Clogs and “cultured folk chic” define Carbondale fashion

My ankles are just killing me. I bought these chunky little $12 platform clogs and fell absolutely head over heels for them. Literally and figuratively. I have always loved the style of the shoe, just never the aches and pains that go along with them. They aren’t exactly heels, but they are not flats. A different breed. Therefore, I am not contradicting myself from two columns ago, where I stated that there is no reason to wear heels to campus, to which I still stand firmly on. I just love the look of them. 

I purchased my first pair of clogs in 2018 while perusing the clearance aisle (because I refuse to pay full price for fast fashion), when a great pile of nude shoes all sat pretty, lining the shelf. There had to have been at least 30 of the same shoe just in different sizes, all priced at the immaculate payment of $5. Of course, as any person who has an issue with shopping too much would do, into the cart they went. I wore those things to death, and they had about ten different lives. I mean they got puked on, slipped in, and farm worked by the time I gave up the ghost. I painted them a dozen different colors, covered them in ribbon, and eventually embellished them with vintage jewelry.

Filling the hole in my heart, the $12 replacements came to my rescue. I wore them for about a week, broke them, and then fixed them. I could have tossed the pieces of Walmart junk away, but I knew better than that. School was starting back up, and fall fashion forecasting was seeing these franken-shoes everywhere. 

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“Clip, clop, clip, clop” was the only noise I could hear as I sat in my English class. This was a  familiar noise. Down the hallway came what only I could describe as the sound of a horse walking. I jolted my eyes to the door and waited in anticipation, hoping for a glimpse of this noble steed. A smile sprung to my face as a small statured woman wearing a long skirt and holding her stained up satchel bag walked past the open classroom door. I giggled to myself and said in my head, “Oh, Carbondale”.

Now, I could have thought about this person being up with the times on the latest trends, but there is a difference. The free-love 70s style fashions have been strutting the runways lately and filling our storefronts for over a year now, but before that, it made a safe nest here on and off of campus. 

If I could sum Carbondale up as any fashion accessory or garment, it would be the clog.

Think about it. When you sit and ponder the fashions of our bustling university town, it is hard not to imagine some sort of hippie outfit. I close my eyes and imagine a woman wearing a muted tone shirt with some variation of a busy patterned pant or skirt, paired with a necklace that was more than likely bought at a farmers market, and clogs. 

They are funky, go in and out of fashion, but are always there when needed. They also contain smells very well, and after one wear, they usually stink.

Carbondale can sometimes seem to be stuck in that “Tuscan Sun” era of fashion. That taupe-ish/ beige time between 2004 and 2010, where every single mother decided to tear apart their kitchens and put in tile. Everyone knows what I am talking about. You know, that time when fake grapes and wine themed decor put our mothers in a headlock. 

I could roll my eyes out of my head at some of the things people walk around in, but I analyze the situation and move on. A lot of people around these parts don’t care about fashion. That is a  controversial statement, but it is true. Most folks here aren’t going out shopping for what looks good, but rather what feels good. 

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I grew up just a few towns over, and something that I always love to giggle and joke about is the choice of footwear people choose here as locals. The men usually wear a comfortable tennis shoe or a loafer. Very typical for a man. The women though, they seem to always opt for the open toe shoe. I don’t mean a cute little peek-a-boo slipper, I mean that their toes are out. Their dogs are always barking and I can’t help but shield my eyes as they grip over the front of their Jesus-esque sandals.  

Most folks around here dress seriously, but always add a playful touch. It could be being surrounded by college students all day, but it keeps things level. Everyone here wears what they want, and I hope that is obvious to most as they look around, but there is a general aesthetic that seems to linger. 

Cultured Folk Chic is the silly title I have deemed as Carbondale fashion. I could have grouped it with something that exists already, but that wouldn’t do it justice in the least bit. It is cultured because of the amount of diversity that our college brings to the area. The rich patterns and textiles that are brought here by students from all over the country, and the world really bring it to life. The country aspect comes from the long timers that have been around for decades, and the farm life that is in the country of Jackson county. 

The world of academia brings a whole list of its own styles. Chunky coats and blazers in fabrics of wool and canvas, khaki pants with frumpy shoes, and a few more are what I consider to be fashion associated with academics and school. This style mixes well with the grown-up Woodstock children outfits of the area, and has made the perfect blend. It pairs well with what is being manufactured right now for consumption, and what is in vogue.

It isn’t that Carbondale is out of fashion. We have been out of the loop before, but right now we seem to line up with the newest trends. It will not last long, but soak it up as much as you can. 

In about another ten years or so, the cycle will start again, and Carbondale will be high fashion again, as it is now. Until then, I will continue to smile while clunking along in my clogs, proud to be where I am.

Staff reporter Aaron Elliott can be reached at [email protected]

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