There’s an aura of downtown vintage cool around the Yale campus. Students scurry to and from classes in a mix of secondhand blouses, beat-up sneakers and layers of sweaters and scarfs. And yes, they’re label-conscious — label-allergic, that is. Here, nothing’s less cool than “looking like money, even if you’re rolling in it,” says one junior who hails from Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Students also just don’t have time to worry about what they’re wearing. “If you’ve only had two hours of sleep and you’re going to be walking from place to place, sweatpants are fine,” says senior Cecilia Morelli, who admits that when she’s in New York City for the weekend she definitely thinks more about what she’s wearing.
On campus, practicality is key, especially given New Haven’s frigid New England winters. “I wore the same pair of pants for 80 days in a row because it was so cold,” says Avni Bhatia, a senior art history student.
But, as much as Yale students won’t admit that they care about fashion, it’s still a guilty pleasure they like to indulge from time to time. They do so in a variety of ways, such as student fashion shows and numerous style columns in the Yale Daily News, including a recent how-to on keeping chic despite dismal weather, and in-depth reviews of the European collections. “It’s a small but aggressive group who care about fashion,” says Alexis Swerdloff, a senior history major.
Given Yale’s reputation as one of the liberal Ivies, its no surprise that students welcome self-expression in any form — “except nudity,” says sophomore Ting Ting Yan of what flies as campus fashion. “I guess the idea is that you can wear whatever you want to. As long as you can stand looking at yourself in the mirror, we can, too.”
Classics 101: Battered designer jeans, colorful Pumas or Adidas, vintage-looking shirts, layered sweaters.
Best fashion moment: Charlotte, Scarlett Johansson’s dewey-eyed naïf in “Lost in Translation,” a recent Yale graduate.
Chic alumni: Andrew Goodman, Valerie Steele.
If your school were a designer, who would it be? “We’re Marc Jacobs — old Marc Jacobs.” — Cecilia Morelli, ’04
If you were reading Vogue before class, would you hide it when you got there? “I never have time to read a fashion magazine before class. I’m usually cramming.” — Ting Ting Yan, ’06