or early '80s that are in excellent condition. I always think of her when I talk myself into spending the extra cash on a quality purchase instead of the more economic but less durable alternative. 

CF: What winter trend are you excited to embrace?

LJ: This winter I'm planning on exchanging all my ripped up black tights for various textured/patterned/colored alternatives. 

CF: How does living in a college town influence the way you dress and express yourself?

LJ: I definitely people watch all the time in Bloomington, and learn a lot by seeing the similarities and differences in everyone's style. Around campus you see a lot of staple pieces, particularly shoes and boots, used in a wide variety of ways. It's really awesome because you see new ways to wear things you already have in your closet, so you can create new outfits without buying new pieces. 

CF: Why not just wear sweatpants to class?

LJ: I think that people dress the way they want themselves to be perceived by others. I think that avoiding the pajamas-to-school look, people generally give off the impression of being more involved and proactive.

How To: See if your mom has photos of some of her favorite styles, or better yet, ask her if she has any gems stashed away in boxes from years past. And check out this blog, by Piper Weiss, My Mom, The Style Icon for beautiful photos of fashionable mothers. To take a cue from Lizzy, do not completely fear wearing heels in winter. Just be sure to choose comfortable shoes, preferably with a strap. For extra traction on a slippery, icy day, cut a crosshatched pattern into the sole of your shoe.


What is the point of putting effort into your outfit when it is, what some would consider, miserable weather outside? It may come as a shock, but some brave souls enjoy the winter chill above any other season. Snow is Robin's favorite, reminiscent of her avian namesake, and she dresses to display her joyous celebration of that pretty, chilly white stuff. This effervescent Fashionista wears confidence as her favorite accessory (pro-tip: boldness is something that will absolutely never go out of fashion). Bundling up can be a challenge for many Fashionista/os. I often choose warmth over all else, and will not venture out into the winter abyss until I am fully covered with wool and fleece. Robin reminds those of us who try to decide between coziness and style that we don't have to choose one or the other.

Name: Robin Briskey

Major: Psychology

Year: Freshman

CollegeFashionista: What influences your style?

Robin Briskey: My style changes on a day-to-day basis, depending on how I’m feeling. Sometimes I like being really girly and I wear a skirt, boots, and a cute shirt. Other times I stray away from the more feminine look and I might wear a flannel shirt with jeans and Toms. I’d say my style is really just influenced by my mood and what I am comfortable in.

CF: How does fashion help you express your style?

RB: I sometimes look through a fashion magazine or see the latest trends, and if on any given day I decide to be fashion-forward, I might use those styles as inspiration for how I interpret fashion. I’m not going to try to look exactly like the people in magazines, but sometimes I like to play with the clothes that I have to see how I can make my own unique version of those looks.

CF: Why do you dress the way you do?

RB: It’s mostly a matter of what I feel confident in. If I don’t feel like I can rock a certain outfit, I flat-out will not wear it. I need to feel good in what I wear so that my confidence can be visible to others.

How To: Robin's metallic scarf sings of holiday cheer and brightens up a cold weather outfit. This Michael Kors 'Metallic Zipper Infinity' Scarf, from Polyvore, or this gold snood from J.Crew both seem functional and fashionable. 


Laura’s beauty hits you instantly. It is undeniable, classic, and natural; her quiet confidence and thoughtful kindness glow through her skin and ring through her laugh. I met her on the steps of a dormitory on campus that whimsically resembles Hogwarts, and she blended so well into the mystical atmosphere of the castle-like courtyard. She wore a bright, magenta tank with a ruffled collar, and dark, skinny jeans with leather, Oxford boots. With a smile, she showed me her cream-colored finger, decorated with a vintage ring that she had just found at a vintage store in town.

Name: Laura Douglas

Major: Political Science, French

Year: Sophomore

CollegeFashionista: How does fashion help you express yourself?

Laura Douglas: I think a person's personality just naturally comes through in fashion. I tend to dress in a simple, down-to-earth way. I like efficiency and functionality, and on most days I try to look professional. Every once in a while I am in a more creative mood, so I try to have fun with what I wear. That's part of my personality, so that is how I pick outfits.

