Ten essentials for an alternative style
In a world where individualism prevails, the last thing you want to do is conform stylistically. Getting an edge in life begins with making a statement with what you wear. If you never considered yourself a trendsetter, here are a few suggestions to break away from the mainstream fashion of black leggings and UGGs and still look good.
Very rarely am I seen not wearing my leather jacket. This is especially true for me at this time of year, because the leather outer layer is good protection from the biting cold of New England winter. I have a serious weakness for all things leather. So naturally, I own an assortment of jackets in different colors and styles. I’m especially fond of my vintage motorcycle jacket. It lets me indulge my inner obsession with the “Mad Max” movies. That, and the leather jacket equals instant cool, so I rationalize that I am therefore “cool” by wearing one. And it always works. Ranging from $50 in thrift stores to upwards of $300 in designer outlets, leather jackets can be found in a slew of locations.
Ladies, steel-toed boots are not exclusively for men. My Docs are by far the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned, and they last forever – I’m still wearing the pair I bought almost five years ago. While pop culture has relegated them to the fringe of steel workers and punk rockers, Doc Martens are some of the best quality footwear for durability available today, and can be found at any major shoe store for around $130. When you’re having your feet constantly trampled on by the mad throng of students milling about campus, those steel toes really come in handy.
Omerica Organic Plugs
I’ve been gauging my ears since 2007, and while it still freaks my mother out, I am proud of the three-fourths inch holes in my earlobes. The only downside of having gauged ears is that it severely limits earring choices, but thankfully the Omerica Organic Body Jewelry Company produces some really amazing ear plugs that are both eye-catching and versatile. Although they are a little pricey, ranging from $30 to $70 depending on the style, all their products are made with organic materials, which in my experience are a lot more comfortable to wear than standard silicone plugs. These earrings tend to be a little on the pricey side, but they’re worth it for body modification enthusiasts.
I have a nasty habit of occasionally losing, well, everything. I particularly often lose my wallet, which is pretty important as far as personal items go. I bought a chain wallet on a whim a few years ago, and I haven’t looked back. I love the convenience of having a wallet that is compact enough to slip in my back pocket while being secured to my belt loop for safe keeping. And the rebellious factor of sporting a chain on my belt is just an added bonus. They can be bought at a multitude of places ranging from Hot Topic to Target, and will probably run you around $30, though the price is style dependent.
Bizarre graphic T-Shirt
The majority of my wardrobe consists of odd t-shirts I’ve collected over the years from various thrift shops and garage sales, ranging from obscure punk band logos to beer slogans. I get tired of the same old kitschy graphics from Old Navy or PacSun, and so I frequently hit up my local Salvation Army for oddball t-shirts unlikely to be found anywhere else for a steal, usually only costing a few dollars apiece. Each of my tees has a little story about how I came to be in possession of it. Ask me about my Reservoir Dogs shirt, and I’ll tell you all about that time I met Quentin Tarantino because of it.
Apparently it’s a trend these days to intentionally wear mismatched socks. I refuse to buy into this because I have unintentionally been wearing mismatched socks for years. I refuse to conform, which I guess makes me a mismatched-socks hipster. I have suffered the devastating loss of many a cute sock over the years. By sticking to solely wearing plain black socks, I’ve found I never mismatch any longer. If I lose one, I simply match it with another identical sock from my drawer. Problem solved.
Leopard print leggings
In general, I am not a woman who leaves her house wearing leggings as pants, but my weakness for leopard print caused me to buy patterned leggings. They’re versatile enough that I’ve worn them to work and to a wedding without appearing garish. They also add an instant pop of awesome to a pair of black shorts or even a little black dress. Your inner 1970s London punk might want to wear them with everything, but there is a time and place for leopard print. I might add though, that for me, the time and place for leopard is nearly anytime and anywhere. They can be found at Wet Seal and similar stores for under $15.
“Found Items” Necklace
One of my best friends has spent the last year traveling around the United States. The last time we were reunited, she gave me a necklace made of little trinkets she found in her travels. The pendant is a plain piece of brown beach glass from the Pacific coast. The glass is beautifully wrapped in copper wire and adorned with a pebble from the Oregon wilderness and a piece of bark from California’s Redwood Forest. It’s all strung together on a thin leather string. This is by far my favorite necklace, because it was made just for me, and it’s a good reminder that there is immense beauty in little things no matter where you are. These items seriously make great gifts for those who love sentimental objects and craft projects.
Mossimo Supply Co. backpack
Dainty little purses just aren’t my style. I carry around way too much junk to fit into a little bitty bag. As a result, I upgraded to a sweet backpack from Mossimo Supply Co. that I found in a thrift store, but they can be found at Target new for around $30 It may not be as feminine as a clutch purse or a handbag, but it’s certainly more comfortable than having a dinky little pocketbook tucked under my arm all night.
I started making my vest by hand in 2009, and it has evolved since then into a work of wearable art. I added the black metal studs myself, sewed every patch on by hand and even did some hand-drawn designs with fabric paint on the back. This is an item completely unique to me, because I decorated it myself with the remnants of old t-shirts and patches from local bands I’ve seen over the years. The best place to search for a similar vest to begin your project is a local thrift store. Already worn and dripping with its own character, buying from a thrift store will add a unique aspect to your wardrobe and save you money, as they usually only cost a few dollars apiece at such retailers. I’m all about DIY- fashion, and my vest is proof that good style can always be hand-made.
Emily Brightman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org