Local College Students Use Fashion as a Creative Outlet During Online Schooling

The daily life of college students has changed dramatically in the past few months. Wake up, roll out of bed – or don’t – grab a cup of coffee and turn on the computer to virtually attend your classes for the day. Many students have gotten used to the idea of learning online, switching out their alarm clock and sneakers for their laptops and sweatpants. However, the monotony of online schooling has caused many college students to lose motivation for virtual classes or homework as social interactions with classmates become only a memory.

But how have students’ fashion and inspiration been affected by the sudden change of virtual learning? Many young people take pride in their appearances and have a generous interest in the fashion world. However, quarantine has greatly limited their ability to express themselves through clothing on a daily basis. To get a better idea of how the pandemic has affected fashion on campus, 303 Magazine spoke with four students, all currently enrolled in local colleges and universities. Specifically, in regard to online schooling, these students shared their personal thoughts and opinions while emphasizing their own fashion creativity amidst these limited circumstances.

Sophia Berry

Sophia Berry attends the University of Denver, majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Psychology

Photo courtesy of Sophia Berry

303 Magazine: How do you feel about online schooling?

Sophia Berry: As an independent learner, I really don’t mind online school. I think the consequences of online school definitely depend on personality. I am an introverted, motivated and goal-oriented person, so I am almost content with not having to show up to class in person. I have the willpower to get all my work done on time and I appreciate the flexibility online school has given me. I have been able to hone in on my creative side and also work more shifts at the boutique I’ve been styling at for a couple years! (It is W Boutique on Gaylord St.)

303: How is your style being translated into staying at home?

SB: I definitely do not wear jeans as much haha but I have kept, or should I say enhanced, the overall simple and relaxed style. Lounge sets are all the rage and I am here for it! I’ll admit, it can get to be a little much when wearing a matching set too often, so it is nice to revert to the sweatshirt and comfy bottoms. Since jeans aren’t as necessary when I am home all day, cute leggings or sweatpants work just fine. You can still dress those pieces up with jewelry, a hat or fun shoes. It is funny that sweatpants are actually a trendier item right now – most likely not a coincidence that the timing aligns with being at home more!

303: How has fashion influenced/affected you during quarantine?

SB: The digital world has taken over in quarantine and so I feel like I can always find style inspiration, whether it be from an online boutique, social media or TV shows. TikTok especially has had so many videos on fashion/styling tips, outfit ideas and my personal favorite: “outfits I would wear to very specific events that I will never encounter.” I also have been trying to share my style with the world online too! I think there is a lot of opportunity for fashion and digital media and I hope to be a part of it.

To flip this question a bit, I think quarantine has also influenced fashion in a huge way – note what I said on sweatpants being an “in” clothing piece. The state of the world has a direct impact on what clothes are needed, and as we have witnessed over the last nine months, people need stay-at-home clothes, therefore propelling the sales and trends of loungewear! It will be interesting to see how this shifts when the world returns to how it was pre-pandemic.

To keep up with Sophia Berry, follow her on Instagram, TikTok or check out her blog

Chloe Nguyen

Chloe Nguyen is majoring in Marketing and minoring in Studio Art at the University of Denver

Photo courtesy of Chloe Nguyen

303: When did you first develop an interest in fashion? What did that look like?

Chloe Nguyen: Around middle school when I started caring about what I looked like, same as everyone else. I think I got more interested in clothing and wanted to either fit in or wear what everyone else was wearing. I remember I was super into those velour zip-up hoodies and Aéropostale/Abercrombie clothing. Isn’t that terrible? A lot of what I used to wear used to be hand-me-downs from my sister but then I started forming my own style. I think throughout middle school and into high school, my music taste started to really influence my fashion. I loved rock music, specifically The Strokes. I had a crush on the lead singer Julian Casablancas and also wanted to dress like him, so I bought my very first leather jacket and this is where my sense of style began. From there my style became more “rocker, grunge, alternative, emo”.

303: How would you describe your style?

CN: I would describe my style like what I said above “grungy”, alternative, or “emo.” I wear a lot of black and I think it intimidates people. Not to be confused with the new trends coming up with people dressing like “e-girls.” I felt like I had to make that differentiation. People normally describe my style saying I dress “alt” or “grungy.” I’ve also gotten ’90s grunge meets early 2000s emo and that I pull it off but if someone else were to wear my clothes it would look weird. I took that as a compliment.

I love wearing all black and dark colors. Black pants, whether leggings or black jeans, are also very my style. Combat boots or converse are a must. I think I have eight pairs of combat boots that I can count off the top of my head and nine pairs of Converse but those are the only ones I can remember at the moment. I love band tees too or any artist merchandise. I think it showcases my personality because music is such a big part of my life and I like to “wear” my personality.

