University of Leicester, UK

Urban Style: Getting Inspired by Streetwear

"Fashion is usually conceived by designers. Styles then filter downward to the people through channels of marketing and distribution. Through a trickle down effect, trends take hold. By contrast, urban fashion is style born of the street. A ruffian look that emerges from neighborhoods as opposed to fashion dictated by designers and Wall Street."   Source: Leaf.tv

Streetwear: A very short History

Urban fashion as we know it today began in the 1980's and 1990's. Youth culture of the time rejected conformity in favour of a worn-out and distinctly grimy look, causing the trend to become known as "grunge".  The style movement may have been born in Seattle but it was soon popularised by hit musicians of the day, including Neil Young and Kurt Cobain. It became so mainstream that by the time we reached 1992, even those within the established fashion world were buying into it - Marc Jacobs launched his very own grunge collection which flew off the shelves. Pop culture icons such as Kanye West have carried on where the 90's left off, producing streetwear brands which nod to early skateboarding and hip-hop culture but for a high-fashion audience.  

The Style Principles

Kanye's mash-up of high-end, premium pieces with scrappy, thrifted vibes is characteristic of street style: it's all about the opposites. Streetwear places a huge emphasis on drawing together items from different "styles" and genres and throwing them all into a massive melting pot of fashion fun. As well as combining both high-end and budget pieces, if you want to embrace the urban fashion look consider pairing the skintight with the super baggy, contrasting the casual with the dressy, and layering everything for the gods. Overall, the ultimate streetwear wardrobe is unpolished, casual, rough around the edges but (most of all) effortlessly cool.

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Making it work for me

Those of you who have been following my fashion content for a while will also know that an "urban" look is not really something that I regularly embrace. Of all the words I could use to describe myself, cool wouldn't be one of them: I'm certainly not a fashion-forward trendsetter likely to be asked to pose outside a big show at Fashion Week. However, when taking outfit photos for my blog, I tend to feel a bit of pressure to look put together. This usually results in me opting for cute dresses in an effort to appear at least somewhat polished. Relaxed and slouchy clothes like this don't usually get a look-in. It's safe to say that going into this streetwear-inspired shoot, I didn't feel that confident. But by the end, I'd had a really fantastic time! Wearing less restrictive clothes actually gave me the impetus to try a few more creative poses than I'd usually attempt and have a lot more fun with it. Although I don't think I'll ever like the way I look with my hair tied back, I'm still really pleased that I tried a totally different vibe with this set of photos and who knows, I may even return to it in future! This look enabled me to showcase one of my all time favourite items of clothing to grab from my wardrobe as well - keep reading to hear all about it!

LOWA boots urban streetwear
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Embracing the oversize

If you ask a fashion blogger what her favourite item of clothing is, you might expect to hear about a trendy piece snagged at a sample sale, a Louis Vuitton purse purchased as a one-in-a-lifetime treat, or genuine gem from the past that she "borrowed" from her Mum's wardrobe. Me? I'd say my boyfriend's tired old Lonsdale jumper every time. It's been a part of our relationship since I met him. It was the first piece of his clothing that I appropriated for my own use and although he has had the audacity to take it back from me a few times, it's now just as much mine as his. It's a nostalgic piece to wear and something that brings back happy memories every time I put it on. It's so big and cosy and what's more, nobody can tell what you're wearing underneath, so there's no pressure to pull an entirely coordinated outfit together. Hell, you can even wear your pyjama top under there if you really want to.

I'd never really thought of wearing my Lonsdale love for a shoot before because I generally feel a lot more confident in form-fitting clothing. But with streetwear, that traditional silhouette gets thrown out of the window. Street style clothing items are baggy, loose and kind of shapeless: oversized sweatshirts, button down shirts worn open and loose, and ripped denim are combined in multiple layers. Pairing the jumper with a pair of skinny Hallie jeans from New Look kept me just a little bit in my comfort zone whilst fulfilling the streetwear brief.

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Cranking up the contrast

My effort to nail the street style principles of combining the shiny and new with the old and dogged saw me teaming my tatty Lonsdale jumper with a brand new pair of LOCARNO GTX® QC WS boots* from LOWA. These boots have fast become my most reached for footwear items in the morning. Recently, the weather here in Leicester has been atrocious, with footpaths being left completely underwater by heavy rain. Lots of people still foolishly wearing pumps have been suffering, but not me. My LOWA boots have kept me perfectly warm and dry - they're an amazing all-rounder shoe. They have great ankle support which is adjustable with the laces and they're really lightweight too. They are not heavy and are easy to wear all day. The rubber sole is really grippy and they'll be an ideal transitional shoe for winter when my walk to work inevitably gets icy. In terms of comfort, the cushioning midsole leaves a little to be desired - I've worn walking boots from other brands that are a little softer. But in general, the boots are really high quality and I was genuinely impressed by them.

As well as being super practical, they have many nice style touches too. You certainly wouldn't look at these boots and immediately think that they were a walking shoe! The tessellating pattern embossed onto the leather is gorgeous and I love the contrast of the green, white, and light brown elements. At £175 they're an investment but they are incredibly versatile - I could easily go trail walking in these as well as plodding around the city. I'd certainly recommend LOWA to anyone looking for urban inspired boots that can take on the countryside too.

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The verdict

Am I a total streetwear convert? Maybe. I can't say I'll be ditching my tea dresses entirely but I thoroughly enjoyed trying something that little bit different with this photoshoot. Dipping a toe into a street inspired style provides countless opportunities to experiment with what you wear, and it seems that the trend is constantly changing and evolving. 

How would you describe your style? Are you a streetwear fanatic? Let me know in the comments.

*The LOWA boots were gifted to me in exchange for a blog post review.

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