Brittany

OxTrad Style

Hello all,

I’ve got a week left in magical Oxford. It’s paradoxical in a way—I feel like I’ve known the people here forever, but I also feel like this program has gone by so impossibly quickly. I am both looking forward to and dreading the next few days leading up to my departure. It’s going to be a very bittersweet time for all here. We’ll be happy to go home and see our parents, but I will hate leaving all my new friends…

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In London with Joey (left) and Caio (right)

Okay, enough of the sappy stuff. This is a style blog isn’t it? On to the style, then.There are many stylish girls and guys at this program. They look like people straight out of trendbooks and fashion magazines with their high-waist shorts, flower crowns and chiffon blouses. However, I’d only apply the term fashionable to a handful. These few mix the trends with their own unique flair; it’s not copied, but very real and original. My two great friends at Oxtrad, Eve and Clemence, fit this bill. Each day they look polished and chic, but even more importantly, they always look like themselves.

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Some of my guy friends at the program deserve this title, too. They always look fantastic. They take pride in their hair (and they really don’t appreciate you messing it up :D), and their clothes are tailored (trust me, it makes a huge difference). My friends Nikhil, Caio, Ruben and Tej are brilliant examples of this. Unfortunately, I could only get a good picture of Tej. I am still working on the other three…

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This picture is from the night of our Charity Fashion Show. The entire program formed teams which had to buy clothes from charity shops for at least two models with only 20 pounds (that’s about $30US)! My team’s models, Kolin and Milan, were styled by Eve and me in the Gatsby style. Kolin was in a pink shirt and handmade newspaper suspenders and bowtie, and Milan wore a shift dress and my necklace as a headpiece. They even walked down the runway to “Crazy in Love.” We didn’t win (unfortunately), but we had a great time.

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I have to wrap this up because I need to work on my portfolio for Politics and Economics (my major class here). We are having a Parliamentary debate on Tuesday for which I need to prepare since I am a Minister of Defence and Foreign Affairs. I am hoping to post at least once more while in Oxford, and I will definitely be covering my trip around the UK following the end of the program.

~Brittany

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In Fine Style


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While in London, my mom and I visited an exhibit at Buckingham Palace. In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion focused on how aristocrats used fashion to communicate power and influence during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Tudor king Henry VIII (famously known for beheading three of his six wives) was really the first English monarch to take in interest in clothing. He was known for his elaborate outfits and lavish parties. All of his nobles were expected to follow his example even if it meant spending so much on clothes that they went bankrupt!

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The exhibit mainly comprised portraits commissioned by aristocrats to represent their wealth and style. However, there were a few actual articles of clothing, such as a woman’s bodice, embroidered gloves and slippers, and some ornate, delicate lace. All of these pieces communicate the wealth and extravagance of the time. The bodice was originally lined with a cardboard-like material to keep the shape stiff. The gloves and slippers were embroidered with scenes from novels and songs. The lace was the most impressive, though, because it was so hard to make. Nobles wore it on their cuffs and around their necks, folded and starched into stiff, elaborate shapes. (Check the details on this painting to see just how stiff and elaborate!)

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What I found the most interesting, though, was how the nobility would rework their existing wardrobes every season. Since the items were so expensive, instead of always commissioning new things, they would have their existing jewelry, lace and clothing altered to fit new trends. Who would’ve thought they recycled during the Renaissance?

~Brittany

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The Oxford Tradition


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The Oxford shoe is a staple in any person’s wardrobe. Dressed up or down, they add a sense of polish to any outfit. I own three pairs—brown, black and pinstriped. Since I have the opportunity to visit their namesake, I figured that I should learn some more about the history of this timeless shoe.

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Oxfords originally hail from Scotland, and they are often referred to as Balmorals (as in the Queen’s residence). However, the Oxford gets its name from the college because it was popular with the students who wanted to rebel against the classic ankle or knee-high boot. Oxfords are often confused with Derby shoes, but the Oxford has a more seamless shape due to its closed-lacing.

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Okay, the history lesson is over…on to the styling. I like wearing mine with cuffed, skinny pants or anything with tights. I tend to lean towards the preppy look, but they can easily be toughed up with a leather jacket or unexpected cut-outs.

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Whether you like yours brown, black, metallic, floral, studded, or even neon, invest in a good pair because Oxfords are a must.

~Brittany

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From the Closets of London

Hello from Oxford! I only get Internet in one place on campus, so my posting schedule may be a bit chaotic.

I have met so many cool people already. More related to this blog, though, I saw so many great looks on the streets of London when I was there before my program started. While everyone definitely had their own unique style, there were some recurring trends.

