Rebecca Hutman ’17, president of the Wesleyan Student Assembly, knows a thing or two about looking presidential. Though admittedly simple, Hutman’s style is sharp, elegant, and professional. The Argus sat down with Hutman in her Home Avenue bedroom—which, unlike her wardrobe, is brightly colored and eclectic—to talk about her grandma, her childhood aversion to magic, and a new watch that’s changed everything.
The Argus: How would you describe your personal style in three to five words?
Rebecca Hutman: Plain, dark, simple, boring, classic.
A: To what extent are you interested in fashion?
RH: Not at all. I was very surprised—flattered, but also shocked—to be singled out for my sense of style. I grew up in L.A., where I think a lot of people are very in touch with fashion and trends. I made a conscious choice not to be. I was like, “I’m just going to wear a black sweater every day for the rest of my life and make it simple.” So I think in hiding from trends I found a look that I suppose is identifiable, but also is utilitarian and just sort of easy.
A: What are some articles of clothing that you couldn’t function without?
RH: I have two pairs of jeans. Those are crucial. I wear them on rotation, every other day. Last year, I was feeling especially bold, and I got burgundy jeans. And those have been really great for me. I wear my black Blundstones pretty much every day, so those are really big. I have a few black sweaters, one cream sweater, and one gray sweater that I wear on rotation. I have one pair of dressy shoes, one pair of dressy boots. Because I keep it simple, everything feels essential.
A: How do you get dressed in the morning?
RH: This is probably such a let-down. As all my housemates can attest, I give myself maybe 20 minutes to get dressed in the morning. I just wake up, and then I put on whatever pants are at the top of the drawer. And I grab a shirt or something. I think this campus is full of people with really expressive and distinct tastes, so in comparison I’m sure I look boring. Sometimes I wake up and think, “Today I’m going to wear a gray button-up, and tomorrow I’m going to wear a black cardigan.” To the outside gaze, they look exactly the same, but to me they’re completely different moods. But the good news is that everything goes together, so there’s no worry about coordination.
I’m really big on distinctive socks. I have a pair of socks that show transit patterns from different cities, so nobody knows that I’m wearing them. It’s my little secret.
A: What elevates an outfit from business casual to, say, presidential?
RH: It’s funny. My life has been on a trajectory of going from more fancy to less fancy. When I was thinking today, I realized—this is a totally embarrassing story, but I’m going to tell it anyway—when I was seven years old, I went up to my parents, and I was like, “Are there any schools like Hogwarts that I can transfer to?” They were like, “You hate magic. Why would you want to do that?” I did hate magic, because I thought it was unrealistic. And then I was like, “No, I really want to go to a school where I can wear a blazer every day.” My parents are really crunchy, so they were like, “This is terrible.”
A: What are some regrettable trends in which you partook in middle school?
RH: I pretty much wore jeans and a tee shirt every day growing up, but in second grade, when pleather was really big, I asked for pleather pants, and my parents were like, “No, that’s terrible.” But my lovely uncle got a pair for me. And I got a rash immediately from wearing them. I was burned at a young age. I knew that trends were not for me.
Honestly, I’ve worn the exact same thing since maybe middle school. On my first day of seventh grade, I started a new school and wore a powder blue polo shirt. I wear neither powder blue nor polo shirts these days. But that wasn’t even a trend—that was just me. I did cargo pants for a while. That was pretty bad.
A: How do you keep everything looking nice?
RH: If something’s wrinkly, I’ll just take it into the bathroom with me while I take my shower, and the steam gets the wrinkles out. Doesn’t everyone do that?
A: Are you averse to bright colors and big patterns?
RH: I’m not averse to them on other people. I don’t like calling too much attention to myself. A couple summers ago, I had this internship, and for my birthday my friend got me a skirt with flowers on it. I showed up the first day and my boss was like, “I love your skirt.” This is so irrational, but I remember thinking that the first thing she noticed about me was my outfit—not my personality, or how I functioned in the workplace, but what I was wearing. For me, it felt weird having the first thing that was noticeable about me be a physical or aesthetic one. That might be inevitable, but I might try to mitigate that by dressing very neutrally and in a way that doesn’t say anything. When I meet someone for the first time, I get to convey myself through my personality.
A: Where do you shop?
RH: I get a lot of stuff from my grandma. If you gave me an unlimited amount of money, I would get everything at Madewell. I love a good Madewell sale.
A: Who are some of your style icons?
RH: My grandma’s my style icon. I can show you pictures of her. She’s 75, she’s breathtaking, and she still turns head. She’s 5’7—in her heyday, I think she was 5’8—and she’s incredibly slim, so she can pull off the palazzo silhouette. So classy. She worked in retail for most of her 20s, so she knows how to get things to fit just so. I used to try to emulate her style, but you just can’t be that. So now, the person whose style I most admire is my dad. For the last 40 years, every single day he’s worn jeans and a grey tee shirt and Adidas. A month ago he called me and said, “Rebecca, I have big news.” And he goes, “I got an orange stripe on my white Adidas.” And then I realized, “Wow, I’m just like you.”
Over winter break, I started wearing this watch [points to left wrist], and I feel reborn. No one’s noticed, but to me, it feels like a huge style transformation. That’s what I love the most about wearing the same thing every day. Twice a year, I put on a dress and wear heels, and people are like, “Wow, you look amazing!” Because I do nothing, ever. All I have to do is put five more minutes into my appearance, and people are blown away.
A: Talk to me about accessorizing.
RH: I like wearing earrings. That’s the only thing I only wear. And now I wear a watch, of course. [Laughs] Ask me about my watch. And then I have this ring. I got it at a flea market in upstate New York maybe ten years ago.
A: What’s your favorite season to dress for?
RH: Fall. It’s just great. You’re not cold, but also you can wear sweaters. And you know what? I’ve never liked turtlenecks before, but I’m getting very into them—by which I mean I have one now. So maybe winter? I’ve never worn a turtleneck in fall. It seems like a winter exclusive. Is it cliché if I say, “The best season is any season”?
A: When it is time to say goodbye?
RH: When something has holes in it and literally can’t be worn.
A: But how many holes are too many holes?
RH: I would say if someone else points out the hole to me, then it’s at least time for a discussion, or maybe a repurposing.
A: Is there anything else you want to add?
RH: I was preparing for you to ask me what one of my most distinctive purchases was. I was shopping with a friend last year, and I saw that sweater—do you see the one that’s black and white and has a pattern? I was like, “I would never wear that; all my sweaters are only one color, and that’s two colors.” But I do wear it. And now it feels like a really important part of my wardrobe.