My Homage to Sweet Briar Style

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Last week, the New York Times ran a story about Sweet Briar, a small women’s college in Virginia that will close its doors after a final graduation ceremony this year.

I read the story with a higher degree of interest than usual because my great aunt went to Sweet Briar, back when debutante-white gloves were still a social requirement.

Black Sweater Tee: Madewell | Tan Scarf: Secondhand | Black Trench: Target (circa 2006) |  "Suede" Skirt: Zara | Belt: Madewell | Handbag: Alexander Wang | Necklace: Gorjana
Black Sweater Tee: Madewell | Tan Scarf: Secondhand | Black Trench: Target (circa 2006) Boots: Saint Laurent | “Suede” Skirt: Zara | Belt: Madewell | Handbag: Alexander Wang | Necklace: Gorjana

In the New York Times  piece, I was most interested in the graduates from the 1960s and 1970s. These women did remarkable things, from shattering segregation boundaries to protesting the Cambodia invasion, often going on to become academics, scientists and doctors.

The photos that accompanied the piece were a visceral look at how women’s roles were evolving. Like a sartorial history of modern-day feminism’s birth, the photos shifted from full-skirted ball gowns in the 1950s to miniskirts and loafers in the 1970s, as seen below.

My inspiration was this photo of students from Sweet Briar.
My inspiration was this 1970 photo of student journalists at Sweet Briar.

Today’s outfit is my subtle nod to the photo above, which is the staff of Sweet Briar’s student newspaper in 1970. Seriously, how amazingly stylish are these women? I’ve never seen so many loafers executed so perfectly. (And I’m particularly freaking out over the black overcoat paired with the sandals all the way on the right — her posture and swagger are KILLER.)

My homage started with the faux-suede skirt, which has the pleated schoolgirl shape as well as the tawny tones that scream 70s. Of course I had to stick with flat shoes, the defacto choice for feminists everywhere. For the purposes of mood amplification, this type of outfit is as effective as any prescription. (I really felt as though I was channeling some of the independent Sweet Briar spirit.)

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This outfit is one of my favorites because it is a triple threat:

  • References the 70s without the cornball effect of full-on disco (a la the latest Saint Laurent collection, which is a little much)
  • Mixes camel and black, which may be the easiest color combination to make inexpensive clothes look VERY expensive
  • Includes a handful of my outerwear for a couple last hurrahs before spring turns into summer

Are you loving the 1970s trend as much as I am? Let me know how you’re interpreting the trend.

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  • Andrea Billups

    the knife pleat skirt is everything!