Emily Zito Talks About Style, Thrifting, and Confidence

When many of us think of the coolest girl at school, that girl is rarely ever cool. We usually think of someone who is mean, stuck-up, and who praises herself for her “original” outfit that she copied from a Brandy Melville model.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Emily Zito, we went to high school together. Emily is the type of person who others are drawn to because she radiates warmth and kindness. Everyone turns to her in a room because of her unique sense of style and the way she carries herself with sophistication, confidence, and poise. She’s the type of person who you would aspire to be, but you know she wouldn’t want you to be anyone other than yourself. This is why I’m doing my very first interview with Emily, she is the true definition of the coolest girl at school.

I wanted to interview you because I saw you almost every day in high school, and you were a person who always stood out to me.  I call you my style icon because you look so put together and unique. With that said, my first question to you is why do you like to dress the way that you do?

“Aw, thank you! Ever since middle school, I never wanted to dress like anyone else. That’s why I love thrift stores so much because I can find things that no one else has. That’s why I don’t love going to fast fashion corporations because you see the same thing on everyone else. I want to stand out.”

Do you have any style inspirations?

“I don’t think I have a specific inspiration because I like to pull things from different people. I’m often influenced by different eras like the 90’s white oversized men’s shirts or the colors from the 70s. I am inspired by anyone who is doing their own thing.”

I see on your Instagram that you post Tyler the Creator a lot-

“Yeah, I was just about to bring him up. I think he’s so cool on how he does music, scoring, fashion, and how he doesn’t give a f**k about anything. He dresses however he wants, so I find a lot of inspiration behind that. I love it when people wear things that may come off as ugly, but they’re wearing their clothes for themselves, and I think that’s really cool. So yeah, he’s definitely one of the people that I look up to.”

I admire people who don’t care if what they’re wearing is seen as ugly too, but do you ever feel pressured to look good all of the time?

“Kinda, sometimes. Going to school everyday people tend to notice your outfits. For example, you tell me you think I dress cute, which makes me aware that people pay attention to the way that I dress. At the same time, I don’t care very much because when I get dressed in the morning and I dress cute, I do it for myself. I love to play with the different things that I wear, so I guess yes and no. When people know that you’re into fashion, people think that you have to look good all the time and that’s where the pressure comes from, but if I want to wear leggings and a hoodie then I will definitely wear that.”

With me, I sometimes feel pressured because on the days where I do dress down people tend to ask me if I’m sick!

“Yes! They’re like ‘is something wrong with you? You’re not stepping out today!’ Nope, I just don’t feel like it!”

You said that you dress for yourself, so would you describe yourself as being a confident person?

“I think so. You don’t necessarily need the confidence to dress in different ways, but I do consider myself to be confident because you need the confidence to know that you can pull things off when you see that no one else is dressing like this.”

Does your confidence come from anywhere? I often think that I am confident, especially when it comes to what I wear, but as soon as I step outside that confidence suddenly disappears.

“I’m not sure because I feel like it’s been an internal thing for all of my life. I never had to tell myself repeatedly to ‘be confident’ before I stepped outside, I just did it. I think what’s helped me is having an older sister. She’s into fashion as well, and she inspired me growing up. Watching her wear what she wants and not give a f**k about others’ opinions made me think that I could do that too. It’s so much more fun being confident and loving how you dress, so that is what I do.”

Do you think you would like to pursue going into the fashion industry when you get older?

“I don’t think so because it’s not a deep passion of mine, I just think it’s a fun thing to do. I like shopping at Goodwill and dressing really cool, so I don’t see a career path, but you never know. I do love it and I want to keep my options open.”

Do a lot of your friends shop at thrift stores too or are they more into fast fashion?

“A lot of them shop at Urban Outfitters, and I think I own five things from that store. I believe Urban Outfitters targets that Goodwill type of style, and I think that’s very smart of them because they are a business, but then again it’s overpriced. I could get something much cooler at a thrift store. My friends do both but they lean more towards the stores. You definitely have to have an eye when you thrift.”

