Why I Look to Marilyn Monroe for Style Inspiration

With the arrival of every season comes the subsequent arrival of a new must-have or it item. And every season, I somehow convince myself that it is necessary for me to try out each and every one I see. This summer, I discovered how exhausting that can be. So, here’s what happened when I looked for fashion inspiration from past style icons instead of social media.

At the beginning of the summer, I fell in love with the full-sleeved, off-the-shoulder tops donned by celebrities and fashion bloggers alike. You know the ones: sleeves with tiers or ruffles or bows that would impress Queen Victoria herself.  Excited to be a part of this new trend, I eagerly filled my shopping cart with my own assortment of over the top silhouettes. But as I tried on each garment that came in the mail, I became increasingly disappointed. The tops were wearing me—not the other way around. In retrospect, I loved the idea of these tops turning me into a 21st-century Victorian princess, but they just weren’t my style.

That realization left me slightly panicky. “What will I wear? I said to myself as I peered apprehensively into my closet. “I’m a fashion major. I’m kind of required to be on-trend.”

As I pondered the what-should-I-wear-today dilemma, I found myself drawn to images of classic style icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. I admired the simplicity, elegance, and timelessness of their outfits. I admired their ability to look put-together and polished, even in the heat of summer. But mostly, I admired how these women dared to wear what they wanted in an era of poodle skirts and strict expectations for women.

Out of all the pictures I went through, the one of Marilyn Monroe by the water, legs crossed, laughing at the camera, immediately grabbed my attention. Her outfit—an off-the-shoulder-top and high-waisted shorts—was simple, yet modern. And there was just something about her expression that lit up the whole photo. I knew I wanted to do my own interpretation of that moment.

Filled with inspiration, I paired my red high-waisted shorts (a treasured thrift store find) with a simple black off-the-shoulder top. For interest, I added a red, patterned handkerchief scarf and light green lace-up sandals to keep the outfit modern. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome: a simple, chic outfit that felt very me, not like a costume.

I will always love trying new things and pushing myself to wear the unexpected. But I’m learning that it’s okay to not buy into every trend that comes down the runway or pops up on a fashion blog. Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. And it is far greater to wear something you love and is 100 percent you than to sacrifice your point of view for a temporary trend.

Has anyone inspired you recently? Let me know in the comments below! 


4 Tips for Your Next Brunch Outing

Look no further for the trendy teens and 20-somethings—they’re inside cozy coffee shops and quirky restaurants enjoying brunch, and for good reason. Who could pass up delicious coffee, an array of tasty pastries, and the general homey atmosphere?

With so many restaurant and café options and so little time, it can be tempting to just make a list of places to go and breeze through them. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to differentiate from one place from the next. We live in a world that is so fast-paced and crazy that a laid-back brunch with friends is a gift we should savor and enjoy. From downloading a few apps to trying a new dish, here are a few of my tips for making the most out of your next brunch outing.

1—Plan ahead with interactive apps. There are dozens of apps to help you find the hip new places and interesting dishes you’re looking for. Some of my favorites are Ness, Off The Menu, and Localeur. Ness combines data from your past dining preferences and chatter about up-and-coming places on Twitter, Facebook, etc., and gives you personalized restaurant recommendations. Off The Menu lists secret menu items sold at cafés, bars, and restaurants across the U.S. Localeur compiles thousands of recommendations from locals on places to dine, shop, and experience when you’re visiting a new city. By planning ahead with these apps, you’ll spend less time deciding where to go and poring over the menu and more time talking with your friends!

2—Pick your outfit the night before. Most likely you’ll be taking pictures with your friends, so plan your outfit ahead of time so you’re not stressed in the morning. Wear something cute, but comfortable so you can enjoy your time out and not worry about a skirt riding up or a top not staying in place. This Fashionista shows us one of her favorite trends for the summer: a striped off-the-shoulder top with fun sleeves. She is also wearing a pendant necklace and several rings to accessorize her outfit.

3—Take in the restaurant aesthetic. The vibe or ambiance of the location also helps separate one dining spot from the next. Some are cozy and homey, some are modern and sleek. So, next time you go out for brunch, try to take in the small details: the decorations and paintings, the cute mugs and bowls, the music, the lighting, and so on. Taking in the smaller details helps create a more relaxed and memorable experience.

4—Try a new beverage or dish. We all have our tried-and-true dish that we get wherever we go, but part of going to a new place is about experiencing what makes it unique. Look up the restaurant’s signature dishes ahead of time or ask the waiter to bring you the special of the day. Who knows? That new dish could become your next go-to when you go out.

