Avant Garb Mag interviewed Kayli Weiss ‘18 who shared about the influence of sports, her love for sneakers, and starting her own clothing company
Hometown: Boulder, CO
Interview by Lisette Watters
Photos by Lauryn Dove
LW: Tell me more about your style. Has it changed since coming to Bowdoin?
KW: I feel like just now, this year or maybe last year, I’m getting back to my roots in terms of what my style is. I’m still figuring it out. Since Boulder is a really relaxed, chill place, I wore more tomboy kind of clothes there. I’m on the women’s lacrosse team, and when I first came to Bowdoin, I remember moving in and seeing everyone wearing Lilly Pulitzer and J.Crew and I told my mom, “Can you take me to J.Crew, I have no clothes,” and she was like, “Kayli, you have a lot of clothes!” I was so nervous that I didn’t fit in at all so I went and bought preppier clothes, even though the clothes I ended up buying are probably the least preppy clothes you could find at those stores. Later, I kind of rebelled against that. When I went back home, I would keep whatever I wore at Bowdoin in storage. It felt like I had two completely different styles. I don’t put on the same identity when I’m home and when I’m here. I also feel like people get shit on here for putting effort into their clothes. That definitely got to me freshman and sophomore year. People would be like, “Why are you so dressed up? Why put a dress on or wear cute boots? Why put makeup on in the morning or wear cute earrings?” Especially when you’re on a sports team and you know you’re just gonna work out later in the day, people wonder why you’d want to put effort into an outfit. But honestly, own it. Who cares? Look good, feel good--that’s the motto I’m following.
LW: What factors inform your daily outfit choices?
KW: My mood definitely influences what I’m going to wear. A lot of my clothes are grey, black, and white, and I tend to dress in darker clothing because sometimes I don’t want to be noticed on campus. Weather here in Maine is a big factor, and definitely influences what I’m putting on my feet. I wear these boots so often I probably over-wear them. I’ll wear them in the rain, in the snow, out at night--they just go with everything and pull an outfit together. When it’s nice out, I’ll put out my white sneakers--Adidas or Nikes. I wish people wore heels here, or at least out at night. I had to bring so many shoes home just because I never get a chance to wear them here.
LW: Why is style important to your identity?
KW: Style has always been part of my identity, but more so now. I love photography-- it’s one of my major passions-- and I also love cinematography and making things and being creative. Fashion is a way you can emphasize different parts of your identity and what you want people to see you as. For instance, on Bowdoin’s campus, athletes have a huge stigma. I have a lot of different identities in addition to being an athlete. When I think of Kayli, I don’t think athlete. I think of fashion, photography, Asian, woman--I think of so many different things. And fashion is a way to present yourself because it’s one of the first things people see. It’s also fluid and can change at any time.
LW: What’s in your closet?
KW: I have a lot of feminine stuff and more androgynous, tomboy-type stuff as well. I have a lot of jackets because I am from Colorado and now live in Maine. I hate when you go out wearing a good outfit and then you have to ruin it with an ugly jacket. I like my windbreakers, rain jackets and coaches jackets. I especially like long jackets because they keep you warmer. Coming from Colorado, I am a big skier and there’s this whole ski style. It’s kind of like skater style-- hoodies, tall tees, coaches jackets etc. I dress more like that when I’m home and on the mountain, less feminine than I dress here.
LW: Can you tell me about an item of clothing that has a special meaning to you?
KW: This casual, soft baseball tee from the clothing company, Nightfall Collective, that I started with my brother and his girlfriend. It’s one
of our best-selling items and one of my favorite shirts we made. The three of us brought our forces together and got the company off the ground. We started with a bunch of different sweatshirts and t-shirts, and now we are working on more cut-and-sew pieces. It’s such a rewarding feeling when you design something and have it physically in your hand like “Wow I made this.” And seeing your friends wear it or just get a random order online and you’re like, “How did you find my stuff?” It’s so exciting. We’ve decided to take a break recently because we have all been busy doing our own things but maybe next summer we will come up with more designs.
LW: Tell me about your accessories.
KW: I love accessorizing with hats, especially if it’s a bad hair day. I like earrings, but I like keeping it simple. I usually just keep my studs in but sometimes I’ll add in a bracelet. I don’t like things that are too flashy. I don’t really accessorize too much, maybe I accessorize more with my hair. If it’s a good hair day, I’ll wear an outfit that looks good with my hair down. If it’s a bad hair day, I’ll wear something that looks good with my hair up. I like a lot of high-neck and high-waisted clothes and so sometimes I’ll put my hair in a bun if I’m wearing a turtleneck.
LW: How do you think sports have influenced your style?
KW: I did ballet for 13-14 years, so that got me into hair and makeup and doing stage makeup. So that’s kind of my feminine side. I love wearing dresses and dressing up for shows. But I also play lacrosse and ski. When I’m skiing, most people think I’m a guy and I love that. When I take my helmet off and then they see my long hair, they’re like, “Oh my God, I just got beat down the mountain by a girl!” I love how fashion doesn’t have to be gendered. It’s a way I can express different parts of me. One day, I can wear a dress and heels, and another day, I can wear my overalls and sneakers. I just like comfort, looking good, feeling comfy. And my sneakers, I love sneakers. When I’m traveling with my team, we all like to wear our nice sneakers and look good when we roll up at the on the other teams’ turf. I think there’s a huge tie between fashion and athletics. You see football players and professional basketball players rolling up to their games in the newest designer and not designer clothes, the newest Jordans, the newest Off-White collaboration. And that definitely seeped its way into college athletics and people in general. Athleisure has become a really common style. Anyone can rock it, it doesn’t matter if you don’t play a sport.
LW: Should fashion be discussed and if so, why?
KW: Definitely. Recently, I’ve been doing my senior seminar project for sociology, and we’ve been interviewing millennials about using fashion as a tool for resistance. We’re interested in interviewing people who really break the norms and push the limits of fashion. I’ll see someone on the outside and think, “Wow, they are breaking the norms,” but you find out that some are doing so unconsciously, or for different reasons. Fashion should be discussed because we all come from so many different places and backgrounds that influence what you wear and why you wear it.
LW: What do you think about fashion on Bowdoin’s campus?
KW: I think it’s an exciting time for fashion on campus because I feel like people are starting to appreciate it. People are wearing what they want, putting an outfit together, having a good time with it, expressing themselves, and trying out new things. I feel like underclassmen are super fashionable and it’s so great to see. And after being here for four years, I’m seeing Bowdoin change. I think Bowdoin is changing demographically, the mindset is changing, and people are more open to talk about things now. All of the recent excitement about fashion on campus might inspire more people to be bold, or just dress how they want to dress. I think there’s a lot of people out there who don’t dress how they want because they’re worried of what others might think about them. Just dress how you want.