By Sarah Hudson
This column will be the first installation of a series I have named “My Favorite Outfit.” Each month I will choose one stylish Wesleyan student, staff, or faculty member to profile regarding their fashion sense, tips, and reflections. Oh, and they must be wearing their favorite outfit during the interview. I sat down with Golden Heart, Eliza Cato, to find out what makes her a thrift store fashionista.
When asked to describe her style in three words, Eliza responded with: eclectic, thrifty, and weird. Dressed in cutoff denim shorts (which she scored on the streets of Miami for free), a beaded and sequined blouse circa 1983 (courtesy of roommate Caitlin Donnelly), and a brown corduroy vest, I can definitely agree with Eliza’s assessment of her fashion taste. Oh! And I almost forgot my favorite part of her favorite outfit—white leather ankle boots. Yes, Eliza is undeniably eclectic and certainly thrifty. But weird? I think not. I wish I could be as fashionably audacious as Miss Cato. So how does she do it? Whenever I go into the thrift store, determined to find some indie treasure that will liberate me from my obsession with Gap, I get overwhelmed, overheated, and discouraged. I flee within twenty minutes, tops. Eliza was able to give me a few tips that have inspired me to reconsider my thrift store phobia:
2) Keep an open mind. You never know which insane 80s blouse will look just adorable with some skinny jeans and a blazer.
3) Don’t look at every single thing they have: limit your time and your focus. Try to look through the colors and patterns you like and sizes you know will fit. If after fifteen minutes nothing sticks out at you, walk away. You might find something next weekend, no biggie.
Eliza’s love for thrifty fashion is one that grew out of necessity. When she was younger, her family didn’t have tons of money to be spending on clothes, so they shopped at thrift stores. Eliza describes her childhood style as “looking a hot mess” (poofy dresses and older brother’s hand-me-downs). But as time went on, she was able to use thrift stores to her advantage by following her three bits of advice. Her style eventually focused and evolved. Now don’t get me wrong, she is still a bit of a mess—Eliza did reveal to me that her outfit selection process consists of looking at her masses of clothes on the floor and hoping an outfit will rise out of the chaos. So far, I think this process has worked. I know I always enjoy seeing what fashionable concoction Eliza has cooked up.
If I have taken one thing away from my interview with Eliza, it is that fashion needs to be a free spirited, and personal thing. Shop at stores that speak to you. For Eliza, those are Macon Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, and Treasure Vintage. Don’t be afraid to explore new outlets for fashion inspiration. Eliza told me about a website she frequents, LOOKBOOK.n, where people from across the world post pictures of themselves wearing clothes that are fabulous and unique. Wear clothes that are an extension of your personality and make you feel comfortable—Eliza’s favorite outfit from her past? Footie pajamas (which she wore until she was 13; after that they no longer came in her size). These are a few things I’ve learned from Miss Cato, but I will leave you with her personal fashion tips:
1) Don’t be scared to mix things up.
2) Be messy: good outfits appear on the floor.
3) Try everything on: you may love something you never thought you would.