Quad Style: Camila Cuesta
Ayee, thanks for having me :) My name is Camila Cuesta. I am an Ecuador-born and Chicago-raised 4th year student majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Astronomy/Astrophysics. On campus, I'm involved with a lot of RSOs, including with Ryerson Astronomical Society (RAS), Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MECHA) and Phoenix Survivors Alliance (PSA), among others! At least once a week I find myself needing to create something, from a watercolor painting to an incense holder or most recently, a holiday costume for Mecurio (my cat)! I also manage a few Instagram accounts. Recently, I picked up a really fun hobby: rock climbing!
How would you describe your personal style?
I find it difficult to define my style as it's far from static. As a means of expression, I'd say my style is purposefully a fusion of my different identities. And every item I own I got by first asking myself: what does it say about me? I think I incorporate bits and pieces that speak to who I am/ how I feel and also serve as a reflection of my environment. I have really feminine days and days when I'm more comfortable being gender-neutral or when I want to lean into being more masc. Days when I want to express my nativeness/Latinidad versus days when I like to experiment with my inner computer science-nerd-tries-chic-style, and my closet definitely reflects all of this.
It's not that I have a lot of clothes or that I buy things very often, but it's rare to see me walking around with a repeated outfit. My secret is definitely in how I choose to accessorize and the way I combine my different styles. Perhaps I could sum up my personal style as one that makes me feel like I could blend in anywhere, but then I also have accents that make me memorable after I cross paths with someone walking around town.
Where do you find style inspiration?
I get a lot of my style from my mom and my indigenous roots–I love beads, gem stones, and details like embroidery. My music taste also serves as a big influence in my style. I cop off the style I see my favs using in their music videos and interviews. In particular, those styles that are goth and hip-hop. While I'm not the type to spend a lot of time on social media, I would be lying if I didn't give Instagram and Twitter creds the same way I give the city of Chicago creds. I'm a people watcher and take note of items/styles that pop out to me in my everyday and later try to replicate what made them special to me. I guess my political views also play into what inspires me and what doesn't; I think a lot about what my style supports.
Where do you like to shop?
I almost exclusively go to DSW for shoes since they are pretty reliable in terms of carrying my hard-to-find shoe size (5/5.5). I enjoy Akira for loud jewelry, and use Etsy a lot for rings and body piercing jewelry. Other than that, I love thrift stores. That's where I get most of my stuff these days. Maybe if I had more money I would shop for newer items, but I kind of grew up with thrift stores and now that it's in vogue, I take pride in the things I find and can repurpose.
My decision to shop for used clothing is also highly influenced by the fact that fashion is the second most wasteful industry, how little I know about the production process of major brands, and concerns regarding recent scandals where brands supported textile factories that mistreated/oppressed its workers.
Do you have any fashion regrets?
In elementary school I struggled to decide between wanting to wear cute dresses to school and being able to play soccer during recess. My school didn't have an actual field so we played on concrete pavement. For a little while during first or second grade, I would wear jeans under my dresses so that I didn't have to pick between one or the other. My parents thought it was really cute because I was this little hippie tomboy, but I'm very glad that indecisive phase didn't last longer than it did.
What is your relationship to fashion? Has it changed over time?
I have a really good relationship to fashion. My parents are both artists and educators and that influenced a lot of my style growing up since I was lucky enough to have a lot of freedom to create and explore. That's not to say I haven't changed. As I mentioned earlier, my family didn't have a lot of money so thrifting wasn't so much a choice as just the way of things. I used to be really self-conscious about this and I remember pressing my parents a lot about "needing" to buy certain brands because everybody else had them. With time, I came into myself and now I really embrace this fashion of reusing and repurposing.
Why is fashion important to you?
I know this is super redundant and far from a unique take, but fashion is really just important to me because of how it serves as an outlet for self-expression. I appreciate fashion because every outfit I put together feels like I am curating a very specific version of myself. For me, fashion can be and is about more than aesthetics, it is about a lifestyle, about putting a bit of yourself out into the world for whoever to see and receive your message, whatever it may be and however it may be interpreted. I guess what I'm trying to say is that in such a highly visual world, I value fashion as a form of communication.
All images courtesy of Angela Liu. Check out her photography portfolio here.