I’ve been friends with Sydney ever since our junior year of high school when we had three of the same classes. We’re radically different people, with her being effortlessly elegant and perpetually unfazed, and me being easily energized and childishly amusing, and I think these differences speak volumes through our personal fashion senses.
We went to a high school with a strict dress code, which meant no jeans, no graphic T-shirts or logos, no spaghetti straps, and god forbid if you wore shorts to school. My sense of style for the majority of high school was basically a monochrome sweater and some black leggings, while Sydney had already begun navigating around the clothing restrictions by wearing leather pants or accessorizing basic outfits.
Thanks to college, our styles have had the freedom to evolve past that and reflect our personalities more accurately. Right now, I would describe Sydney’s style as a “bohemian, vintage mom look” with a touch of a rebellious teenager. The main focal points of her outfits are usually her accessories, such as her earrings and statement jewelry, which significantly elevate her comfortable style to a classier one.
When I asked her to describe mine, she said it was “bright, high energy, high maintenance, with a little bit of ABG (Asian Baby Girl)”. When I shop, I tend to concentrate my energy into finding unique tops, like ones made of organza or with interesting silhouettes. I would say I’m more susceptible to hopping on trends, such as bucket hats and biker shorts, than Sydney is. She still thinks both of those things are ugly.
I’ve always been intrigued by Sydney’s fashion sense, and I’d been itching to try some of her clothes for a long time. So, one day, on a whim, I asked her to swap styles for a week, just to see what it was like. She told me to turn it into a fashion article, and so here we are.
We switched everything: shoes, accessories, backpacks, and water bottles. So, from Monday to Wednesday before fall break, we walked out and went to class wearing completely foreign clothes.
For Day One, I chose an outfit for Sydney that was very emblematic of my summer style. I gave her the same jewelry every day, which consisted of a pair of thick golden hoops (Madewell), and a snake chain necklace (Urban Outfitters). I also had her wear a red scrunchie at all times because regardless of the outfit, I always need something to tie my hair up.
The outfit she gave me was actually the one that prompted me to ask her to swap styles. I’d always wanted to try the maxi skirt trend, but I never got around to doing it. Sydney’s accessories for me mostly stayed the same too. On my hand, I wore a watch with a leather band (Daniel Wellington) and 2 rings that she had gotten from Telluride, her favorite place to ski. On my neck, I wore a golden necklace (graduation gift) and a black glass bead necklace (from a curated gallery in New Hampshire).
The earrings were the only piece of jewelry Sydney changed for me from day to day. On Day One, she had me wear thin gold hoops that she had gotten from a local jewelry store. The sneakers were my own.
I really enjoyed my outfit for Day One; in fact, it was by far my favorite outfit of the three. It was really fun to wear so many accessories, especially ones that are so different from my own style. Sydney is taller than me by a good two inches, so as I was walking around, sometimes the skirt would catch between my ankles and trip me up a little. I was also a little self-conscious of how low the waistline of the skirt fell on my hips, since most of my bottoms are high-waisted. I kept nervously retying the drawstring to make sure I wouldn’t have any slip-ups.
However, the main thing I was worried about wasn’t the outfit, but my hairstyle. Sydney likes to put her hair up, while I like to leave my hair down. I’m pretty insecure about my face shape because when I put my hair up, I look like I’m a lot younger than I actually am. After we took the pictures that day, I took my ponytail out and wore my hair down for the rest of the day.
Sydney was really attached to the cargo pants I gave her. They sort of fit her style already because they’re super comfortable, and I usually buy my looser-fitting pants a size or two up if I need to fit a food baby that day. The top was a little too cropped for her taste and it was the main source of her discomfort. One of the main differences Sydney and I have in our style is the amount of skin we are willing to show. I’m definitely more liberal with it because I consider showing a little skin a good break between the top and the bottom (like a pseudo-belt). Sydney ended up wearing her hoodie for most of the day because it was too cold.
The Filas definitely added some height to the whole look, and she thought it was fun to walk around in because they felt bouncy, but she wouldn’t necessarily wear those shoes with her own clothes.
For Day 2, Sydney and I wore outfits that were in significantly different levels of attire. The outfit I gave her was a typical fall one I would wear when it’s too cold out to go without a jacket, but you can afford to freeze off your legs and wear a skirt. Sydney tends to go for maximum comfort, I ended up looking extremely casual next to her as we were posing for photos. For that day, she gave me these colorful beaded earrings to wear that she’d snagged from Telluride.
Underneath the hoodie, she gave me a white tank top and an orange bralette, but I didn’t end up taking off the hoodie because it was a little cold that day. I’ve included a grainy picture of it in my rather messy dorm room though.
