Layering jeans over fishnet tights, Kelly Xu ’20 completed her outfit with a red cropped tank-top with black stripes.
After coming to Andover to pursue her education, Xu found that her style evolved with her exposure to different cultures. According to Xu, American society promotes an open-minded attitude toward different styling choices, which motivated Xu to take fashion risks.
“Different cultures prefer different types of clothing. In Japan, girls tend to dress more conservative and cutesy. People in Japan don’t wear stuff like [crop tops] and walk around on the streets. I wouldn’t say this is [entirely] Japanese culture, but socially, Japan is a little more conservative,” said Xu.
Despite the different social atmosphere in Japan, Xu’s experience at Andover has allowed her to explore a wider range of styles and has added to her confidence.
“[A man who lives in my building] gave me so many side-eyes one day when I was wearing a crop [top]. The second day, I just wore a shorter crop and sat right in front of him. He was so disturbed, but I feel, if you can’t deal with this, it’s your problem. I’m wearing this — too bad. Every time someone says that to me, I’m like, “No, we get to wear whatever we want. You don’t get to tell us what we should do,’ ” said Xu.
Aside from cultural influences, Xu says physical conditions also play an important role in influencing her fashion choices of the day.
“If the weather’s really nice and I wear something really plain like grey sweatpants, I don’t think it’s a fitting outfit to the weather itself. On [sunny] days, I would wear crops or white or bright colors. On rainy days, I would wear something that’s more downto-earth — colors that are more plain. I think you need the environment to bring the best out of your outfit,” said Xu.
Xu finds fashion inspiration in her friends both at home and at Andover. They provide each other with advice and accompany one another when shopping for clothes.
“Back home [I] had a bunch of friends who were kind of into fashion. I didn’t really care, but some of my friends really like fashion design. [One of them is] currently in Parsons [School of Design]. She criticises what I wear, so I learn a lot from her. [At Andover], it’s mutual. I get inspiration from my friends and my roommate, Ana Nikolaeva [’20],” said Xu.
Xu often looks to online stores when shopping for clothing, which allows her to browse a variety of styles.
Mathis Weber ’20, a friend of Xu’s, said, “When we don’t have anything to do in class, she always goes online shopping, and I’m always there watching YouTube videos. I think she puts a lot of work into it, and it’s nice. She dresses well.”
In addition to her clothing, Xu uses makeup, hair, and accessories to complete her look. Xu credits the blonde highlights in her hair with adding more vibrancy and edge to her style. Xu strives for variation in her makeup and matches it to her mood.
“I buy things from a lot of stores with different styles. For example, if I’m feeling extra edgy today and not in a very great mood, I will put on like eyeliner [to say], ‘Don’t talk to me,’ and wear all black and fishnets. Or if I’m feeling great today, I wear bright colors and a more natural makeup [look],” said Xu.