People often use the term "different strokes for different folks" to characterize Lawrence and its diverse population. For the most part, people wear the clothes they want to wear, go where they want to go and do what they want to do.
Just take a look at the downtown scene: From hippies strumming guitars to corporate types talking on their hands-free cellular phones, Lawrence is home to a mixed crowd. But even with the diversity, certain fashion trends still surface.
"It's still the more comfortable the better, but at the same time people want to wear the T-shirt and suit coat like Bam Margera and Ashton Kutcher," said Angie Knight, store manager at Shark's Surf Shop, 813 Mass.
When Kansas University students return in the fall, trends become more apparent. And some students will pa`y whatever it takes to show they know what's hot.
The boot call
According to three local retailers - Shark's Surf Shop, Arizona Trading Company and Urban Outfitters - the biggest fashion craze sweeping Lawrence is cowboy boots.
"All different types of girls and guys are buying the cowboy boots. We can hardly keep them on our shelves. And it's just not one style of boot, we sell a lot of every style imaginable," said Roy Carter, buying manager at Arizona Trading Company, 734 Mass.
Sandals are another fashion favorite for students. Knight said Shark's was selling large amounts of Reef and Rainbow sandals.
"A big thing we are seeing is people combining dressier clothes with casual clothes, a white tank top with a blazer, for example. With the Rainbow sandals, they are a dressier sandal, so it allows people to achieve that casual yet dressed-up look," Knight said.
She said that look was widespread, particularly among male students doing their back-to-school shopping.
Also popular among guys are lighter, form-fitting clothes. Urban Outfitters even has some leaner guys come in and purchase ladies' jeans, in order to achieve the more snug look, said Jill Cavender, women's accessories team leader.
With girls, all three vendors agree that there is a movement from skintight clothing to looser, more free-flowing skirts, blouses and shirts. That's not to say you'll never see something better suited for the beach, but retailers say that particular style is on its way out for women.
"A lot of it has to do with comfort for women. Loose-flowing, long skirts are selling more so than in the past," Cavender said.
She pointed to crinkled skirts as an example of this. While they look like they're in need of ironing, they are becoming commonplace, with their long length, light fabric and free movement.
Earth is in
With colors, again all three vendors agreed that darker earth tones seem to be in for girls.
"We've seen an insurgence of the Bohemian, hippie style. Girls are wearing lots of browns, dark oranges, basically all the darker earth tones," said Teri Williams, store manager at Arizona Trading Company.
Color in men's apparel seems to be brightening all the time, though. Just like with jeans, the worn-out, vintage style is still in. But more and more guys attempt to stand out.
"We're selling more basic clothes in brighter colors with more eye-catching patterns. But the bottom line for most guys is comfort," said Amy Plengemeier, men's team leader at Urban Outfitters.
It's about the budget
Jonathan Even, Overland Park senior, agrees with the comfort priority.
"I don't really care to notice fashion trends. I go with what's comfortable. A lot of my clothes come from before I entered college, so that worn-out look is easy for me. Seriously, it would be a sacrifice for me to spend money that I'd otherwise spend out with friends," Even said.
Even brings up a good point. For the most part, college students find themselves strapped financially. Oftentimes fashion takes no priority, and there shouldn't be any shame in that.
"It's [staying current with fashion] not a priority for me. As long as I'm comfortable, I'm good," said Erika Jones, a senior from Jewell.
But all three retailers reported students were more willing to spend big on clothes than any time in the past. They said students were the most brand-conscious and buy more expensive clothing than any other age group.
"A lot of fraternity boys come in and are willing to spend $170 on Diesel jeans just because they are Diesel. They come in looking for aviator sunglasses and brand-name clothing," Plengemeier said.
While opinions differ on what to wear and how much to spend for it, fashion in Lawrence is trendy yet as diverse as the students who live here.