Hearts on their sleeves

Freshman Brianna Elder-Heinman shows off her creative style through bright colors and funky patterns. Elder-Heinman always tries to pair her outfits to match her mood.
Freshman Brianna Elder-Heinman shows off her creative style through bright colors and funky patterns. Elder-Heinman always tries to pair her outfits to match her mood.
photo by Gabriella Navarro

Beyond the standard hoodies and sweatpants, a slowly growing number of students are pushing the boundaries of traditional school fashion, using the school as a runway of self-expression. From vintage ensembles to chic combinations, students are turning the mundane morning routine into a canvas for creativity.

A new wave of students are embracing individuality, using their fashion as a powerful way to communicate. The highlights of this trend? Bright colors, bold patterns and celebration of personal style. 

This fashion allows students to wear whatever they express rather than wearing what is new and trendy and being criticized by anyone who doesn’t wear those things. This can lead to most being scared to dress how they want at school, feeling like they need to conform to society’s norms. However, some students aren’t afraid to stand out.

Sporting a vibrant ensemble, freshman Brianna Elder-Heinmen’s wardrobe is a testament to her fearless approach to show herself. Choosing her outfit in the morning is a simple process for her. 

“I base my clothes off of how I’m feeling,”  Elder-Heinmen said. “I feel happy and bright today, so am I going to wear suspenders or thigh-high rainbow socks?” 

It’s not just about the clothes; it’s about the mindset. When I dress nice and feel like myself, it makes me feel more confident with interactions at school

— Sofia Fuentes, 12

So, after she debates how she feels over breakfast, Elder-Heinmen finds a top that fits her mood. Then, she’s already narrowed down what pairs of pants match, it’s just a matter of picking. For Elder-Heinmen, getting dressed has transformed from just a morning routine into something she loves. 

“[Picking my outfit] gives me something to look forward to each day,” Elder-Heinmen said. “I infuse and take inspiration from characters that I love with the basis of my style and then I build onto it with other ideas and things.”

The trend towards unconventional fashion at school is not about rebellion; it’s about creating a sense of identity in a world that often tries to stick to uniform. Students like Elder-Heinmen are pushing back against the idea that conformity is identical to professionalism, showing the creativity and self-expression can coexist with her academics.

“The way I dress is very colorful and prominent which kind of reflects my personality because I’m very extroverted,” Elder-Heinmen said. “My personality stands out and so do my clothes.”

Most students also like showing their personality physically through their clothes.

Senior Sofia Fuentes fixes her hair as she poses for the camera. She feels more confident and creative when she wears what she feels comfortable in. (photo by Gabriella Navarro)

“[My style] reflects how much I like trying different things and exploring,” senior Sofia Fuentes said.

For some, this is a way to break free from the ordinary; for others it’s about building confidence and self-esteem. 

“It’s not just about the clothes; it’s about the mindset,” Fuentes said. “When I dress nice and feel like myself, it makes me feel more confident with interactions at school.”

Increasing numbers of students have been thrifting, trying to find clothes that fit their style and aesthetic while also being comfortable and affordable. They find that the clothes they want don’t need to be the most expensive brands out there to fit in. They can have their sense of style with no shame or extra cost and it’s evident that some students are taking advantage of this newfound freedom.

“I feel more comfortable when I’m in my own clothes […] and when my outfit matches the mood I’m in,” Fuentes said.

The fashion choices not only spark conversations in the hallways but also foster a sense of unity among students. 

“The way I dress is definitely the way I try to express myself the most,” Elder-Heinmen said. “People have told me [my style] is pretty cool and I’ve bonded with some of my friends over it.”

“Choosing my outfit sometimes feels like creating something like art,” Fuentes said. “It sets the tone for my entire day.”

I want to see more people expressing themselves without trying to stay within basic clothing. My clothes allow me to stand out while being who I am.

— Stacey Rodriguez, 9

Through their vibrant and creative outfits, students are rewriting the norm: individuality and academic excellence coexist in harmony. After all, in the canvas for school fashion, each outfit tells a unique story.

“I’ve been told that [my style] is kind of weird, but either way, I don’t care,” Elder-Heinmen said.  I like how I dress so I will continue to dress the way I do.”

Freshman Stacey Rodriguez finds her fashion inspiration in the fusion of streetwear and vintage classics. She sees her clothing as an extension of her personality and her cultural expression.

“For me, fashion is more than just putting on my clothes; it reflects my roots and interests,” Rodriguez said. “I love mixing old pieces with my more modern clothing. It’s kind of how I show where I’m from.”

Rodriguez believes that everyone should embrace their unique style and culture and step out of their comfort zones through what they wear.

Freshman Brianna Elder-Heinman shows off her favorite outfit because of its color and pattern combinations. She hopes for everyone to be fearless in wearing styles that stray from the normal hoodie and jeans. (photo by Gabriella Navarro)

“I want to see more people expressing themselves without trying to stay within basic clothing,” Rodriguez said. “My clothes allow me to stand out while being who I am.”

Similarly, sophomore Ayushi Patel uses her eclectic style as her form of empowerment, taking inspiration from various cultures, influences, and eras.

“My closet can definitely be described as a melting pot. It ranges from traditional Indian outfits and normal American style,” Patel said. “I like experimenting by combining their different patterns and colors to kind of reflect myself.”

Patel believes fashion should always be inclusive to everyone, regardless of trends or budgets.

“Being fashionable shouldn’t be about wearing the newest expensive and popular brands or styles. It should be about feeling confident in wearing what you want to wear,” Patel said. “I wish everyone would be inspired enough to embrace what they want to wear without feeling like they have to dress or act a certain way.”

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