Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

It’s more than an outfit

Jasmin Kelliher

Most mornings I don a big T-shirt, shorts and classic Converse. The familiar fabrics wear like camouflage. Unassuming and simple, I feel indistinguishable from the crowd of busy college students. However, on the days I pick my flashier plaid skirt and vest set, unexpected confidence sets in.

“A lot of people dress for survival and assimilation,” said Ian Saejun Smith, economics and government senior and co-runner of @utfits on Instagram. “When people are putting thought into their outfit, even just a little bit, it really does stand out. Experimentation goes a long way.”

Intentionally experimenting with style, even in tiny increments, reaps personal rewards equal to academic pursuits. It opens avenues of confidence, social connections and self-discovery.

“It feels like character customization,” said Jeffrey Jin, sociology junior and the other co-runner of @utfits. “If I feel more feminine, I’ll step out in a skirt. But other days, if I’m feeling more masculine, maybe cargo pants … For me at least, gender and fashion go hand in hand, and I think that my outfits and clothes have helped me understand my gender.”

If you have no idea where to start, one statement piece can lend itself to many different avenues for styling and expression. Maliabo Diamba, international relations and global studies senior and editor-in-chief of Spark Magazine, shared her experiences with her trusty scarf.

“With a scarf, you can never go wrong,” Diamba said. “There are like five different ways to tie it on myself. I think that’s my favorite piece because of how versatile it is. I can wear it on my hair, my hips, as a top, as a skirt.”

The confidence boost from successfully designing your own outfit transfers into other aspects of your life, and you feel seen. When what you’re wearing highlights your identity, you hold some control over the way others perceive you and make personal statements in the process. 

When shopping at the right places, curating a personal style can be affordable and attainable for anyone. Austin has an endless amount of fashionable thrift stores ranging from Pavement, Flamingos Vintage Pound and Buffalo Exchange on Guadalupe, to Full Circle Vintage and Top Drawer Thrift farther away from campus. 

Avenues exist on campus too. Spark Magazine, along with many other organizations, create spaces for expressing emotions through fashion and offer chances for growth and social connection in design fields.

“Being a student creative teaches you a lot about confidence but also advocating for yourself,” Diamba said. “I definitely feel like UT is a safe space to experiment with fashion, and Spark isn’t the only fashion publication. One thing I’ve grown to appreciate about Austin is how local, beginner, creator-friendly it is. I’ve been able to build a freelance modeling career just based on those opportunities.”

Hook’d Magazine and Texas Fashion for Students also help students express their style. Embarking on a fashion journey is only a solo endeavor if you want it to be one. In fashion publications, teams work together to craft visuals that tell a story, creating bonds with each other along the way.

No matter how you explore fashion, it’s worth a shot.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll hesitate before grabbing the burnt orange T-shirt. I’ll see if that vintage plaid vest or those green cargo pants folded up in the back call out to me. Exploring myself through fashion is an everyday endeavor, and one we can all benefit from embarking upon.

Walters is an informatics junior from Spring, Texas.

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