Diamonds in the Rough

This Week: Berkeley Fashion


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We don't profess to know much about high fashion. Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton-these names are mostly meaningless to us, suggesting a vague definition of what's cool according to a demographic whose sartorial opinions are actually of some consequence.

But fashion is a democratic art-everyone has an opinion on it. Observing a college campus makes this fact unquestionably clear, even to those whose passions are rarely excited by fashion successes or faux pas. We're no different-we've found that the fashion choices we notice on the Berkeley campus inspire ridicule, praise and stares, while the more distinct of these stylings provide a working definition of diamonds in the rough as we've tried to present them for the past 14 weeks.

Kroeber Fountain, Memorial Glade and Dwinelle are ideal spots for the kind of casual voyeurism useful to anyone who wants to improve their wardrobe or just have a good laugh. Each offers a different taste of campus couture. Kroeber Fountain is the campus entry point for many of our often underdressed Greek peers while Dwinelle is home to prematurely professorial English, philosophy and rhetoric majors, who try to dress more like grad students than undergrads. Finally, there is Memorial Glade, a melting pot of plain polo-rocking engineers and tan-seeking Frisbee throwers.

These spots have been the sight of some of our most heated arguments, and no, they weren't over politics:

Nick: Check out these goons wearing sandals and socks. Are they German tourists or just freshmen?

Derek: I dunno, I respect the sandal n' sock look. It's daring yet functional.

Nick: I'd expect that response from a guy wearing sock-asins.

Here we'll interrupt to define the sock-asin, a hybrid of sock and moccasin worn as shoes.

Our conversation remained on the subject of casual clothing, moving toward one of the most egregious female fashion choices: leggings.

Nick: When did it become acceptable for girls to wear leggings with a t-shirt? They're not jeans.

Derek: Can you say "camel toe"?

We're also not big fans of perpetually Cal sweats-sporting athletes. We acknowledge the comfort factor, but mixing it up won't cause anyone to question your school spirit.

The common factor of the outfits we despise is banality. Originality, especially for its own sake, may sometimes go too far, but even a seersucker suit is fresh and interesting, albeit ridiculous.

Wearing boots with a patterned dress, a sweater vest with corduroy shorts, or a broad-brimmed hat and Birkenstocks are sweet combos that mix and match with a sort of devil-may-care attitude, giving their wearers a look that's distinctive yet stylish.

Wearing glasses if you have perfect eyesight isn't necessarily sinful; we appreciate the envy that goofy frames create. But when a four-eyed wannabe pops out the lenses entirely, it crosses the line.

We appreciate the effort of students who aren't afraid to dress up a little, forgoing a hoodie for a collared shirt and sweater combo. Although we haven't had a professor wear a tweed jacket with elbow patches, we've seen students capable of pulling off the look-though we're reminded that overly casual sneakers can kill the most dapper look.

The Berkeley campus is a fashion mine. It's impossible to avoid new looks or styles that are often right in front of your face. But like most folks, UC Berkeleyans seem inclined to ignore these revelations or dismiss them as old, goofy, desperate or just not their style. The so-called diamonds we've exposed in this space every week have often been things we ourselves once dismissed, only to find them valuable when looked at with a fresh eye. We don't expect everyone to enjoy our interests, but can only hope that you seek your own.


Join Nick and Derek in the diamond mine at [email protected]

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