How do you brunch? Let me know in the comments below!

ALL IN THE DETAILS: Another Look At Those Basics

Let’s be honest: dressing cute every day can be a struggle. Between classes, homework, work, and friends, sometimes it’s just easier to throw on your comfiest T-shirt and your favorite jeans instead of spending hours trying to find a comfortable, flattering, and trendy outfit combination. If only there was a way to wear your tried-and-true wardrobe favorites without people questioning how long it’s been since you’ve done the laundry. Well, fear not fellow Fashionistas because this month’s Fashionista shows you how to create a fresh outfit out of staple pieces you already own.

Everyone has their favorite staple pieces. These include the denim jacket that you can throw over anything, your beat up sneakers that have gone everywhere with you, those jeans that hug just the right places and make you walk with confidence, etc. The staple pieces we have are staples for a reason: they’re reliable, comfortable, make you look good, and are probably filled with memories—just like old friends. The problem with staples is that we wear them so much that they start to lose the life they once had. This Fashionista takes some of her wardrobe staples, such as her olive green jacket, black moto boots, and oversize denim button-down, and mixes them with interesting details and accessories to give new life to some of her favorite pieces.

Underneath her olive green jacket and denim button-down, she wears a simple gray T-shirt dress with a unique knotted detail, emphasizing her waist. Despite her outfit’s many layers, the solid neutral colors of each piece serve as the perfect backdrop for the collar of her plaid button-down and necklaces. She continues to accessorize her outfit with fun elements such as her rings and flirty “babe” denim baseball cap. Her outfit would be incomplete without her black moto boots.

The details in this Fashionista’s outfit, from the pop of red plaid to the knot in her dress to her quirky jewelry, take an otherwise plain outfit and infuse it with personality and vibrancy. So this month, challenge yourself to rework some of your favorite pieces by focusing on layers and adding fun details and accessories. Your old “friends” will thank you for the breath of fresh air you’ve given them.

WHAT TO WEAR: Not Your Typical Spring Break

Even though many of us are still bundling up for classes on these chilly March mornings, spring break is right around the corner. Ah, spring break—a week of mental rejuvenation after several intense weeks of tests, papers, and projects. Perhaps some of you have already started the spring break fun, by browsing through retailers’ websites for the perfect bathing suit and cover-up duo.

For those lucky college students spending their holiday at a sunny beach destination, retailers are happy to provide these spring breakers with plenty of spring’s floaty tops, trendy bathing suits, and other beachwear. While there are numerous garment options and outfit ideas for those headed to warmer climates, what about the college students going to more obscure spring break destinations? This Fashionista, for example, will be spending her spring break enjoying breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Her functional yet stylish outfit will be inspiration for anyone who’s spring break requires clothing for chilly or more challenging environments.

Even while hiking, this Fashionista shows that her outfit can still be fashion forward. Her lace-up brown boots are on-trend for the spring, but are also durable enough to withstand any hiking trips. Her unique slingback backpack is an essential part of her outfit. She said she’s never been huge on purses, but she wanted to find something different to carry essential things like her wallet and phone. It serves the same purpose in a unique, convenient way. She wears her backpack over a light pink crochet top and a green army jacket. The crochet top’s femininity and detailing balances the toughness of her boots and jacket. Army jackets are fairly timeless wardrobe pieces, but this Fashionista updates her jacket with fun clip-on buttons. Another idea to liven up a classic army jacket is to sew or iron on patches for a more personalized look.

Wherever your plans take you this spring break, make sure to have fun, be safe, and spread the #StyleGuruLove!

STYLE ADVICE: The Modern Mom Jeans

Fashion is a fickle, yet comfortingly cyclic force. What is old will eventually become new again. And rather appropriately, this rule applies directly to one denim trend that has recently made its way back into the closets of Fashionistas everywhere: the mom jeans. You know the ones—those high-waisted, light wash, baggy jeans worn in the ‘90s that were condemned as a horrible fashion faux pas on Saturday Night Live’s “Mom Jeans” skit with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in 2003.  Well, moms everywhere have the last laugh, because these jeans have cycled back into fashion as the new cool girl denim trend to have for this spring.

Fashionistas left and right have been trading their spandex skinny jeans and jeggings for laid-back denim styles that offer more comfort and more personality. Denim has been taking center stage with its heavy distressing, varied cuts, washes, and treatments, and unique details such as embroidery and patchwork. Luckily, the mom jeans that are currently in fashion have been updated with a variety of washes and distressing techniques to keep them modern.

