Feb 3rd, 2017, 11:22 PM

The Evolution of Parisian Student Style

By Asia Letlow
Photo credit: Asia Letlow
Do models of Parisian life influence the way students dress?

The picture of the perfect city dweller is everywhere. With the myriad guides of how to fit into a new city or country vastly different from one’s own, people try to emulate the looks they see because they are influenced by the latest issue of Vogue or Marie Claire. They move from the small, unknown town in the Midwest to the Big Apple, capital B capital A.  Always having been kind of frumpy looking, they consider how a new move facilitates the room for a new change. What better a way to start off that change than by adjusting the style you wear?  The question lies in whether or not people actually feel the need to adjust themselves to fit the landscape of the area they are soon to inhabit.
The changes that such relocations spawn are quite questionable. Do people actually care to change their styles when they go to the next town over, or abroad? Students at AUP come from a wide range of countries, each with their own various styles. From the United States to Brazil, each student takes their own inspiration from their hometown and adjusts themselves on their own volition, picture perfect Parisian or not.

Creger and Simor show off their current styles. Photo Credit: Asia Letlow


When students first arrive at the University, they often possess an air of insecurity, and so attempt to emulate the styles they believe are common to Paris. Sophomore Rachael Creger attributes the need for assimilation into a certain style of dress with a stage of culture shock, noting that it tends to go away as a student adjusts to life in the country and to AUP in general, and recounted that it typically happens in first year students who are still trying to establish themselves in the new landscape. “You just become more comfortable with the way you are, naturally. It’s really easy to tell who’s a new student…you can just tell if they’re sort of trying to blend in, and that goes away with time,” she said. Though newer students may feel the need to adjust themselves, it can also be said that they feel a greater sense of autonomy and expression. Creger commented that, in her all-girls high school in Danville, the students would dress often with a lack of purpose. "It made me angry that people didn’t dress to reflect some part of themselves. It was just to look pretty," she mused; she believes that the act of dressing oneself should be well-thought out and accurately convey one's sense of self.  Sophomore Rebecca Simor lamented her own fears in regards to upholding the stereotypical look. “When I first came in, I thought just to base everything off the stereotypes I knew, so my whole closet was black and I didn’t want to stand out because I was scared.”

Photo Credit: Asia Letlow

However, timidity is not always present in all students; in many cases, students come along being very certain of themselves in the new landscape. They do not necessarily adjust their style as a means to fit in but do so as a means of developing and growing personally, separate from the influence of Paris style. “My perspectives on a lot of things changed and I started getting into different stuff. I would see [things] different than the typical pop culture that everyone else was paying attention to,” Simor later stated. Some individuals have been previously accustomed to European styles of dress. Senior Konstantin Capatina is from Germany. The style of dress, he noted, is  “conservative and classic.” “It looks all like it’s in Mad Men,” he said. Having been a native to Europe, Capatina was conditioned to the style of his country and Paris, and did not feel compelled to change his style of dress to adjust to life once he settled at AUP. “I live in the European context, I knew France before and it’s never really been different or pressuring or anything,” Capatina later expressed.

Younger students are often especially eager to change themselves and experiment with styles never previously employed. Freshman Marina Borges of Natal, Brazil underwent a considerable adjustment; her hometown is hot and does not typically allow for much variation. However, after coming to Paris, she discovered a love for items she never would have dreamed of wearing in her hot, beachy environment. In the beginning, Borges was uncertain of the climate she was going to be exposed to. "I got here with a million little flowery summer dresses, two different flip flops and no coats or sweaters, and I slowly found out that I  love coats and sweaters and if I could wear boots and sneakers all year, I would," she said. Borges also placed greater merit to changing herself for the sheer benefit of change, rather than to adhere to a predefined standard.

Students at AUP undergo several phases of style change, but are not necessarily influenced by the beckoning advertisements that demand them to adhere to a certain model. An adjustment of style often occurs as a result of experiencing a new phase in life, where the options for expression and freedom are limitless, and thus govern freedom in other aspects of their lives as students in the university and beyond.