I don't usually look to college campuses for points of fashion.
Half the sleep-deprived student body rolls out of bed in Old Navy pajama bottoms, college hoodies (which, personally, I never understood—isn't that like wearing the merch of the band whose concert you're at?) and T-shirts they got for free when they signed up for a new credit card, dragging their bodies to class á la Night of the Living Dead, and then falling asleep again to a lecture on the same James Joyce book they've read five times in their entire academic careers. Meanwhile, the other half is either A) not going, B) thinking they look real fucking cute in that new polyester-blend Wet Seal tank top and (real fucking fake) Louis Vuitton bag, or C) all of the above.
So I found it refreshing when I ran into—as in, literally ran into—this guy in the bio sci part of the UC Irvine campus—a part of campus I never step foot in, mind you. He was on his way to some kind of internship at some kind of doctor's office (I don't know, I wasn't really paying attention), but he still looks pretty dapper for a (pre-med) college kid.
Yeah, so half of what he's wearing is from the (yawn-inducing) Banana Republic, which is owned by the (ultra yawn-inducing) GAP, Inc., but I've still got to hand it to the place for making fitted button-ups and tailored slacks so readily available to the poor suckers stuck with a fascist office dress code. (I, in the meantime, type this barefoot and wrapped in an office-wide communal Nightmare Before Christmas throw.) And all for a not-so-bad price at that.
The chain store has stuck with relatively the same look for years and years, just switching up colors and patterns a bit: figure-flattering wrap dresses, sensible heels, V-neck cashmere sweaters, pantsuits, blazers, solid-colored polos (or for when you're feeling particularly festive: striped polos), etc. etc., and while the corporate sheepiness of it all seriously, seriously terrifies me, I still would recommend the store for those conservative basics we all need at some point in our lives. Places like Banana Republic and J.Crew are always handy, but chances are that the suits three or four cubicles down from you will own the same blue pinstriped shirt you're eyeing. Club Monaco (a personal favorite, and owned and operated by Polo Ralph Lauren, so you know their stuff will actually fit correctly) is a considerably lesser-known alternative (and with a location right in South Coast Plaza, how 'bout that!) in the same price range.
Okay. I just endorsed not only Banana Republic, but Ralph Lauren, J.Crew and Club Monaco. I feel dirty now.