CF: From where do you draw inspiration for your style?

LD: I pay attention to what people around me are wearing, and I pick up on subtle aspects that I like. I started to notice that really small changes (e.g., putting on some nice boots instead of just grabbing a pair of shoes) completely changes the overall impression of an outfit. I always buy pieces that I will be able to wear for a long time. Because of that, I think each individual piece of clothing I have ends up being fairly plain; my style comes through by my choice combinations. I get inspiration for that everywhere. I might see a bag with a color combination I like, and I'll try to work that into an outfit.

CF: How is Bloomington's style different from your hometown's?

LD: Bloomington style is much more relaxed and pieced. I see a lot more accessories here, and I think more people spend more time trying to find unique clothing. There's much more emphasis put on expressing yourself through clothing in Bloomington.

How To: Especially when practicality of staying warm trumps being trendy, Laura’s advice is spot on: to keep layers simple and choose a few pretty details. For lasting comfort and style this winter, consider these elegant driving gloves from Madewell. These spotted tights could also be a center-piece of an outfit if you’re diggin’ the dots as much as I am this season.


Page's style is simple but unexpected. She said she aims “to be comfortable and but I also like having something unique, something that three other girls in my class won't also be wearing”. Her individualistic mentality makes her a Fashionista and also a fantastic artist with an eye for flawless aesthetic. When I met her outside her Psychology class, Page was rocking beautiful leather boots with striped laces — a wonderful touch on an essential staple. She wore socks over her tights, and built each layer of her outfit with care. As a student of history and art, she understands that one must balance an admiration for the classic and invention of the novel, and she is doing a wonderful job.

Name: Page Dorsey

Major: History 

Year: Sophomore

CollegeFashionista: From where or whom do you draw inspiration for your style?

Page Dorsey: Like my favorite author said ” I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever known.” I take little thing I see my friends wearing or strangers are wearing and try to make it my own. My personal motto is you can never go wrong with black so when I feel uninspired to construct an outfit I usually fall on an all black number.

CF: How does fashion help someone express themself? 

PD: Fashion is a great way to sidestep the superficial nature of first impressions. I believe they way you present yourself can add more to a first impression than just your hair color, body type or eye color. I like to infuse what I wear with a healthy amount of what looks good and clothes that make a statement about how I am.

CF: Is your style of dress related to your style of art?

PD: I'd say the style of art that I create and admire coincides well with what i wear. I like art and clothing that does have too much too it but has a big message. Simple lines and forms can sometimes say more than three inches of paint.

How To: The key here is laying and mixing. Contrast heavy and light fabric, bold and tame patterns, and bright and neutral colors. For the secret to a myriad of texture, check out this Style Advice of the Week feature. My favorite way to layer is with my American Apparel Circle Scarf. Because it can transform into a shawl, it is versitile enough for any temperature, even the dreaded unpredictalbe climate of the classroom. 


In my adventures I've often been told that American style appears to be more relaxed than that of other citizens of our world, especially men. Whether the craving for freedom correlates with the tendency to be less likely to choose to wear often-restricting, starchy, formal clothes I’m not sure. But Bejing native BoXuan Li doesn’t disprove the theory. When I met him, he was wearing a velvet blazer and a sharp dark grey shirt paired with khakis and Sperry Top-Sider Boat Shoes.

Name: BoXuan Li (李博轩)

Major: Exercise Science

Year: Freshman

CollegeFashionista: Do you consider comfort or style more important when you dress?

BoXuan Li: It depends what situation I am in, but usually i'll consider both.

CF: From where do you draw inspiration for your style? And where do you typically shop?

BL: I think it is by some sports star and some magzines. I usually buy at Abercrobmie & Fitch and American Eagle. 

CF: Did you grow up in Indiana? If not, how is Bloomington's style different from your hometown's?

BL: Nope. I'm from Beijing, I think the difference is here [people dress in] more casual styles than my hometown.

