Tiana Lewis has an energy that is infectious. She sits down in Union Grounds with her passion tea, talking non-stop from fashion advice to advice on personal confidence and identity.
For Lewis, a strategic communication and graphic design double major from Nashville, fashion is about more than just what-to-wear: it is about expressing who you are.
“Don’t let anyone else dictate who you are, and who you are going to be,” Lewis said when asked what advice to give to college women.
Lewis said her style is eclectic, classic and ever-evolving.
“I think anybody can make anything work, but you have to make it work for your body and your personal style,” she said.
To get ideas on how to wear something new, Lewis said she searches it on Pinterest to see how people have styled it in the past. She said she has also started looking at fashion blogs for inspiration.
Her most essential item, she said, would be a maxi dress or maxi skirt.
“They’re simple, they’re beautiful, you can dress them up or dress them down,” Lewis said.
Lewis said that she loves looking in small boutiques for unique pieces. She also frequents stores like Forever 21 and H&M.
“You can buy things there that you can make look expensive,” Lewis said. “If you want to be trendy on a low budget that’s the way to go.”
For fall, Lewis said her favorite look is a large knit sweater paired with leggings and combat boots or Hunter boots.
“I also love the new fall colors on my nails too,” Lewis said, referring to fall colors like hunter green or burgundy.
College students are aware of the pressure to conform to trends, Lewis said — pressure that comes largely from magazines and advertisements.
“People are so aware of it… But I don’t think people truly take to heart and truly understand that who you are and who you want to be comes through your style,” Lewis said.
When Ellie Smotherman walks into a room, despite being “fun-sized,” as she calls it, she commands the attention of everyone inside.
She wore high-waisted leather shorts, a jean top, and black wedges with her signature fedora, the piece she said she wears “as much as possible.”
Smotherman, a junior sociology major and Spanish minor from Austin, is a lover of all things fashion.
“I will forfeit food for fashion,” Smotherman joked. “If it’s between buying groceries and a pair of shoes, I think the shoes win.”
Her next big buy? “I have my eye on a pair of Jeffrey Campbells,” Smotherman said.
The shoes, Smotherman said, are wedge booties, a fall trend she is ready to incorporate into her wardrobe.
Smotherman said she likes to read Teen Vogue to see what is new for the season, but she doesn’t strictly adhere to every trend.
“I definitely adapt it to kind of be myself,” she said.
She said her favorite stores are H&M, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, and Target. Smotherman thinks the most essential item to a college woman’s wardrobe is “a cute pairs of shorts, because it’s comfortable, but you can dress them up.”
As for the fall fashion season, Smotherman is looking forward to wearing some of the current emerging trends, like studs, maxi skirts and collared shirts with baggy sweaters on top.
Trends aside, Smotherman said that style is all about attitude.
“If you act like you like your outfit and totally rock it, other people will love it too.
I always say to people, why be like everyone else when you can be yourself?” Smotherman said. “Don’t be afraid to take risks.”
George Madjitey looks, in the most general sense possible, worldly. His style seems indefinite, employing a creativity and ingenuity that could only come from his extensive traveling.
Madjitey, a junior biology major on the pre-med track, has style.
“Sometimes you might catch me in a preppy look, or you might see me in a more urban look,” Madjitey said. He described his style as versatile, diverse, and chill.
Madjitey said he gets inspiration from the people he sees while traveling.
“Wherever you go, everyone has their own tweak on [fashion],” he said.
He has traveled to Paris, France, Portugal, Ghana, Tunisia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Italy, just to name a few. His favorite place as of late is Cannes, France.
Wherever his career takes him, Madjitey said he never wants to let go of his favorite hobby: traveling.
“Interactions you make, and just the sites you see have an influence on you,” Madjitey said.
When searching for clothes, Madjitey says he gets a large portion of his wardrobe from traveling, and the rest online. Madjitey says he looks on Topman.com and even ebay for good vintage pieces.
“I honestly feel when you come down to it. . . The thing people most often see first is what you wear,” Madjitey said. “People can influence what you say, but they can’t really influence what you wear.”