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Online Edition of The Cardinal Times

The Cardinal Times

Online Edition of The Cardinal Times

The Cardinal Times

Staff Essay: Aesthetics are so last year. The new trend? Personal style.

Emilia Cafiso
Senior Sloane Kingston shows off her outfit.

It’s a Friday morning at Lincoln. Students in baggy jeans, tenuously held up by shoelaces, stream into the building. Fleece Patagonia jackets and convertible pants fill the commons. It’s impossible to turn your head and not spot a student wearing a bedazzled t-shirt, boot-cut jeans and clunky silver jewelry. 

I find myself in the library (admittedly wearing Adidas Sambas and an oversized hoodie), sitting across from senior Mathilda Schmidt, who is wearing a green knit bolero, a stitched silk sleeveless top, a botanical skirt held up by a belt with an intricate silver buckle and black motorcycle boots. Their outfit doesn’t fit any specific aesthetic. However, they didn’t always dress this way.

“I used to wear skinny jeans a lot. I tried to have that clean girl look, [but] that did not work for me,” said Schmidt. “Not only did it make me hate my body because you would never see clean girls that were plus size, but it was also so boring. It got to the point where I [thought], do I want to keep dressing like this?”

Schmidt has developed their personal style. Many students don’t. Instead, they try to fit an “aesthetic” popularized by the social media algorithms of TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest. Some prevalent aesthetics include office siren, mob wife and coastal grandma.

According to the University of Chicago’s School of Media Theory, German philosopher Alexander Baumgarten first used the word aesthetic to define beauty in 1735. Today the word has morphed into meaning various trends. 

Pushed by large fast fashion companies, this obsession with aesthetics encourages teenagers to spend large amounts of money and time fitting into a look that will go out of fashion within weeks. By the end of their trend-hopping, they are left with a closet full of mismatched clothes and even less of an idea of their style. 

Junior Jacob Ali Deshaw believes the term “aesthetic” is commonly misinterpreted.

“I think aesthetics in general are stupid because the whole thing about fashion is individualism, [defining] who you are and [stating] your personality through clothing,” said Deshaw. “To say, oh, I’m going for this aesthetic is saying I’m trying to be something [I’m not].”

Finding your style is much more important than putting yourself into a box. While adhering to an aesthetic can help you to “fit in,” wearing only clothes that fit said aesthetic in the long run is a waste of time and precious closet space.

Senior Sloane Kingston actively avoids fitting into an aesthetic. 

“Over time, I realized that I change too much, and it would be easier to just buy clothes that I like so I can wear them, [rather] than buying clothes that fit an aesthetic,” said Kingston.

While trying out an aesthetic can help someone find their personal style, sticking to it long after realizing it does not work for them is harmful. Students should instead focus on shopping with intention and buying clothing items that last longer than a trend cycle. 

Schmidt recognizes that personal style is ever-changing.

“In eighth grade, I thought my skinny jeans, fedora, and plaid were awesome. That’s what made me happy,” said Schmidt. “What it comes down to is, are you happy? No? Then you need to do something different.”

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About the Contributor
Emilia Cafiso
Emilia Cafiso, Reporter
Emilia is a senior this year. She is excited to line dance and meet new people on the paper! Her favorite part of newspaper is feeling productive.
Contact by emailing [email protected] and put the reporter's name in the subject line.

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