A signature outfit encapsulates more than a person’s physique. A wardrobe, to some, is more than profoundly personal.
Clothing defines a person as they express themselves through the items that they choose to wear. People are able to create an identity through their clothing. Sometimes style reflects who someone is — or, at least, the character that they choose to embody that day.
For Anya Zaporozhchenko, textures and cuts are crucial to her “wearable punk style mixed with a bit of a librarian look.” She notes that the style reflects her personality as she “like[s] to be a little rebellious and spontaneous… but… also prefers a polished and presentable look.”
Zaporozhchenko’s items of choice reflect her blended style. Her crystal necklace is a “good accessory for casual looks,” and “dresses up a simple coloured outfit.” This jagged crystal mimics her choice for skirts with an asymmetrical cut and silhouette, and because most of her “clothes are black… it fits in with the colour scheme yet stands out with an interesting cut.”
Zaporozhchenko’s librarian look is evident with her gold collared shirt. She says that she often “wears it with a cardigan, or under a pullover, and at night I pair it with jeans or a pencil skirt.” The ‘60s inspired shirt is also “crucial if you like drinking on Mondays,” Zaporozhchenko says.
“[It’s] a nationalist thing, the red and the blue. I don’t try to do it,” Justin Lee says about his two shirts. Lee emphasizes the influence of nationality and family in his style. He explains how his jean shirt is his father’s and has undergone abundant teenage angst in his hopes “to look like Kurt Cobain.” His father remains an important contributor to his closet, having also purchased Lee’s red sweater in Korea.
Lee has a lot of solid colours in his wardrobe. “I don’t think patterns look good [with what] I wear, except the hat,” he says. The toque in question is a replica of one that he received “in grade three [as a] Christmas gift when I believed in Santa.” Lee emphasizes that he strives for a wardrobe that “keep[s] it dark.”
For Anna Modugno, expressing herself through clothing “changes every day [and is] ever changing [and] contingent on a day’s mood.” She speaks of the personal struggle that came with not having a consistent wardrobe and how she learned to embrace and be “proud of not being static.”
Academia has influenced Modugno’s style as she recounts the story behind her acquiring the rabbit dress she wears. “I got this in England. The history department funded the trip to London to do research,” she says. To Modugno, this dress shows “where my passion for history can take me.” Her passions and interests allow her to add to a wardrobe that is ever changing and does not limit her.
“One of the fun parts of fashion [is that it] doesn’t necessarily reflect the person inside,” says Modugno.
“Today, I’m Fergie in a music video,” Mika Howard says, explaining how her style is always in flux. “I appreciate a lot of different stuff, having one style is limiting. I like lavishness.”
Howard explains how many staples of her wardrobe have been given to her. Her white polka-dotted dress was her cousin’s who “buys things because they’d be good costumes.” This dress is significant for Howard. “I put it on when I need to feel happy, I pretend I’m a hobbit in it or Kate Bush, I get transported into a fancy world… [it’s] sort of clowny but elegant,” she says.
The silver cat-eyed glasses were her aunt’s and “used to be in [her] mom’s office and [she] asked to try them on.” Howard eventually acquired the frames, but also purchased another significant item herself. She bought a billowy patterned dress in England and wore it during her travels in Europe. She found it in a vintage store that looked like “a showgirl’s dressing room, [that was] glittery [and] satin, and here was this desert dress.” Each object is significantly different; Howard indulges in many styles.
When asked to explain her style, Iris Robin responds, “my style is pretty consistent. [The] most accurate [description] is post-Victorian, neo-dandy, gender queer prep.” Robin emphasizes that she can
“present [herself] in a non-traditional gender manner.” Robin states that her style reflects “the things I find aesthetically pleasing; reflect[ing] that I’m confident as well.”
Two of Robin’s items are velvet which is her “favourite material to wear and in the correct light, it can be very radiant.” The royal blue velvet dress is the “only garment [she] owns like that,” referring to its peplum waist. Robin’s emerald green floor length coat is velvet too. She got it in first year in Kensington Market.
Robin declares that she “doesn’t like items that I can only wear once.” With Robin’s notion of practicality, she notes how her tweed blazer can be worn “with a variety” of pieces and is “an accurate representation of my wardrobe.”
For some, less is more. For Zareen Din, “simplicity [is] important.” She emphasizes her preference for neutral tones with “a little bit of colour” and how she likes to play with texture. For Din, “clothing should be like writing — functional.” Din explains that “the style comes from the detail” when speaking about a thin silver ring she is wearing.
“[It’s] the little details. Either you see it or you don’t,” Din says. She states that she tries “to be minimalist.” She continues by pointing out a geometric patterned green bracelet. “It reminded me of one of my prayer mats at home,” Din says, explaining, “You can’t really forget where you’re from.” She goes on to explore culture further in the sphere of the university. She believes that her black toque “allows you to identify with others,” and that there is “a certain sense of androgyny that comes with toques.”
Erika Leclerc’s style is influenced by her studies. As a film student, she states that her “style is probably influenced by whatever movie or characters [she’s] encountered that week.” She emphasizes “the lack of cohesion in [her] wardrobe” is due to having “a
character in mind when…pick[ing] out… clothes.”
Despite Leclerc’s ever-changing wardrobe, she explains her style as “pretty minimal…wear[ing] a lot of black, white, grey, and denim, but I also have a selection of colourful pieces for… more creative [days].” For Leclerc, her jeans are significant — she explains how “it’s really difficult for me to find jeans that fit me properly, so I cherish them.” Leclerc’s vintage pink angora cropped sweater represents the bright colours of her wardrobe.
Her collection of angora doesn’t end with the sweater. She also owns an angora hat that she “just bought… and haven’t worn [yet], but it looks like something that a member of a ‘90s girl group would wear.” These items encapsulate Leclerc’s recent “switching back and forth between a ‘60s mod look and a ‘90s minimalist aesthetic.”
There is a sense of stability in one’s wardrobe, and this is especially true for Bartman. He asserts, “I know what I like and I tend to wear similar things” and prefers “to dress not so conventionally.” Bartman explains how his style is affected by familial influences. He explains that his thick red V-neck sweater was “given by my mother on my first Christmas in Toronto. She gave it to me since I had not yet acclimated to the weather. She also thought I needed more colour in my life.”
Franz explains how colour became more prominent in his wardrobe. His rose patterned tank top was “given to [him] by [his] brother” and is a staple in his summer attire. Franz’s brother also gave him the navy blue button-down shirt that is significant in his wardrobe; he liked it so much that he “went out and bought it in another colour.”
“My friend bought me these lavender running shoes in hopes that I’d start working out with her. Unfortunately, by the time I was motivated to work out, we were at different universities and had to work out alone. Now I understand why she wanted someone to work out with so badly.”
*Name changed at student’s request.
Editor’s note: Iris Robin is an associate news editor at The Varsity.