High school is high school, and all anyone ever wants to do is fit in, so it’s rare and even somewhat surreal to see a teenager walking through the halls in anything other than Adidas Superstars and American Eagle skinny jeans. Now and then, however, an unlikely character can be spotted, usually on a Thursday afternoon on their way to the Fashion Club meeting, for which they’ve deliberately saved their best outfit of the week. Fortunately, I stumbled into three of them and asked each a Q or two…
The thing about my style is that it’s pretty eclectic. It changes with however I feel, so right now, it’s pretty much like anime girl, pink, pastel-type stuff, but last year, it was very black, very short shorts, like “Tumblr girl”-esque. [The way I dress is] pretty much all I care about. Of course, I plan my outfits the night before. The only thing I look forward to about school or going out is being able to put together an outfit and having people stare at me. I currently [draw inspiration] from Kyary Pamyu—she’s like a Japanese singer/model person. She does a lot of crazy outfits. I feel like I follow trends pretty closely, but at the same time, I always put my own twist on them. I really like the choker trend, but I make my own chokers [laughs and points to the blue elastic choker with the donut charm that she’s wearing]. I definitely shop a lot at Forever 21, mostly because it has a lot of what I like, like pastel-y, very subdued colors, and also because it’s cheap. Also Claire’s and the Japanese knick-knack shops.
In middle school, I dressed like a guy. I would wear the same t-shirt and jeans every single day, like I had the same jacket every day for eighth grade. But then there was some stuff that happened for me emotionally, and I had to start going to therapy, and I kind of realized that there’s no point because nobody here is going to matter by the time you go to college. What some blond girl who only wears Abercrombie thinks of me is not going to matter. I think I just dress to be noticed. For a long time, I felt invisible for a lot of reasons, so I just want people to look at me and be like, “Oh, she’s someone,” like “She exists.”
[If I could bring back any era, it would] maybe [be] the 80s because it was so ridiculous, just colorful and fun, and kind of stupid. People didn’t take themselves too seriously. I definitely believe that everyone should just dress in whatever way makes them happy.
I think my style is defined by a variety of items. I [like] tailored—you know, blazers, well-cut pants, beautiful socks. But I like textures; I like weird textures. I like experimenting with different fabrics. I like to keep a certain look and aesthetic about me. I want my style to define how people see me, and I dress a certain way to intimidate people. I want [my style] to reflect my origins—my Parisian-ness, because that’s something that I’m very in love with. I also want it to reflect that I’m a feminist of a new generation— like I fucking love shoulder pads, you know? I have authority, [but] for someone to be powerful, they can be vulnerable as well. They have all facets, and you’re not defined by one look. It’s the array of things.
I can go very androgynous, but I can also go very feminine. I don’t feel like my style defines my gender. I [was] such a tomboy in middle school. I think I became more in touch with what was going on in the world, and I cared more [about] politics and global events. I began to define myself as an activist and a feminist, and I [started] wanting to fight for those things and have open conversations and revolt. My style got a lot more original and a lot more creative and a lot less conformist. I hate trends. Ban trends. I think everyone who deems themselves to be creative and unique [wants] to say that they never ever follow trends, but I think of course we’re kind of obliged to. I think what I hate is mainstream trends, like anything that has words or messages on it. I think as soon as you notice a trend and yet you tell yourself that you wouldn’t mind wearing it, you’re following a trend.
I shop in thrift stores, but to be honest, I mostly take things from my relatives. It’s like a thrift store but you don’t have to pay money. It’s the vintage aspect and there’s also often a story behind it. In a thrift store, you don’t always know if it’s really vintage. If I had more time and mental energy, I would go out and find even crazier pieces with even crazier stories, of course, and if I had more money— I mean let’s be real, I’d wear 1990s Comme Des Garçons and vintage Margiela. [I love] 90s eastern European fashion too, just because the 90s were just a time when everything was allowed. You could go full-out, and you were celebrated for that. Early 90s Parisian style was really good— a lot of colors, a lot of texture, a lot of big jewelry, and at the same time, very minimalistic. Both were celebrated.
I like a lot of textures; [my style] is very tactile. Specifically with color, I have a little bit of an obsessive personality, and I like my outfits to kind of match in texture and tone. It’s kind of like a little cutesy, a little childish. I like to say it’s a mix between an eight year old boy and an eighty year old man—with pastels.
When I was really really little, I really liked the classic Mean Girls style, really on-trend, until I was like 8 or 9. It switched to a point where I refused to wear any female clothes at all. I cut all my hair off, and I think that after that I slowly developed back into a more feminine style as I got older, and as I do identify as a woman, I felt pressure to make sure that that was clear.
I think that school’s important because even if I don’t dress like other people, we get to play off of one another, and I get to think about what reaction [an] outfit will [provoke]. I like to change things up, so [with] each transition in my life, I’ve added something to my style. I think other people definitely impact my style. It’s almost like I’m conforming by deliberately not [conforming]. Like, maybe conforming to what people expect. That’s the harder part: not just going to school in PJs. It’s that mix between me wanting to like the way I look and wanting to be accepted.
I only shop thrifted. I go to Depop if I ever want to do online shopping. I’m a really strong believer in avoiding fast fashion and clothing that is either thrown away or involves bad practices for how it was created. I only get clothes from either thrift stores or clothes that have been given to me by family members or friends, like from clothing swaps. This hasn’t always been the case, though, this is like within the last two years, I would say. I know a lot of people think that Forever 21 is convenient and you can still wear it and be an individual, which is true to an extent, but I want everyone to know that what you wear is more than just how people see you but it’s how you impact the world depending on what you buy. Really think about what you get, but you don’t have to spend money doing it, like don’t worry about name brands or labels because even if you think it’s beautiful, it’s maybe conforming to something you don’t want to actually support.