Suffer for Fashion: Fashion abroad, at home

January 28, 2010

When my buddy Ben came back from his study abroad program in Egypt, he presented me with a traditional Egyptian dishdasha that he bought for me in Alexandria. The long pearl-white robe flows like gossamer and has an ornately stitched collar—not to mention the perfect pocket sizes for a phone and wallet held in one side and a 23.5 ounce dragon Joose caffeinated malt liquor beverage in the other.
Basically, the dishdasha is exactly what I’ve been looking for to throw on when I hit up the hookah tent on the front lawn during Georgetown Day. I couldn’t have asked for a better gift.

Donning the dishdasha got me thinking that it’s time we bring some international flare to Georgetown’s buttoned-up fashion scene. After all, it’s no secret that our international students really only wear J. Crew, Ralph Lauren, Zara, and the ilk. It’s about time that Georgetown owns up to its international reputation by dressing the part.

I’ve long held that specialty garments from around the world can add a certain zest to an otherwise plain, preppy, or overly conventional wardrobe. For inspiration, I propose we turn to our classmates who have recently returned from study abroad programs, and encourage them to wear and share the fruits of fashion they have brought from afar.

Students returning from Ghana, for instance, should be proud to show off their purchased West African dashikis and kufi hats. Since my father started doing research in Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal, he started bringing back traditional dashikis (colorful, loose, V-neck shirts with symmetrical and geometrical designs) as gifts. With a kufi hat, a brimless, woven cap, a pair of jeans and sandals, you’ll be as fly as Marvin Gaye in his 70s prime and ready to get it on with campus co-eds drawn to the shirt’s bright colors and intricate, abstract designs. Ladies can try this look out with a belt and oversized shades to look cool while keeping cool outside on a scorcher.

For something even more sizzling than the continent of Africa, we can consult students back from the Big Boot at Villa le Balze. Every year seems to bring back more tales of vrooming on Vespas through cobblestone streets, clutching desperately to semester-long Romeos or Juliets, but rarely advice on how to achieve that “bella figura.” Italy doesn’t just represent D&G, as most Hoyas would believe, but encompasses the larger idea of, say, wearing white jeans and a cashmere sweater (ragazzi and ragazze both) in 85 degree heat just because it looks that good. Also, men: keep in mind there is no Italian word for “shorts.”

Finally, female students returning from Chinese programs may have a cheongsam gown (male versions are changshans) for the Dip Ball come springtime. The Chinese elite popularized these shiny, body-hugging garments in the 1920s ,and the finest made versions still exude wealth and status.

On-campus fashion choices shouldn’t be limited to whatever co-eds purchase on M Street—there’s a wide world of attire we’re ignoring. Don’t be afraid to show the threads from your time abroad, even if they make your friends jealous that they stayed on campus. And they’ll be even more jealous when J. Crew releases its own line of dishdasha-inspired eveningwear.

Show Keenan what you learned while you were overseas at ktimko@georgetownvoice.com.


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