From Snakeskin to Sweats: Fashion Influencer Stuck in the Suburbs

When Marc Manaloto was looking to escape the fast pace of New York, quarantining in Northern Virginia was not what they had in mind.

From+Snakeskin+to+Sweats%3A+Fashion+Influencer+Stuck+in+the+Suburbs

By Lauren Gruber, Dining Editor

Tisch drama student Marc Manaloto had it all: a prestigious film production internship, plenty of California sunshine and freedom. But all that was cut short when NYU announced they were evacuating the dorms, effective immediately. Manaloto was forced to leave their semester away at NYU LA, with only a mere four hours to pack up their life and return to their hometown in suburban Virginia.

“It didn’t really hit until I was sitting on my flight back home,” Manaloto said. 

During their time on the west coast, Manaloto had landed a spot as a development intern for Big Beach films, an independent production company that produced Golden Globe winner “The Farewell.” Their time in LA helped Manaloto make important industry connections and get accustomed to what life in the film industry might be in the future. 

“A whole semester that I had planned to spend in LA was just ripped away from me,” Manaloto said. “I had so many goals and plans and things I wanted to do still.”

The semester also provided Manaloto with a much-needed break from New York’s hectic atmosphere. The slower pace helped Manaloto establish a work-life balance and further their career aspirations while making new friendships and taking advantage of LA’s nightlife and undeniably sunnier weather.

“It was a life of freedom,” Manaloto said.

“I’ve actually worn this exact outfit to all my interviews for my internship search and luckily I ended up with three offers! So I guess when you dress for success, you will see results love,” Manaloto said, explaining their outfit for the prompt “Wear an Outfit With Your Favorite Piece in Your Wardrobe.” “But I chose a simple black turtleneck paired with my favorite corduroy pants and finished it off with an oversized checkered blazer. I love this blazer because it’s so versatile. You could dress up in it, but you could also go for a more casual look with it too.” (Photo via Marc Manaloto)

Prior to their forced relocation, Manaloto hit the city streets of both coasts in a marriage of vintage clothing and streetwear, contrived of thrifted finds, hand-me-downs and pieces from independent artists. A sucker for a good jacket, Manaloto prefers sifting through thrift stores instead of following brand-name trends. While their family was initially taken aback by their bold style, they have grown to support their fashion choices.

“Sometimes I like the messy look but sometimes I like the refined look — regardless I know I will be serving a look, Manaloto said.

One of Manaloto’s signature styles is pairing drapey pieces with tank tops to accentuate their shoulders. Their beloved houndstooth cardigan thrifted during their semester abroad lets them achieve this sultry look.

“I kind of feel like Cruella de Vil without harming animals,” Manaloto joked. 

As their life has transitioned to a remote setting, so has their personal style. During their time in suburban Virginia, Manaloto has traded in fashion for function, opting for sweaters and pajamas during Zoom meetings. 

“How extra am I for this pose?” Manaloto remarked when sending this photo for the prompt, “Wear What You’ve Been Usually Wearing in Quarantine.” “Usually when I get up at 2 p.m., I throw on this hoodie that I got last year for Christmas from my sister, atop some pajama pants which I wear basically every day. Sometimes I’ll wear some fuzzy socks to add to this comfy combo. It’s so hard not to nap in this outfit.” (Photo via Marc Manaloto)

“Ultimately I think my outfits have become sort of a shield and a way to move through this world confidently,” Manaloto said.

In the comfort of their family’s home, the confidence Manaloto gained from their outfits has become less of a necessity.  

“In the past I used to have to rely on whether or not other people thought what I was wearing looked good,” Manaloto said. “I think I’ve started to become more comfortable with who I am, and how I like to dress myself. It’s a form of empowerment that comes from within.”

As they put together outfits for their Fringe shoot, Manaloto couldn’t help but start dancing when they slipped back into their favorite going-out look: a midriff-baring black top and snakeskin pants. Despite disapproving looks from their family about the revealing clothing, Manaloto was reminded of nights out with friends and the unmistakable confidence evoked only by a fabulous outfit.

“If I leave my house in an outfit that I feel I do look good in, I feel like I am able to be myself more and move throughout the world with the confidence that I look good as hell.”

Email Lauren Gruber at [email protected] Read more from Washington Square News’ Spring 2020 Fringe Issue.