Samara introduces us to good looks on the streets of Chambana.

Student, 21

Jacket: flea market in Camden Town, London
Boots: Dolce Vita
Jewelry: Dandelion

Smile Politely: Which piece of your outfit is your favorite?

Lauren: In this outfit, the skirt, hat, and boots all have sentimental value for me. The hat was purchased in Rotterdam, and I wore it throughout my trip to Belgium. I bought the skirt during my first visit to Europe on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. And I found the boots on one of my first weekends while studying abroad. They saw me through my travels all over Europe. Even though they are literally held together by super glue, they are still going strong. I’m even planning to wear them when I leave for a semester in Copenhagen soon.

SP: When did you begin developing your own personal style?

Lauren: It was a gradual process. When I went abroad for the first time when I was seventeen, I started developing a love for European fashion. My favorite place to shop while I was in London was a clothing store called Topshop. Fortunately enough, the store has recently expanded to the U.S. 

SP: What influences your style?

Lauren: I’m mostly influenced by European fashion, since I studied abroad in London for a semester. The program I took part in was a program offered through my school, Illinois Weselyn University. I’m also a huge fan of anything that is unique and quirky, and although I’ve never been there personally, I am very influenced by Italian fashion. I especially love leather jackets, boots, and bags. I can tell when I people-watch in European countries how much more value is placed on looking presentable, if not fashionable, when compared to the United States. I admire the level of effort that nearly every person puts into their appearance each day, and that’s something I try to implement on some level in my own life now, even though it's tempting to wear sweatpants some days.

SP: What does your style say about you?

Lauren: My style expresses my individuality and lack of conformity; it also represents my foreign tastes. The quirky aspect of my fashion sense comes from my tendency to try some obscure combinations of clothes. I like pieces of clothing and accessories that have a lot of personality or are unique in some way, especially vintage items that have a story or clothes that have sentimental value for me. I think that I’m more willing to be somewhat outrageous than many people in terms of style. On most days, I tend to prefer comfort over fashion, but even then, I’m still conscious of my style and what it says about me. Fashion shouldn’t be a status thing; it should be about self-expression. Fashion is a form of art.

SP: What local C-U shopping place do you favor when downtown? 

Lauren: I’d have to say that Dandelion is my favorite because they have the most interesting collection of vintage clothes I’ve ever seen. I love how I always seem to stumble upon something unexpected every time I go there.