Tessa Houstoun ’17, hailing from Washington, D.C., has a strong interest in design and is considering working in a creative field following her undergraduate years at Wesleyan. Houstoun spoke with The Argus about her appreciation for the students around her as a source of inspiration, from their beanies to their excessive piercings.
The Argus: To what extent do you consider yourself interested in fashion?
Tessa Houstoun: I consider myself interested in fashion not in the sense that I’m keeping up with the trends and current designers really, but in the sense that I actively care about my clothes and stores that I like…. I realize that I get stressed out trying to follow trends and stuff, and then I’m like, “Wait, I don’t actually want to.” If I [have bought] from a store recently then that will probably be buying into a trend, anyway. But I kind of just have my own sense of style…. I just buy things that I’m interested in. And also my mom is incredibly stylish and…I think I just have her taste.
A: How long have you been interested in fashion?
TH: This sounds so stupid and cheesy, but I guess for most of my life. Not even fashion, but just in terms of clothing and dressing myself, because my mom would dress me in great outfits as a child, and then it got to the point that I would choose my own outfits. I definitely liked to dress up and do things of that sort. But I guess [it was] not really until maybe middle school that I was actually trying to look at different stores and different types of clothing and go for a look.
A: Describe your personal style in three to five words.
TH: Normally, I look like a well-dressed peasant, I would think. I normally wear some type of sack dress with like a sweater and tights. I like funky outfits… but I wear a lot of neutral colors. Sorry, I’m not answering in three to five words! I’m normally wearing very neutral or earth-tone colors. That’s just also something that I don’t mean to do, but [something] someone pointed out to me…. They were like, “You wear denim and neutral colors.” And I was like, “That’s very accurate.”
A: What do you like most about style at Wes?
TH: I don’t know if I like this, but I think it’s funny that a lot of people look very similar. I just think it’s comical that it’s such that a lot of the people who are trying, who dress “alternatively,” or “urban,” or, I don’t know, whatever it may be, that there’s probably another person who’s wearing a similar outfit.
A: How has your style changed, if at all, since you came to Wesleyan?
TH: I guess it’s definitely been broadened, to more, I would say, more hip things. Because I feel like I skipped a part in my life where I should be dressing like… out there, and kind of hip and young, because I just love my mom’s clothes and I feel like I have always kind of dressed like a stylish, middle-aged woman…. So I think that I’ve actually been exposed to more— like, I wore a beanie today! I would never wear a beanie. And I was wearing high-tops yesterday…. My friend just bought them for me for my birthday. And I was like, this is funny, because I felt like a different person. I know what I look like, and that’s not how I normally dress, but it’s funny that I’m now acquiring tastes of hip [people].
A: Would you say you get inspiration from your friends and the people around you?
TH: Absolutely. Definitely. My roommate, Sally Rappaport [’17], has like, awesome taste. I’ve definitely taken either items or stores that she recommended. And all my friends here are very stylish.… At least I would say so. And I’ve definitely learned a lot from them…. And everyone obviously has their own look, but we’ve all learned from each other or taken advice.
A: So in addition to your mom, where do you draw style inspiration from off campus?
TH: It probably is my mom for the most part…. That sounds so lame, but if you saw how my mom dresses…. She has these pants [gestures to the pants she’s currently wearing]. So I would say for the most part my mom…. I’m going to say my friends, too. When I see what they’re wearing, then I’m always like, “Oh, that’s great.” I look at The Sartorialist a lot, the blog. That’s just fun.
A: Where are your favorite places to shop?
TH: There’s a store in South Carolina that I go to, called Worthwhile, that I’m obsessed with…. I recently got hooked on NeedSupply.com; it has great stuff. Creatures of Comfort…. I can’t afford most anything in the store, but I love it. Steven Alan. Once again, cannot afford it.
A: Who would design your dream wardrobe?
TH: Isabel Marant…. Probably anything from Creatures of Comfort, the store, but also they sell Isabel Marant. That’s also another thing: I grew up with my mom loving Isabel Marant, so I do, too.
A: Do you think fashion is something to be taken seriously? Why or why not?
TH: Yes, but I also think it gets so superficial so quickly…. I definitely feel that I’m presenting myself in a way based on what I’m wearing. I totally get that that’s not even a factor for people, or not something that people care about at all, which is totally valid as well. But I just happen to be a person who very much so thinks about what I’m wearing and how it represents me.
A: Is there a trend on campus you’ve noticed that you like?
TH: Honestly, I’ve been looking a lot at people’s piercings and tattoos. Digging people who could rock the septum thing. I would say that.
A: Is there anything else you want readers to know?
TH: I’m not as superficial as I sound. Hopefully.