City School Girl

The phrase “city school girl” may call to mind visuals of Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen traipsing down the steps of their elite New York City high school. The hit teen drama “Gossip Girl” featured a band of fashionable students whose characters became a mainstay in popular culture’s style zeitgeist.

The trendy aesthetic combines preppy femininity with the ease of street style. Unlike the series’ stars, it offers an alternative take on a classically collegiate look. Think: soft colors and graceful silhouettes paired with chunky flats, knee-high socks and edgy accessories.

This modern twist contrasts a scholarly femininity with a relaxed, comfortable cool reminiscent of '90s counterculture. Some say girly meets grungy rockstar à la Courtney Love, uptown girl with a side of rebellion, or “Clueless” with a touch of emo punk.


Babydoll dresses and similarly modest elements of ruffles, shirt collars and droopy bows are contrasted with plaid, chain-link chokers and mesh layers. Expect to spot this look in Manhattan’s artsy Lower East Side neighborhood where the gritty and the upscale fuse to create a chic world of street fashion. You’ll likely find a girl about town in eclectic city school garb pairing a delicate, frilly look that traditionally calls for something of the heeled sort with penny loafers and goth adornments.

The prettiness of pastel mini dresses, especially those with loose fits and puffed sleeves, is matched with the roughness of rugged jewelry, high socks, and heavy-soled flats, sporty sneakers, or ballet-esque Mary Janes.

The ballerina shoe has taken on a life of its own in popular culture, resurging from the days when stars real and fake — like Amy Winehouse and Carrie Bradshaw — embraced the dancer off-duty look. City school girls are having their moment, but balletcore is the fad du jour that just might have staying power.

Whether an art school scholar or a college dropout, fashion doesn't discriminate. Show off your personal style by making this trend your own.

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