The thing we really love about fashion is how egalitarian it is.

If that sounds counterintuitive, it’s because we don’t mean capital-F fashion, with its emphasis on luxury, expense, and exclusivity. We mean the fashion that everyone who wears clotheswhich is to say, everyoneexpresses every day, whether they craft their own garments, assemble chic looks at thrift shops, or creatively alter mass-market clothes to make them their own. An off-the-rack Batman T-shirt, when decisions are made about how to accent it, becomes style as surely as does the latest Banana Republic peacoat.

In the INDY‘s first-ever Style Issue, we delve into the question of howand, more important, whyto dress from a variety of angles, with reporting on local eco-fashion, maker culture, North Carolina cotton, and much more. We also provide tips and tricks for shopping, whether at high-end local retailers and brands or humble thrift storeshow to get the most bang for your buck and the best fits for your frame.

And of course, since fashion is fun, we also have some fun with it, especially in our four-page spread of paper dress-up dolls that send up how to dress where in the Triangle. Print it out online or pick up a couple of copies of the paper (safety scissors not included) to dress your doll to the nines.

The best definition of “cool” I ever heard, though I can’t remember where, is that cool is making something out of nothing. That’s the cornerstone of all the elements of style we survey in these pages, and we hope you’ll come away agreeing with us that the people of the Triangle are pretty damn cool. Happy scrappy shopping, making, and flaunting.

Shopping Is Hard: A Fashion-Challenged INDY Editor Gets a Style Assist

Photo Journal: Humans of the Triangle

Campus Quips and Pop-Culture Blips Coded in UNC’s Digital T-shirt Archive

Learn to Wreck the Racks at Local Thrift Stores

Shop Till You Drop With Some of Our Favorite Local Retailers and Brands

You Do You: The INDY’s Super Fabulous Interactive Dress-Up Doll Extravaganza

Buying From Local Makers Can Be Costly, but It’s Worth the Extra Effort

Our State’s Eco-Fashion Outfits Save the World One Shirt (Made of Plastic Bottles) at a Time

North Carolina Homespun Cotton Was Political Long Before “Locavore” Was a Word

Heart on Sleeve: Local Designers Wear Their Activism Loud and Proud