I think you’re right, you definitely have to have a good eye for thrifting. I try to go to thrift stores but I tend to only find jackets and blazers at Goodwill. Then I look at other people who thrift and it seems like they’re able to find so many things. I don’t know how to sort through it, do you have any methods?

“I like to start with the handbags because I think a little purse is so cute. I see everyone else finding jeans at goodwill, but I think finding a good pair of jeans is the trickiest thing for me. I go straight towards outerwear, but that’s probably I love outerwear and I gravitate towards it. I think a key thing is being patient and going in with no expectations.”

Going in with no expectations is important because a lot of people are set with the style that they have, but in Goodwill you see clothing coming from a bunch of different people, and I think you need to keep an open mind. You may see something that you wouldn’t normally wear, but maybe I can do something with it to make it my own.

“Yes, for sure. One day I can dress like a five-year-old little boy and the next a thirty-year-old mom, just really chic. That’s what is so much fun about Goodwill. As you said, you’re seeing a wardrobe that a variety of people have contributed to, so one person can dress in all these different ways. Of course, you have your own thing that you like, but I think keeping an open mind makes things more interesting and keeps you unpredictable.”

Sometimes my parents or older adults look at me and say, “uhh what are you wearing?” Do you hear that from older adults as well?

“Yes, my mom says that all the time. I’ll wear my cute slack pants, and my mom calls me a grandma, but I tell her ‘yeah, I want to embrace the grandma look!’ My mom always responds with, ‘well it’s you and that’s all that matters.’ I bet some people look at my outfits and think they’re ugly but it is important for me to embrace it. It’s more interesting when not everyone likes your outfits.”

Well, I happen to love all of your outfits! So, it is now October and you told me that you love fall fashion. The weather is still hot, but what are your favorite fall styles?

“I really love outerwear so my closet is filled with jackets and coats. A good coat is essential. It’s kinda ironic that I live in San Diego because I have so many coats but I’m just waiting to move somewhere colder.”

How would you describe your style?

“I would call my style casual chic. I want to be comfortable but also look like a bad b***h when I’m stepping out. I still feel like a bad b***h in my hoodie, leggings, and my Reebok shoes. Being a bad b***h is a mindset. It’s not all about what you have on, I think what attracts people to others is their presence. People are attracted to energy.”

A lot of people say that young people like to follow the crowd. Do you feel like our generation is stepping away from that and we are trying to wear clothes that we truly like despite the opinions of others?

“I think our generation is better at not caring and dressing how we want. I see that a lot in friend groups. I see a lot of friend groups who all have a similar aesthetic but each person has their own individual spin on that aesthetic. Although it feels like our generation is straying away from conformity, I know there is still a lot of people rushing to Urban Outfitters to buy something that they see everyone else at school wearing.”

The reason why I asked that question is because I’m looking at the glitter on your eyes and I’m thinking about the show Euphoria. The girls on that show have their own unique style and I know they have inspired other people to dress how they want.

“Yeah and I think that’s a good thing that people who didn’t have the confidence to dress a certain way see the way that Rue dresses and they think ‘okay, I can dress like a tomboy.’ Then there is Cat who is a boss a** b***h who wears whatever she wants. That’s really cool for bigger and curvier girls who can see someone as confident as she is on TV.”

You mentioned how Rue can inspire others to dress in a more typically “masculine” way, do you ever feel pressured to only dress in a way that is seen as being feminine? 

“I guess there is some pressure because I am a girl, but I really do like dressing more masculine on some days because sometimes I think it’s more comfortable. I love to wear black pants, a turtle neck, and a graphic tee even if that may not be super feminine. I think that seeing Rue or characters like Rue show people that it’s cool and just as interesting to dress that way.”

I tend to dress more femininely because I feel that’s how I’m expected to dress. I do gravitate towards feminine styles more, but I don’t think you should have to pick one. I think we can combine the two if that is what we like.

“I feel like there is always going to be pressure when it comes to gender and clothing, but I think it’s getting better with our generation.”

Do you have any pieces in your closet that you feel very attached to and if they ever got stolen you would feel devastated?

