Quad Style: Nur Banu Simsek
Meet Nur Banu Simsek, a third-year Philosophy major. She loves reading, writing, and photography and has documented these pastimes on her blog for the past six years. She's involved with the Muslim Students Association, Peer Health Advocates (InTouch), Alpha Phi Omega, and AIM (Art is Movement). She also works at the Spiritual Life Office, and recently started contributing to South Side Weekly.
What are you wearing?
I am wearing pleated chiffon scarves from Culture Hijab in mulberry and cerulean colors. The green dress and cuffed black pants are from Blue Sand. I came across them while in Milan. The green sandals and the red bag with pompoms are handmade. I bought them in Chefchaouen, Morocco—a city that is famous for its fabric and pompom decorated accessories (shoes, bags, hats, pillowcases etc.)
The white jacket is from Akira, and the jeans and shoes are from Anne Klein. The bag is Nine West, but probably purchased at a Macy’s or another department store. It was a gift from my dad because mustard yellow is one of my favorite colors. The shirt underneath is most likely H&M.
Most of my jewelry are gifts, and almost all of the bracelets with turquoise color in them are from Turkey, while the royal blue square ring is from Venice. Also… I get my nails done at Salon 1800 with Lu. If you ever need suggestions!
Where do you find style inspiration?
Nature! For me, nature is God’s creation and there is immense beauty in every corner of it. Seeing as all other aspects of our life are modeled and shaped by what we observe in nature, it only makes sense that fashion would be too. That’s where I get the colors I like to match and put together—butterflies, seashells, leaves, you can create every kind of mood board.
How would you describe your personal style?
Extremely modular. I seek consistency in my style not across the board, but rather for each outfit. So you will see me with wildly different combinations that seem to have very little in common with each other, but every set is self-contained. This gives me a lot of flexibility in shopping and building a wardrobe for myself. There are definitely things I am more inclined towards wearing, but overall I am down to try anything once as far as fashion goes. I love dressing in bright solid colors, complemented with jewelry and small accessories, and mixing and matching with different patterns and fabrics.
Fashion is an outward expression of your personality, and for some people that manifests in a very consistent and elegant stylistic voice. I have a lot of friends that have signature necklaces or watches, and I know a lot of people who always wear a certain color or a specific type of fabric.
For me, it took a lot of time to embrace my own tastes because I always wanted to have simple and solid rules for my wardrobe. I thought it would be so easy if I could just say “I only wear black” or “I only buy leather.”
But I am not like that. If you put all the clothes I own in one place, the only common denominator would be that I own them. But I like it that way. I get to be creative.
Where do you like to shop?
I do a lot of online shopping but in person I shop wherever I see creative displays. I am not really a brand snob, if a store has a unique piece at an affordable price, there is nothing more I can ask for. Having said that, some of the recurring brands in my closet are Akira, Loft, Anne Klein, Nautica, Adidas, and LC Waikiki.
Do you have any fashion regrets?
So many! 8th through 10th grade, I was obsessed with the FC Barcelona soccer player, Messi. As you might know, Messi is sponsored by Adidas and so for three years, I only shopped Adidas and wore casual outfits everywhere. However, my fashion tragedy reached its peak moment when I started wearing complete track suits with matching scarves and indoor cleats. You can only go up from there… and I’d like to think I did.
What is your relationship to fashion? Has it changed over time?
I guess it’s been kind of a rollercoaster. When I was much much younger, I used to be very into fashion. My mom talks about how I wouldn’t even leave the house without my favorite handbag, a flower-crown headband, and colorful jewelry.
Then, during elementary and middle school, I had to wear uniforms which probably stunted my fashion growth. During those years I didn’t care much about what I wore as long as it was comfortable. In high school, I had to learn everything again. I had also started wearing hijab and that meant coordinating one extra piece everyday. I went through many phases—not just tracksuits, but also, plaid, tunics, t-shirts paired with long sleeves under, t-shirts with sweaters or button-ups over… It’s all been an experiment, and it still is. I don’t think anything is set in stone, I probably will grow out of my tastes now, but until then, I am enjoying what I have.
Why is fashion important to you?
Fashion is important to me because it’s the very first impression I make on other people. I can have valuable ideas and a whole lot to contribute but if I am not dressed well, it feels incomplete. It’s important for me to put effort into how I look and present myself because I get to control my own vibe and decide if I want to blend into the crowd or stay in the limelight.
All images courtesy of Kiran Misra. Check out her photography portfolio here.