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Functional fashion hits South’s classrooms

By Denebola
Published: October 2008

By Sam Donovan

Popular culture loves to emphasize tailor-made fashion as a necessity. From shows like Gossip Girl, to Project Runway, posh fashion is represented as a status quo; dress to impress. But not everyone wears designer labels or platform heels to school. In fact, a new and radically opposite trend has emerged around the country, especially at Newton South.

Functional fashion, or in other terms, fashion for the working woman (or man), has become a staple to the American wardrobe. Teachers around Newton South have implemented this new form of dressing with glee. The new trend has even been adopted by runway designers in conjunction with the changing image of the modern working woman.

Designers such as Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, and Banana Republic have all recently recognized the functional fashion reform in female dress.

Many women lack the time and motivation to dress formally for work, and casual Fridays are no longer relevant as it seems like every day of the week has become informal. This new style has become eminent among South teachers as well.

“Clothing is not really a high priority for me, math teacher Carrie Hollingsworth said. Hollingsworth’s daily wardrobe consists of the same general silhouette’€a loosely fitted blazer, a big shirt, a pair of basic pants, and a pair of sandals.  She occasionally mixes things up a bit, throwing in a mid-calf length dress, and more recently, a pair of black Ecko shoes.

Speaking of mixing, Hollingsworth generally disregards color coordinating her clothes, which adds to her casual appearance.

“I don’t have the genes to know what color goes with what color, she said.  “It’s never been a big thing for me’€I just like certain colors.

Hollingsworth went on to say that she would rather have her students pay attention to her class than her wardrobe. Hollingsworth likes to use clothes as a background, and she likes to keep this background predictable, but professional.

Psychology teacher Paul Estin agrees with Hollingsworth when it comes to personal fashion. Looking professional is important, yet there is a clear distinction between professional-casual and formal.

“I try to look professional, but I don’t wear ties and button down shirts to school, Estin said. “There’s a fine line between casual and formal. Like most young professionals, Estin does not want to overwhelm his coworkers with outlandish fashion.

While Hollingsworth may feel that she is not a fashionista, she can actually find her somewhat androgynous style on the runway these days.

Some designers actually use this look as their niche. Initially, Rag & Bone only produced menswear, but eventually they adapted their men’s styles for women’s wear as well. This other new trend in addition to functional fashion has been immensely successful.

Re-introductions to such trends as the boyfriend pant, the drop waist, and the waistcoat have also had conservative, but stylish, comebacks.

Hollingsworth said that although she personally does not put too much thought into what she wears, she would have trouble supporting uniforms. She feels that uniforms would restrict creativity among students.

Wellness teacher Michelle Coppola must wear functional clothes in order to do her job, so a uniform would restrict her.

As a Yoga and Pilates instructor and a full time mom, Coppola must wear comfortable clothing in order to get through her day.

“In my line of work, functional fashion is the only fashion, Coppola said. No longer does the modern professional dream of haute couture exist. Functional fashion is in, and it is here to stay.

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