Abroad Inspired: South African Urban Trends to Bring Back to Campus

Over the past six weeks living and studying in Cape Town, I have become inspired by South African street style and have slowly been adapting my everyday style to the city’s current trends. As I packed for my semester abroad, I was sidetracked by the warm, summer fashion in the U.S. like jumpsuits and sandals, and did not properly prepare for the Southern Hemisphere’s cold and wet winters. I stupidly (and ignorantly) convinced myself that because Cape Town had been experiencing an extreme water crisis and drought, my days would be filled with sunny, dry beach days. My ignorance became extremely apparent throughout the first two weeks, where I found myself completely underdressed for the weather and in dire need of some layers. In that time, however, I also began to notice and appreciate the trends of South African urban street style and got my hands on a few items of my own. Here are some looks I will be bringing back to the States in time for the holidays!

1. (Faux) Fur Coats

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Whether it’s to class, the bars or a music festival, I have seen so many South Africans rocking fur coats. Everyone seemingly has one for every occasion —more casual ones to wear with jeans, and fun colored and printed fur coats for more colorful occasions. You can find some great deals on faux fur coats at local thrift stores all around Cape Town. While it may be tough to carry back in my limited suitcase space, I think it’ll be worth it when I can rock them again at Mardi Gras in February.

2. Classic White Sneakers—with a Twist

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Similar to the U.S., everyone here seems to own at least one pair of white sneaks, be it Adidas, Converse, or Nikes. What’s best about them are their versatility. It is easy to dress an outfit down with sneakers and a sweater, or wear them comfortably with jeans and a t-shirt. I found my own pair of “Paint by Number” white Stan Smith Adidas at a local thrift store for only $25.

3. Trench Coats

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As I’ve gotten older, it’s become more and more apparent that I need to add pieces to my closet that are more “grownup” and can be worn both casually and professionally. During my time so far in Cape Town, I have seen both men and women absolutely killing the trench coat game. I think that a nice, durable, and fashionable jacket is a worthwhile investment, especially now that I’m 20 and it’s kind of unacceptable to wear my baggy high school sweatshirts in public.

4. Beanies

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While this is a trend that I myself cannot pull off, I think it’s still a trend worth noting. Beanies act as both a fashion statement and an accessory for added warmth. I have seen many South Africans who keep warm and trendy by wearing beanies that don’t make their outfits too overbearing.

5. COLOR!

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I’ve always found myself sticking to earth tones in the winter back home—blues, blacks, greys, browns, greens. But what has stuck out to me in my time here are the colors and prints that are so prevalent in South African urban fashion. I think this also speaks for how colorful Cape Town is as a city. While its dark and unfortunate political history is recent, the people and fashion of South Africa are inspired by it’s deep-rooted tribal history.

While it is still summer in the states and New Orleans is steamy as ever, I hope that these trends inspire you to get a headstart on holiday, Mardi Gras, and cold tailgate shopping essentials.

COVER PHOTO: Trend Hunter

About Abby Dolan

Abby Dolan is a junior from San Francisco who is part of our Fashion and Beauty team. She's a double minor in Communications and Psych, and loves spending time outdoors.

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