1. Dr. Martens
A hallmark of London street style, Dr. Martens represent the edgy, grunge aesthetic common in downtown London. Plus, you don’t have to worry about them getting wet.hero

2. Shorts and Tights
As it can still be pretty chilly in London, tights are commonly paired with shorts. I’ve seen everything from opaque to sheer tights under denim, wool, cotton and linen shorts. It’s a practical and cute way to deal with the unpredictable summer weather.
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3. Trench Coat
Of course, the trench coat is a staple in an Englishwoman’s wardrobe, but they are particularly prevalent in London. I brought mine with me, and I am glad that I did. It worked well when I was running to shows at night and touring around the city in drizzling rain.
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4. Converse
I saw plenty of Converse sneakers while in London, especially on the Tube. White was the favorite color, and high-tops the preferred style. London-street-style-trends-converse-high-tops

5. Leather Jacket
The leather jacket is probably the most widely seen article of clothing on the streets of London among the younger crowd. They’re worn over dresses and with jeans, they have spikes and chains, and they come in every color under the sun. A good one is an absolute must in this city.
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Any Londoners out there? Let me know if I missed an essential item.

~Brittany

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The Fedora Dilemma

I will admit that I own fedoras. Yes, plural. They are relics of a phase I went through in middle school.  I don’t wear them anymore, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of them. Which begs the question: Are fedoras ever okay? Should we leave them in the past with the likes of Sinatra and Annie Hall?

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Some might say that a straw fedora is perfect for the beach. Others (you know who you are) would argue that fedoras should not be made, let alone worn in public. I think it’s interesting that something as mundane as a style of hat can mean so many different things to so many different people. To me the hat represents a carefree attitude perfect for summer, a devil-may-care rocker style, or more negatively, someone just trying too hard to be cool (e.g., Kevin Federline).

 

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So, is it the hat itself that is the problem? Or is it how you wear it? I think with all choices you make (and not just sartorial ones) the intent behind it is as important as the action itself. For example, are you wearing that hat because you want other people to think you are cool, rogueish, etc.? Or are you doing it for yourself? If it’s the former, I’d seriously reconsider. If it’s the latter, go for it! Do what makes you happy, not anybody else.

Where do you weigh in on the fedora dilemma?

~Brittany

P.S. You can satisfy your fedora cravings here. (At $20 each, you can even get one for a friend!)

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Anarchy in the UK

By the time this post goes live, I will most likely be in London! I am lucky enough to be able to spend seven weeks in the United Kingdom. I will be attending classes at Oxford through their summer program, Oxbridge. You might be thinking, who would want to take more classes in their time off from school? But I am super psyched to be able to study in this reknowned institution. Plus, they filmed parts of the Harry Potter films there…The Great Hall at Hogwarts? Oxford’s Christ Church. I will be taking Politics & Economics as well as Art History.

Before I go to Oxford, though, I am exploring London with my mom, so I will be sure to snap some street style shots in the famously eclectic city. Following the program, my parents and I are traversing much of the United Kingdom. We’ll visit places like Highclere Castle (the Downton Abbey house), St. Andrew’s University (alma mater of Prince William and Kate), and we’ll tour around Dublin, Edinburgh and Glasgow. While I will definitely be busy this summer, I promise to keep up with my posts. I will be sure to update you all on my adventures Oxford, my trip around the UK and all the great fashion that I see. And, contrary to my post’s title, there will not be that much anarchy…I just couldn’t resist.

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Highclere Castle and its grounds

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Oxford University

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University of St. Andrew’s

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Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland

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Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station in London, England

Cheerio!

~Brittany

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I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll…

…so put another dime in the jukebox, baby.

My best friend recently played a rock concert at our city’s Hard Rock Cafe. How cool is that?  She was great and it was such a fun event, jam-packed with talent.

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Anyway, while being insanely proud of her and her band, How I Met My Drummer, the rock-and-roll event got me thinking about the great female rockers. Music trailblazers like Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde, Debbie Harry and Madonna broke boundaries in music and in fashion. They made bold statements with their songs and stage appearances. These women weren’t afraid to do things their way. Thanks to them, female rockers and fashion mavericks are more accepted and encouraged today.

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Underage rockers Joan Jett and Cherie Currie fronted one of the first all-girl punk bands, The Runaways. People were shocked that they actually played their own instruments.

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Chrissie Hynde was sick of not calling the shots, so she formed her own band…an incredibly successful band.

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Debbie Harry of supergroup Blondie ruled as both a pop and punk princess.

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And who could forget Madge? The Queen of Pop, constantly reinventing herself, proves that it pays to be daring and unique.

These are obviously only a few of the female rockers who took chances and made changes in the music and fashion industries. For a more in-depth look, check out the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s traveling exhibit, “Women Who Rock.” I saw it last year—it was incredibly inspiring and entertaining. They have everything from suffragette singers to Lady Gaga’s meat dress. For a closer look at the women of the punk world specifically, I would encourage you to look at The Metropolitan Museum’s current exhibit, “Punk: Chaos to Couture.” These women prove that being confident in your skills and style can lead to wonderful opportunities.

Who knows? With a little luck, determination and flair you could be the next rock star.

