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Back-to-School Campus Fashions Showcase Ivy-Inspired Styles

By Patrick Michael Hughes | September 24, 2012 2:21pm

MANHATTAN — With school back in session, the more fashion-conscious college crowd is showing off a distinctive flare boasting both downtown edge and traditional Ivy League looks.

Street Chic was inspired to take note of the on-campus fashions at NYU and The Cooper Union, after visiting the new exhibition "Ivy Style" at the Museum at FIT, which opened during Fashion Week and runs through the end of the year.

The exhibition focuses on the enduring and recognizable styles associated with Harvard, Yale and Princeton from the early 20th century through today. The traditional fabrications and styles range from Shetland tweed to Oxford cloth, khaki and gray flannel, with time-honored labels like Brooks Brothers, J. Press and Chipp mixed among  Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Thom Browne.

After viewing the exhibition, we decided to seek out current styles at the two Village institutions, with both campuses featuring a fashionable urban vibe and edgy downtown feel. We were quite keen on the variation of looks spotted on the women —  from black and white stripes paired with a band collar leather racer jacket at NYU, to the graphic looks of Swedish label Hello! Clothing, to a muted teal and black clustered floral knit at the Cooper Union.  

However, one of the most popular trends we spotted on campus co-eds was "girly grunge," a look spotted during London Fashion Week and a rising trend with the new guard of "Sloane Rangers" —  fashion-savvy women who shop in London's chic Knightsbridge district. Their item of choice is distressed leather boots, frequently worn with short dresses or denim shorts over distressed wool tights. At the Cooper Union, Street Chic observed layers of knit, plaid flannel and a short floral skirt styled with long L.L. Bean hunting boots.

Menswear’s campus styles included the aforementioned Ivy style, with items like a bright red bowtie worn with a heather crewneck sweater, cropped jeans and suede bucks over dotted socks.

At Cooper Union, the "artist look" was seen in a layered washed-chambray shirt worn with blue Warby Parker frames. Street Chic was also taken by the strong presence of graphic looks at both colleges. Yet, it was the punk look of burlesque performer and NYU Neuroscience PhD candidate Dr. Flux that really intrigued us.

On both campuses, the fall looks featured very washed, muted autumn tones. We also made a note of the subtle androgyny in the back-to-school styles — from shot-gray nails and black socks to patent-leather lace-ups and boyish haircuts.