MA Beauty Expert: Campus Style for Grown-Ups

Sunday, August 16, 2015
Donna Macdonald, GoLocalWorcester Beauty Expert

You may be getting your first-born off to college or beginning back-to-school shopping for your litter but don’t you kind of wish you were heading to class too? This is the perfect time of year to add some old school favorites to your wardrobe.

According to Rebecca C. Tuite and her beautifully illustrated book, Seven Sisters Style, campus looks continue to fascinate and inspire. And with several of the prestigious colleges that represent the Seven Sisters (Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley) right here in our backyard, it’s easy to find enduring key components of the style right now.

Borrowed from the Boys

School-day looks may be marked by garments stolen from the boys, but you can still be feminine. Think pure white button-down shirts but tied fetchingly at the waist or long boyfriend sweaters with ropes of pearls. The look isn’t about dressing like a man, but stealing the comfort and ease of men’s clothing and adding girly touches to soften.


Per Tuite, when American women flooded campuses, they didn’t focus on couture fashion but rather a traditional, frugal, crisp look of national pride. Campus style is uniquely American which could explain why its primary colors are red, white, and blue. Look for classic navy pants or kitten heels in red suede that answer to this calling and add just the right American modernity to your office attire.

Mad for Plaid
Long the mainstay in school uniforms, plaid is having a moment again. Find a sleeveless plaid wool dress that’s fitted. It will elicit an interesting juxtaposition for cool-weather dressing. Keep it tailored in skirts and if you do a plaid shirt, add a statement necklace to balance the preppiness.

Go for Gold

A small cadre of gold jewelry was popular among the college women who spearheaded campus style. Now is the time to pull out sentimental keepsakes such as your high school charm bracelet or Mom’s pearl and gold circle pin. Mix and match with newer pieces for a creative updated classroom look.
Realize we’ve only scratched the surface of this multi-faceted style. Look up vintage movies such as Love Story for more ideas or pick up Rebecca C. Tuite’s inventive book. For local access, start with Brooks Brothers (Providence, Newport), the quintessential prepster’s paradise. J. Crew and Jos. A. Banks (Cranston) also offer traditional clothing with a contemporary twist. And don’t fret when you get the itch for books and pencil cases – try some back-to-school style for grown-ups.

Donna Macdonald is a freelance writer who enjoys covering topics of interest to women, especially fragrance, style, beauty. She has also written marketing material for a women's book that hit the New York Times Bestseller list and netted her an up close and personal discussion on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Donna currently writes her own personal blog,, where she also writes about issues close to a woman's heart. Donna believes that when a woman finds beauty in the world, she will find beauty in herself.

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