Functional Streetwear: The Daring Aesthetic of Madison Yuan ’23

Combining statement tops with a classic low-rise jean skirt, and black boots, Madison Yuan ’23 is not afraid to add character into basic outfits. Her experimental aesthetic takes elements from Y2K and streetwear styles.

Despite her unconventional clothing choices, according to Yuan, she never sacrifices practicality for style. In addition to factors like the day’s weather, Yuan takes into account her activities for the day while planning outfits, as well as switching up her style across the week.

“Say I wear low rise jeans one day, the next day I might opt for high rise or a skirt or something [else]… If I know that I have dance later that day, then I will try to incorporate more athleisure items. If I know there are meetings or something like that, then I might try for a more ‘girlboss’ look,” explained Yuan.

One of Yuan’s favorite accessories is her jade cricket necklace, which her mom gifted her when she was little. She often wears this necklace as a good luck charm on tests. Yuan described her cricket necklace as her overall mantra surrounding staple pieces in outfits.

“I’m kind of superstitious and I think that it brings good luck. I really do like it. It’s green and has a green string… When I build an outfit, I pick an item that I know I want to wear, and then I will build the outfit around that. So it could be a top that I really want to wear that day, or maybe shoes I want to wear that day, or a certain necklace or something,” said Yuan.

Yuan credits her biggest fashion inspirations as supermodel Bella Hadid and online influencer Emma Chamberlain. Both women enjoy bold, colorful looks inspired by ’90s streetwear, but also opt for more formal designs at times. Furthermore, Yuan explained how she draws inspiration from friends’ styles.

“Some of my closest friends from [Hong Kong] have influenced my style. I think that you get a lot of inspiration from the people that you see around in a city, and also I have a friend who is really stylish, and I take a lot of inspiration from her… Overtime, I have tried to put a kind of functional twist on it,” said Yuan.

Tara Wei ’25, one of Madison’s friends, touched on Yuan’s inspirational streetwear aesthetic. Moreover, Wei discussed the confident and unconventional nature of Yuan’s fashion.

“It’s very streetwear, but in a more elevated way… It brings some elements of almost the ’90s, and that sort of style and aesthetic… She definitely has more clothes, and is not afraid to wear different statement pieces, unusual styles, and overall things that are not super basic and conventional,” said Wei.

Looking towards the future, Yuan hopes to continue stepping out of her comfort zone and taking on risks with more daring or unconventional pieces. She hopes to “channel [her] creativity” through experimenting with new styles and techniques of self-expression through clothing.

“I want to take more risks, try and be more creative and you know, when I see a funky pair of pants at a thrift store, like ‘that’s cool, but I could never wear that, or style it,’ I want to buy it. I want to be that person that buys it, takes that risk, and isn’t afraid of the challenge,” said Yuan.