Quad Style: Zahra Nasser
Meet Zahra, a second year Philosophy and Art History double major. On campus, Zahra is a reporter and associate editor for the Viewpoints section of The Maroon, a marketing intern for a podcast produced by the Stigler Center called Capitalisn’t. In her free time, she loves analyzing art, eating sushi, dry humor, and discussing politics.
How would you describe your personal style?
My style depends on the day. Sometimes, it’s on the preppy side—I’ve been into checkered school skirts and button-downs recently. Other days, I try putting pieces together that don’t necessarily make sense in the same ensemble, like a bold graphic t-shirt paired with a business casual skirt.
I tend to wear the same accessories every day. My dainty gold hamsa (evil eye) necklace which holds spiritual value to me, my gold Casio watch, and my tiny hoop earrings help maintain an element of cohesion no matter what I wear.
Generally, I gravitate towards simple shapes and patterns, and muted tones. I love pieces that make a statement through innovative cuts, shades, or movement.
Where do you find style inspiration?
Fashion has been an organic personal endeavor, however, my main source of inspiration are my best friends. I’ve come to derive confidence from the wonderful ways they carry themselves, no matter what they wear—usually, it’s something I could see myself in.
Like most people, though, I think social media has played a role in shaping my style. Keeping what I see on Instagram in mind, I can often find similar pieces elsewhere at more economical price points. I also follow several magazines, museums, artists, and design accounts (Zimmermann, designmilk, MoMA, etc.) with modernist aesthetics that inspire my style. But on a more basic level, I derive inspiration from just my environment.
Growing up in Chicago, I was exposed to diverse street styles that continue to intrigue me. Also, attending such a global school, I love seeing how trends and choices differ between people on campus.
Where do you like to shop?
A lot of my closet consists of Urban Outfitters, because I think their pieces are edgy in an accessible way; they are easy to dress up or down depending on occasion or mood. I also love Zara, Free People, Madewell, and Mango. I find that they offer contemporary, standout twists on classic styles, as well as reliably simple, versatile collections for daily wear. Thankfully, I’m also welcome to raid my roommate’s closet when I want to venture out of my typical style.
What is your relationship to fashion? Has it changed over time?
I have come to understand fashion as an introspective endeavor that everyone engages with, whether or not they’re conscious of it. Fashion, to me, is also a simple test of my creativity on a daily basis. I wouldn’t necessarily say that my style choices fully represent my personality or beliefs, though; I see style as a societally-driven expression of physical identity, which can’t always capture someone’s essence.
In terms of actually shopping, I’ve come to adopt a more sustainable approach, in which I invest in staple pieces central to my style hoping they’ll remain in my wardrobe for years. Sometimes, I experiment and give into trends that pique my interest, though I naturally grow out of them. They’re an interesting way to track personal development and changes in taste, and serve as a reminder of eras of my life.
Would you give any fashion advice to your younger self?
Simply put, I’d tell my younger self: Abercrombie isn’t the pinnacle of fashion, it’s okay to wear color, stop straightening your hair, and you don’t fit into your older sisters’ clothes. Though it’s cringeworthy to look back at the fashion decisions of middle school Zahra, my relationship to style over the years is interesting to examine. When I was younger, I had this idea that anyone who was stylish had to look a certain way; I think this stemmed from the fact that “high fashion” brands were always ridiculously expensive, as well as from a lack of models in the media who looked like me. However, these “mistakes” and misconceptions have been key in developing the root of my current style; [that is,] wearing what makes me feel confident, comfortable, and collected.
Images courtesy of Dasha Aksenova.