This Fashionista shows how you can elevate your mom jeans with some key layering pieces and styling tricks. First, she knots a striped shirt and adds a belt to highlight, rather than hide, her waist. Her silk scarf and sleek sunglasses add some polish and sophistication while her black bucket bag and lace-up black sandals keep the outfit current. Then, she throws on a black leather motorcycle jacket to give her outfit the right amount of edge. These polished, modern elements added to her outfit leave any “frumpy mom” associations back in the ‘90s.

So, let your denim take the spotlight this spring. Set aside your basic skinny jeans and try out some of the new denim trends whether that be embroidery, distressing, or mom jeans. Who knows? Maybe we can kick the “frumpy mom jeans” stereotype out the door for good.

FASHION FROM ABROAD: Urban Girl, Small Town

For my first article, I am actually not on my college campus, but “abroad” in a quaint Chicago suburb, about ten minutes from my hometown, called Long Grove. Long Grove is one of my favorite places to visit and photograph because it is the very picture of a charming small town with historic homes and buildings dating back to the 1800s. Its numerous restaurants, eclectic shops and boutiques, cobblestone walkways, and scenic views make it easy to forget that you’re in the 21st century. This town is especially magical this time of year with its festive Christmas lights and bows ornamenting the windows and doorframes and snow dusting everything in a glistening layer of white.

Despite the dropping temperatures, this small town still attracts numerous visitors who enjoy the peaceful and friendly ambiance in comparison to the bustling city of Chicago just an hour away. Every Chicagoan (whether a city-dweller or suburban resident) knows that winters here are long, cold, and unrelenting. Attempting to dress in anything other than a fuzzy blanket in the safety of your house can be a daunting task! This Fashionista shows that you can brave the winter chill by piling on cozy layers in shades of gray and black for a laid-back, urban look. She wears a dark gray oversized sweater and a heather gray chunky knitted scarf underneath her black puffer coat. Her gray leggings and fitted thigh-high black suede boots balance the heaviness of her oversize sweater, scarf, and coat. Her chambray cap, with her sorority’s name embroidered across the brim, and her burgundy crossbody bag add some pops of color without distracting from the simplicity of her otherwise monochromatic ensemble.

This Fashionista shows that a winter wardrobe of gray and black doesn’t have to be boring! By mixing different sweater weights and textures, complementing her oversize pieces with fitted pieces on the bottom, and adding fun details like her hat and bag, she will stand out as the cool but comfortable urban girl when she returns to her college campus for the spring semester.

STYLE GURU BIO: Katie Cartwright

Hello fellow Style Gurus! My name is Katie Cartwright and I am a sophomore fashion merchandising major at Kent State University. Fashion has always been an important part of my life. Looking back, I’ve been taping fashion images on my walls, donning over-the-top outfits to school, and sketching outfits in my journals and notebooks since middle school. What’s funny is that until I took a fashion class in high school, all my fashion doodles and outfits just seemed like a hobby. My fashion class changed my mindset from fashion as a hobby to a passion that I could one day turn into a career. I could see myself writing articles about upcoming fashion trends, marketing to potential customers on social media platforms, or styling outfits for a photoshoot. Whichever route I end up going, I am excited to begin this internship with CollegeFashionista to gain experience in journalism, social media, and photography!

When I’m not busy with fashion projects or other schoolwork, I love scouring Pinterest and YouTube for new projects to try out. I’ve very DIY-oriented, so I love making my dorm room decorations and up-cycling thrift store finds into unique and current pieces. I’m a nerd at heart, so I love puns and have an inexplicable attraction to fun facts (especially if they’re Disney or history-related).

Describing my style for this article proved to be more difficult than I originally thought because I realized my style is very chameleon-like. I enjoy adopting current trends into my wardrobe and tweaking them to suit my taste. For me, fashion is about going outside of your comfort zone and trying out one, two, or twenty of the fashion trends that emerge each season. I love how fashion allows me to infuse my own voice into a trend that has been worn by inspirational Fashionistas all over the globe. For each outfit I put together, I like to mix on-trend pieces with pieces from my wardrobe that can range from quirky to sentimental.

The outfit I’m wearing incorporates one of my favorite on-trend pieces for the winter: the poncho sweater—as close to wearing a blanket outside of the house as you can get! I was drawn to this poncho sweater because of its unique lace detailing on the bottom and ribbed mock turtleneck. I layered this sweater with a striped long-sleeve top and a colorful patterned scarf. To balance the busyness on top, I kept the bottom half of my outfit simple with black leggings, gray boot socks, and black riding boots. My black and navy structured purse and assortment of bracelets add a touch of polish to this otherwise quirky outfit!