There are a lot of jokes that all Lewis & Clark students look the same. On our campus, time is the only thing that stands between first-years and their inevitable purchase of Blundstones or Patagonia. This idea of conforming to popular fashion may scare some, but history major Asmaa Zaidan ’24 embraces it.
“There is this fear of looking like everyone else, but I think everyone else is kind of cool,” Zaidan said
Although she does not identify as fashionable — even openly describing herself as ignorant to fashion trends — Zaidan is unequivocally one of the best-dressed people at LC. She can be seen around campus wearing flowy, long-sleeve floral dresses, black boots, a mask with colors that match her hijab and thrifted antique accessories. She also elegantly pulls off the clothing that she borrows from her mom and her brother. She has a comfortable, practical style that is slightly formal, and her outfits are what Pinterest boards dream about.
Zaidan gets clothing from a variety of places. For the basics, she prefers affordable brands such as H&M and Uniqlo. Her favorite antique shops to find statement pieces are Curiosities Vintage Mall in Tigard, Oregon, and Ungers Trading Post in Sherwood, Oregon. She also has clothing from middle school that she is still holding onto just in case it comes back as a trend. But most of all, Zaidan likes getting clothing from family members’ closets.
“I feel like we really underrate how great sharing clothing is,” Zaidan said.
Zaidan finds fashion to be one of the more cool things we, as humans, have done throughout our history, leading her to regard fashion as an intriguing adventure. In true history-major fashion, Zaidan has an affinity for older looks. Zaidan sometimes draws inspiration from past fashion trends, such as Victorian silhouettes, flared denim and Palestinian textiles.
“I wouldn’t say that my day-to-day stuff is influenced by history, but I try to have some influences, like my necklace is Victorian and my ring is from the ’40s,” Zaidan said.
Some of her partywear is also influenced by history. Her favorite piece right now is a pink satin off-the-shoulder pirate shirt. She cannot wait to showcase this look as soon as parties can happen again safely.
Along with history, Zaidan draws her outfit inspiration from her environment, including fellow students, professors and even random people at the grocery store. She especially wants to give a shout-out to the people who wear pajamas to class and normalize comfort in academia.
“You guys are like superheroes to me,” Zaidan said.
For Zaidan, the clothing she wears is more about happiness and comfort than it is about a political message.
“Sometimes people try to project their ideas of expression onto me,” Zaidan said. “For example, my hijab is really politicized. I do understand our existence is really political and I don’t reject that fully, but I do want to push back on that. I think my hijab is something that is very me, it’s about my faith, and I don’t think it’s a totally political expression.”
Over the past year, her style has changed. Although she feels like she is still in the “awkward finding yourself stage,” being by herself in quarantine and coming to LC has helped her embrace what she likes. Her philosophy is, “If I’m happy with something, everyone else’s opinion doesn’t matter.”
Zaidan is a big believer in dressing up at every chance you get and doing what makes you happy, no matter what anyone else thinks. Her tip for students looking to up their style is to not be afraid of looking like, or different from, everyone else.
“I feel like people are afraid of those two things and both those things are not bad,” Zaidan said.
She also wants to encourage people to compliment each other’s outfits, because it is a nice way to make people happy.
You can find Zaidan on Instagram (@asmaakz), or around campus complimenting other students on their outfits.