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Culture Shock

WIUX But Make It Fashun: McKenzie Conrad

Welcome to the first installment of WIUX But Make It Fashun, with Nick Comer!

For me, fashion serves as an extension of self; it’s an external outlet of expression for internal aspects of oneself. Not to mention, walking down the street knowing you look damn good is one of the best feelings! With fashion playing such an important role in not only my own everyday life, but also for many other fashion-forward students on campus as well, I couldn’t resist taking a moment to talk with some of these campus fashion icons about personal style, tips, and the fashion industry itself. Like my predecessor, WIUFLEX, I’ll also tailor a playlist inspired by the students and their style. Every other week I’ll write up a new student and their style, so stay on the look-out. After my next installment, I’ll be taking to the streets; so, if you’re sporting some dope clothes I might just stop you for an interview!

Unless you’re living under a rock, then you’ve walked around campus and noticed someone who makes you want to stop for a second look or to even say “now, that is a look!” There is a fair share of sweats and hoodies on campus, but there’s also plenty of high-fashion on-a-budget outfits hanging on some impeccably stylish bodies. McKenzie Conrad is one of those people. Kenz and I have been great friends since high school, and in fact, we both were voted best dressed in 2015 and 2016 respectively. I often find a lot of my own inspiration for styles or ways of wearing certain items from her. If you’ve seen her walking around campus, then chances are you’ve figured out for yourself that she has a mind for fashion. Her unique and gentle style that comes without sharp edges, matches not only her exterior but her kind interior as well. So, I decided to sit down with her, ask some questions about fashion in her everyday life, and snap some pictures of some of her best ‘fits. I’d listen up if I were you, she has some pretty solid advice!


When did you first get into fashion? Why? And how do you feel your style has progressed or changed since then?

My sister who studied fashion design first ignited my interest in the art and business of fashion. I always felt a draw to it as a way that I could express who I was and how I didn’t necessarily want to follow normal style boundaries. I think as I’ve gotten older, especially in college, I’ve stopped caring about how people may perceive my outfit to be weird or unflattering because I know that it’s the easiest way to express my inner art.

How would you describe your personal style?

In a nutshell, I dress for how I feel. Most of my closet is thrifted, unique items mixed with newer trends to create a vintage, androgynous look that I love. “70’s grandfather meets modern steampunk” would be my ideal (laughs).

Do you have any fashion inspiration(s)? Why?

I really look up to Alexa Chung, who’s created a name for herself in the fashion industry as a writer and designer. Her style is very high-fashion with a vintage feel to her line. Katharine Hepburn’s use of menswear chic also was a huge inspiration even now.

Why do you feel fashion is important? And do you feel fashion is an extension of self-expression?

I believe fashion is extremely important. It’s wearable art, and although it’s merely external, we tell a story through our clothes. I think that many times we miss the opportunity to use style as a way to show who we are, not a specific brand name, but a combination of artistic nuances.

How do you go about accomplishing a trendy, avant-garde, high-fashion inspired style while remaining on a budget? How could others on a budget go about accomplishing this themselves?

Fashion is a cycle: thrift stores are your friends. As we begin to stray from fast-fashion, we have an entire realm of antique treasures at our disposal. Mixing quality pieces can easily give you a high-fashion aura while adding trendy details. I’ve found a Prada bag at Goodwill: anything is possible.


Do you feel the way you dress affects the way people perceive you?

Yeah, I think it can help attract people with more common interests when I dress like myself rather than a hoodie and leggings. Although it’s important to avoid snap judgments on appearance, you can learn a lot about what people enjoy by their style.

How do you feel about fashion mergers such as brands collaborating with fashion houses (Supreme and Louis Vuitton), fast fashion with high fashion (H&M and Moschino), and “department store high fashion” with well-established high fashion houses (the buyout of Versace by Michael Kors)?

I’m conflicted. I’m aware that the deals are making these brands more affordable and obtainable for lower-income fashionistas; however, part of the beauty of high fashion comes with the rarity of their creations. Mass-producing, especially with unsustainable companies may be the death of certain corners of the industry (and our planet).

As a senior here at IU who has certainly found her footing, what are some tips regarding individuality and expression that you could share with those just beginning a new stage in their life?

Don’t give a fuck. There’s a noticeable pressure to conform in every way at IU, especially externally. We’re young and our time is so short here, so change as much as you can, because you’ll create something beautiful.


Speed Round! Essential accessory?


Favorite season to dress for?


Favorite brand?

I don’t have one!

Favorite fashion house/designer?

Jean-Paul Gaultier / Regina Pyo

Gucci’s camp or Dolce and Gabanna’s “haute hippie”?


Best dressed at the 2018 Met Gala?

Lily Collins or Jared Leto


McKenzie Conrad, SPEA, Arts Management, 2019 - Find more of her stunning outfits and dazzling personality here: Instagram and Twitter


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