Look of the Week: Moni Cepeda ’20 Fuses Simplicity with Japanese Heritage in Style

Styling a pair of knee-high black suede boots, Moni Cepeda ’20 exhibits her monochromatic style with a black shirt and black pants. To add bold flair to her outfit, she layered a white windbreaker and accessorized with a metallic rose gold choker.

“I love simple styles and very simple, basic pieces, maybe because there’s this inner turmoil inside me. Secretly I long for a simpler lifestyle… I like to pair really neon sneakers with a completely monochromatic look, or maybe completely everything black with a hot pink jacket, just a couple loud items that might seem a little crazy with a simple one,” said Cepeda.

Having lived in Japan for the majority of her life, Cepeda believes that being half-Japanese has largely shaped her current style.

“Being half-Japanese in Japan, I was always treated differently. I think I felt this need to have a sense of style that screamed louder than my face made me so that I would walk into a room, and the first thing they notice is not, ‘Wow, where is she from? She’s foreign,’ but, ‘Wow, look at her dress’ or maybe like, ‘Wow, that’s so cool. I wonder where that piece came from. What made her think to put those things together?’ ” said Cepeda.

According to Cepeda, her experiences in Japan ultimately led her to incorporate simple, standout items in her everyday style.

“I do like simple very much, but I don’t like to blend in… I’ve never wanted to just be one of them, and that might be partly because of my growing up in Japan where I never could be one of them, and I had to learn to deal with that… There’s so many things you can do to influence the way people look at you when you stand out from that crowd, and I want that to be a good way where you last in someone’s memory [because of your outfit],” said Cepeda.

While Cepeda is primarily influenced by her Japanese heritage, she recalls her family trip in Vietnam as a little girl as another turning point of her view of fashion.

“I was very young, and the Japanese clothing seemed as cultural as you could get at the time, but then I go to Vietnam, and I get this pair of pajamas that look totally absurd, but they also had this certain kind of beauty to it, and I was definitely attracted to that. Since then, I’ve definitely been opening my eyes more towards different cultures and their styles, the shapes and the forms of everything,” said Cepeda.

According to Cepeda’s friend Ianna Ramdhany ’20, Cepeda has the skill of bringing together items that alone seem to clash to a single, unique look.

“[Cepeda is] really unique about her style, and she takes simple elements and puts together these really stylish outfits. She’s definitely helped me step out of my comfort zone and not worry about what everyone else is wearing together and to just try different things no matter if it’s in style or not,” said Ramdhany.

At Andover, Cepeda strives to incorporate the various influences on style she has received throughout her life, while not losing her original taste.

“Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of what I really think looks good because there’s so many outside influences. But at the end of the day, all those things matter in shaping your own personal style because it doesn’t all come from inside. On campus, I just try to remember what I like, and I try to remember what I feel good in, and I try to wear that everyday,” said Cepeda.