Walking around on a college campus is a little bit like that scene in Mean Girls where Janis tries to explain the delicate arrangement of a high school cafeteria to weirdo African transplant Lindsey Lohan. Except in college, there are like, 100 times more people, most of whom are complete strangers. Therefore, you are forced to make judgments that while not necessarily true, probably are:
The Generic College Biddie
Remember that girl you met during orientation with the North Face jacket, Longchamp bag, Tory Burch flats and Kate Spade headband? She has since multiplied ad infinitum and colonized what was once known as "college" and is now simply stomping grounds for under-sexed suburban teenagers looking for a Generic College Bro to buy them a vodka cranberry.
She may seem terrifying, but the GCB is actually a lot of fun. She'll bring you to the parties with the most free booze and compliment you in ways you never knew were possible. I, for instance, do not know what it means to be "literally amazing," but apparently it is an honor of the highest prestige. She'll also offer to do your makeup every time you go out, but beware: if you're iffy about "smoky eye," do not engage.
What to Buy Your Generic College Biddie Friend for Her Birthday:
- Whatever you can get from Forever 21 for like, 15 bucks. Hint: it is a lot.
- A Victoria's Secret "lacie" Thong. Try not to get her a color she already has, but she'll be way too excited regardless.
- An accessory from J. Crew so she can feel "classy," paired with something from Urban Outfitters so she can feel "edgy." ("Classy" and "edgy," while essentially opposites, are integral vocabulary for understanding the GCB lifestyle. Both must be respected equally at all times.)
- A poster featuring any of the following women: Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Ke$ha.
Often found occupying the best seat in the most crowded of coffee shops, the Twee desires nothing more than to become a kindergarten teacher or some other profession in which polka dots, owl necklaces and collared dresses with birds all over them are considered appropriate work attire. She probably wears glasses and either has a pixie cut, or desperately wants one but isn't so sure she's prepared for the commitment.
The Twee is universally passionate about a certain social or artistic field, such as experimental poetry or Marxist feminism and is able to talk endlessly about it but often chooses not to in an effort to exhibit an air of naivety.
What to Buy Your Twee Friend for Her Birthday:
- Jewelry with owls (or really, any kind of bird) on it.
- Ribbons, an attachable Peter Pan collar (these actually exist) or patterned tights.
- Any used book. The weirder, the better.
- An ugly sweater. If she suddenly disappears for a few days, it's because she's busy embroidering a kitten onto the front of it.
The Unpaid Fashion Intern
Unpaid Fashion Intern is frantic: she gobbles up every magazine, scrolls through every blog and checks out every store in the hopes that she will someday get paid to live the fa-habulous life of the high fashion industry among fun gay men and bitchy older women (my understanding of this lifestyle has been shaped solely by The Devil Wears Prada). Because the school she attends has a straight male:female ratio of 1:infinity, naturally, the UFI's dating life is "on hold right now," so just don't ask her about it.
The UFI is basically the urban version of the Generic College Biddie. The most noticeable of the differences between them are that the UFI gets her fashion inspirations from Tavi and Vogue rather than Kim Kardashian and the pathetic "style" section of Cosmo. Instead of parting her long, straight hair on the side as the GCB does, the UFI will boldly part hers in the middle, because one time her gay best friend said "you're like, the only person I know that can pull it off."
What to Get Your Unpaid Fashion Intern Friend for Her Birthday:
- Whatever kind of hat is cool now.
- Anything that a person who knew nothing about fashion would describe as "fashion-y."
- Trousers, blazers and collared shirts that she can accessorize with "chunky" jewelry.
- Magazines. But not Cosmo, because there is too much mention of sex in it. Who has time for boyfriends when there are so many European teenagers' fashion blogs to catch up on?!
Everyone has one -- the friend at whom you look and just have to shake your head because her sartorial decisions are both unintentionally hilarious and adorably naive. They make some of the most lovable of companions, not only because they make you look super trendy in comparison but because they provide a blank slate on which to impose your own sense of style.
But because you're such a good friend, when she asks if flare hip-huggers are still cool (and you know she means the kind from 2002), you won't laugh in her face or ask her to clarify if she meant ironically, in which case, yes, that would be totally awesome. Instead, you will calmly bring her attention to a nice and non-scary pair of dark skinny jeans and prod her in the right direction. She's so lucky to have you.
What To Get Your Blissfully Unaware Friend For Her Birthday:
- Anything. Seriously, anything.
The Alt Chick
The Alt Chick wears many hats (metaphorically), and these hats tend to change alongside various counter-cultural trends. In 2004, she wrote emo songs because they made her "feel something." In 2009, she stopped shaving and got lost for three weeks in the woods adjacent to the Gathering of the Vibes festival site. Last year she entered film school and apparently has since quit to pose for a ton of pictures by her photographer friends from her one semester at said film school. From what you understand, she wears a lot of circular sunglasses and her hair is dip-dyed sea green.
While maintaining a personal identity for more than five minutes isn't the Alt Chick's strongest trait, she's great for other things, like laughing at. Plus, she has a closet full of old outfits that are so overdone that they have become nostalgic costumes for you to borrow on Halloween.
What To Buy Your Alt Chick Friend For Her Birthday:
- Nicotine gum. She should really quit.
- Dark lipstick, because it is always cool.
- An article of clothing containing the American flag. It's a statement. Don't bother trying to "get it."
Not Included in This List:
The "I'm a Varsity Athlete Shut Up About These Mustard Stains On My Sweatpants" Girl (spends 20 hours a day at the gym and therefore asks why you're so overdressed when you wear jeans to class).
The Perpetual Pantsuit (concerned enough about getting a corporate job after college that she actually bought kitten heels).
The Sheepish Experimental (dresses averagely in all other ways besides one semi-daring accessory such as an uncommon piercing or tiny tattoo in an effort to shake her previously conventional image).
The Wreck (wakes up from her mid-lecture nap wondering why she's still wearing yesterday's makeup and stilettos).
And finally, the staple of college ad campaigns and application brochures worldwide:
The College Sweatshirt Girl (always of indeterminable race and cultural background, this poster child for higher learning does nothing but reveal a weirdly perfect smile that is disproportionate to the menacing stack of books in her arms. She also does not exist. You will spend four years wondering what crack house that struggling model is currently lying in, face-down, lamenting the fact that she never went to college and the bleak irony that her only legitimate modeling job was posing as a student at an idyllic liberal arts school).
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