Topknots & Man Buns

The 90s are alive and well . . . on our heads. In the past year, we’ve seen a revival of velvet, chokers and fresh sneakers. So it only makes sense that hairstyles are following suit. The fabled man bun has become a recent sex symbol as the movement of “lumbersexuals” gains notoriety. Celebrities such as Colin Farrell, Orlando Bloom and Ezra Miller have turned long, unruly hair into sultry and luscious locks. The topknot, a refreshed take on the half-up/half-down hairstyle is simultaneously coming into vogue. Actresses Kate Mara and Sienna Miller recently wore them on the red carpet.

For many students at the University of Puget Sound, topknots and man buns are a matter of convenience. Junior Anna Pezzullo returned to campus after a semester abroad in Denmark, where she noticed that topknots were prevalent. “The weather in Denmark is pretty much guaranteed windy or rainy, making the topknot favorable,” Pezzullo said. “Scandinavians live in a climate similar to Washington, so it makes sense that topknots are all the rage at Puget Sound right now.”

Apart from weather, the student body at Puget Sound finds these hairstyles to be generally comfortable for a multitude of active situations. They can be sported at the gym for short-haired exercisers who have the inability to fit all of those wispy hairs within a single hair tie, sans bobby pins. They also keep hair out of the eyes while biking to and from campus. Word on the street is that a certain gentleman and his manbun even summitted Mt. Rainier this past summer.

Manbun-wearing Junior Eric Rauch agrees with Pezzullo on the convenience factor of his “do”. “For me it began simply as a purely functional way to get the flow out of my face, but then it quickly transformed into my own entity,” Rauch said.

Aside from being manageable, topknots and man buns are chic. They have the fun of a ponytail and the sophistication of a bun. These hairstyles pull hair away from the face, giving a polished, yet youthful, vibe. They are fitting to wear with both casual and formal attire.

For those manbun hopefuls who are still in the process of growing out their tresses – fear not. Your awkward mullet stage will pass. “I did not purposefully grow out my hair for the manbun, but it started with the mullet,” Rauch noted. “But as the mullet grew, I yearned for overall long hair partially inspired by the likes of Brad Pitt in Troy. Before I knew it manbuns and topknots were everywhere.”

The future of manbuns and topknots is bright. They are extremely versatile in their current state. However, you can up your hairdo by throwing a braid in it, or even bling-it-out for springtime with a small garland of flowers. The possibilities are truly endless.

(Linked from The Trail)

Photos by Ken Aviananda

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If You LOVE Fashion Theory……

As part of my senior thesis project, I wrote a literature review regarding fashion theory and its relation to identity politics.  It’s a topic near and dear to my heart. Give it a read if you dare!

Fashion as a Means of Identity Expression

The works on fashion theory that I have selected examine clothing as a way to both stand out from, and fit in with, certain cultural norms, making clothing an indicator of personal identity and public representation. I have split these theories into the following sections: identity and agency, group identification, culturally situated standards, class, and the development of clothing trends. Additionally, I have selected various ethnographic works on clothing that differ in terms of place and date in order to include a diverse sample. Through reviewing this literature, it is my goal to assess various fashion theories in order to apply them to the distinct ethnographies I have chosen to analyze.

Clothing choice is a form of agency that allows the individual to selectively display his or her identity to the public (Pham 2011; Crane 2000; Norell 1967; Finnane 2005). It puts the ability to present oneself in the hands of the agent. Brenner’s work on Muslim women living in Java highlights this theory in her exploration of the new, local trend in veiling (1996). Veiling is not a historically grounded tradition in Indonesia, however, its popularity is growing in women who decide to remove themselves from their pasts and mark a new awakening into the practice of Islam. Through the process of veiling, these women choose to represent themselves as devout Muslims. They differentiate themselves from non-veiling Muslims in order to portray their deep religiosity to the public.

However, while fashion is an individual choice, it is widely used as method of identification with specific groups, cultures, and religions (Miller 1993; Simmel 1957; Thompson 1997; Sproles 1974; LeBlanc 2000; Crane 2006; Finnane 2005; Jones 2007). Thus, dress can also be used to portray a group identity to the public. Sproles argues that fashion is “temporarily adopted by a discernable proportion of members in a social group because that chosen behavior is perceived to be socially appropriate for the time and situation” (1974). Therefore, he argues that fashion’s primary use is not to display individuality; rather, it is employed so individuals can find a sense of belonging through conforming to group norms.

As stated above, fashion is used as a social indicator of affiliation with cultures, groups, and belief systems. Individuals who dress alike are believed to be somehow linked to one another. LeBlanc’s ethnographic work in Bouake illuminates the fear of standing out by wearing clothing that are not the norm (2000). When asked about veiling in public, one of her subjects stated: “Most of my friends are not Muslims. How could I wear the veil when I go out with them? It would be embarrassing. It would look very odd. I would not feel at ease” (463). Her subject chose to conform to the dress of the group of her friends even though it contrasted with the religious garb she was supposed to wear in public. She prioritized her group identity over that of her personal identity out of fear of being ostracized.

LeBlanc states that fashion is a way to locate oneself within a societal setting (2000). Different types of clothing (cloth and material), patterns, colors, forms of draping, and ways of covering the body are all culturally situated (Hansen 2004; Heath 1992; Crane 2006; Jones 2007). Clothing is thus a developing presentation of cultural values, standards, and principles. Hansen provides a regional tour of clothing and its symbolic meanings cross-culturally (2004). For instance, changing political regimes have had a profound effect on the shifts of dress in Latin America. At the same time, there has been a historical continuation of the importance of local garb of the Pacific Islander population in relation to ceremonial symbolism. The comparison of these two examples shows how cultural, political, and geographical differences influence clothing, situating the development of dress in everyday life.

