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Students pursued sustainable, 'timeless' fashion in 2023

Photos courtesy of Adobe Stock and Unsplash.

Campuses and runways have been chock-full of new trends and styles, whether it be real or faux leather, thin stripes or thick. Still, students are becoming increasingly tired of the rapidly changing trends.

“I feel like the fast cycle is still there,” Jessica Williamson, secretary of the UNC fashion club Xpressions, said. "But people are starting to wake up to the issue that that's causing and are starting to be like, ‘Okay, let's slow down.’"

Sustainability has also become an important factor for many students’ personal styles this year. Use of apps and websites to rent clothes for events like formals have become increasingly popular. Renting allows shoppers to pick out something more bold or out of their comfort zone to wear for a night or two, without having to commit to actually purchasing something they may not reach for all that often.

“At UNC it's like a huge thing, like everyone uses Nuuly or Rent the Runway or FashionPass, and I personally love it,” UNC sophomore Annie Ascher said.

Not only does this save space in your closet and money in your wallet, but it’s more sustainable than buying brand new outfits for every nice dinner or football game. It also allows shoppers to try out trends without having to fully commit.

Ascher said her mom dressed her in timeless pieces as a kid, which has influenced how she dresses today. She said she has been more grounded in her style this year, using a mix of preppy staples and what she describes as "coastal grandmother": earthy tones, beachy linens and casual cuts.

This year's biggest trend of all might have been the idea of “timelessness.” 

Miu Miu, a brand that filled their runways with “staple pieces,” was ranked the hottest brand this past quarter by The Lyst Index. Popular style influencers like Sofia Richie, Camille Charrière and Matilda Djerf have been heralded for their elegant and chic styles.

Brands that focus on staples and basics — Skims, J. Crew, and Abercrombie & Fitch — have seen higher than normal sales this past year.

Typical “timeless” wear is usually defined by classic silhouettes and limited patterns — items you can build many outfits with. Things like a plain white T-shirt or simple straight leg jeans would ideally survive any trend cycle.

But for some, filling their wardrobes with staples is limiting.

“I feel like I'm definitely starting to pay more attention to getting pieces that I feel really speak to me and are statement pieces because I used to be like, ‘No, it's important to have basics,’ but it's also important to have a lot of pieces that stand out,” Williamson said.

Some of the notable moments in fashion this year were far from timeless, such as MSCHF’s cartoon-like red boots, which baffled the fashion world when they dropped in February.

“Those definitely made their mark,” Williamson said.

The 2023 Met Gala theme revolved around the late Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel's controversial former designer who shaped the brand's timeless styles. The event, often referred to as “fashion’s biggest night out,” draws massive attention each year with its A-lister guest list and promise of flamboyant dress, but this year's gala had a mixed reception.

“I wasn't a fan honestly, this year, of the Met Gala.” sophomore Shea McIntyre said. “It was based on Karl Lagerfeld, I want to say, and I don't know why that wasn't a big year for me.”

Chapel Hill may not have hosted the Met Gala, but there are still fashion clubs and events that take place on campus every semester that reflect the popular styles among students.

Clubs like Xpressions and Fashion Forward, publications like Coulture and Z Magazine and programs like FashionMash all help to form a diverse and dynamic fashion community at UNC and create a greater sense of belonging for students interested in fashion.

“I think becoming more comfortable on campus has allowed me to become more comfortable with dressing the way I want to dress and also seeing other people do that has furthered that for me,” McIntyre said.

Editor's Note: Shea McIntyre is a columnist at The Daily Tar Heel.


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