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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Let's talk about spring fashion – and how to make it your own.

Tarheel Threads
UNC sophomore Jaziah Planter shows off her pink sunglasses and outfit in Coker Arboretum on Friday, March 20, 2023.

Everything “dad” is suddenly cool— dad jeans, hats, shoes, etc. Is dorky the new sexy? 

Vogue says “perfectly imperfect,”  the "new neoclassical,” “bold color bottoms” and “modern boho" are among their spring 2023 trend picks. However, balancing the latest trends and your timeless individuality can make it difficult to find your own personal style. 

In this new season, everything has a fresh look; even the Oscars carpet changed from red to champagne. As you swap out your winter wardrobe for something lighter, here are some insights to help you cultivate your spring style.

Don’t let trends control your style

Trends are what is popular at a particular time, while style is timeless. Being independent of trends and discovering that "me" look is a journey of understanding yourself.

UNC senior Brandy Abreu masters her style by prioritizing what she likes rather than what others like. 

“In my first year, I felt a lot of pressure to dress like everyone else rather than how I truly liked," Abreu said. "During the pandemic, I was able to get away from that mindset and finally get to know myself. It has been a journey getting to my current comfort level in what I wear and enjoy.”

A unique piece of her style is a pair of Charles & Keith x both platform loafers, which speaks to how she looks at the world.

“They are interesting-looking shoes," she said. "But I like them because, when I first saw them, they made me feel curious, which is how I try to approach a lot of new situations.”

Let go of the norms and be who you are

Adolfo Alvarez, a first-year student, defines his style as something that changes daily. He explained that colors are crucial to reflecting his personality. Although he sees style as a self-expression tool, Alvarez shared many challenges he encounters as a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

"It makes (queer) people feel uncomfortable because societies aren't ready for those standards," he said, reflecting on his experiences wearing a crop top. "If you wear it, other people either look at you as really bad or see you as a hero for wearing whatever you want. It shouldn't be like that. Society should normalize the non-normative clothing worn by queer people."

Your style is your happiness

Finding your style is the decision between choosing your happiness and others’ acceptance of what you wear. Psychologist Karen Pine shared in USA Today that a good outfit can boost dopamine in the brain and, often, happiness.

Alvarez said it took him a long time to find joy in his style. Before college, he wasn't free to explore that part of himself. Now, he has the freedom to express himself and make his own financial decisions on clothing. 

"I don't really care about gendered clothes," he said. "I have a lot of pants and sweaters that are trendy for women. And that took me a lot of courage to be able to go to a store, be in the women's section and manage the style that portrays me. Sometimes you have to ignore what society expects from you and make sure you enjoy what you are wearing."

Be stylish and sustainable on a budget 

Fast fashion is not uncommon in the retail industry. It's how new styles come into fashion, ship quickly but quickly fade out of popularity, producing a lot of industrial and individual waste.

Abreu shared her shopping philosophy which can help address this issue.

 "I think of quality over quantity, which goes in hand with practicality," she explained. "I am willing to spend a little extra money on one piece I really like if I know it will last long." 

"It's hard to avoid fast fashion because sustainable clothing can be really expensive," Alvarez added. "But I've relied on thrifting a lot. I think they have a positive impact on sustainability. And when you buy second-hand stuff, you can also reflect on other people's styles." 

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Tell your story through clothing

Beyond shedding light on our personalities, style can tell our stories.

Onyinyechukwu Mazi, a junior from Nigeria, shared that “on special occasions, you will see me wear traditional Nigerian clothes such as Ankara and Laces," she said. "I feel the prettiest when I’m dressed up in Nigerian clothing.” 

Mazi also makes many of her own clothes.

 “I learned how to sew at a pretty young age, like 10," she said. "My mom is the main one that sews in the house, though, so some of the stuff I wear is made by my mom.” 

Abreu also wears a few consistent things that represent her identity.

 “I hold a lot of sentimental value to the jewelry I own. I have a bangle bracelet that was gifted to me when I was a child, which I think a lot of Hispanic kids get in their childhood. It is simple but elegant, which is how I hope to hold myself in terms of confidence," she said.

No matter how you style yourself, fashion is an ongoing journey of self-discovery and something to be enjoyed. This spring, let style be your strength.