The City Is Our Campus — And Style Inspiration

The City Is Our Campus — And Style Inspiration

Fashion is often a result of one’s environment. People base their clothing off of what’s around them, what’s financially accessible and sometimes their cultural upbringing. The fashion culture at DePaul is one that is unique and truly a product of the environment. The saying, “the city is our campus” is true when it comes to the style influence of their students. With range from the Loop to Lincoln Park and everything around, DePaul students have a wide range of influence and inspiration when it comes to fashion.

With access to Chicago’s art museums, Chicago’s unique architecture and the music scene, there are many factors that can change a student’s style. Gerald Harris, a DePaul junior, said, “I’ve lived in Chicago my whole life, and I’ve always been inspired by what’s around me. Chicago is a city that has so many realities and cultures, that everyone from here has their own unique style, and it works for them.”

Harris has a simple, slightly preppy street style. When it’s time for him to “pop out” as he calls it, he wears patterned button downs or polo shirts with distressed denim skinny jeans. His preferred shoe brand is Vans, and depending on the weather he will pair this look with a denim jacket.

Harris combines a relaxed Adidas jacket with business staples like navy slacks and a cream button up sweater.

Harris combines a relaxed Adidas jacket with business staples like navy slacks and a cream button up sweater. (Natalie Wade, 14 East)

His essential piece is his dad cap — he wears one almost always and not just in a traditional way. Harris has long kinky hair at the top of his head, and he gets the sides and the back tapered down. Because of this, his hats won’t fit directly on his head, so he will place his hats slightly on top of his head with the brim low, so it touches the top of his glasses. Often his hats look like they are either floating on his head and are positioned on the front of his head, tilted down. When he is going for comfort he likes to bring out the Adidas trio soccer pants with a graphic tee, athletic slides with socks and either a cowl neck zip-up or a graphic crew neck.

“People who aren’t from here, once they get here they see all the possibilities, and see all the different art forms they get inspired,” said Harris. “Typically, the first thing that changes when you get to Chicago is the way you dress.”

DePaul has a large population of foreign and out-of-state students, and often once they arrive in Chicago and get immersed in the culture of the city their style changes.

“Since moving from Minnesota my style has definitely transformed,” said Mary Takgbajouah, a DePaul junior.  “My goal is comfortable clothing for Chicago’s fast-paced environment, with a slight flex that make people look twice at what I’m wearing.”

Takgbajouah said her style is a combination of minimalism with pops of color.

Takgbajouah said her style is a combination of minimalism with pops of color. (Natalie Wade, 14 East)

It often transitions into more of a street style, dependent on what season they are dressing for. Takgbajouah has a very simple day-to-day comfort look. With a color selection of neutral tones or darks she will pair capri loose sweatpants that have a cinched waist for definition or sweat-shorts she cut and made from sweatpants found at a thrift store. She pairs this with a short-sleeve crop top or for cooler weather a patterned turtleneck. For shoes she likes to go between her black platform Teva sandals or her Nike Airmax 97s. When she’s preparing to go out or dress up, Takgbajouah likes to mix and match patterns and textures while still maintaining a clean look.

Additionally, Takgbajouah said, “Being a DePaul student and having access to so many museums has also greatly impacted my style. I get ideas from the art I see in and outside of museums, and because the city is so open, I’m never afraid to try something new.”

The Museum of Contemporary Art is Takgbajouah’s favorite. She draws inspiration from the simple clean lines displayed in the art and the minimal but impactful effect it has on people, which is her goal when she dresses. Harris prefers The Art Institute because of all the patterns and color combinations. Those paintings carry over into his shirt selection and his color coordination.  

Some students come from places where they didn’t have to consider the weather. That changed once they moved to Chicago. Some students also also come from places that aren’t as diverse as the city, and now adapt their style to all of the culture and art they are now constantly exposed to.

“My style has definitely changed since moving from Minnesota,” said Takgbajouah.  Typically, students take style tips they’ve had from their hometown and mix that with the Chicago style they have developed.

One may ask, “How are DePaul students able to fund these styles?” The answer is simple — thrifting. Chicago is home to many thrift stores and it allows for students to get vintage and contemporary pieces to develop their style at an affordable price.

“I used to wear clothes from department stores because that is all my parents would buy for me, but now I am all about thrifting for cool pieces or Urban Outfitters,” said Takgbajouah.  

Age and independence are two additional factors that have a large part in a student’s style change. As one gets older, they gain a new confidence and new maturity. With independence there is no one to tell you, “no,” you are in charge of yourself and your style is completely under your control.

The style of DePaul students reflects them using the resources, culture and city around them. The street style that is maintained by a large part of DePaul’s student body is proof that the city really is our campus.


Header photo by Natalie Wade