The Best Statement Pieces for Spring 2023: Academic Accessories


Mary Allen

(Graphic by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Edie Raines, Copy Editor


Winter can be hard on fashionistas, but it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to stay warm and in style through ice and snow. Here are some of the fashion trends I’ve noticed on campus. 

The Return of Androgyny

Kate Lunnen on University of Utah campus on Feb. 9, 2023. (Photo by Edie Raines | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Increasingly popular among young people are more androgynous looks that don’t insist upon a certain gender. Here, University of Utah student Kate Lunnen throws a gray denim jacket over a band tee and ripped straight-leg jeans — the looser fit being an important and marked shift away from the skin-tight denim of the 2010s.

My favorite detail of this outfit is the white collared shirt poking out of an otherwise grunge ensemble. This play on high versus street fashion is a classic, but the trend exploded after Miu Miu’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection that deconstructed preppy, academic clothes. Lunnen’s look is perfect for a modern college student, it’s casual and done up and subtly breaks down gender and class boundaries that we don’t often think of. 

Long Live the Chunky Scarf!

Alex Sotelo on University of Utah campus on Feb. 9, 2023. (Photo by Edie Raines | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Alex Sotelo came to class in an outfit that I think typifies college fashion at the U. The chunky scarf, the cute glasses, the rings, the reusable coffee cup, the oversized sweater, the hair pulled back loosely with a claw clip. My favorite accessory are the colored tattoos that poke out of the back of her black boots — unfortunately not visible in this pic. It’s a look that is comfortable, studious, and chic.

Academic Accessories

Melissa Burr at the Crocker Science Center on Feb. 9, 2023. (Photo by Edie Raines | The Daily Utah Chronicle

Beauty is in the details in a fashion culture that increasingly emphasizes accessories. Gone are the days of Coco Chanel snobbism, simple dresses and one statement pieces; now, rings, necklaces and hats are thrown on top of outfits in an effort to look effortless. Melissa Burr’s outfit on winter morning landed somewhere between the ever-popular neutral streetwear and the newer fairy grunge aesthetic. Each piece meshed beautifully into the muted color palette, from her COOGI sweater to her brown hunter jacket; even her iced almond milk latte added something to the look.

We often think of which earrings will look best with our top, or which beanie will complete our skier-core look, as seen below in U student Eli Adams’ Digital Beanie Closet à la Clueless. But more and more, functional objects that we don’t think of as accessories become a part of our outfits. Recently, someone in the fashion world, most likely Bella Hadid, decided wired headphones “are back”; over-the-ear Sony headphones even have their own Pinterst boards. I even bought a laptop with beyond-substandard storage because it was pink — and very, very pretty. I wouldn’t be caught dead with an ugly computer, let alone a functional one.

Eli Adams’ beanie collection in Salt Lake City, Utah on Feb. 9, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Eli Adams)

These objects take on the ability to convey something about your aesthetic and even your identity in the same way fancy sneakers or rainbow bracelets might. Whether you’re sporting a hot coffee cup or an iced one on your way to class might say something about you beyond your ideal beverage temperature, it becomes an aesthetic choice as much as a functional one.

The Future of Fashion

Of course, with all this talk of commodity fetishism, it’s important to consider how our purchasing habits, even the aesthetic ones, can have an impact on our environment, and consequently, our future.  

Melissa Tyszko’s prison headphones on University of Utah campus on Feb. 9, 2023. (Photo by Edie Raines | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Leah Schutz is studying design at the U and she makes quite a bit of her own clothes through sewing and knitting. She expressed concern over the massive waste left over from making clothes, no matter the method.

“With every project, there is a lot of material left over,” she said, “For the last few months I’ve been trying to use what I have before buying more …  or making more. Even though making clothes is more sustainable, I still feel wasteful when I make new clothes.” 

Leah Schutz in her hand-knit sweater on Dec. 19, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Leah Schutz | @madebybluette)

Overconsumption is one of the biggest issues with the fashion world as we know it, and, as Schutz points out, even slow fashion can have negative effects. Schutz emphasized a cyclical use of clothing, i.e. donating clothes you’ve outgrown and buying or, ideally, thrifting new ones when possible.

“I’ve thought about trade programs for trading in old clothes or fabric in exchange for new clothes and material,” she said. “I think that would be such a good way for people to cycle through things without spending money or wasting.”

I know I’m not the only person who gets a little depressed at the idea of never getting new clothes, or at least new to me again, a non-commercial clothing exchange fueled not by mass consumption or sign or commodity value but by a love of the art form that is “greater than art because you live your life in it.

If you’re anything like me, a bad outfit can absolutely ruin your mood for the day. And a good one can give you the endorphin boost you need to study for that class that’s absolutely ruining your life — but hey, at least you look good today. Thrifting, tailoring and creating your own clothes when possible can help us all look good for a little longer.


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