Unlike my middle school self, I don’t necessarily keep up with the trends or wear what everyone else is wearing. I like to stand out or be different but not in an arrogant way if that makes sense? I just like the way I dress, and I find a lot of confidence in that and if people don’t like it then that’s okay too. I think I also wear a lot of eye makeup but that’s just part of my look. I wear a lot of reds, dark browns and blacks and of course thick cat eyeliner. It makes me feel cool and everyone else’s first impression of me was that they thought I seemed cool and that made me feel good haha.

303: How is your style being translated into staying at home?

CN: Staying at home has really been a damper to my fashion sense. It made me sad at first because I felt like I was losing a part of myself and I couldn’t dress up how I used to, or I just got lazy and would lounge around the house in pajamas. Practically everything I own is black though, so I still wear head to toe black around the house. I feel like my style isn’t as extreme as it used to be in the sense where I would just wear a plain black tank top versus a black lace top with cut outs. Some days when I don’t need to be on camera I don’t put on makeup, whereas every morning I used to put on makeup. Every time I go out, I try to dress up and it makes me excited like grocery shopping since that’s all I do now, but it’s still exciting!

Julia Czyżowicz

Julia Czyżowicz is studying English, French, and Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Denver

Photo courtesy of Julia Czyżowicz

303: How would you describe your style?

Julia Czyżowicz: My style is constantly changing. I often feel like I give in to trends and fads, rather than listening to my own voice when it comes to fashion. However, I think I am becoming more conscious and cognizant of this and working constantly to make sure that I wear what I want to wear—not what I see on Twitter and Instagram. I consider my style to be very modern and minimalistic, but also constantly evolving, whether due to my mood, the weather or the inspiration I get from others.

303: How is your style being translated into staying at home?

JC: While staying at home, I try to maintain my style in trips to the grocery store or even power study sessions in my room, but I also acknowledge that a lot of the time, my stay-at-home style is loungewear (and it’s taken me a lot of time to accept this, but now I can honestly say that I am fine with that).

303: How has fashion influenced/affected you during quarantine?

JC: During quarantine, fashion has sometimes been a saving grace. Though I don’t have places to go where I can wear my newly-bought online finds or my heels and blazers, just imagining myself wearing a power suit to lunch or drinks gives me hope that soon enough, my dreams will become reality. I have also been able to curate my style more during quarantine. Through all of my online browsing and shopping, I have become surer than ever of how I want to dress and present myself to the world, especially when I’m in law school next year. Picturing all of my law student outfits and how much more fashionable I will be once out of quarantine has given me a glimmer of hope and positivity throughout it all.

Jimmy Nguyen

Jimmy Nguyen attends the University of Colorado Denver and is majoring in Biology and minoring in business, as well as considering a minor in chemistry and biochemistry

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Nguyen

303: When did you first develop an interest in fashion? What did that look like?

Jimmy Nguyen: I first developed an interest in fashion in high school –around sophomore year. Around this time, I really started to pay attention to what people around me were wearing and what their sense of fashion really said about their identity and that brought me to the question: “who am I?” At that time, I was wearing a uniform six days out of the week due to school and extracurricular activities.

My options to explore fashion were rare so I spent a majority of my time observing young Asian American influencers and the “sneaker” culture. My interest in “sneaker” culture really started with my basketball idol Michael Jordan. Shoes were realistically the only fashion choice I had since I could only wear a uniform throughout the week. It even became a common topic among my friends and me. We would love to talk about the newest shoes coming out and special collaborations they would do with designers or celebrities. Asian American influencers really gave me a glimpse of fashion the Eastern part of the world while still infusing American culture as well; so, it was an excellent way of demonstrating their identity as an Asian American.

303: How do you feel about online schooling?

JN: I believe online schooling is an unfortunate necessity and a reality for all students given the current state of the world. This is the best option for the safety of students and the general public. Online schooling can be considered a double-edged sword as it offers some potential benefits and detriments. Online schooling may present itself as an excellent opportunity for students to explore a new learning environment that is different from the traditional in-person lecture and find it may suit them; this is especially helpful for collegiate students. However, some students may find themselves suffering from this different learning environment and have their academics suffer as a result. Regardless, scholars must adapt to the times. I will be continuing school online this coming Spring semester as I cannot afford time off for the sake of my career choice.

303: How has fashion influenced/affected you during quarantine?

JN: Fashion has offered itself as an outlet source for myself. My interest in it has finally allowed me to purchase some products from a designer/influencer I’ve looked up to for some time and make a couple of Pinterest boards in my free time. It’s become a suitable hobby during quarantine, although I’m not always able to wear the clothing.