School has begun and the fall weather has set in, which means it’s time to open those fat fall issues of Vogue and take a gander because it’s shopping time – or is it? For many students, college is a time to be thrifty, innovative, and conscious about our futures. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the whole economic predicament that the world is currently experiencing, and seeing parallels between now and the Great Depression of the 1930s. The opulence of the past has shifted to the simplicity of the future. More people are returning to home cooking and the philosophy “mend to make do” or buying things built to last.

Alexandra Markus

But let’s look at the bright side: Living minimally leads to a freedom of individual expression even on a thrifty budget. And what better place to feel free to convey individual style than Isla Vista?

We live in a place where anything goes. On any given day in I.V. you will see stereotypes labeled as surfers, skaters, athletes, beach bunnies, barefooted yogis, students who wear the same PJs to class (oh yes, we notice), and foreign exchange students – and of course, each morning, a sea of sleepy students wearing UCSB sweatshirts biking to class. From beach bums to fashionistas, Isla Vista has it all.

Even though we students must spend within our means, we have lots of retail options here in I.V. One example is Isla Vista’s one-of-a-kind boutique, Miss Behavin’. “Isla Vista style would be a mixture of vintage pieces with some trendy pieces, but definitely laid-back,” said owner and UCSB alumna Kelly Scott.

Miss Behavin'
Courtesy Photo

Scott was born and raised in Santa Barbara, went to Santa Barbara City College, and graduated from UCSB. Passionate for design and fashion, she moved to New York to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she would receive her master’s degree. Among other entries on an impressive resume, Scott has been a representative for Juicy Couture, a manager for Intermix, and worked in the accessories department for Vogue magazine. In 2007, Scott returned to Santa Barbara and opened Miss Behavin’ at 6551 Trigo Road, right above Bagel Cafe in Isla Vista.

“I used to come to I.V. in high school and always thought it’d be a great idea to start a cute clothing store here,” she said. “There’s really nothing here like it.” Scott features major lines such as Junk Food, Heatherette, Revolver, Split, Salt Swimwear, Vintage Havana, BB Dakota and Veronica M – and that’s not the end of the list. “I search for things people can’t find at normal chain stores to try to make my store really unique,” Scott said. The boutique is selective, tailored to what Scott deems Isla Vista style, and targets students looking to find affordable, fashion-forward designs.

“Recession chic,” as I like to call it, is all about matching old pieces with inexpensive finds. Let’s face it: the era of bling was so last year. So, with bracelets starting at $3, students can afford a new accessory at Miss Behavin’ for the price of a mocha latte. Miss Behavin’ also features a variety of plaid pieces, French handbags, and dresses with sexy backs, all perfect for strutting the runway we call Del Playa. Miss Behavin’ is not the only retail store representing I.V. guise. Sweet Jane, Isla Vista Surf Co., and Hemp Wise complete the list of classic I.V. garb that is priced to sell.

I.V.: A Petite Paris?

Cuddling in my newest sweater the other day, I was looking for jobs on Craigslist in Paris, France, as my boyfriend and I plan to move there this summer. I was clicking on random annonces (Parisians’ word for “ads”) and found one that read: “Fashion model needed for fashion items and it will be published on a reputed fashion magazine.” This got me thinking: What defines Isla Vista style and what makes this high-energy culture so attractive?

I looked around myself, taking an inventory of fashion on the street. Perched up on my balcony at the 6500 block of Del Playa, I realized that Isla Vistans are quite fashion savvy. No, it may not be the same jaw-dropping runway look one might catch while sitting at a cafe by the Seine river, but there is no place like I.V. when it comes to personal style.

Paris : fashion capital of the world : cafe people watching : it’s all right here. That is what we love about I.V. – the abundance of characters mixing together in our alternative reality. Fashion represents those different beliefs, lifestyles, and personalities. Reinvent yourself. Keep it fun and live it up before we graduate and find ourselves in a world where business suits and ties are the proper attire.

“Coolest people are always the ones who are true to their own unique style,” a UCSB student commented. What is most interesting about people-watching in I.V. is that you never know what you will see. “From people not wearing shoes to class, to sorority girls all dressed up, to the average student, there are so many styles.”

With Halloween just around the corner, I’m looking forward to seeing how Isla Vista residents express their personal style. Costumes can speak volumes about one’s interests and personality, and how one wishes to be perceived. Often they release the inner diva or demon that’s been lurking in the shadows. Halloween has a way of allowing us to express ourselves unlike any other day of the year – but I say, express yourself daily! Wearing a full kitten costume may not be recommended for everyday wear, but faux fur gloves would be a fabulous and inexpensive fashion statement.


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