In the past, fashion was utilized in order to purposefully differentiate between social classes (Crane 2000; Summers 1970; Evans 1991; Simmel 1957). Simmel’s theory on the adoption of clothing trends states that higher social classes set trends that eventually trickle-down to the working class (1957). The working class then adopts that trend to associate with the elite. At that point, the higher classes select a new trend in order to differentiate from the visual identity of the working class. However, this theory has become outdated due to the increased intermixing of classes and culture through processes of globalization. As Hansen argues, fashion influences travel in all directions through class stratifications because of increased social connectivity (2004).

Both personal identity and clothing trends are constantly refashioned. As already discussed, shifts in clothing trends no longer follow a trickle-down pattern. Rather, they are created through social combination and networks of cultural collaboration that are at work, yet they remain unseen (Godart 2009). Therefore, group identity is the true shaper of fashion adoption and change. An individual may feel as though they have a unique sense of fashion; yet, they either consciously or subconsciously picked up that idea from someone else in a sort of unknowing conformity. Increased globalization and worldwide social interconnections created a blending of dress, challenging the classical hegemonic model of western imperialism in relation to fashion (Bikhchandani 1992; Hansen 2004). The exclusivity that once defined the world of fashion has opened its doors to the diversity of culture through means of accessibility, such as television and the Internet (Entwistle 2006; Finnane 2005; McRobbie 2002).

The exploration of dress and identity draws upon deep, cultural meanings about personal independence, group affiliation, and changes in trend adoption over time. While it is not comprehensive, this literature list has allowed me to develop a broad understanding of the ways in which identity and fashion coexist.

Inspiration: Mara Hoffman

There’s nothing that tickles my fancy quite like Mara Hoffman’s collections – and her latest one is no exception.  Really, I was just getting amped up for fall clothing (chunky sweaters and leather skirts galore), but after seeing these looks, I’m already craving spring.  Phenomenal patterns? Check. Vibrant colors? Check. Elegant silhouettes? Check.  Now, all I truly want for Christmas is a closet full of Mara Hoffman’s Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear collection.  But can you really blame me? 

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Let’s start with these maxi dresses: ab-so-lute-ly stunning.  They would look truly flattering on any and every body type.  Throw on some chunky wedges and an wrist full of thin silver bangles and you’re good to go!

Here are my other favorite looks from Mara Hoffman’s new collection.  Enjoy!

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(All photos from Style.com)

Inspiration: Prabal Gurung

New York fashion week just started off with a bang, and I couldn’t have been more excited about Prabal Gurung’s Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear collection.  I just about melted over his sporty, Himalayan-inspired Fall 2014 Ready-to-Wear, so I was ready to see what Prabal Gurung would do next.  And I was nothing short of amazed! His mix of sporty pieces with flowing detail creates the perfect concoction of style.

LUX_0038I’m equally adoring this architectural urban warrior look.  

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But what really caught my eye were these two high-neck, flowing gowns.  (They are seriously works of art.)  The accent colors in each dress are strokes of design genius – and they just look downright cool.  

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Prabal Gurung even launched a new shoe line that was featured in his runway show.  So enjoy that little bit of eye candy, too!

(All photos from Style.com)

Spotlight: Preserve.Us

Preserve.Us just launched and I couldn’t be more excited about it.  (Seriously the homemade-lovin’-fashion-girl in me is squirming with pure elation.)  Preserve sells it all – clothes for both men and women, home goods, kitchenware, jewelry, and even some tasty looking hot fudge!  

Preserve is teamed up with different artisans and small business owners from the around the U.S.  They have set their first goal to give 5,000 children a meal, 2,000 children a blanket, and 2,700 children a cozy sweatshirt.  Their hands-on philanthropic goals are both reasonable and grassroots-oriented.  

I’m all about the Briella Maxi Dress and the soon to arrive Stone Bangles, both pictured above.  They’re even perfect when paired together!

And on a final note, the company’s take away message is just as inspiring as the items its selling:

“We acknowledge that we are human and are flawed. But please accept, our intention is to do something pure. So we ask you, let this be a conversation. Help us grow. Help us give. Please critique us, teach us and be patient with us in the process, as ultimately we are all in this, this spinning sphere, together.”

How Bun-derful!

It’s August.  It’s hot out.  To all my long-haired ladies out there: having your hair hang down your neck all day can get a little stuffy.  So you choose to throw it up in a bun.  But who’s to say that you can’t have a little bun fun?  I’m a big believer in summer hair accessories – so I love to spruce up my bun.  It adds creativity without relying on your same old, played out outfit ornamentation.

Throw some flowers around your bun.  Adorn it with a delicate gold or brass chain.  Throw a bow beneath the back of it.  Anything goes in this realm of hair fun!  Chances are, you already have something hiding in your closet that you can wrap around your bun for an instant upgrade.  Start with ribbon or a long necklace wrapped around, and play from there.

Now all the boys will be checking out your bun – but in a good way!

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Spotlight: Melody Ehsani

I need to preface this post by saying that I’m not usually one for too much bling-bling.  But then I came across these Melody Ehsani earrings, and I knew I needed them! These super chunky, fun earrings are perfect for channeling your inner Miley (because let’s be honest with ourselves for a second, we all adore her style at least a little bit….).  And I must admit, the moment I put them on I felt like I could take on the day.  It was a “we flawless” moment.  I wore mine with a deep red-hued flannel, black soft shorts, and cream high-tops.

Check out Melody Ehsani’s online shop for some more design eye candy – you won’t be sorry!