Quad Style: Maya Rodriguez
Meet Maya Rodriguez, a fourth year Psychology major. She's from the South Side of Chicago and one of the Co Editors-in-Chief of MODA Magazine. On campus, she's a member of Pi Beta Phi and the Organization of Latin American Students, and a student intern for the Office of the Provost.
How would you describe your personal style?
If I could sum it up in a few words, I would say effortless, feminine, and statement-making. Above all things, I’ve got to be comfortable and truly that’s the main motivation for purchasing many of my clothes. I also always have to have modern pieces that’ll make me stand out without breaking the bank or make me feel odd wearing them.
Where do you find style inspiration?
Some of the people who I think embody the kind of style and confidence I try to have with my own brand are Elaine Welteroth, Grasie Mercedes, and Desi Perkins. They’re all women of color involved in different areas of fashion, well-respected in their fields, and encourage representation by unapologetically being themselves. In addition to them, I would say that keeping up with American trends is something I can’t deny I do as a means of finding inspiration. Items that are very reminiscent of Latin American culture immediately call to me as well and I try to incorporate pieces that speak to Latin American culture and heritage into my wardrobe more frequently than other styles.
Where do you like to shop?
Forever 21, ASOS, H&M, Zara, and Gap on occasion. Sometimes if I am lucky I find a cool item from Village Discount. To be completely honest, I’m not exactly ~ ahem ~ affluent, so I have to rely on fast fashion brands to stay on trend and get the basics. I’ve gotten great casual and fancier clothing from all these places, so I can’t knock them for their price. What I end up doing then is combing unique accessories from small vendors, many who are Latin American, as well also experimenting with makeup, especially lipstick.
Do you have any fashion regrets?
Besides the heinous era that was mid and late 2000s and the very beginning of the 2010s, I regret some of the very boxy and shapeless silhouettes that I tried out in my fashion career. As a former athlete who has a penchant for sweets, I tend to be a little more reserved in using clothes that would highlight certain body parts. However, after finding the nice balance of less structured clothing as well as continuously traveling on my own path of health and body positivity, I think I’ve crossed that hurdle.
What is your relationship to fashion? Has it changed over time?
My relationship with fashion has become representative of the conversations that we are having in the world today, as well as my own personal growth. I wrote about design and improvisation in my final “Letter from the Editor” for the MODA Mag, and I would say it is a pretty accurate process of how I’ve come to love and understand fashion when I didn’t believe in it or its influence at a young age.
Since I was limited in high school, I joined MODA in order to learn more about cultivating my own style. As a result, I was finally able develop and explore my own relationship to fashion, and to have the opportunity to be engaged with how the fashion world is impacting my life and society at large.
Fashion, in my opinion, functions as a personal art form, but also as a medium through we can speak out on societal issues–especially considering how entrenched it is in contemporary society and how obvious a mode of expression it is. I wouldn’t have thought this four years ago, nor would I have been comfortable expressing what I thought was representative of my personality. College was my first real chance to have impactful discussions with myself and with others, and fashion has helped me in ways that I don’t think I fully understand yet, as personal style is an ever evolving process.
Why is fashion important to you?
Fashion is a medium that most [individuals] think is inaccessible but in reality is one of the easiest ways to express oneself. I’ve heard many times throughout college that people are scared to try trends or don’t believe they fit in the fashion world based on the perceptions we have come to associate with it. But I want to push back on that. I firmly believe that a more universal embrace of fashion is the only way to challenge a dynamic of expensive, pretentious, and obscurely avant-garde brands we often associate with the only kind of style we should want to have. I’ve learned that lesson with my peers in MODA throughout my four years.
It is undeniable that some of the voices we hear the most in fashion are ones that aren’t representative of who we are, but by speaking up, vocally and sartorially, we can show others that there is so much more to fashion than money. There are also so many ways to make a statement in fashion that doesn’t strictly involve clothing. With the use of other style pieces, makeup, and any other form of art you associate with fashion, you make yourself part of this conversation. Without being able to do this through my personal sense of style, I wouldn’t have become the person I am today; more confident and outspoken than ever on issues that are critical to my identity.
All images courtesy of Julia Attie. To view more of her photography, click here.