Sophomore Christina Sedall in her Hiett dorm. Photo by Hannah Burgess.
I have wildly cared about clothing my whole life. From spending hours of my childhood afternoons putting together outfits to ceaselessly chopping up skirts and dresses to make my own creations, I spent a lot of my childhood thinking about clothing. My identity has largely and unknowingly been represented through clothes. In this column, I hope to showcase my fellow Lawrentians’ understandings of clothing, dissect the nuts and bolts of what personal style is and seek out stories about how identity informs style and how the reverse also functions. Style is about so much more than just clothes. It is one of the most visual ways we pronounce our own identities.
“I very much dress up as characters,” Sophomore Christina Sedall stated about her sense of style, seated in her Hiett dorm. “I have outfits where I dress up kind of as a zookeeper, or an outfit that’s a little bit like a circus ring leader. Even outfits that remind me of book characters. That’s what I work with.”
Sedall wasn’t always so invested in clothes. She cited her initial interest developing when she first cut her hair. Sedall stated, “I am a product of my family and my experiences. To an extent, that means growing up, people were telling me how to look. That’s why hair is so important. Hair is a moment to decide what to do for yourself, and it’s something that you can really easily change. Hair was something that I had control over which made me realize I had control over the rest of my body. The sense of control and agency I got from cutting my hair inspired me to do it with the rest of myself.”
Not only is Sedall’s hair short, but it’s naturally curly. And those curls work for her as a representation of her family. Sedall said, “Curly girls! My mom was adamantly in support that we were not straightening our hair growing up. We all have curly hair and it’s a source of pride. You take care of that hair. It was good to have that message at a young age. Because hair is what your family gave you. It’s beautiful and you should treasure and cherish it.”
Another important component of Sedall’s style is her sense of directing how every piece of her wardrobe flows together. Sedall stated, “The process of me putting together outfits is definitely like directing. It’s like I’ll wake up and feel like I want a monochromatic look. But it’s not just monochrome; it’s also maximalist, because I’m going to deal with so many fits and structures. I think being fine tuned to little details like that is like being a director of clothes.”
Not only does Sedall feel as though she’s directing her clothing. But that sense of directing translates to a sense of presenting to an audience when she walks out of her dorm. Sedall stated, “Anyone can wear a dress or pants or loafers. But when you are feeling yourself and have actually made choices in your combinations of clothes, that’s different. The way you walk in clothes in that situation is something so different. Because then it’s not just fabric, it’s yourself. And you present that identity to everyone you see.”
Sedall’s love for clothing has only grown as she’s continued studying art history here at Lawrence. Sedall stated, “Visual art is so influential. It’s inspired me in classes I didn’t think I’d be inspired in. In one class, we were looking at the way illuminated manuscripts are presented from the medieval renaissance. They had gold leaf and diamonds and rubies. It was so elaborate and chunky. I was like, ‘I want to be this piece of art. I want to be this illuminated manuscript.’ Art is forming identity, and I take that into my own environments with my own style.”
The best way for Sedall to seek this artistic perspective of style starts at the thrift store. As opposed to fast fashion options, the vast array of color and texture that is chaotically organized at a thrift shop gives Sedall the opportunity to write her own narrative through her clothes.
“For me, thrifting was just a realization that there was this resource that’s nearby and provides me with so many unique items and forces me to hunt. That whole idea is very exciting, and the opportunity to deal with men and women’s clothes comes so easily at a thrift store. Also, there’s something about thinking about the history of objects. I’ll find accessories and be like, ‘This is so bizarre, why did somebody own this, I’m going to own this too.’”
Sedall noted that the unique style she has worked to curate has largely been influenced by her family. Sedall stated, “I see photos of my mom and it’s so funny. I think my style is unique, but I’m just taking her stuff. She always wore scarves, and now I do. That’s from her. My mom is definitely an influence.”
While going through her closet, Sedall also noticed that most of her favorite pieces have been given to her by her friends and family. She pulled out a velvet and paisley blazer in dark jewel tones given to her by her friend River as an example.
Her aforementioned scarves that she wears just like her mother were given to her as gifts. Sedall stated, “I just had this really interesting realization that the people that have become so important and inspiring in my life are the people who are crafting who I am and how I present myself too.”
Sedall’s style changes from day to day. At times it’s sleek and streamlined. And other times it is a product of maximalism. Ultimately, it is a reflection of how she’s feeling in the moment based on the textures and colors that catch her eye in the morning.
Sedall stated, “I think I know when I’ve created a good outfit. It’s when I feel so incredibly at ease and comfortable. There’s nothing I’m questioning. I could be wearing the literal most and think to myself, ‘I feel good, and I can’t wait to go outside.’”
If you’re interested in being a part of this project, please feel more than free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time for an interview.