Quad Style: Natalia Rodriguez
Hey, I’m Natalia Rodriguez! I’m a second year majoring in Law, Letters, and Society and tentatively Philosophy. I do quite a bit of photography on campus: I’m the Assistant Photography Editor of MODA Magazine, I’m on the photography staff for the MODA Blog, and I’m also the photographer for the Theater and Performance Studies Department (TAPS). Additionally, I am a vocalist and communications manager of Voices in Your Head, one of the a cappella groups on campus. I am also an editor and journalist for the podcast section of the Chicago Maroon.
How would you describe your personal style?
I hate to use the word eclectic, but that is how my style has been described to me so I’m sticking with it. My style tends to have a bit of everything and I love to try new things. It definitely has gotten more tame over the years. Back in high school I was definitely honing my aesthetic so there were some pretty gaudy hiccups.
I personally believe that fashion is not so much about the brands or how much the pieces cost, it’s about finding pieces that mean something to you and building a collection that tells a story over time. This is gross, but I actually wrote my UChicago supplement about this. The prompt asked us to come up with an idiom so I devised “to patter in my tatters.” It points to how nothing in my closet is “particularly expensive; my humble tatters are a sum worth greater than the individual parts.”
My style showcases the different aspects that make me uniquely me. There is a freedom that comes with this authenticity.
Where do you find style inspiration?
My style inspiration first came from my older brother. He is fourteen years older than me, so he is really like a third parent. When I was really young he made it his mission to culture me and with that came cultivating my style. I distinctly remember a number of occasions in elementary school where he wouldn’t let me get into the car to go get ice cream or go to the park until I changed and put on an outfit that better suited his incredibly high standards.
When I got older, and had more regular access to the internet, he introduced me to fashion blogs and websites. That is how I found Atlantic Pacific and Man Repeller. I entirely blame Blair Eadie (Atlantic Pacific creator) for my tulle and skirt layering phases. Man Repeller is what really built my confidence [in fashion]. I was really awed by its concept: dressing in ways that were off-putting to men because who cares what men think anyway? This remedied a certain comment I frequently received: “If you continue to dress like that no man will ever love you,” and well to that fourteen-year-old boy I say, “I still dress like that and I’m doing just fine.”
Where do you like to shop?
I’m waiting to be slain by all of the Off-White/Gucci-clad cool kids on this campus, but yes I do wear mostly fast fashion… Sorry, gimme a minute to recover, someone just strangled me with a $250 wool Acne Studios scarf.
Right now fast fashion is what I can afford, so I look to those iconic brands more with admiration and for inspiration. Now you can all exhale a bit, I own very few items from Urban Outfitters, but I regret to inform you that much of my clothing is from Zara, Uniqlo, and if I’m feeling special (i.e. my mother is feeling generous) Free People or Anthropologie. I am all about the thrift and generally refuse to buy anything that isn’t on sale, unless it is highly practical and has a fixed price (like Doc Martens, DAMN YOU).
More literally, I have been thrift shopping quite a bit lately. I have found some of my best pieces that way in some of the most random states (Colorado, Georgia, etc). You never know what you’ll find and it’s typically low investment, high return (this is not how econ works, I apologize).
Do you have any fashion regrets?
Oh tons, both long and short term. Short term, this is shallow, but I will realize that I am making a fashion mistake halfway through the school day and then will go home and change, regardless of whether or not it is inconvenient to do so. Long term, I think my biggest regret was trying to fit into the middle school athleisure game. I have an unusual body type so what the twelve-year-old girls were wearing just didn’t fit well, so I was kind of forced to seek alternatives that really worked for me.
That being said, in the process of finding those alternatives there were also many poor choices made. The aforementioned skirt layering phase was one of them. On a given day, I would wear several layers of skirts (one may call them petticoats) under an a-line dress. Sometimes even with a sweater or blazer and belt to tie it together. I was truly doing THE MOST. I also really got into hats for a while. Beanies and fedoras in particular which are both a NO. The fedora phase really lasted too long. Thank you [insert frat name] for enabling me to lose my final fedora during your Halloween party my first year at UChicago and essentially cutting me off from that style c o l d t u r k e y. I am forever indebted to you.
I think overall, a lot of my fashion regrets really stem from my own body insecurities. Something I’ve learned is that I need to acknowledge when I look good and not regret taking risks. Two years ago I probably never would have worn hoop earrings, a crop top, or even had my hair up in a photo. Confidence is certainly still a work in progress for me, but I am proud of the progress I have made.
All photos courtesy of Daniel Chae.