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Fashion over the decade: The rise of the 'Starbucks pumpkin spice latte look'

The 2010s are coming to a close, and with it, certain fashion trends will pass while others prevail. Student input on trends over the decade have highlighted much of what is “cool” and “in.” 

While some students commented that style at UNC is diverse, others pointed to certain looks that are commonly sported, strutted and saturated in today’s style scene.

Several UNC students responded to posts asking about 2010 trends, citing graphic tees from stores like Abercrombie and Fitch, cami tank tops from Justice, and soft North Face jackets. And — let us not forget — elbow high stacks of silly bands. AF1s, scrunchies and crocs were also mentioned as trends that have grown throughout the decade. 

Today, tinsel hair, blanket jackets and experimentation with bright colors are some of the biggest trends noticed by Editor-in-Chief of Coulture Magazine, Caroline Farrell. Puffer jackets, tortoise shell jewelry and booties are other common styles Farrell said she sees around campus and the community. 

While Farrell said she sees several prominent trends, she sees many diverse types of dress. 

“Fashion and style is different for every person and that is the beauty of it,” Farrell said. “There are so many ways to be stylish and fashionable, and I don’t think there is a way to be unfashionable.” 

Farrell’s own style is centered around sustainability and thrift. She has worked at Rumors for several years and said this experience has informed her of trends and clothing quality. 

She said that fashion is a piece of everyone’s representation. 

“Everyone is interested in fashion in one way or another, even if maybe not expressly so, you have a stake in what you wear," Farrell said.

Farrell said Coulture uses clothing to showcase personality, beliefs and aspirations among other things. 

“Fashion is a bold and brave way to express who you are, express that you are not to be diminished, overlooked or forced into a certain box,” Farrell said. 

UNC sophomore Reiley Baker said those who dress for current trends are wearing funky loose pants, oversized sweaters, hair clips and fuzzy jackets. Baker said she doesn’t know if the funky pants trend will last as its predecessor, colorful skinny jeans, quickly died out. 

Baker said many students don’t dress to look stylish, especially during the colder months, but she has noticed international students dress with more intention.  

Memo Goodson, a junior from Dubai, said international students procure their styles with more diverse influences and often more formality.  

“I was raised in Dubai and fashion was a huge deal,” Goodson said. “People experimented a lot, but here I feel like people are very basic and they just follow what everyone else does.”

Goodson said a few people seem to do their own thing in regard to style, but that most dress similarly in a manner she likens to a “Starbucks pumpkin spice latte look.” Chunky sneakers, nose piercings and re-using clothes are some of the trends Goodson has noticed.

On re-using clothes, Goodson said thrifting has become popular over the past decade. Fast fashion, in her opinion, is only cool at the luxury level.

Co-owner of Rumors Casey Longyear has also noticed the boom of thrifting over the past decade. She helped open the second Rumors boutique in Chapel Hill six years ago and said Rumors has helped UNC students diversify their style and move from a more UNC-apparel-heavy wardrobe. 

Longyear said she is noticing a relapse of late 80s and 90s fashion. Rumors carries vintage and modern looks, and Longyear said much of their modern apparel is reminiscent of these previous decades. 

As for the 2010 era of fashion, Longyear said it was “horrible.” Without platforms like Facebook and Instagram to inspire new styles, people didn’t experiment with unique looks unlike today.

Fast fashion has also been a hot topic this past decade, and Longyear said the trend of re-using clothes is here to stay. With Forever 21 and Sears closing many of its stores, and Dressbarn closing completely by the end of the year, more people will be re-using. A wave of youth with enthusiasm for thrifting backs this notion, Farrell said.  

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Specific trends Longyear mentioned include bright and metallic colors and prints like snakeskin and plaid. She said the oversized fit is also very "in," and that this plays into a more conservative appearance and also parallels awareness for size and body issues. 

“The world is full of awesome stuff that we can re-use,” Longyear said. “Thrifting is changing not just the way we shop, but capitalism as a whole.” 

Thrifting has impacted the style and confidence of Associate Editor-in-Chief of Coulture Clara Matthews. Matthews said she used to feel insecure about how she dressed, but when she stopped caring as much and began re-using more, she felt more confident. 

Like other students, Matthews commented on the more casual nature of dress at UNC though she said there is a range in formality. She cited the popularity of "athleisure" as well as bell sleeves and high-waisted jeans among a sea of ever present leggings on a college campus.

Her love for fashion has propelled Matthews to take a more active role with Coulture and to better appreciate style. 

“I’ve met some of the most stylish people at UNC,” Matthews said. “I feel like I’m always picking up inspiration from the people that surround me. It’s one of the best things about this place.”