Walking around that day, I didn’t particularly feel that comfortable in my outfit. Although Sydney and I have similar waist sizes and shirt sizes, she’s taller than me, which led to some difficulties with the fit again. The pants were way too long for me, so I had to cuff them twice, and Sydney has a longer torso, so her cropped sweatshirt wasn’t very cropped on me. Even with the bright shoes and nice accessories, which someone complimented me on in class, I felt like this outfit more resembled what I would wear an exam day. Don’t get me wrong, when Sydney wears this outfit, it looks put-together and chic. However, for myself, I wear my clothing like armor; my confidence that day is tied tightly to how fashionable I consider myself that day, and I tend to dress up because of that. Another minor complaint I had was about the shoes. I walk differently from the average person, making it hard to wear shoes besides sneakers, so as I was walking up the stairs to my writing sem on the 4th floor of DRL, the sandals kept slipping off my feet. I also had to leave a bit earlier for class. My favorite part of the outfit was definitely the earrings, but my hope is that I’ll be more at ease with comfortable outfits like these in the future.
Sydney liked her outfit, but she thought it was very high-maintenance. When picking clothes out of her own closet, she usually goes for something comfortable and easy-to-wear, like pants and a basic top. She hasn’t worn a short skirt in a long time, so when wearing this outfit, she felt that she had to be more conscious than she usually was. Similar to me, someone in class that day mentioned that she liked the jewelry Sydney was wearing.
She did think the earrings were a bit heavy, but overall, she didn’t notice the jewelry as much as I did because she wears a fair amount of it daily; she was more focused on the clothing itself. Sydney was more comfortable with the Day 2 Outfit than she was with Day 1’s, but again, she mentioned it was more high-maintenance. Sydney said the outfit suited her older style, but now in college, she gears her clothes towards comfort so she doesn’t have to worry about what’s she’s wearing.
To be honest, I’ve never worn the outfit I gave Sydney on Day 3 because I bought the sweater in summer, but I can assure you I’ll wear it someday. I call it the Cookies n’ Cream Outfit because of the black and white. It looks a little different from the 2 previous outfits that I gave her, and that’s because I don’t consider my style to be consistent, but more an amalgam of what I’m inspired by on the internet. The outfit Sydney picked out for me, again, was extremely comfortable. She gave me these golden earrings she got on our Center City Brandy Melville trip a few weeks back.
I didn’t really have any overwhelming opinions about this outfit. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to wear Sydney’s clothes; for a lot of my own tops, I have to wear adhesive bras or put on fashion tape to make sure the fabric is secure. I really enjoyed the earrings and cargo pants. Like her maxi skirt, green cargo pants are a piece that I’ve always wanted to add to my own wardrobe. The pants I’d been wearing for Day 2 and 3 were from Garage, so I’ll definitely be checking that out later on. The boots were a bit hard to walk in, again due to the way I walk myself, but I had fewer mishaps than I did with the yellow sandals. I also liked the cardigan; I used to wear cardigans a lot in middle school, but I’ve stopped wearing them as of late. Day 3 was a nice reminder to incorporate them back into my style.
Sydney called the outfit I gave her “the Wharton Outfit”. She really liked the outfit, even though she wouldn’t wear it to classes because it was very “business-y”. Walking around that day, she felt like she had just come back from an interview. The catch about the outfit is the sweater. It’s essentially a colorblock sweater, but there’s an asymmetrical slit that extends from the sleeves across the chest area that sets it apart from all the others. Again, the top was very high-maintenance, because Sydney had to keep tugging it down to make sure the top didn’t ride up. On me, the sweater fits well enough that I can tuck it into the belt, so that isn’t a problem for me.
After the whole experience, I asked Sydney to reflect on how she felt. She determined that Day 3’s outfit was the most comfortable for her, and either Day 2 and Day 3’s outfit was her favorite outfit. However, she said that the white cargo pants were her favorite piece out of the whole thing. The whole experience was fun for her and she felt good about dressing out of her comfort zone, but she doesn’t want to do it anytime soon (at least for the next few weeks). Sydney said her behavior slightly changed because she felt less like herself. She was more concerned with the image she presented herself as. To her, your style is your first impression on people.
I honestly enjoyed it a lot because I didn’t have to put any thought in the morning about what I was going to wear. The outfits she gave me were always comfortable, and they opened my eyes to colorful accessorizing. Sydney’s up to doing this again in a few months, and I’ll definitely be doing it with her. I would definitely recommend doing this with one of your friends if you happen to be a similar clothing size.
Finally a shoutout to Josephine Cheng, our lovely friend who woke up at 9 every day to take photos of us. Follow her at @brushandbao on Instagram, where she shares her recipes and takes even better photos of her food.