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

Fashionably living life

Sharon Chang

All of us have gone through phases — most of which we now cringe at. My most embarrassing phase was a cat obsession. At the beginning of each school year, I begged my mom to exclusively buy me cat T-shirts, and every time I went into Claire’s I perused the cat ear section. These outfits aided my middle school awkwardness, but even then those clothes expressed my deep love for cats. 

Eventually, my style changed. While I still loved cats, I found more subtle ways to express it. One day my mom brought home some eyeliner, and I read online about something called a cat eye. 

Five years later, I still wake up every morning to do a brightly colored wing of eyeliner that matches my outfit. It’s no longer inspired by my favorite animal, but that embarrassing phase of mine incited an exploration of the ways in which I can creatively express myself. 

Fashion is an artistic medium that we universally engage with. By expressing our personal voice through what we wear, we can better express our individuality. 

Deborah Sztejnberg, an assistant professor of practice in textiles and apparel, explains how each of us communicates something unique through what we wear. 

“Each one of you probably has something that has UT or burnt orange or says ‘The University of Texas,’ and that immediately tells me that we’re part of the same tribe,’” Sztejnberg said. “(It shows) that we have something in common, and that’s without saying one word to each other.”

Like it or not, our appearance is the very first aspect of ourselves that people see. What we wear then is the very first way we communicate with those around us. By finding our voice through clothing, we can introduce our personal stories just by walking around.

“I remember when I was in New York I was wearing my cowboy boots, and cowboy boots were not in at that time,” Sztejnberg said. “I didn’t care. I love my boots. They tell my story, and I’m from Texas.”

The way we dress also influences how we feel about ourselves. Wearing something that we love and feel confident in can boost our mood and increase our self-confidence. When we feel comfortable outwardly expressing who we are, we are able to better embody the best versions of ourselves.

“The more you dress like yourself, the more true to yourself you are,” textiles and apparel sophomore Emily Martinez said “It helps people come out of their shell a lot, and if you are dressing the way that you feel looks best, then you’re gonna feel (your) best.”

By finding a voice in fashion, we can also learn about ourselves. Activities like shopping, doing makeup or even choosing what shoes to wear helps us to learn more about the aesthetics, colors and shapes we like. By exploring the aesthetic visions we’re drawn to, we can learn, in turn, how to apply it to ourselves and curate our visual appearance.

As students, it’s easy to think that being fashionable will be an expensive endeavor. However, there are a lot of affordable ways for us to be creative. Martinez points out accessible options such as thrifting or even making your own clothing.

“D.I.Y.-ing is very in right now, (which entails) just buying something a little more basic, possibly from Amazon, and improving it in any way you can,” Martinez said. “Also, the general thrift stores around our area, some of them are pretty affordable.”

There’s a misconception that being fashionable requires wearing uncomfortable or restricting clothing. 

While some people like to express themselves in loud and bold ways, others love using smaller additions to their hair, makeup or jewelry. Finding your personal voice allows you to decide the level of comfort and functionality you want to combine with artistic expression.

“I’m a pretty introverted person, so I like to let my clothes speak for me,” Martinez said. “I try to dress a bit more loudly and attention-grabbing than my personality might lead people to believe.”

Finding our personal style allows us to be creative and authentic. Everything we wear says something about who we are, so we might as well show off our most confident and genuine selves. 

Lack is a dance and Plan II sophomore from San Angelo, Texas.

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