Manual is home to many creative students who value fashion as a form of self-expression. As we delve deeper into this month, we approach the end of the fall/winter fashion season, which runs from July to December. This being their last chance to show off their winter outfits, the oldest Manual students comment on their dedication to dressing their best.
Angela Zhang (12, MST) tends toward a feminine, playful yet professional style. She gathers most of her inspiration from social media. “I see so many creative styling inspiration things on Instagram and TikTok, and I also really love creating outfits inspired by vintage runway looks,” Zhang wrote in an online message to RedEye. She said she looks up to classic Hollywood starlets like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelley, yet also admires the style of current celebrities like Olivia Rodrigo.
Also inspired by online trends is Nicole Farnsley (12, VA). Farnsley was voted one of the two winners of the best dressed senior superlative. “Scrolling through accounts like Emma Chamberlain’s gives a lot of ideas about outfits I could make with my own closet,” Farnsley said. Farnsley’s style is classy and full of fun pops of color. She explained that wearing outfits she likes makes her feel more excited to be at school. “Everyone at Manual is so unique, so you’re never dressing the most out-there, which helps give a lot more confidence to wear what you want,” she commented.
On the men’s side of fashion, Rami Alrefai (12, MST) has a laid-back, neutrals-and-jewel-tone-centric sense of style. He explained in an interview with RedEye that his attraction to fashion stems from a desire to express himself. “I feel more myself when I wear something I think more accurately expresses me,” he said. He says he gathers inspiration from icons like Rick Owens, Helmut Lang, ASAP Rocky, Tyler, the Creator, ASAP Bari and Jean Paul Gaultier.
Natalie Keckler (12, HSU) finds her inspiration on Pinterest. “Finding different bloggers and such inspires me to find fun pieces and make cute outfits,” she said. Her style is warm and full of patterns that catch your eye. “It’s hard to find motivation to dress up at school. The idea of sweatpants is always tempting. I find that when I like what I’m wearing, I feel better and I do better. Fashion makes me feel lively and allows me to be present at school,” Keckler said.
Keckler, Farnsley, Zhang and Alrefai all thrift shop for their clothes. “I get a majority of my clothes from Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul. There are lots of good thrift stores around Louisville that have really cool stuff,” Keckler wrote in an online message to RedEye.
“I think like 90 percent of my closet is thrifted or second-hand in some form. Goodwill is my best friend,” Farnsley said.
“I get a lot of my clothes second-hand or thrifted when I can,” Zhang agreed in a separate interview.
“I get most [of my clothes] from the Goodwill bins, but I get a few pieces that I fall in love with from Grailed or Depop,” Alrefai said.
However, some Manual students possess differing views on shopping at national chains.
“I shop at H&M a little as well– I like that they’re making strides to be more sustainable,” Farnsley said.
“When I buy new clothes I do tend to shop at places like Urban Outfitters and H&M. Of course, I’m very aware of the impact fast fashion has on the planet and the ethics of how fast fashion brands outsource their labor, so I’ve been trying to generally just consume less and make more out of the clothes I already have– a lot of my clothes are pieces I’ve been wearing since middle school,” Zhang explained.
The interviewed students demonstrate a dedication to balancing challenging classes and magnet-specific courses with their interest in fashion.
Farnsley uses fashion to inspire herself in her art as a visual arts major. “I think fashion is super fun. I love seeing how other people dress and getting ideas from others’ outfits. I wouldn’t say I’m well versed or actually educated about it, but I enjoy learning about it and letting it inspire me in art and other ways,” she said. Farnsley’s art is currently featured in VA’s senior art show in the first-floor VA annex.
Zhang has been a fashionista since she was young. “Fashion is a super important part of how I express myself and I think how I dress really reflects my personality. I like thinking I can control how I’m perceived at least somewhat with my outfits,” she laughed. Zhang is accomplished both in her education and in her self-expression. She was named a National Merit Semifinalist in September.
Keckler closed out her interview by recognizing that fashion and style are worldwide phenomenons that can bring cultures together.
“We are all so different and it shows in how we dress. We never feel more ourselves than we do in our favorite piece of clothing. We also inspire each other through fashion. Fashion brings people together,” she said.