Wearing a thrifted Tommy Hilfiger quarter-zip, Melanie Cheung ’20 finishes her outfit with mom jeans and white sneakers. These pieces are part of Cheung’s staple wardrobe during the school months, but her style varies throughout the year depending on her location. Cheung is from Shanghai but also spends a lot of time in New York City and Tokyo.
“All the places that I really spend my time in are big cities. That environment allows me to dress in a riskier way than I would here… I’ll do more with weird layers or weird colors… And there [are] so many different places to explore and to shop. If you go to Tokyo, there [are] crazy good places to thrift at reasonable prices. Everything is just organized and beautiful,” said Cheung.
Cheung creates outfits from a small collection consisting of both thrifted and higher-end brands, compiled from shops in several different locations. She prefers to invest in pricier items with better quality rather than buying a large collection of clothes.
“I don’t think I own that many pieces, but the pieces that I own are nice basics that I can wear year-round, layer, and wear different outfits without it being redundant. I avoid H&M, Forever 21, Topshop… I avoid fast fashion. I just think that quality is not there, and the selection is so big,” said Cheung.
While shopping, Cheung thinks carefully about each purchase she makes.
Cheung said, “I love shopping. I feel like when I go shopping, a lot of times I end up window shopping. I’m that kind of person who tries on ten things but buys nothing. The way I shop is, if I don’t absolutely love it, then I won’t get it. Unless I really end up thinking about it later, then I might go back and get it.”
According to Cheung’s friend Katherine Duan ’20, Cheung enjoys creating clothing combinations while keeping comfort and convenience in mind.
“She’s thrifty and classy. She likes to wear a lot of oversized stuff. She’s very much into earth tones and muted colors. It’s [a] very relaxed and laid-back vibe, yet it looks very put-together. It’s like she didn’t try hard on her outfit, but yet it looks good,” said Duan.
Cheung’s family, specifically her mother, is a source of inspiration for her style.
“I think the way I dress is very similar to the way my mom dresses. My parents actually work in clothing manufacturing — sportswear manufacturing, specifically — so clothing has always been a big part of my life. My mom’s philosophy has always been to invest a little more money in quality pieces or unique pieces,” said Cheung.
Cheung also pays careful attention to the color coordination in her outfits.
“The way I dress reflects who I am, again, going back to basics and back to comfort, without it looking too sloppy. [It’s] comfortable, wearable basics, and a lot of earth tones with a pop of color here and there,” said Cheung.
As seen in her outfits, Cheung prefers to layer her clothing, especially with sweaters and jackets. According to Cheung, her outfits allow her to stay comfortable in any kind of climate.
Cheung said, “I would describe [my style] as very comfortable. It’s a lot of sweaters… I prefer to layer clothing, especially with the weather here, I feel like there [are] huge fluctuations between day and night… and in certain buildings. Gelb [Science Center] is always super cold, but Morse [Hall] is really hot usually.”