By Katerina Panayiotou
Durham is a microcosm of unique and changing fashion trends. I’m not here to regurgitate Urban Outfitters parachute pants, cargos and shiny satin corsets — a simple scroll through TikTok would do that. Beyond sheer scarves and flares, what trends are becoming typically “Durham”?
Let’s start with the basics: black and navy, while timeless, aren’t the only “neutral” colors on the block anymore. The brown of the iconic Carla hoodie and the khaki green of classic cargo pants have penetrated our understanding of basics. These new neutrals are the glue that will glue our outfits together, and given their wide availability in baby flares, sweaters and tees, they’re here to stay. Our understanding of texture is also evolving, with avant-garde leaps in embracing furs, velvets and satins alongside basic denims, wools and jerseys.
Now, onto the clothes themselves:
We have reached a renaissance in the way pants are styled. Corduroy and denim have long been Durham favorites as versatile basics that manage to keep the cold out. But this year, graphic, embellished jeans will prevail over plain denim. Flares will always have their place, but following the summer cargo trend, our silhouettes are going back to oversized. Lightly washed and pattern-dyed denim is becoming more prevalent, and unfortunately plain black denim is fading into the background. The material choices also expand (thanks to the girl who wore amazing silver satin cargo pants at Billy B the other day). It looks like patterned pants are becoming the party piece of outfits, paired with simpler long sleeves and black leather jackets.
While funky pants definitely have their moment, we can’t ignore our upper halves: our necklines dip into v-necks (thanks in large part to Urban Outfitters’ wildly popular Josie tops) and become more structured to mirror the corset. and the vest. tendencies. Our sleeves are getting more adventurous, with Depop mainstays in bell and balloon sleeves popping up all over campus. Pair them with a cashmere knit and a long denim skirt and you’ll be well on your way to the reality of the year 2000.
The backbone of any Durham outfit has always been outerwear. How to stay fashionable effortlessly and face the approaching cold? Beyond the classic college pump, there are a variety of options (although none are entirely rainproof). The waistcoat is enjoying a stunning 2000 revival, part puffer jacket and part classic fur-suede combination, offering a great opportunity to show off your newly acquired vintage sweater at one of the periodic Headlock Vintage sales. Thanks to Superdry, New Look and previously Urban Outfitters, the Afghan coat is now widely available without spending hours browsing overpriced Depop listings. Following the mainstream blazer trend, structured vintage blazers and leather, corduroy and suede jackets are another affordable staple.
Now, we can’t forget the accessories, and there are several different trends to jump on: shoulder bags are at their peak, and easy to find with a simple Vinted search. You can’t really go wrong with jewelry, but current trends are moving towards chunky beads and chains in layered necklaces, and mixed metals seem to be thriving right now. Once again in true Y2K style, the paperboy hat is back and combined with a thin crochet scarf in the perfect fall pair. If you’re looking for something slightly under the radar (and stick with me on this one), a belt buckle can elevate a simpler outfit into the heights of Durham fashion.
The joy of all these trends is that most are widely accessible via the second-hand market – although Urban Outfitters seem to have a monopoly on summer trends, retro fashion lends its strength to sites like Depop and Vinted. It’s easy to get involved even without massive changes to your current wardrobe. Ultimately, fashion is all about self-expression, so take what resonates and above all, have fun with it!
Illustration: Isobel Warwick