Written by Katelyn Allen and Elizabeth Dillard.
Everyone has hobbies that provide a sense of comfort and stimulation, which often bring purpose to everyday life. Due to COVID-19, many people have been forced to set aside the activities they enjoy in order to stay home and protect others. While some everyday joys are not yet attainable, one hobby that has thrived through the pandemic is fashion.
Many teenagers, college students and young adults showed their fashion taste throughout the pandemic at home on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, along with amateur stylists and fashion gurus. Similarly, many students at Harding found creative ways to express themselves through fashion and share their interests with others.
Sophomore Bonnie Spann created an Instagram account called “Twice Vintage Thrifts,” where she sells thrifted clothes, accessories and home decor. Last year, Spann decided to thrift her entire wardrobe and find unique items for her friends. What started as a hobby turned into a small business utilizing social media.
“Last year held many opportunities for me to focus inwardly on what makes me passionate,” Spann said. “I pushed myself to look at and listen to the things that make me happy without focusing on what others think. During that time, I realized that one of my hobbies — shopping — could be turned into an activity that does more than just serve myself.”
Senior Brielle Hetherington also discovered her love of second-hand clothing last year. Thrifting altered Hetherington’s mindset on what “cool” fashion could be, and she began to notice her personal style change. In a year, her style evolved from boho to edgy to grandma-style.
“Style is all about who you are and finding ways to express that,” Hetherington said. “For me, fashion is a creative outlet. The process of finding pieces that represent me and creating an entire look from those items is so fun.”
Fashion is not an interest or hobby exclusive to women. Men’s fashion has been evolving in the last year toward accommodating comfortability and function while pushing men to be outwardly expressive. Vogue magazine published an article about this idea and called for men to view fashion the same way women do, by expressing themselves through fashion instead of trying to fit into what they perceive as the norm.
Senior Jared Heyen said he views men’s fashion as a way to express creativity. Heyen does not like to spend money on clothes and would rather take care of the articles of clothing he already owns. He has witnessed his personal style transition to a more grungy, thrifted look during his time at Harding, while incorporating items he wore back in high school. Heyen said he loves to integrate different color schemes into his everyday fashion choices, and he sees college as a great opportunity to experiment with his personal style.
“In many ways, fashion is sort of an art form … there’s a good mix of function, comfortability and creativity,” Heyen said. “For me, I look at college and this time of my life as the last time you’re a kid. Maybe you should be more accepting of experimentation and trying new things … seeing how you feel wearing certain things. I think some people are worried about what other people think.”
Senior Brent Johnston said he gets his personal style inspiration from Harry Styles, A$AP Rocky and Kanye West. Johnston sees fashion as a way to normalize his everyday life since the beginning of the pandemic. His style has changed from sneakers, baggy t-shirts and all-black outfits to baggy hoodies, jeans and slip on sandals.
“Harry Styles was doing a cover shoot with Gucci a few seasons ago, and it tailored a lot of men’s fashion really well,” Johnston said. “It has a very classic look. I look at that with confidence and [think], ‘If he can do it, then anyone can do it.’ If you see someone like him wearing what they want and feeling comfortable in it, that’s just really cool.”
A year filled with reflection and quarantine proved to bring confidence in fashion to so many people. Senior Raissa Ames decided she wanted to start wearing whatever made her feel more like herself. She began wearing unique pieces, like pink bell-bottom pants or shoulder-padded blazers. The limits and restrictions of last year pushed her to become more independent with her style choices. She continues to wear what makes her feel confident and does not conform to what others think, Ames said.
“In a time that physical freedom was somewhat limited, expressing myself through the clothes that I wore helped me feel more content,” Ames said.