With Halloween just around the corner, Jessica Carvalho explores a more lowkey way of dressing up, and the part fashion plays in our attitude every day.
If there is anything that should be known about me, it is that I do not enjoy being put into a box. Both academically – see: my career change from science to journalism and back, but here we are – and in terms of fashion, too. People are so vastly different from one another that it would be foolish of us to not embrace variety when it presents itself; if not for its genuine appeal, at least for the new experience.
However, I am not perfect. Like most, over the past 18 months I’ve gradually sacrificed my title of most overdressed on any occasion for the comfort of athleisure whenever I was to face the great outdoors. The pandemic has genuinely taught us to take ourselves and life slower, indulge in what truly makes us happy. Interestingly, I took that to heart with every other hobby of mine (trust me, I no longer look like a baby deer whilst roller-skating, rather a fully grown one on wheels), apart from fashion and dressing up.
Until the opportunity presented itself to me; with spooky season now in full swing, starting a brand-new course at a new university in the heart of London, and the opportunity to be slightly more vain than I typically am, why wouldn’t I dress in seven different aesthetics for a week and completely confuse any acquaintances I make?
The first step of the operation – and one I blame solely on my Virgo ascendant – was to comprise a list detailing the aesthetic of the day, and each piece of clothing and footwear I’d wear for the next week. An activity I naively saved for a Sunday evening, for it allowed a pile of clothes that could easily consume a small toddler to take form in the centre of my bedroom. But, with it finally tidied away and the list on standby for the next morning, it was time to get dressy with it. After hard earned rest, of course!
MONDAY – STREETWEAR
Top: Nike, Bottoms: Thrifted, Footwear: Travis Scott x Jordan 1 “Cactus Jack”
Prior to COVID, this outfit would probably be closest to my typical, day-to-day outfit. Streetwear has always had a special place in my heart not only for the fact it is ultimately an ode to Black culture, but also because it’s a shared interest between myself and my older brothers.
Streetwear was birthed from the hip-hop scenes of the ‘90s in New York, more recently with influences from Los Angeles’ skate and surf culture and Tokyo nightwear. The focus of this aesthetic is ultimately comfort, though that is now taking a backseat for superficial ‘drip’ culture (which means to simply wear branded clothes, regardless of whether they complement each other; it has also led to the growing issue of sneaker reselling).
My biggest mistake was perhaps forgoing a jacket; it was chilly that day, but at least it didn’t rain, otherwise my choice of footwear would have been severely impacted – these Jordans are abhorrently overpriced thanks to resellers and its general limited availability, and I proudly treat them like my first born. Perfect ‘fit for the library.
TUESDAY – MINIMALIST
Top: Weekday, Bottoms: Weekday Rowe jeans, Footwear: Dr. Martens Jadon Boots, Outerwear: Missguided Black Faux Leather Trench Coat
My Dad’s first comment about this outfit was to say I looked a lot older than I was, and at the crisp age of 21, I wasn’t so sure I could even take it as compliment anymore. Either way, it was interesting to see myself in something quite far from what I typically go for, especially after pairing together items that I’ve pretty much worn to death separately. Minimalist fashion strives for simplicity and sustainability, so wearing a Missguided item with this outfit is a bit of a paradox, but I can say that this trench has been with me since last year and it has shockingly lasted so long, I don’t see why I wouldn’t continue wearing it for the foreseeable. Once again, few people saw my outfit since I was mostly library-bound, but the jeans were greatly complimented by my ophthalmologist!
WEDNESDAY – PREPPY
Top: Thrifted, Collared shirt: Monki collared crop top, Skirt: Stradivarius split A-line skirt, Socks: Pull and Bear, Loafers: ASOS Monster chunky loafers
Here it is, the crème de la crème! If you substitute the skirt for some trousers every now and then, this is likely the aesthetic I find myself mosT aligned with for its versatility – changing the items could give you a preppy feel of a different era, whilst keeping the skeleton of the outfit the same apart from the colour could see you diving into the light/dark academia aesthetic. I was hoping to give off a light academia feel as this was my first day of in person lectures, and though interactions were hard to have (I’m an INFJ, contrary to popular belief!), a girl on the train complimented my outfit.
Preppy outfits have been a staple throughout generations, but they’ve seen their peak over the last two decades thanks to pop culture classics such as Clueless and Gossip Girl; two personal favourites.
THURSDAY – E.GIRL
Top: New Look, T-shirt: The 1975 merchandise, Bottoms: Weekday Rowe jeans, Footwear: Dr Martens Jadon boots
The term E.girl was originally used to describe a girl with an active internet presence, but it has now been diluted to someone who draws fashion inspiration from social media and entertainment, such as anime.
I only planned to go as far as the nail salon near my house, but I ended up near Royal Oak to have lunch with my Dad in the outfit I was most reluctant to wear outside! Though, this may be the most cohesive outfit so far; I had a lazy morning so I did some very extra make up, I currently have red hair, and the E.girl vibe in general was just there. Furthermore, a group of secondary school girls complimented my outfit and though I’m merely two years out of that age gap, teenagers are terrifying; so, to have their approval at all is one of my greatest feats in my short life.
FRIDAY – BADDIE
Dress: Pull and Bear, Shoes: ASOS calf boots, Outerwear: Missguided Black Faux Leather Trench Coat
Ah, end of the week! For once, a party was in the cards for this Friday, so it was perfect timing for this aesthetic. Denoted by high-ish maintenance, fantastic makeup and being dressed to the nines, the Baddie aesthetic is close to my pandemic fashion, usually in some form of athleisure paired with overpriced trainers.
Unexpectedly, this outfit won the most compliments, but I’d also like to praise it for its adaptability, as the dress alone saw me through lunch with friends, a quick lecture, and the final outfit. Personally, I’m not much of a dress person but this one won me over; for the way it looked, and the memories created with it.
SATURDAY – SOFT GIRL
Top: Weekday, Cardigan: Juicy Couture, Bottoms: Weekday Rowe jeans, Shoes: Converse
Nothing says soft girl like a cardigan and a light colour palette, which are two of the most identifiable traits of this aesthetic. Though a little out of season (soft girl Jess thrives when the sun doesn’t set before 8pm), the outfit is one of my favourites this week in terms of appearance and comfort. On this day I had my stepmother’s birthday party and powered by a soju hangover and my genuine love for food, I ate to my heart’s content and was laying on the sofa in a food coma until music began to be played. Furthermore, the outfit followed the pink theme my stepmother was aiming for, so double win.
SUNDAY – Y2K
Top: New Look, Tracksuit set: Jaded London, Footwear: Converse
Funnily enough, I saved the aesthetic I find myself in most often for Sunday, a day where I did very little apart from storming the Lidl bakery and binging Squid Game. Velour tracksuits are special to me because of how comfortable they are, all whilst giving the appearance that you put in effort.
The Y2K trend seemed to hit its peak in 2019, but more and more elements of the 2010s are making themselves known, indicated by items we swore to forget creeping up on us (yes, I’m looking at you, low rise bottoms), and statement pieces – lots of them.
All in all, a successful recovery day, even if the only thing to appreciate the ‘fit were butter croissants.
Some of the things I learned is that fashion plays a monumental role in how we and others perceive ourselves. A good outfit is a confidence boost for most, and I needed that desperately with so many instances where I was forced out of my safe, introverted bubble. And, though it’s unlikely that I’ll aesthetic-hop this fervently in the next few days, I will most definitely continue to seek new combinations for the pieces I own. My advice for you? Get that list ready and make dressing up an everyday thing, regardless of the season.
You can find more of Jessica’s work on her Instagram page, @whatjesstypes.