How To: I habitually associate velvet with the dresses I used to wear to holiday parties as a kid, but I couldn't be more excited that the fabric has made a major comeback. This blazer from ASOS is not only very dapper, but it's also on sale. Come on, guys, it's asking to be worn to a holiday get-together, and it would make your Mama or girlfriend swoon at the sight of you. The boat shoe craze has sailed across every campus in the United States, from the Greek letter-clad brothers to the long-boarding bros. Their nature to be comfortable and snazzy make them an ideal choice for a Fashionisto who has a presentation, long hours of class and a night out on the town packed into one fleeting, college day. I, for one, am a fan of these black, high-topped Men’s Bahama Chukka Boots. They’d play up a pair of jeans, khakis or chords on any stylish student. 


Look for Lily on a Saturday night near the front of a show, by the speakers. She’ll have a massive smile on her face, arms flailing, encouraging the crowd to get hyped up. They undoubtedly catch her contagious joy–this Fashionista wears her free spirit and charisma with as much ease as she wears her favorite worn-in jeans. When I came across Lily, her wispy, pixie hair was floating just as effortlessly. She was wearing a well-loved Metallica shirt, gold leggings and a beautiful, silver ear-cuff that caught the early morning sunshine. She explained that wearing distinctive jewelry is one of her favorite ways to express herself.

Name: Lily Fenoglio

Major: Elementary Education and Studio Art

Year: Sophomore

CollegeFashionista: What inspires your fashion sense?

Lily Fenoglio: As an artist, my art has always been heavily influenced by Indian art and jewelry, and hints of Indian art have always been noticeable in my outfits. The 1970s punk fashions have been a huge influence on the most recent additions to my wardrobe. But, above all, thrift stores are where my most favorite items of clothing were bought.

CF: How does living in a college town influence the way you dress and express yourself?

LF: The transition from a small high school to a huge university has had a significant impact on my style. Living in such a liberal college town, has not only allowed me to express my personal style without any reservations, but has also allowed my style to be influenced by all of the different people around me.

CF: What fall trend are you excited to embrace?

LF: To me, fall means lots and lots of layers! Layering is one of my favorite fall styles. Layering means I can wear more of my favorite items of clothing in the same outfit!

CF: What is your favorite outfit of yours, and why? What does it say about your style and personality?

LF: My favorite outfit includes my favorite pair of perfectly worn-in jeans, a cut off t-shirt, a slouchy sweater, a pair of boots, and my favorite pieces of jewelry. Jewelry is my favorite part of any outfit. This outfit illustrates my balance between comfort and style. I love nothing more than to be comfortable in what I'm wearing-because along with comfort comes confidence.

How To: Lily came across her wonderful ear piece at a local thrift store in downtown Bloomington. Ear-cuffs can add a punk-y edge to a look without any squeamish Fashionistas having to pierce any cartilage.Check out this one, found on Etsy. 


August told me that she has the same philosophy with fashion that she carries into all areas of her life: that you absolutely cannot care what other people think because creativity should always be admired. She admits that it is a hard pill to swallow, but the way that creativity escapes out of her with her every word convinces me that this kind of confidence is worth all of the work it takes to achieve. This artful Fashionista is studying for her Master’s degree in Bloomington, and graciously shared her experience and wisdom with me.

Name: August Evans

Major: MFA Fiction Writing

Year: First year

CollegeFashionista: You said you were from Chicago? How does that inspire how do dress?

August Evans: I grew up in Valparaiso but, in The Region, Chicago is the big city. It feels very home-like to me. I grew up in a conservative town, though, where I always felt a bit different. I was raised vegetarian, and my name felt different — it doesn’t really now. My parents were these mediators. So growing up, dressing the way I did came from wanting to stand out. Now it is kind of a way of not being bored. What you wear changes your relationship to your environment so much.

CF: What role do you think fashion plays in that kind of self-expression?

AE: Everyone has to wear clothes, so it is this very basic thing, but the affect can be alarmingly different. I don’t like to think of it in terms of where I shop or consumption, because that’s not interesting. I like to think of it as a playfulness. Some people have a sense of play, like the risks they take, and it forms this instant comradery. It’s not the same as “Oh, we wear the same brand of glasses,” it’s “We’re both playful and we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

CF: Has your taste in clothing changed as you’ve grown?

