UWF basic fashion survival guide


Tyler Luong, Staff Writer

Clothing, whether you wear it for form or function, is undeniably one of life’s basic necessities. Even for those who have zero interest in fashion, everyone wears clothing and goes clothes shopping at some point in their life.

For me, I have what people call a terrible personality, that’s why I don’t like to talk. So, I took an interest in fashion in hopes of compensating for my lack of a decent personality.

As the self-appointed fashion writer of The Voyager, this guide contains a collection of fashion tips that I have accumulated or come across during my time as a fashion enthusiast, created to give a rundown on basic fashion fundamentals.

As I mostly dress in a masculine style, this guide will probably be more helpful to those who dress masculinely. Still, many of the tips here are applicable regardless of gender. 

Although I can’t tell you which brands to buy, I can tell you which ones to avoid, which will also be the first topic covered in this guide: fast fashion.

Fast fashion, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.” In other words, fast fashion is mass-produced clothing that is exceptionally affordable at the cost of quality, durability and longevity.

If you come across a clothing piece with a price that is suspiciously cheap or seems like it’s too good to be true, it’s most likely fast fashion. Popular fast fashion brands that you might have heard of are Shein, Gap, Old Navy, H&M, Zara, Boohoo, Urban Outfitters, Topman, Uniqlo and ASOS.

Not all fast fashion retailers are the same, as the quality of fast fashion brands run on a spectrum. While Gap and Old Navy are both fast fashion, the quality of Gap is better than that of Old Navy.

That being said, I would try to avoid buying from fast fashion retailers whenever possible. Aside from its dubious cost-to-value ratio, the fast fashion industry is host to global, ethical and environmental concerns.

You get what you pay for, and that is doubly so when it comes to fashion. If you’ve ever heard of the old adage “being poor is expensive,” this applies perfectly to fast fashion. You might think you’re saving money with the affordable prices, but the low quality of fast fashion usually means you won’t get much use or longevity out of it, which puts you in a cycle of buying more to replace it.

Take Shein for example, one of, if not the worst, fast fashion offenders.

I don’t know what qualifies as a reasonable price for a decent-quality sweater vest, but I would think that the overwhelming majority of people would consider it to be well over $7. At that price, I doubt you would get much use out of this piece.

Another thing semi-related to fast fashion to look out for is the practice of drop shipping.

Drop shipping is when a retailer advertises products as being their own product when in actuality, they are simply ordering it from another retailer and passing it off as their own, usually with inflated prices.

For example, take a look at this item from the retailer Kina and Tam.

Kina and Tam advertises the product as their own make, but in actuality, they order it through Chinese retailer AliExpress.

As you can see, both pieces are the same product with the one at Kina and Tam marked up almost three times from its original listing.

An even more egregious example from Kina and Tam would be this sweater that I had my eye on before I discovered that they too were drop shippers.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the original listing for the sweater, but I remember the price being ten times cheaper on the original listing.

Always, do your own research when buying from an unfamiliar brand. Luckily, you don’t have to be an expert to do this type of research, all it takes is due diligence.

This brings me to my next point: a common misconception that I hear from people new to fashion is that they think they have to blow their budget on clothes to look good. In reality, this is only part of the truth. Ideally, your price point should be expensive enough that the quality isn’t lacking while still staying reasonably priced.

While the brand of clothing does matter to an extent, you don’t have to chase designer and hype brands to look good. It’s more how you wear it than what you wear.

This might be obvious to some, but it wasn’t to me when I started my fashion journey. The easiest and most direct way to up your style is to buy clothes that not only fit well but also accentuate and flatter your body type. 

Even so, this might be slightly more difficult for some more than others, such as those who have uncommon proportions like me. To elaborate, I’m skinny but my legs are huge compared to the rest of my body, which makes finding pants that fit a tough time. Because of this, I just wear shorts most of the time.

For my fellow glasses wearers, finding frames that accentuate your face type is the next most noticeable step you can take to improve your style.

What good is all of this if I don’t know what to buy though, you might be asking? This is probably the most difficult, time-consuming and yet most rewarding part of fashion, and that is developing your own personal style.

It’s hard to develop your own style from out of nowhere, so it’s nice to have a frame of reference that you can model your own style out of. That’s how I developed mine and it’s honestly how I recommend you develop yours; finding someone whose style that you like and imitating them as a basis, all the while keeping in mind how it would look on your particular body type.

When I began my interest in fashion, I had no idea what I was doing, but I really liked the way one of my friends dressed. So, I bit off his style for a long time, and as I got more familiar with my style the more I experimented, I started deviating from his and started making my own unique style.

I still take inspiration from the fashion of others, but for the most part, my style is my own.

Just pay attention and be on the lookout for people whose style you admire, it’ll help influence your direction greatly.

Your personal style is something that should be polished and developed over time, it’ll take a lot of trial-and-error and experimenting for it to flourish. Believe me, when you start out, you’re going to have a lot of busted fits, but that’s part of the process.

Don’t be afraid to take risks even if it ends up backfiring. Like everything else, you have to fail to learn from your mistakes.

Three or four years ago when I was a student at Pensacola State College was probably the height of my experimental phase with my style. Sometimes, I would make the 45-minute commute to PSC thinking that I made a breakthrough with my style, then when I made it there, I would realize what I was wearing.

When that happened, I would immediately turn around and go back home. I’d rather skip school than risk getting roasted for my poor fashion choices. What I’m saying is that maybe you don’t have to take it as seriously as me, but you’re going to have a lot of these moments as part of your fashion journey.

It’s nice to have people who are supportive of your hobby while being fair enough to give honest criticism. I didn’t have that going for me, so I made a lot of bad fashion decisions that I had to learn from the hard way.

I started my fashion journey six years ago when I was 17, but I feel like my style has only come into its own in the past year or so. I’ve come a long way since then, but I still have a long road ahead of me. That’s how it should be, your journey should never reach the end. It should always be evolving and adapting.

Confidence is key to a lot of things, and fashion is no exception, whether you fake it or not. A lot of my outfits that I have now, I wouldn’t have been caught dead in six years ago when I started my journey.

Nothing has changed in those six years, I’m just more confident and more comfortable with myself than I was before. The confidence will come eventually, you just have to keep at it.

For my fellow men who want less boring clothing, women’s fashion is a real possibility, although the idea will probably take some getting used to. 

If it’s unisex enough, I’ll wear it if it looks good on me. I was hesitant about it, to be honest, but after accidentally buying a women’s sweater and trying it on, a whole new world of possibilities has been opened to me.

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to fashion is dressing in a way that makes you happy. It doesn’t matter what others think, as long as it makes you happy.