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Students show sense of self through fashion

Many young people say they love to express themselves through fashion.
Many young people say they love to express themselves through fashion.

Two of the most influential concepts throughout history are fashion and style. 

One may believe that the concept of fashion only changes from one significant period of time to the next, but it is so much more. Within each time period, fashion also shifts culturally, regionally, by country, and even cities. 

“Fashion is so great because its for everyone,” said Tiari Rodriguez, an 11th grader at Deer Valley High School in Antioch. “Everyone can express themselves with their own signature look and I feel fashion is what makes people so unique and their own person.”  

The unique thing about fashion is there is no limit; as life progresses, fashion progresses with it. And everyone has their own idea of what fashion means to them. Whether they got a start in fashion from a young age, or more recently, many students say they can relate to the sense of self-expression that fashion can provide them. 

“Many people struggle with this, but the right piece of clothing in the right situation can boost a person’s mood and completely transform them,” writes Felicia Priedel in an Fashinnovation article about the importance of fashion. “Clothes influence how we look at someone. They help create an idea of what we think about their personality.”

Priedel also says fashion breaks the norms, tells a story, inspires creativity and makes a difference in how designers and creators see the world.

While the community and environment can shape the people we are, many individuals find that their first inspirations toward fashion started at a young age, before being exposed to a lot of outside factors. 

“I started being interested in fashion when I was 8,” Rodriguez said. “I loved wearing bows in my hair everyday and big poofy dresses with all the embellishments.”

Recently, technology has played a larger role in our lives. We see many fashion magazines disappearing and platforms like MTV beginning to fade for young people. However, many people have turned  to celebrities, social icons and social media to find their own style. 

“There are no specific people that influence my style, but most if not all of my outfits are based from Pinterest,” admitted Rodriguez.

Others are finding inspiration closer to home – creating their “style” from local community and environmental influences.

Natalia Cortez, a 10th grader at Dozier-Libbey Medical High School in Antioch, said she found influence from a former classmate.

“Ive had a lot of influence from this one girl in my 8th-grade class who always had super cute outfits on and I really wanted to gain inspiration from that,” Cortez said. “I think from living in the Bay Area, Ive been exposed to way more diversity when it comes to fashion. In addition, my dad really enjoys antiques, and with that he thrifted a lot of old clothes, so he opened the door for me in that regard.” 

Lexi Franklin, a 2021 Antioch High School alum, said she sees how much fashion has changed since she graduated.

“It’s a lot more baggy or oversized clothing now than when I was in high school. It was a lot more tight clothing like leggings and cropped clothing,” said Franklin, who currently attends Chapman University in Southern California. “I wouldnt say there is a difference in fashion from the Bay to SoCal. The only thing with SoCal is you see more high-end fashion.” 

One of the biggest stereotypes around fashion can be how expensive going shopping for clothes can be, but many teens in the area are finding ways to expand their hobby, at a reasonable price. 

Many people say they’ve found secondhand stores as a cheap alternative to shopping and finding pieces that pique their interests. While its a great place to shop, its also a great spot to hang out with friends and build community within the fashion world. 

“Thrift stores … cause youll never know what you might find or who you might meet,” said Axel Scott, an 11th grader at Deer Valley High. “I believe more people should get into fashion since its a hobby that doesnt cost a lot and the community is very supportive and helpful.”

“My favorite place to shop is the Goodwill bins or any thrift store outside of Berkeley because its very cheap and you get great pieces that go with just about anything,” said 11th grader Gavin Fox of Heritage High School in Brentwood..

While many Antioch schools allow students to dress freely, Dozier-Libbey Medical High School requires their students to wear scrubs. 

“I feel like the options when it comes to going to school with uniforms are pretty limited for sure,” Cortez said. “There’s only a certain amount of possible combinations you can do without getting dress coded. I try to bypass this by using a lot of accessories or customizing my scrubs. It definitely differs from other schools because they can wear whatever theyre feeling.” 

Cortez said teenagers who don’t have a huge social life on the weekends, it can be challenging to share one’s individuality through fashion.

“If I go out during the weekend, which isn’t so frequently, sure I’ll wear cool fits, but if I don’t, I go a whole week just wearing scrubs and tees,” Cortez admitted. “School is usually the only place people can express their individuality because it takes a large chunk of their time. However, people that go to uniform schools don’t have that space.” 

As fashion’s norm may be seen through what’s trending, others may see it as a way to step out of that box.

“I feel like they’ve only made me wear more “out of the norm” fits when I get made fun of or teased about my outfits,” Fox said. “But that only really makes me more happy.” 

“Throughout my high school years I had a hard time finding my aesthetic … pieces that look good on my body type and fashion is my way of art,” Rodriguez. “I can express how I feel with fashion, I have so many dreams and goals of being an actor and a model so I feel dressing everyday as if my dreams are already met will help me strive towards my goals.”  

Fox said it’s all about being yourself. “Don’t let people tell you what to do and control what you wear.”  

*Additional resources:

Tatiana Sims is an 11th grader at Deer Valley High School in Antioch.

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