“For me, three things come to mind and they are all coats. I have a zebra coat that I recently got from Oregon, my deep orange 70s coat with reflective detail that I got at a thrift store, and my coat that I like to call my Matrix coat.”

I’ve seen your Matrix coat on Instagram. I see a lot of your outfits on there. A lot of people like to talk about social media and it’s negative effects, but how does it make you feel?

“I think I have a love-hate relationship. I look at my feed consisting of people from high school, and I think that I don’t really need to follow these people because half of them I don’t care what they’re posting. I love social media for the explore page or the fashion Instagram pages. I have folders saved of looks that I love and like to get inspiration from. I haven’t posted a picture in a while but when I do post I do it for me. I like it when feeds have a unique look. I don’t focus on if someone from high school likes my pictures or not. I think it’s cute when your friends or people you may not know very well comment on a post because they like your outfit. I do that too sometimes because I want to be supportive. I think that’s a positive thing about social media, how supportive people can be, but it can definitely get to some people’s heads and they end up posting just for the comments. It has its pros and cons just like everything else.”

I first got an Instagram in middle school, but I deleted it because I noticed myself only posting what I felt others would like. I got one again this year because I told myself if I wanted to post a picture, I have to do it for me.

“I was actually looking through your Instagram the other day and I was thinking about how it’s really cool that you’re posting all these paintings because that is what you’re interested in. I think your feed should be a representation of you and what you want to see.”

So, we talked about handbags, coats, and pants, but what about shoes?

“In middle school, while everyone was into sneakers, I was obsessed with black boots. I still have five pairs of them because I used to center my whole wardrobe around them. Now I’m into sneakers. My one stars are my essentials, I can’t let them go. I also have my Tyler Golf le Fleur shoes. I love Reeboks. I really like wearing a fancy dress but dressing it down with a denim jacket, a belt, and a pair of sneakers. I like to mix my silk dresses with black boots or sneakers. It’s fun to play with shoes!”

Let’s say it’s the weekend and you’re dressed in an outfit that you feel very confident in, where would you like to go?

“I love going to concerts, that’s a huge part of my life. My friend Zoë and I go to a coffee shop every first of the month and we get dressed up to listen to live music. The little events here and there are really fun.”

Do you ever plan your outfits with your friends?

“Sometimes! When we went to the coffee shop to listen to live music and the theme was the 90s so we planned our outfits accordingly. When we went roller skating we wore a bunch of glitter and bright colors because we wanted to dress like the characters on Euphoria. We don’t do it all the time because we each have our own aesthetic and way that we like to dress.

I wish this interview had a conclusion so I can call myself a professional interviewer but after the previous question, we drifted to a variety of topics, such as chateaus, tea parties, travel, college life, and movies. Although I am still learning how to interview, I hope you were able to learn more about Emily and yourselves. I didn’t write this interview so you could imitate Emily’s style, but so she could inspire you to have the confidence to create your own.

Written by: Maya Dixon
Photos By: Emily Zito

In the Closet of: Ayana Jimenez

Meet Ayana:

24-year-old Ayana Jimenez was born and raised in the Philippines, but she moved to Seattle, WA last summer. I met her at Coachella Weekend 2, and her style was too good not to capture. Two out of three of her outfits were original creations – she’s in the process of creating her own clothing line! Ayana loves to travel, dance and take photos. She was most excited to see Bon Iver at Coachella. Her dream job would be a professional dancer. In ten years, Ayana hopes to be “settled in,” hopefully by the beach.

How would you describe your style?

My style usually goes with how I feel. It could go from bohemian to sexy, girly to preppy, casual to elegant. Mixing and matching color palettes is my favorite thing to play with.

What inspires, or influences, your style?

I get inspired by my surroundings – color palettes of buildings, landmarks, sunsets, trees, deserts, skies, etc. Some [of my styles] are influenced by past fashion trends.

How did you decide that you wanted to start a clothing line?

I simply wanted to create clothes that inspire the free spirit – something that could work for everyone.

How would you describe your line? What kind of pieces are you hoping to put out?

