GU Fashion Spotlight: Wenni Zhao

This week’s fashion spotlight, a sophomore from Redmond area, pushes the boundary in all things fashion. Her first statement piece in junior high—a long white sweater (that some even dubbed, “cape”)— and her raw artistic talent were the catalysts for her unique creative expression that materializes in her clothing today. Find out more about Wenni Zhao, her philosophy on not matching, how she has come to connect her major with her passion, and her thoughts on why everyone on campus should wear bindis (or really…whatever they want)!


SO: Can you describe your usual everyday style/look?

WZ: Ok yeah so I guess my style would be a little more edgy. I guess my style is kind of provocative but it’s provocative in a non-traditional sense; like my shirt is all the way up to my neck, but I’m showing part of my legs that other people don’t usually show. Like I wouldn’t wear a low tank top and really short shorts, but I would wear a high tank top and show some of my thigh. Literally I look like a witch right now (laughs).

SO: What article of clothing could you not live without?

WZ: My thigh highs…my thigh highs for sure. I think thigh highs are so edgy. I think they can bring sexiness into anything you wear. Because they add something interesting to every outfit and they can change your look. It’s not any different if you were to wear anything without high thighs, except if you’re wearing them you’re just warmer than anyone else!

Also, I love when people ask me “aren’t you cold?”,

and I’m like “yeah, aren’t you cold?”,

and they’re like, “yeah”,

and so I’m like, “ok cool, we’re both cold except I look better!”

How can you not be cold here…honestly I don’t want to spend a ton a ton of money on different kinds of leggings and fifty types of winter jackets… it’s just so boring! Honestly, just do you! People where what they want, I wear what I want.

SO: Walk me through the outfit you are wearing now.

WZ: Shoes: All white platform booties—I don’t know, I like all white.


Bottom: Sheer stockings held up by a garter. And then black shorts underneath (so I’m not ‘gonna flash people).

Top: A black cut off t-shirt that has big bold letters, caged bralette that’s really strappy, super long dark green cardigan ‘cause it’s fall and it keeps me super warm, and a choker ‘cause I like chokers!


All my clothes usually come from Nasty Gal or brands like UNIF or Omighty—they make super crude shirts, and just really inappropriate, funny things.


SO: If you received $1,000 to spend at any store, where would it be?!

WZ: Probably Nasty Gal or Urban Outfitters. There are a couple men’s brands of clothing that I really like too that make really cool graphic tees but I just haven’t splurged on one. And Aritzia! Some of my clothes come from Aritzia too.

SO: What is your go to color?

WZ: Pink! I like to be really girly too. I like to dress more feminine sometimes, but edgy too ‘cause I don’t like to look like every girl out there! I just don’t like looking like everyone else. If your mind is unique and creative, you should dress unique and creative ‘cause that’s the reflection you give off to me. If I dress like this, it’s showing that I’m a more confident, unique, creative person. I don’t know, when other people choose to see that as something else, they’re only limiting themselves because they’re choosing to see that person that way for the rest of their life. I feel like self expression is really, really important in being the fullest person you can be. People are always like, “does this match?”, and I’m like, “who says things have to match?!”…life doesn’t match!

SO: You seem to have a passion for fashion; does your major tie into this at all or your plans for the future?

WZ: I’m environmental studies. That comes from the fact that when I was really young, I was more of an introvert. I was super creative and I took art class since I was maybe 4 or 5…yeah. I used to want to be a fashion designer, so for a couple of years I was taking drawing and sewing classes and started to build my portfolio to apply to fashion schools. But then I realized it was more of a hobby and not something I wanted to spend my life doing, and so I kind of channel that [creative energy] into what I wear now!

SO: Have you found any connect between your major, environmental studies, and fashion?

WZ: I think there definitely could be. I just read something about how a lot of business in the clothing industry, they don’t have the most sustainable way of making their products. Their dies and their extras—like the extra waste that comes out from making the product— are all super toxic to the environment. I used to want to create my own, I guess, earth friendly clothing brand, but now I think I’m going to be an environmental lawyer.

SO: What or who is your fashion inspiration/idol?

WZ: There’s actually a girl on Youtube called “Clothes Encounters”; her name is Jen, and she is Asian too. She is so so so cute and nice, and her outfits are like, the greatest outfits I’ve ever seen. I started following her and was really inspired by what she wore and decided that I wanted to be equally happy and excited as she was and I felt like I can take on the world [when I did]! She also has an Instagram “ImJennim”.

And then also my roommate, Tati Ranis, ‘cause she just appreciates my clothes! And she loves to dress in her own unique style too ‘cause she’s a really creatively driven person. I love that I can wear certain things and she loves it and helps me with it ‘cause she understands where I’m coming from.

SO: What trends will you be investing in this fall?

WZ: I’m really excited to wear my sweaters! I love high-low sweaters, and like, really long sweaters. Even this one goes down to my ankle…I love that because I like when things look different!


SO: If your whole wardrobe was burning down, what would be the one piece you would save?

WZ: Oh my gosh…if my whole wardrobe was burning down! I’ve definitely thought of this before. I think the one thing I would probably save, is like, I have this white sweater from Free People. It’s actually immediately what I thought of when I said [I’m excited to wear] sweaters. It’s the first thing I ever bought from Free People; I think it was my first statement piece I ever really brought. That started off the way I dress now. It was just such a weird thing, people would tell me all the time, “you look like you’re wearing a cape”! The sweater is a white striped knit baggy sweater—like a v-neck with tight sleeves, and it tapers down to mid calf. I remember I bought it when I was in junior high, which was a weird thing because people didn’t really make those cuts…and thinking this is like the biggest piece I have in my closet! People used to always hate on it!

SO: Was there anything that you think specifically urged you to express yourself in this way from early on?

WZ: I think it’s just ‘cause in junior high, I was never into sports, never on a cheer team; I was always the really energetic, creative, overly hyper kid. It sometimes sucked ‘cause I was really insecure in junior high, but it also helped a lot ‘cause it just made me channel those feelings into something I could really be excited about and something I could actually be good at doing!


SO: If you could bring any trend on campus, what would it be?

WZ: Honestly I think it would be kind of funny if everyone wore bindis! I think it would make everyone a little more Namaste, hopefully. When people look at each other, everyone would appear a little more exotic, a little more nicer. I think everyone would give each other a break if everyone was wearing a bindi.


SO: Who would win in a Project Runway walk-off: A Kardashian straight out of Coachella or Keyboard Cat?

WZ: Who’s Keyboard cat? ‘Cause honestly, I think the Kardashians are super basic…I think they try really hard. If I had the money, I could probably dress like them. Their style is so what I would expect them to wear.


Thanks for sitting down and talking with GU Style Spotlight, Wenni! If you are a fashionista on campus…trend-setter… trend-follower…anyone who takes a liking to what they put on when they wake up in the morning…or know of anyone who would be interested in talking fashion with us, we invite you to reach out to the GUBB staff and we would love to sit down with you!


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