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Fashion on the Farm: how to pull a Miley

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Miley Cyrus, former Disney child star and current pop icon, has been all over the news lately for her experimental fashion choices. Now, I’m not saying I’m a Miley supporter, nor am I saying I hate her guts, but what I am saying is that more of us today could afford to do a little of what she’s doing.

Fashion on the Farm columnist Keya Teklu poses in her Miley-inspired outfit, complete  with yellow knit sweater and plaid pants. (The Stanford Daily/Zetong Li)
Fashion on the Farm columnist Keya Teklu poses in her Miley-inspired outfit, complete with yellow knit sweater and plaid pants. (ZETONG LI/The Stanford Daily)

What is she doing, you might ask? She’s taking sartorial risks. She’s being bold. She is dressing how she wants to dress and isn’t too concerned what the fashion industry thinks about it. No matter what you wear, you are sending a message, intentional or not. And right now Miley’s message is “I’m going to break rules and have some fun!”

Say what you want about Miley — and most people have been doing just that — but you can’t deny how daring and unafraid she is with her choices. Rules, especially fashion rules, are sometimes meant to be broken, and Miley is — dare I say it — wrecking them all.

Her ways might be a bit extreme, but the method behind her madness is worthy of discussion. In my opinion, her style advocates fearlessness in fashion. I’m not saying to go to her extremes, but don’t be afraid to pull a Miley once in a while. Buy that top in the store that you’re drawn to but feel isn’t necessarily “mainstream” or “appropriate” enough. Bring some color into your wardrobe. Wear printed pants. Try hair tinsel! Be bold! Live long and accessorize!

College is the time to experiment with fashion. Undergraduates have a unique opportunity to wear whatever they want and blame it on feeling “young, wild and free.” You can’t pull off a micro-mini skirt the same way at 21 that you can at 45, so do it now. Take advantage of the fact that few people take us youngsters seriously — it’s okay to make mistakes. This is true for all aspects of life, but it is especially applicable in fashion. Clothes can be so much fun to experiment with, but if you follow the strict rules that the industry preaches (e.g. no white after Labor Day, no bright colors in the fall, florals are only for spring and summer, etc.) fashion becomes a drag. It is unbelievable how much an outfit can add to a person’s self-esteem, as evidenced by Miss Cyrus. She could not be more confident, even with all her haters, and I honestly feel that this is because she is doing what she wants and wearing what she likes, not what other people think is appropriate for her.

At age 20, she is at the same turning point in her life as all Stanford students, but she is taking full advantage of it. I want her fashion forwardness to inspire all of you to be bolder in your fashion choices. I realize that this is a fashion column, and my job is to report on the trends and tell you what looks good and what doesn’t, but sometimes it really doesn’t matter what looks good — it matters what you think looks good. If you want to wear neon pants with a highlighter yellow top, do it. And be confident in it. I bet Miley could rock that same look on the red carpet, and it would be on fashion runways in a matter of days. That’s because she is no longer a trend-follower; she is a trendsetter. That’s what happens when the rules go out the window.

Now, when we graduate, get jobs and start living in the “real world,” our fashion choices could have very real consequences. Bosses could feel uncomfortable; clients could be put-off. But Stanford is a “bubble” in more than just the geographical sense. It is a bubble in that mistakes and risks that are made here don’t mean as much than if they were made in the real world. So don’t be afraid to pull a Miley this week. Wear something bold and crazy. If you normally straighten your hair, let it go au natural. If you always wear sweats to class, maybe try some ripped jeans (but please don’t get naked — that is probably a reasonable place to draw the line). Everybody has seen Miley’s VMA’s performance, as well as her questionable choices in fashion, but you can either be outraged by it, or inspired by it. I choose the latter.