I don’t have a line at the moment. [My cousin and I] are in the process of experimenting, and hopefully we’ll slowly put it out when we’re ready. For the line of dresses, we were thinking of something that has a gypsy, island girl feel to it, with subtle, elegant cuts or slits here and there. We want a lot of looks that tie around the body and waist, so it can work freely for anyone. My cousin, Alexis Jimenez, is currently working on a collection of sexy and elegant robes.

What has been the hardest thing about this process? What has been the most fun?

It’s a challenge to find the right fabrics and patterns. The fun part is seeing the actual product come to life.

Where do you see your clothing line going?

We could see it starting out online, and then moving into boutiques. Hopefully, we’ll be partnering with brands in the future.

What’s your favorite current trend?

Tattered jeans and denim. I love seeing sneakers!

Featured Image by Alexis Jimenez.

In the Closet of: Coachella

Coachella has officially come to an end, and my friends and I had the amazing opportunity to go to Weekend 2. After hearing about the surprise guests and seeing all of the amazing art structures, venues and outfits at Weekend 1, our expectations were high – and they were all totally met! SDSU students Alexis Jimenez and Rafia Rehman shared their thoughts and opinions on Coachella, festival style and their favorite looks

Looking back at both weekends, what would you say were the most common pieces? What items stood out to you the most?

Alexis Jimenez: A lot of people wore maxi dresses, sheer or mesh materials, bralettes and those Western-looking buckle belts. Cool, unique sunglasses with different colored lenses stood out to me a lot.

Rafia Rehman: Most people wore bandanas, shorts, skirts and crop tops. The items that stood out to me the most were the accessories people added to their outfits, like jewelry and glitter. Those can really turn any simple outfit into an original look.

Who, or what, did you take inspiration from when you were putting your outfits together?

AJ: Jhene Aiko. I like her style a lot – it’s really chill, but she always looks chic and put together. I also went for a ’90s, kind of a retro vibe for one of the days, and I pulled inspiration from Tommy Hilfiger for that. A lot of people go for the “gypsy,” hippie look at Coachella, but I wanted to look different. I wanted to be comfortable but still look cute, so I kept that in mind when I was creating my outfits.

RR: Woodstock, definitely. I was going for that carefree, 70s vibe.

What was your favorite look at Coachella?

AJ: I really liked the retro looks. I saw a lot of people wearing vintage pieces – vintage Gucci tees, old band shirts, sneakers with denim.

RR: My Day 3 look was my favorite. It was the most comfortable and it felt the most original to my style.

Which artists were you looking forward to seeing the most? 

AJ: Gucci Mane. He was the only rapper I’ve been wanting to see that I haven’t already [seen]. I was really excited to see Jai Wolf’s “Indian Summer” because that song holds a lot of memories for me. I saw Kehlani at the Pemberton Music Festival in Canada last year, but it was cool to see her again last weekend. She’s one of my favorites. Seeing Bon Iver perform “Skinny Love” was an amazing experience. I always tried to play it on my guitar; never worked out, but hearing it live was enough for me!

RR: Mura Masa, Francis and the Lights, Porter Robinson, Bon Iver and Kendrick Lamar. Francis and the Lights is such a quirky performer – he was fun to watch. I really wanted to hear NAO’s “Bad Blood” and Glass Animals’s “Gooey” – both were amazing.

Who would you have loved to run into at Coachella?

AJ: Aimee Song and Rocky Barnes. They’re my favorite bloggers, and it would’ve been cool to see what outfits they came up with. Vanessa Hudgens came back to Coachella for Weekend Two. She’s been deemed the “Coachella Queen” the past few years because of her festival style, so it would’ve been cool to see her. She was posting on Instagram, so I was trying to look for her outfit in the crowd!

RR: Rihanna. She’s fierce. I look up to her as a woman and a fashion icon.

What advice would you give to people interested in going to Coachella next year?

AJ: Bring a bandana because you’ll be literally inhaling dust for three days.

RR: Be prepared for there to be a lot of people. Plan out who you want to see so you can figure out how to get to everyone. Eat before you get there, and bring snacks – the food is ridiculously expensive! Don’t forget to hydrate.

Featured Image by Alexis Jimenez.