Rachel Orbach

Closet Classics

Rachel Orbach
Closet Classics

Take incoming freshmen out of their home environments and they could return from college with five new piercings, a fresh wardrobe and maybe even… a purple hairdo? College has always been an outlet for experimentation. Eighteen-year-old college freshies rarely resemble their same selves as they toss their graduation caps in the air dressed in purple robes. Just as the pre-med student explores religious studies while the vegan enjoys a first bite at Bat 17, a “Princess Diaries” makeover is a college student’s right of passage. With these style revitalizations and exciting evolutions, however, it is important to take note of certain oldies that will always prevail.

The Little Black Dress

        "One is never over-dressed or under-dressed with a Little Black Dress." — Karl Lagerfeld. When reaching into your closet for tonight’s upcoming art show, fate would have it that you would grab your most coveted LBD. On your way to an important interview and your dress pants have yet to be pressed? No worries—throw on the LBD and a black blazer, and the interview is yours. Even when you cannot find any dresses at Old Orchard for tomorrow’s spring formal, you feel at ease knowing you have your classic LBD to fall back on. Since Chanel’s LBD debuted in 1926, this simple fashion icon has remained a staple in many female’s wardrobe. Whether the dress is Cushnie et Ochs or Forever 21, the LBD’s brand holds little significance. This dress’s uniformity is what makes it so special; it creates a feeling of equality among the differing socioeconomic classes of buyers and enables accessibility to all fashion-forward consumers. This uniform look is pulled off by anyone, and no matter the occasion, one can never go wrong with this go-to.

Since the Bat Mitzvah days, I’ve always gotten my money’s worth from my staple LBD. Shielding my eyes from my tragic (and hilarious) tween dress choices, I at least have some salvageable pictures in my favorite childhood LBD. After some time, my LBD’s over-wear and my own puberty forced one dress after another into retirement. Since Sweet 16 season, however, the tiring process of deciding what to wear has been abated by my one favorite LBD. My long-sleeve, black Herve Leger has survived distant cousin weddings, high school graduation parties and my freshman year of college. While this dress was a splurge, it has sustained four years while simultaneously making a statement in itself. It’s simple yet flattering, and being an outfit repeater never feels like an issue. If all else fails at the end of the day, there is always the LBD.

Red Lips

        Red: the color symbolizing love, passion and every fiery emotion. What better way to manifest this energy than the bold look of the ubiquitous red lip? The red lip is available to all those who desire, and the idea that the girl-next-door is bound to light pastels is simply outdated. People are quick to claim that they themselves cannot pull off the red lip but good riddance to this misconception. Whether a rich crimson or a strawberry hue, there is a red lip out there in the beauty world for everyone, and all makeup wearers should take a chance with this vitalizing look.

Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like it Hot” really knew how to work the red lips, and I personally love it hot. To be honest, I was one of the narrow minds who associated red-lip wearers as sexual provocateurs crying for attention. As I matured, so too did my perception of this mature statement. I no longer consider a red lip suggestive but rather an outwardly bold statement of power and ownership over your appearance; over time, I too fell in love with the red lip. Beyond my tall stature, my red lips have become yet another statement marking my entrance. On a random day at home, I’ll perform my errands flaunting my red lips to the passersby. Reminiscing on high school photos, my red lips at events always catch my attention. Just recently, I attended a Northwestern show where my red lips were on display for all to see. This timeless look truly is the LBD of the makeup world.

Trench Coat

While possibly less notable than the LBD or the token red lips, a trench coat remains an ageless fashion trend. Beyond its sleek, refined look, the trench coat capitalizes on its practicality. Classy but basic, stylish but comfortable, the trench eternally holds the heart of the fashion world. Burberry introduced the first trench coat, designed for WWI military personnel who were stationed in the trenches. Out of warzone, the trench has become a staple of style, hinting at elegance while screaming casual. Burberry is not the only trench coat out there—so many designers and brands have followed Burberry’s footsteps in creating this wardrobe essential.  

Versatility is the one word I associate with my trench coat. This fashionable coat works with all outfits and is simultaneously perfect for in-between seasons. At a college like Northwestern, investing in a trench coat seemed obvious. In Evanston fall and spring, the chill is nearly absent so bulky winter jackets will simply not do. My trench coat was my coat of choice deep into November and was resurrected sometime in March. Traversing campus in my beige trench, it is as if I’m in some “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” scene and have transformed into the iconic trench-wearing Audrey Hepburn. While I am probably wearing a baggy sweatshirt and leggings beneath my trench in a rush to whip out my books in Deering, those few moments outside reassure me of my composure and deliver me Blair Waldorf-like confidence.

Nude Pumps

        Nude pumps are a no-brainer buy, as no one regrets purchasing this stylish necessity. Peep-toe or pointed, nude pumps are an integral wardrobe element to all women the moment they learn to put them on. The classic nude pump can take the blandest outfit and revamp it into a sophisticated and mature look. Like black heels, nude pumps are seasonless and universally flattering, and the right nude pump will create the illusion of slimmer legs. Along with black and white, nude is a fashion neutral that succeeds in pairing with grand prints and playing down overly bold colors. Whether you are enhancing your work outfit, getting ready for a night out or pulling together a hip T-shirt and a pair of culottes, you can never go wrong with the classic nude pumps.

These classic shoes can always cure any of my style malfunctions. With my luggage overflowing, my mom pressured me to remove some of my over-packed shoes, but my nude pumps were out of the question. I knew college would have use for my favorite three-inch pumps, and nine months later, I have zero regrets. From networking sessions to formals, these nude heels have repeatedly come in handy. Sitting in their dust bag in my closet, I know that my nude pumps are always there to complete my outfit and bring their stylish touch to the final product.


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