When I set out to write an essay on women’s fashion, I wanted to avoid making the trite generalizations that often plague columns of this nature. I made a promise to myself that I would not simply lump girls into stereotypical groups such as “party girl” or “artsy chick” based solely on the way that they dress. Instead, I approached my task without any preconceived notions save one: women dress as they do for the same reason the came to college in the first place; to find a husband.
Now that that is out of the way, I can present my findings. I began my study Thursday afternoon in my art history class. Most of the women in my class wore little, if any, makeup and had their hair pulled into loose, unflattering ponytails. They were clad in sweatpants and baggy sweaters, and very few were wearing heels. I was tempted to walk up to the front of the classroom to deliver my own lecture called, “This is no way to land a boyfriend, ladies.” I was sure that there was more to be learned about women’s fashion, so I pressed on.
On Friday morning I went over to the gym to get an idea of what Yale’s fittest ladies are wearing while they slim down to get boys to notice them. Lots of fashionistas have been saying that we can expect a return to the headbands and leg warmers of ’80s fashion. But after watching an endless parade of girls in spandex shorts all day, I predict that 2002 will be the year of the camel toe! Remember, you heard it here first.
Saturday afternoon I decided to check out some local retailers to see what’s popular with Yale girls. I started out with a brisk walk along Broadway, which I have come to call “New Haven’s answer to Rodeo Drive” because of the recent additions of super cool shops like Alexia Crawford, J.Crew and Urban Outfitters. These stores present the Yale woman with a myriad of options when shopping for overpriced jewelry, rollneck sweaters and campy, ironic T-shirts. Take it from me, gals, nothing attracts guys more than an outfit that says, “I’m trying really hard to look cool!”
After that, I researched the more upscale shops around Chapel Street. I walked into Bottega Giuliana and immediately recognized a $250 dress that my date wore to the Subrosa formal. Seeing it again made me realize just how well it complemented my coffee-stained shirt, borrowed jacket and tie that I’ve worn to every formal occasion since eighth grade. Next, I headed over to Ann Taylor to see if they could shed some light on women’s fashion. I did not find much there, aside from enough pink sweater sets to choke a Princeton mom.
Saturday night I went to Toad’s Place, where all the girls get decked out in hopes of attracting the attention of drunken guys, who are known for their discriminating taste and nearly impossible standards of beauty. Upon entering, I was nearly overcome with joy at the sight of what seemed like a thousand asymmetrical tops in as many different colors. It was like some heavenly rainbow of tacky whores.
Here I had found the girls who know how to get themselves a man. These being Yale girls, who are natural overachievers, the fashion statements did not end with their BeBe tops. Many ladies chose to accessorize their outfits with butterfly clips, belts with giant buckles, hooker boots, giant hoop earrings, tinted sunglasses, and the ever-so-subtle glitter lip balm. I also detected the unmistakable scent of stripper body spray, which seems so popular nowadays.
I stumbled out into the cold night with a spring in my step and a freshman girl under my arm. She had won my heart earlier that evening with her Urban Outfitters tank top that read simply, “Flirt.” I knew she was the one for me the moment I laid eyes on her. If I run into her next weekend, maybe we can make out again.
Jack Kukoda is a senior in Saybrook College. He wears a bathing suit in the shower.