Nikku Chatha ’16 has a refined appreciation for old-school tailoring and a professor-inspired look. Chatha turns to his Indian roots to appreciate the tailors of New Delhi, but also gets quite a bit of style inspiration here on campus. He sat down with The Argus to share his opinion on his look and Wesleyan style at large.
The Argus: To what extent do you consider yourself interested in fashion?
Nikku Chatha: I follow somewhat of an online community of fashion. But I prefer to think of myself as being into style as opposed to fashion because I find fashion to be really periodically fluctuating, and I don’t really trust myself to stay up to date on what’s in and out. But I think just cultivating an individual niche with your clothing is probably what’s important, something you can feel cool and confident in.
A: Describe your personal style in three to five words.
NC: Collegiate, vintage, prepster, fop.
A: What item of clothing or accessory would you say most exemplifies your style?
NC: I guess the first thing that comes to my mind are these glasses I’m wearing because I got them pretty much right before I got to Wesleyan. And I remember as a [first year]…there was a senior who was coming back to WestCo and invited us over to a house party, and she just said, “You look like a Wes boy in those glasses.” It was an ego stroke at the time I guess, but these are on my face most of the time. And I’d say a lot of the outfits I wear just kind of built themselves around the glasses.
A: How has your style changed, if at all, since you came to Wesleyan?
NC: I think when I got here, I wore more of my dad’s old clothes. So my dad’s probably…the single biggest style influence in my life, just because of the clothes that don’t really fit him anymore or got too old, he handed down to me. I figured out ways I guess to incorporate them into my own wardrobe…I never really wore blue jeans, actually, until this year, for some reason. I was always morally opposed to them, but as I started learning, I guess, about raw denim, I don’t know why that seemed kind of cool.
A: What do you like and dislike about style at Wes?
NC: I find it difficult to comment on fashion trends at Wesleyan because I don’t see the campus as having a single dominant style…. [I] think the sleek, monochromatic, “Euro” look is cool. But so is the lumberjack look, or eye-catching summer dresses.
As for what I don’t like… I believe that if you’re in the process of exercising or playing sports, workout clothes are fine. But always wearing sweatpants or yoga pants, trainers, and university-name sweatshirts when one is in the classroom or on errands comes off as plain lazy and juvenile. The only other fashion thing that really grates me is the proliferation of costly, branded, synthetic wintertime outerwear, epitomized by the controversial Canada Goose parka. There are more economical, unique ways to stay warm and look cool, most of which don’t involve maiming coyotes. Like a wool overcoat.
A: Where are your favorite places to get your clothes?
NC: I find eBay is really really great if you’re getting coats, jackets, shoes, things like that. It seems easier to get things secondhand. There’s a winter coat I wear that’s Navy surplus, I guess, or Navy issue, that I got off of eBay, when a lot of peacoats, if you’re getting one ready-made from a retailer, might be upwards of 200 and 300 dollars. You can get stuff off of eBay for pretty cheap. Other than that, probably Uniqlo.
A: Do you prefer dressing for cold weather or warm weather?
NC: It’s definitely a lot easier for me to dress for cold weather. There’s just so much more freedom for layering. I guess there’s just more you can wear. So… I’m kind of okay going to school in New England because it seems like for most of the year, we get really bundled up. So I’m looking forward to this summer, I guess. It’s going to be a bit of a challenge figuring out how to make fewer articles of clothing go further.
A: Where do you draw style inspiration from on campus?
NC: I could give shouts out to Reid Hildebrand [’15], my adopted father, ’cause he helped cue me in on the look of dark wash denim and white sneakers…. I can say that [the University Organist and Artist in Residence Ronald Ebrecht] always seems to be pretty well dressed!… [Also] my friend Harrison Neuhaus [’16] for introducing me to raw denim, and to my former professor [Assistant Professor of Letters and Philosophy Tushar Irani], simply for being an elegant dresser.
A: Where do you draw style inspiration from off campus?
NC: I mentioned my dad, he’s a professor, so I guess a lot of my understanding of the bohemian collegiate look comes from him. I guess Reddit isn’t a bad source, though I don’t always agree with the Reddit… “male fashion advice,” but I find it’s always got good recommendations for where to find items of clothing on the cheap.
A: How would you say the internet has affected your relationship with style?
NC: I’d say it’s definitely made it a lot easier to build up a look, I guess. It’s just, hearing reviews of different clothing stores or producers, the way their clothes fit, how good the quality is, how good the value is, has made me a lot more comfortable doing purchases online. I guess most of the time I find shopping in-store, in brick-and-mortar locations, either really stressful, or inconvenient, because they never seem to have what you might want on a given day.
A: Is there anything else you want our readers to know?
NC: It’s our privilege to live in an era in which stylish and functional clothing is as affordable, relative to wages, as it’s ever been. As such, it’s never been easier to cultivate a personal style with so many options available. I would encourage all Wesleyan students to put some thought into what you wear; practically every article of clothing has a cultural/symbolic significance. “Dressing up” doesn’t have to be a vain or frivolous activity. I see it as a chance to put some meaning and excitement in what can be the numbing routine of life.