We’ve all been there: first-years carrying over their high school wardrobe into college. But could your wardrobe at 18 still reflect your style by the time you graduate? Throughout college, students are constantly growing, not just academically, but also personally. They are discovering who they are and what they want. These discoveries are often reflected in the most palpable form of self-expression: fashion.
Autumn Samuels, Steinhardt senior and president of the Fashion Business Association will soon leave her position behind. When she was a first-year, she now notices that the way she dressed was solely to fit in with the new environment she was in. As fashion guided her college experience, she now dresses to define herself and the person she has become. Samuels took a moment to reminisce about how her personal style has evolved throughout her time at NYU.
Samuels spent her first year abroad at NYU London, and she admitted that living in the fashion capital heavily influenced her style. She dressed more sophisticated, with blouses, oxfords, boots, sweaters, chunky necklaces and sparkly cocktail dresses.
“I think when you’re traveling and you’re abroad as a freshman, it’s a super exciting moment, so you kind of want to look good,” she said. “So stylistically, I would say I was going for the more fashion-forward European kind of vibe — more refined, more polished.”
She also said she used to hang out in Camden, England and embraced its punk scene. She incorporated punk plaids and pieces — such as a skull patterned scarf — into many of her outfits.
“I definitely love that kind of style,” Samuels said. “I’m a die-hard [Alexander] McQueen fan, so I like skulls and things in my vibe.”
Samuels describes her sophomore year style as “edgy.” Coming to New York was like starting “freshman year all over again.” As she got to know the city, she recognized many differences in fashion culture and preferences which again altered her style.
“I came to New York being like, ‘Okay, I’m going to do seven fashion internships and go crazy,’” she said. “I had that New York ‘go, go, go’ thing.”
Samuels said she knew what she wanted when she came to New York, and her ambition seized her fashion choices. She went for a cool, mature, NYC look, yet maintained edgy punk vibes with some skull patterns, leather jackets and black blazers, all of which she had never really worn before. Heels were also a staple of her style that year, her favorite being a pair of sparkly Michael Kors stilettos.
“I never went outside not in heels sophomore year – major damage to the feet, don’t recommend,” she said.
Her junior year strayed, Samuels strayed from being edgy and started to dress “more serious.” It was also her first year as president of FBA.
“I feel like you’re forced again to grow up in a way like in high school,” she said. “Like, you know, next year is big, and you need to get a job and start doing things.”
Taking on several fashion internships really imposed uniformity on Samuels’ style. She had to wear more corporate pieces, like suits and blouses, which she felt restricted her expression.
“There was a little bit of fun lacking in my closet,” she said. “Not that I wasn’t dressing well — I kind of just lost that sense of personality last year.”
This year, she is making an effort to be more authentic and let the edginess back in.
“I would describe my personal style moving forward as ambitious, self-assured, definitely confident,” she said.
Samuels said she often wears gold jewelry, tight boots, dark denim or snakeskin pants, leather jackets, racecar and motorcycle T-shirts, band emblems, black cocktail dresses and a lot of black satin.
“I think fashion pushed me in the best way to make sure that I’m being authentic and always reflecting on who I am,” she said. “I’m hoping whatever job I’m in in the future embraces that and allows me to work but also continue to be myself.”
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Nov. 25, 2019, print edition. Email Tatiana Velasco at [email protected]