The first time I remember doodling my own fashion sketches was in fourth grade. In the margins of my notebook or on scrap pieces of paper around the house, I drew pictures of Lizzie McGuire-worthy ensembles befitting my nine-year-old aesthetic. Though those early designs with their sparkly blue fringe weren’t quite the epitome of class, they represented the beginning of an ongoing love affair with fashion that continues to this day.
Fast forward a decade or so, and that imaginative fourth-grader is now a junior studying photography at Wheaton College, outside Chicago. Though moving to the Midwest from my hometown of Manila, Philippines required a good deal of adjustment on my part, one thing that I didn’t lose in the journey across the ocean was my passion for clothing.
I’ve loved fashion for a long time, and I love it most when it’s about more than just following trends or impressing other people. Some of my all-time favorite fashion heroes are Bill Cunningham, the humble octogenarian “grandfather of street-style photography,” Cameron Russell, the smart, Columbia-educated model who gave a viral TED talk about how “Image isn’t everything” and Tavi Gevinson, the teen feminist fashion blogging wunderkind who lives a few stops up from me on the Metra. People like Cunningham, Russell and Gevinson show me what it can look like to engage fashion in a way that balances aesthetic pleasure with intellectual profundity, and give me hope that the pursuit of fashion need not be shallow or self-serving. I try to think about fashion in a way that reflects this idea on my blog, Unwrinkling.
As far as my own wardrobe goes, I gravitate towards modern interpretations of unique, vintage items. I’ve been a hardcore thrift store shopper since I was in sixth grade, and by this point, about 85 percent of my wardrobe is secondhand. I think it’s cool that the clothes I get from the Salvation Army already have a story of their own even before they reach my closet. And I also value the uniqueness that comes with thrifted items—I haven’t bumped into anyone else wearing the same dress as me in years! Ethical consumerism is becoming increasingly important to me too, and I’ve found thrifting to be a great solution to a host of moral dilemmas related to labor issues, money and the environment.
Considering how much I love people, I’m oddly shy with strangers, so I’m glad to be writing for CollegeFashionista’s FASHIONISTA/O SPOTLIGHT section—it will give me an excuse to talk to other fashion-conscious students on my campus. Feel free to connect with me via Tumblr, Twitter or Pinterest if you’re the social media type, and here’s to a sartorially excellent semester!