Archive for November 8th, 2011

November 8, 2011

Examining D.C. fashion through an island girl’s perspective

Hawai‘i residents have it easy when it comes to picking out an autumn day’s outfit. Here, the worst wardrobe mistake we can make is forgetting an umbrella on a rainy day.

Hawai‘i fashion trends can be largely attributed to the weather and “toned-down” attitude in Hawai‘i, which brings about a certain comfort level, according to Jasmine Fernandez, a University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa student and intern at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program.

In Washington, D.C., forgetting a jacket or coat is a source of misery when the temperature drops to the 40s, especially for an islander used to a tropical atmosphere. Citizens of D.C. have mastered the art of layering on chilly autumn days with coats, blazers, boots, scarves and the occasional beanie or pair of gloves. Here are a few comparisons of the campus fashions at UH Mānoa versus Trinity Washington University, a liberal arts women’s college in Washington, D.C.


On a warm and humid Washington DC day, Dana Carraway, student of Trinity Washington University, left, opts for bold accessories: a chunky pair of ankle boots, matching belt and striking pink earrings. Juanita Brown, right, sports a cute, comfy-casual college student look, similar to what a UH Manoa college student might wear.

Year-round summer inspires fashion for UH Mānoa students. Tanks and crop tops are abundant, a reflection of easily accessible surf-style shops such as Pac Sun, Billabong and Local Motion. Tanks and crop tops are easy to slip over a swimsuit when transitioning from a beach look to an everyday look – and bikini straps peeking out have a great fresh-from-the-beach look.

On the other hand, blazers and scarves are popular choices for college students in Washington, D.C. The atmosphere there is much more business oriented, and it is difficult to find surf and beachwear clothing stores. Many outfits there exude a sophisticated quality.

“It’s like the whole district is a business district. I’ve never seen so many people in suits, let alone people in suits running. You see people in suits every day, running, shoving into the metro [public transit system],” said Fernandez when asked about the main differences between Hawai‘i and D.C. fashion.

It’s definitely a change of pace, but Fernandez said she enjoys it: “When I see these girls, I think they look really good, really awesome. … And when I have dressed up, I feel pretty cute.”


Hawai‘i upholds its reputation for laid-back island style with shoes. Slippers are a Hawaiian wardrobe staple. They withstand harsh lava rock, and at the beach you can flip them right off and feel the warm, soft sand between your toes.Keiki, aunties, uncles and college students alike share a love for the convenient “rubbah slippah.”

High heels are much more popular in D.C. than in Hawai‘i. Perhaps the lack of uneven surfaces (read: no lava rock) makes them easier to walk in. Whether a classic pump or a Lady Gagaesque sky-high ankle boot, many Washingtonian college students wear high heels.


Sweatpants or denim shorts paired with a screen-printed T-shirt seems to be a necessity of college students regardless of region. In a pinch for time, they are quick, comfortable and cozy. Both local and Washingtonian college students have to make time in their schedules to study, go to classes and chill with friends. Sometimes, whatever is comfortable and in reach answers the age-old question “What should I wear today?”

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