At this point, most people are probably sick of hearing about COVID this and quarantine that, but that doesn’t change the fact that quarantine had a powerful and lasting effect on everyone and everything, and that includes the fashion world.
“I feel like a lot of people found themselves during quarantine,” said senior Chloe Cashman. “I definitely did… finding my own personality was reflected by me finding my style.”
From March to August 2020, what else was there to do but experiment with your “look?” So that’s exactly what Chloe Cashman, Kate Hopkins, Mark Tu, and Angela Zaccaro did.
What is fashion, anyway? For Kate Hopkins, “It’s kind of like expression in a way, you can do so much with it. I don’t really think there’s a lot of limits to it. You don’t have to have a specific style either. Some days you can be edgy, other days you can be more trendy. It doesn’t matter.”
Hopkins style catches the eye because you never know what to expect. Today will she dress grunge, combine stripes and polka dots (if anyone can do it it’s Hopkins), or maybe go for a 70s vibe? Tu, a senior involved in choir and theater and spends his spare time making music with friends, also knows how to keep you guessing.
“I feel like my tastes in fashion are all over the place,” Tu explains. “Sometimes I’ll want to do streetwear stuff, other times I’m more avant-garde. So just doing whatever, honestly, just being me, I feel like is a good category.”
For Tu, Cashman, Zaccaro, Hopkins and many other students like them, it’s hard to stick to one look. These students are all multidimensional people with busy lives juggling various extracurriculars, and that same passion they carry with them translates into their complex and evolving style. Zaccaro’s selected wardrobe she presented in these photos felt reminiscent of a retro era. A pair of wide leg trousers that look like they were plucked straight from the 60s complete with the bold colors of the era and a fun yet delicate floral print. Yet next to it is a muted tone sweater and creme and green sweater vest that gives homage to the simplicity of the 70s. And it doesn’t hurt that all of these items are insanely cozy.
“When you dress well it can change your mood, so something that I always go for is comfort in a lot of my outfits,” said Zacarro. “You just won’t feel as good in an outfit that doesn’t make you comfortable and so I found that I prefer more of the baggier styles just because that’s what makes me feel the most confident.”
According to Cashman, “Fashion has a lot to do with attitude too. You have to own what you wear, because if you’re wearing something that looks amazing or very bold…but if your appearance doesn’t necessarily match your attitude, you have to own it or else it doesn’t come across the same way.”
Style is one’s aesthetic or look. What makes something fashion is the effect it has on the world and the self. If you wear sweatpants everyday, it could be called your style. But as soon as you own it and claim the power of your confidence in that outfit, congratulations you’ve just made it fashion. Didn’t think sweatpants could be considered “fashion”? Think again. Sure there are tastemakers and designers that tell you what’s in fashion, such as low rise jeans in the early 2000s or the recent rise in bold, colorful prints, but what holds more power in fashion than any label or price tag is your state of mind.
Hopkins revealed that, “In middle school I cared a lot about what people thought of what I wore and I just tried to stick to a lot of things that I knew other people wouldn’t think were weird. But then in high school I was kind of like, ‘I want to be myself more, wear what I like, what makes me happy.’” Hopkins’ story is a lesson on the power of fashion’s impact on self-worth; how when you stop caring what people think of you, that’s when you can find happiness for yourself.
So now the secret’s out: Hopkins shops at Zara, thrift and consignment stores; Cashman gets her inspiration from Emma Chamberlain, @saracamposarcone and Phoebe Buffay; Zacarro always steals her sisters’ clothes; and Tu looks to artists and Tik Tok and Instagram influencers for styling ideas.
Zacarro and Cashman aren’t drinking some kind of special potion that makes them good at styling, and Hopkins and Tu aren’t casting a spell to make them more confident. They’re just regular people, like you and me, who made the decision to prioritize what makes them happy over thinking about other people’s opinions.