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Transgressing time, gender
Trendy NYU ladies take on the boyish hippy look
by Derek Blasberg
Published March 25, 2003
Women's fashion is following the increasingly aggressive political climate around Washington Square Park, trading girliness for the hippie-tomboy look.
'I dress like a yard sale, a yard sale where West Coast hippie meets white trash meets Wall Street,' said Veronica Collins, a College of Arts and Science junior. Her wardrobe is not just any yard sale, however - it is an international yard sale.
She owns a green, Saks Fifth Avenue leather jacket, found at a thrift store in the East Village; a wool poncho; flat, black, leather boots picked up in London; a belt from a 57th Street boutique; and a red, leather carry-all she bought in Italy.
Collins prefers Seven jeans and Kmart sleeveless undershirts for consistent staples. What she did not buy around the world, she stole from around the house: her father's Ray Ban sunglasses, her mother's '70s bangles and cuffs, her grandmother's wedding ring.
On and off campus, Collins is typically seen in old hippie pieces mixed with masculine fabrics and cuts, accented with feminine accessories. Since high school, Collins has worked in art galleries, where she picked up her eclectic, ever-changing style.
For spring, Collins has been again scouring East Village thrift stores, hoping to find more crisp, shrunken blazers and mini-skirts to add to her always-growing wardrobe, which still holds many pieces from eighth grade.
However, with her graduation quickly approaching, she is starting to incorporate more grown-up hippie and vintage pieces befit of a future art-gallery owner or Sotheby's art lawyer.
Alicia Christoff, a CAS junior majoring in English and psychology, is quick to confirm that she hates to look too girly. 'I like scrubby [T-shirts] and jeans,' she said. 'I don't want to look too butch, but I hate looking too girly.'
The majority of her clothing was bought in New York, like her camel-colored Gap blazer, Urban Outfitters chunky sweater, Lucky jeans and DKNY camisole. What was not bought at these national retail chains was picked up at local East Village thrift stores, like her brown leather purse, her silver hoop earrings and the red silk scarf that she wears as a belt.
Christoff finds it difficult to pinpoint a definition of her style, but admits to being a bit hippie 'because I like scarves around my waist and I don't wear a bra.'
Ultimately, after she graduates in 2004, she plans to climb her way up the publishing ladder, hoping to one day edit novels, a profession that, likely to Christoff's delight, is not known for its girly dress code, but one which will probably require her to wear a bra.
Saskia Miller's favorite pants, a pair of tight, black jeans with a vintage, quilted floral print stitched like underwear on the rear, explain her personal style - hippie elements of decades past incorporated into a contemporary wardrobe.
'Right now I really like this hippie tomboy look,' said Miller, a junior in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, who generally sports retro clothes contrasted with manly jackets, flat shoes and minimal yet feminine makeup.
Miller is in constant pursuit of vintage shops that carry her hobo-hippie look, shops where she found most of her outfit: the princess-sleeved, '70s, Rebecca Taylor blazer; distressed, brown, leather purse; paisley scarf; Converse trainers; earrings; and big, gold bracelet.
Working as a part-time model provided her with those black Wink jeans (she was in the show) and Abercrombie ' Fitch tank (she was in the campaign). She bit the bullet and went retail for the rest of her outfit - the shear, off-the-shoulder top is from H'M and her gray sweater is from Laundry.
'I don't like anything too girly or feminine, except jewelry,' Miller said, pointing out that well-tailored, basic pieces are still sexy, given the appropriate accessories and makeup. The greatest aspect of this style is the comfort of warm, soft materials and practical footwear, which she limits to Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, cowboy boots and a pair of heels.
A practical and comfortable wardrobe is something Miller needs come April, when she goes to Berlin to study film and comparative literature. A fan of layers, Miller is looking forward to a postponed spring in the German capital, where she can keep wearing her vintage cardigans and shrunken blazers for just a bit longer.
Derek Blasberg is columnist at Washington Square News. Email him at
*UPDATED April 21st - Personal Style Feat. Prada Spring Summer 2012*
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