Avant-Garb Mag interviewed Ariana Smith ’21 who shared about her grandmother’s influence, the importance of fashion risks, and her faith.
Interviewed by Hailey Wozniak
Photos by Kayli Weiss
HW: What’s in your closet?
AS: I have a lot of sweaters. I’m really into the sweater and turtleneck look. I’m also into velvet pants. A lot of my clothing is my grandmother’s. She used to be a model in Chicago so she’s super stylish. My grandma actually taught me everything I know about fashion. She and I have very similar styles and sometimes we trade clothing items because she’s the same size as me. I feel more connected to her when I wear them. Her sweaters have their own life here, in a way.
HW: Tell me about your style.
AS: My wardrobe is a big part of who I am because I feel like I pour a part of my identity into my clothes. I’d say my style is adventurous and eclectic. Some days I look boho and other days I look like a 90’s stock photo textbook model. I also enjoy wearing matching track suits.
HW: How do you choose an outfit?
AS: While I usually go based on weather and comfort and I try to wear a singular texture of clothing per day. I’ll wear a velvet thing one day, and then a knit thing the next day. I often match my makeup look to my outfit. On Sundays, I plan out my entire week’s outfits all the way down to the earrings.
HW: Which items are most meaningful to you?
AS: I wore a green dress the first time I sang jazz at Bowdoin. It’s significant to me because it reminds me of facing my fears and confronting my performance nerves. These are my favorite, go-to shoes—they’ve got texture and green. I try and always go for a heel. In the Fall, I wear them with socks. Another important piece is my dad’s shirt, which is from the early 2000s. I feel like his shirt connect me to him because it’s a memory of his coaching job, which he left so that our family could pursue better opportunities in the city.
HW: When did you first become interested in fashion?
AS: In fifth grade, my mom gave me fifty dollars and I went where my money would go the farthest—Walmart. I bought a lot of clothes that I felt were unique and different. When I was younger, people would tell me that I was so well-dressed. I was also named “most fashionable” in my senior class. It all started in fifth grade, in a Walmart.
HW: Why is your style important to you?
AS: When I was younger, there weren’t many ways to express myself and I didn’t feel like I was necessarily heard. Creating outfits became a way for me to communicate without saying anything. I think that people should take more risks with their fashion. That doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a wild outfit, but something out of your comfort zone. I try to wear one thing a day that’s “risky.” When you take risks in such an intimate department such as your clothing, it’s easier to take risks in other areas of your life. It also helps you accept your body more and gets you out of this mindset that “I can only wear certain items because of my body size or certain colors because of my skin color.” It’s important to care about style because that’s a way to love yourself.
HW: Did you feel like you had to adjust your style here?
AS: Coming to Bowdoin, I knew I wouldn’t necessarily look like the people around me, but that didn’t affect how I dressed. I actually became more adventurous with my outfits because I no longer had a dress code. At my high school, there was a pretty intense, conservative dress code. As soon as I graduated, I was tying all my shirts up and wearing crop tops. There’s such a stigma against girls who wear crop tops or shorter shorts that they want to show off their bodies or seek male attention. It’s all about what makes you feel good and also there’s a literal style to it. Just because an outfit’s more exposed doesn’t mean it isn’t stylish.
HW: Tell me about your accessories.
AS: I really love my hoops and my chokers. My cross necklace is especially important to me because I’m a Christian and I like representing my faith. With accessories, I’m usually pretty minimal but you can always find me in hoop earrings.
HW: Do you have any style icons?
Definitely Yara Shahidi and a YouTuber named Emma Chamberlain. On Bowdoin’s campus, my friends Abby and Lauryn are my inspiration.