FASHIONISTA SPOTLIGHT: Karen Zainal

Fashionista Spotlight

We were both first years in college when our paths crossed for the first time. She was sitting across the room from me at a girls’ meet-and-greet tea social for UChicago’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I remember her declaring that she had purchased seven items from eBay just this week, including the knitted cardigan she was wearing that day. I was appalled. Who buys things from eBay?! My germaphobe mother ingrained in me that buying used clothing that you couldn’t thoroughly inpsect in person before purchase was sacrilegious. Thus eBay was securely off-limits for me and any other self-respecting consumer. Luckily for me, this Fashionista has changed my mind for the better. And it’s not just my fashion notions that she’s changed. Over the past two years this Fashionista has challenged, supported, listened to, prayed for, inspired and grown alongside me. And those are friendships worth hanging onto.

Name: Karen Zainal
Year: 3rd year
Major: English

CollegeFashionista: You look great! Can you tell me about your outfit?

Karen Zainal: Thank you! This outfit describes my style pretty well actually: a lot of layers, comfortable and resourceful. My trousers are from Singapore, shoes are thrifted, crochet top from Indonesia, sweater is thrifted, and Betsey Johnson giraffe and cow earrings are both secondhand from eBay.

CF: You seem to be a pretty eclectic shopper. Do you have a method to where you shop?

KZ: I do a lot of my shopping online because it’s easy. I don’t buy branded items usually because they’re too pricey, but if I do, I usually get them secondhand from eBay. ebay is one of my go-to sites for unique and inexpensive pieces. I just keep an open mind.

CF: Haha I will never forget that you were the one who got me hooked on eBay! And I always love your layered looks. What inspires your style?

KZ: Well I was born in Indonesia and moved to Singapore when I was eight and lived there until I came to college here in Chicago. My style is definitely inspired by where I’ve come from. In Singapore, it was all about comfort and dealing with the heat and humidity; that explains my emphasis on wearing things that I’m comfortable in. It also forced me to learn to layer cardigans and sweaters over all my airy, lightweight items from Singapore and Indonesia. Since coming to college, my style has remained pretty much true to myself, but I’m more adventurous now and have a little more edge to my outfits.

CF: So true, I think that college tends to bring out the adventurous edge in a lot of Fashionistas. And I’m always envious of your quirky, cool accessories. What key items to you find yourself reaching for constantly?

KZ: My cardigans and of course my extensive earring collection (mainly from eBay!).

How To: Copy this Fashionistas chic layered look to make the most out of your warm-weather clothing. A breezy crochet top underneath a cozy cardigan, both in neutral colors, looks great paired with bright boyfriend-fit pants. For a mild fall evenings wear yours with colorful like this Fashionista. When the temperatures drop, change up the bottom half of the outfit by switching to your tried and true dark wash skinny jeans and knee length boots. Unique, mismatched earrings complete the look.

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