~Brittany

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Musical Exploration

These last few weeks have been packed with music for me. Between Marina and the DiamondsPassion Pit, and Of Monsters and Men, I’ve been surrounded by some great summer music.

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But as much as I’d love to make it to every concert that comes to town, it’s impossible. So I love exploring music online. My two favorite sources for great music are  La Blogothèque and 8tracks  (I will be eternally grateful to my friend Sam for introducing me to the former). La Blogothèque’s Take Away Shows are the best; they showcase beautiful, impromptu concerts in the streets of Paris, an abandoned building or a person’s backyard, for instance.  The site is in French, but with a couple of adventurous clicks, you are sure to stumble upon something amazing:

While La Blogothèque is a great place for acoustic live shows, 8tracks is perfect for creating summer playlists or browsing other people’s collections. My favorite playlist right now is Once, now, but I am also a huge fan of the Common Room playlists, which might appeal to the Harry Potter fans out there (I especially like the Ravenclaw selections). Summer is the perfect time to do some audio exploring, so with that, I’ll leave you with my Summer Top 10:

  1. Young Boys by Sin Fang
  2. Girls Like You by The Naked and the Famous
  3. King and Lionheart by Of Monsters and Men
  4. Sleepyhead by Passion Pit
  5. Under Cover of Darkness by The Strokes
  6. Her Beautiful Ideas by Guggenheim Grotto (Stop-motion video at its best.)
  7. When I Was a Youngster by Rizzle Kicks (They’re so great in concert.)
  8. Tiptoe by Imagine Dragons
  9. Closer by Tegan and Sara
  10. Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (Couldn’t leave them out.)

Happy Listening!

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~Brittany

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Trend Alert: Head Wraps

For those of you hoping to shake up your daily hair routine, check out the summer head wrap trend. These stylish scarves, turbans and headbands make for a look that’s super chic and a great way to keep your hair out of your face during the summer.

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Personally, I love this trend because it works well with so many different hair types—and it can be styled in so many different ways (as you can see above). Head scarves even made their way into The Great Gatsby. Whether you go floral, neon or art deco like Daisy, they’re are a great summer accessory, not to mention a fantastic way to deal with a bad hair day. Check out this video for some ways to create your own summer styles:

If you are looking for premade headscarves, look no further! Nordstrom has some great options:

So the next time you start to shove your hair into a bun to hide a bad hair day, try a head scarf or wrap. Think you can wrap your head around that? (See what I did there?)

~Brittany

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Ready for Summer Weddings

It’s wedding week at Nordstrom, and even us BP. bloggers are chiming in. Now, obviously I don’t have that much first-hand experience with bridal fashion, but I have been to my fair share of weddings as a guest. I am assuming most of you readers have, too. Typically, June is the favored month for weddings, so I have compiled some wedding-guest inspiration perfect for beating the heat and making a great impression.

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My go-to wedding guest trends are florals and pastels. I love them because they are playful, youthful and effortlessly pretty. For the floral outfit, I chose a cute, muted floral peplum dress because there are so many different colors in the print to work with. I kept the shoe neutral to lengthen the leg, and then I accessorized using colors in the print: gold, white and mint.

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  1. 1. Stephan Co. Geometric Bib Necklace
  2. 2. Urban Expressions Handbags Perforated Clutch
  3. 3. Seychelles “Down to the Wire” Sandal
  4. 4. BB Dakota “Palm Beach” Print Peplum Dress
  5. 5. Rachel Large Hoop Earrings
  6. 6. Carole Mother-of-Pearl Bangles

BP. has a ton of beautiful pastel dresses, and I chose this Fire dress because I love the back cut-out. Mint is an easy color to complement—pinks, purples and metallics all look great with it. Simple gold accents dress this outfit up without going overboard.

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  1. 1. Fire Bow Back Dress
  2. 2. Nordstrom “Azteca” Multistrand Pendant Necklace
  3. 3. Emperia Small Studded Crossbody Bag
  4. 4. ZIGIgirl Arrow Sandal

Since days are longer in the summer, wedding guest outfits tend to be less formal than, say, an evening wedding. However, you should always check the invitation for attire guidelines. Here is an easy etiquette decoder taken from etiquette guru Emily Post via Martha Stewart Weddings:

  • • White Tie:  For female guests, a formal floor-length evening gown is the right choice.
  • • Black Tie: You can go a bit dressier and wear a formal floor-length gown, or choose a short, dressy cocktail dress.
  • • Black Tie Optional:  There’s a bit more freedom here. Dressy seperates and Little Black Dresses are also allowed.
  • • Semiformal: Think cocktail dresses or a nice skirt.
  • • Casual: Common for outdoor weddings, casualwear includes sundresses and sandals. (Both of my styled looks would be considered casual, possibly semiformal.)

Finally, while white is not technically off-limits to wedding guests, I’d stay away from it. Let the bride stand out on her special day.

~Brittany

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