Living in style has become a joke. The punch line is greatest on college campuses like our dear UR’s, where the school uniform appears to be a heather grey sweatshirt with leggings and Uggs.

One of my friends once told me that Rochester is not New York City. Ignoring the statement’s surface blatancy, I think it carried a bit of insight: If we don’t find ourselves in the posh capital of the world, then why try to stand out?

With all due respect, I say screw our classmates’ thoughts. This is the time to experiment — in the lab, in the bedroom (in which case I must refer you to Sex and the CT), and especially with our style.

So this whole “dressing with unabashed style” concept is all well and good until you add in Rochester’s schizophrenic weather patterns: Dealing with freezing rain in the morning and a heat advisory in the afternoon makes you, well, want to give up and throw on a Yellowjackets hoodie with a Wilson Day T-shirt. Especially during this ambiguous season between summer and fall, which could be mashed into “fummer,” and roughly translates to “what the hell do I wear today.”

There’s another name for this season in the fashion world: pre-fall. As one could imagine, the collections are chock-full of paradoxical pairings: There are boots that are open-toed and cropped sweaters that reveal a good three inches of midriff.

Houses like Chloé and Bottega Veneta are stressing the return of the classic well-tailored trouser, and at the same time Alexander Wang and Rag & Bone are pressing the ultra modern sheer top. Proenza Schouler preaches the school girl look with the label’s effortless cool: letterman jackets, pleated skirts, double-breasted blazers and structured leather briefcases.

Yeah, I know, back to the real world: Wearing a sheer top to BIO 110 is problematic. I understand street style must be grounded in reality, but at the same time it should not be planted in it.

What I’m trying to say is if you don’t want to bare your stomach in Danforth Dining Center, wear your cropped sweater with a knee-length frock. Pre-fall looks, at their most basic, are about layering. The most accepted idea of layering would be a T-shirt and a sweater, or a blouse and a vest. Then there are the more unusual pairings, such as wearing nude ankle socks with chunky platform sandals or vibrantly-colored tights with cutoffs.

Layers are particularly in style this season with the popularity of combining textures: leather, silk, lace, denim and cotton can be mixed and matched to create an unexpected outfit. The more luxurious details like feather trim and fur lining are going to be missing in a college student’s budget, but you could occasionally strike gold with a faux-fur find or a family heirloom.

Mixing prints and patterns is also a bonus when layering. You read that correctly — clashing had become such fashion taboo that it has now swung to the other side of the pendulum and is suddenly a fresh and youthful approach to styling.

Sometimes a person’s issue with fashion is not as concrete as body image or money, but more a question of throwing caution to the wind. Sure, there are going to be trends that you can simply refuse to follow. For example, when Karl Lagerfeld sent his models down the Chanel runway for this spring in platform clogs, I could not hop on his band wagon (clogs will forever remind me of nurses and Swedes).

Maybe nubbly thigh-high socks (featured in Miu Miu’s collection) are just too much for you. That’s not a crime — sometimes there are places in the fashion world you simply cannot venture.

However, it is important to remember that you will look infinitely more chic wearing outrageous styles now compared to when you are 58 years old. If you are looking for a time to break down personal barriers, that time was five minutes ago.

These are the building blocks of this moment in fashion history, but they are only pushed forward by individuals tweaking them and adding their own personal edge. After all, that is how fashion movements begin: with one person forgetting, only for a day, where they are, and doing something a little crazy.

Burritt is a member of the class of 2012.

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