Post Quarantine Fashion at UHS

A photo of Katherine Wu’s outfit.

Nicole Chen, Staff Writer

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, people universally have turned to fashion as an escape, engaging in greater and more widespread experimentation of styles than ever before. Additionally, an overall cultural emphasis on personal improvement and self expression has emerged with the increased use of social media, spurring many to follow suit.

 This shift is reflected in the personal styles of UHS students, who have undoubtedly experienced an evolution in their relationships with clothes and fashion due to the sporadic events of the past year. 

“People have become more open to exploring their personal styles and trying different looks,” junior Katherine Wu said. “[Since] thrifting and purchasing second hand clothing has become more prevalent, the way people dress has become more individualized because nobody has the same pieces.”

Wu herself enjoys thrifting and picking out one of a kind pieces, such as the distressed Comme des Garcons sweater pictured. Paired with a pleated plaid skirt, chunky low top Doc Martens and a Yoshimoto Nara tee, her styling is an amalgamation of textures and tones, all while maintaining a monochromatic color palette. Some of her favorite trends include platform shoes, legwarmers, tote bags, low rise flared pants, and 90s Harajuku fashion.

 The time in quarantine also allowed UHS students to experiment with different types of accessories and how it can elevate their new styles.

“Necklaces or rings are my favorite pieces to style with. The correct combination could make an originally mediocre fit look aesthetic, and they are something you could wear everyday to characterize your fashion,” junior Victor Hong said.

 Hong is pictured in a personalized take on a white shirt and light wash denim, a minimal but cohesive outfit highlighting one of his animal-themed T-shirts and silver accessories.

While some explored their creativity through this time of reflection, others used it as a time to become more confident in their body image and sense of self.

“I’ve started to feel more comfortable with my body, and I [started] wearing tank tops more often,” sophomore Torrie Dang said. “Compared to last year, I feel less pressured nowadays [to look my best].”

The internet played a pivotal role in transforming students’ styles over the pandemic year. Platforms such as Instagram and TikTok allowed for fashion trends to gain popularity rapidly. While not every trend has been a hit, many of them have made it onto the UHS campus.

“My favorite trend and pieces right now are the archive designer stuff!” sophomore Selina Xu said. “It’s a lot more artistic and thought provoking[…] more an art piece than a piece of cloth made for daily wear, and I love it.” 

Archive designer pieces, a phrase that has sprung up across TikTok, refer to archived or vintage works from designer brands. While not accessible to the vast majority of students, there are a variety of ways to emulate the characteristics in one’s outfits. Xu, in the picture, dons a belted ankle sweeping trench coat reminiscent of the longer silhouette of vintage trench coats. With the artistically draped black fabric and New Rock platforms, her look is all but runway ready.  

Other UHS students have incorporated trends that operate on an existing wardrobe, such as layering. 

“[My favorite trend is] layering! I believe it adds depth to the look and can liven up the outfit.” Dang said. In one of her favorite outfits, Dang layered a brown toned argyle cardigan atop a pleated neckline, accessorising with dainty and neutral pieces to top it off.

While trends have helped further students’ understanding of their own personal style, they have also encouraged wasteful habits within the UHS campus. 

“People have been exposed to a variety of styles or “aesthetics” which makes it easier for people to discover what they feel best in,” said Wu. “However […] these platforms have sped up trend cycles […] where short but extremely prevalent ‘microtrends’ pass every month, which can promote wasteful consumption.”

For that reason, some people have turned away from trends and instead focused on building an entirely personal fashion portfolio.

 “I love basic clothes with single solid colors, and no words or letters,” junior Brian Bajak said. “I enjoy wearing stripes and polos the most. I like wearing colors that match, like brown pants and a dark green sweatshirt.”

No matter the scene, trends, or aesthetic one follows, fashion is for everyone and is everywhere around us. Even for those who don’t deem themselves as fashionable, a simple accessory or more daring color can greatly enhance your mood. An outfit can certainly spark compliments and conversations, and it can attract people of like interests. And perhaps that’s what fashion is at its core: a form of communication for the silent, beneath our masks and uptight facades.