AE: It has definitely changed a lot. It has always been pretty important to me to be somewhat fancy, I guess that summons that child-like play of dress up. But when I was 24 to 26 years old, I lived in France, I taught English there, and that’s when I really became aware of the possibilities of how to dress. They take so much care in what they wear. They take one or two major shopping trips a year, so it’s not a throw-away thing, like it is here. They spend money, but on articles that will last. And everyone is elegant, not just certain classes of people. I spent my time there feeling pretty drab and frumpy, thinking “What am I doing?,” but coming back [to the U.S.] I had a new confidence.

CF: Did you bring home any favorite pieces from your time abroad?

AE: These knee-high, olive-green boots. I get a few weird looks when I wear them here, but they really are timeless. They’ve lasted so long. I remember I saved and saved to buy them, I didn’t do a lot of shopping while I was there because I was living on a teacher’s salary. I really love to have good shoes. I hate the feeling of a shoe falling apart, if you have a hole in your shirt it’s all right, but your shoes? In that way, it’s expensive to be cheap. [Spending money on good boots] is something I have learned as I have gotten older.

How To: If you live near the Windy City, August suggests you check out Koko Rokoko. Apparently, it is the baddest vintage store around, specializing in '80s and '90s apparel. August’s advice to splurge on quality articles makes a lot of sense. Although it can be hard to stretch your patience and dollars to save for a really great pair of boots, it will absolutely be worth it when you don’t have to replace them after a weekend in a college town. Imagine a pair of shoes that can withstand those! As the holidays approach, consider using some gift money for Dr. Martin’s or Frye boots. You don't need me to tell you that these are well-respected, well-made brands that will stand the test of time and the elements.


Just outside of the art museum at IU is a sculpture called the Light Totem, which is rumored to use less energy than your hair-dryer. The lights change color against the limestone building's wall, coaxing students and late night visitors to campus to lie on their backs with their legs up on the side of the museum to watch it. The building itself is an impressive work of architecture, designed by the world-renowned I. M. Pel seventy years ago. Lots of beautiful things happen within the walls as well. As well as hosting impressive permanent collections, which hold works by Monet and Picasso, the museum also reserves a gallery for art students and professors to showcase exhibitions. Kate Robinson could tell you all of this background on the IU Art Museum, as well as give you a detailed tour of the galleries. Her love for the arts and self-expression is visible through her clothing as well. When I caught her outside the museum, she wore a beautiful, tailored skirt and a cape-like wool coat. The bright colored accessories stood out against the neutral staples, showcasing the outfit as a perfect transition from late summer to autumn. The best part: she was wearing a Smiths’ shirt.

Name: Kate Robinson

Major: Art History

Year: Sophomore

CollegeFashionista: Did you like dressing up when you were a child?

Kate Robinson: Definitely. You have no idea. I had these M.C. Hammer pants, and I would wear them with a belly shirt, with Mardi Gras beads with tassels so that I looked a bit like a gypsy, and then I would put on performances for my family. I’m much more subdued than that now, but I do still love to take clothes from my dad.

CF: Why do you dress the way that you do now?

KR: It’s pretty different depending on the day, how much energy I have, and whether I’m reading any magazines. I also draw a lot from environmental factors and what I see around me.

CF: Why do you think fashion is important to culture?

KR: It says a lot about the freedoms and conventions of a community. You can tell a lot about the society that a painting is from based on how the people in it are dressed. The fact that we can wear whatever we please without ridicule says so much about our creative freedom in America, as opposed to somewhere more restricted like the Middle East.

CF: Where did you get inspiration for this ensemble?
KR: The music I listen to really influences me. Like, today, The Smiths’ box set was released on vinyl, so I’ve been listening to them all day. I’m wearing my Smiths’ shirt and my outfit is kind of inspired by a British school system look. If I were feeling really tired and grungy and listening to Nirvana today, my outfit would reflect that.

Feeling as though mid-semester sleep deprivation that drives you to default outfit mode? Absorbing the beautiful things you see around you into your wardrobe is Kate’s great advice for staying inspired. Try draping boldly shaped articles around your shoulders for the colder months; I’ve got my eye on this hooded cape from American Apparel. Another great version found its way onto Urban Outfitters’ online store as well. Happy Wednesday!