It’s not only the bars that bring the 20-somethings out in droves to the Wicker Park neighborhood.
They also come out for the fashion.
Fashion brings many young people to Wicker Park on a daily basis, with every possible style of dress represented on the streets of Milwaukee, North and Damen – the famous “Six Corners” of Chicago.
Owing to the large number of young college students visiting and living in the area, fashion trends come along at an alarming rate – whether they’re appealing or not.
Portia Rain, 21, an Urban Outfitters employee and Wicker Park resident, said, “Mom jeans are by far the worst. I don’t know who thought it was a good or ironic idea to wear them, but they’re not flattering on anyone.”
“Mom jeans,” an unappealing denim pant that reaches up to the middle torso and balloon out at the hips, are just one of the several trends in Wicker Park that receive ridicule.
“Sloppiness,” said Meaghan Winston, 21, a Columbia College Chicago student and Lakeview resident. “I don’t understand why people put effort into looking like they just got out of bed and don’t try. There are a lot of more grungy trends that I think are influenced by the punk scene. Combat boots, grungy jeans and dirty-looking outfits.”
While some people wandering around Wicker Park could be perceived as sloppy, it is a look they mostly achieve on purpose. The bed-head and hole-y clothing appearance takes maintenance and choosey shopping.
But at least no one is walking around in pajamas.
“You don’t see people in sweatpants,” said Sarah Akers, 22, a Wicker Park resident who came from Nashville.
While people will not be seen in sweatpants, pajama pants, or any other frumpy loungewear unfit for daytime, they manage to make their less-than-pristine appearances presentable.
“I think a lot of the style comes from the kids who live in the area – you know, sloppy and underdressed but still kind of pulled together,” said Ivy Howell, 22.
The selectively disheveled look is a reflection of the stores that line the streets of the area – Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, Buffalo Exchange and a slew of thrift stores every few feet. The thrift stores could run shoppers anywhere from $2 to well over $200 depending on their thrift abilities and desire for something affordable that could work with their style.
“Whether people realize it or not, the frumpy appearance most people in the area present themselves with, tells me and everyone else that they want nothing more than something cheap,” said Tyler Johnson, 23, of the Ukrainian Village. “It’s this that I cannot relate to, nor do I consider it a worthy branch of the fashion world. Wicker Park style is an amalgamation of the stores that reside there.”
American Apparel, one of the biggest hipster chain stores in the area, is helping to clean up fashion by pushing new styles reminiscent of the preppy looks often showcased in 80s teen movies.
“The big influence from American Apparel has cleaned up some of the fashion cult that follows their every business move,” Johnson said. “Things are looking a bit more preppy and country club appropriate. This works for me because it speaks to the kind of life someone wants to live.”
A major investment Wicker Parkers make is the footwear; designer boots and high-end men’s shoes are helping polish up the outfits some young residents are wearing.
“The best trend is probably the guys’ shoes,” said Matt Kamm, 21. “I love that real shoes are popular again. Nunn Bush, Stacy Adams, Frye… Not Nike Dunks. Real shoes can be repaired, and I guess this generation is obsessed with salvaging things.”
After a long and harsh winter, residents of the area are begging for spring through their wardrobes with bright patterns, fresh colors and a lot of flowers.
“I’ve noticed a lot more floral patterns on dresses, shirts and skirts, sometimes mixed with leather jackets, so they’re not too feminine,” said Meaghan Winston.
Too much of a good thing is certainly a possibility when someone finds a current working trend. An overuse of bright colors, leather, denim or floral is a common occurrence in Wicker Park.
“I’ve seen way too much floral print in one outfit, and way too much denim in one outfit,” said Jordan Fuller, 20, of Lakeview. “I like to wear skinny jeans and boots everyday to avoid being overly trendy.”
Most people in Wicker Park have specific goals in mind as to what they want to convey when choosing their outfits regardless of the current trends in the area.
“A lot of people go to bars and shows in Wicker Park [and dress for that],” said Ivy Howell. “I like to think that I dress like I’m ready for a party.”
- More For Less (thebedersideoffashion.wordpress.com)