A freshman journalism major and photographer/writer for The Bulletin, Libby Kamrowski knows a thing or two about dressing for herself—and not to impress or imitate others. Her alternative-punk but also hipster-artsy clothing choices can be attributed to her hometown of Olympia, Washington. Learn about Libby, her expert thrifting tips (she started in the fifth grade!), how she stays connected with her twin who does not attend Gonzaga, and her involvement in the St. Baldrick’s Foundation event happening THIS Saturday at GU!
SO: Can you describe your usual everyday style/look? How would your friends describe your style?
LK: I kind of have two styles I guess. I dress in a relatively business casual way sometimes, which is definitely on the hipster side of life—I’m from Olympia and a lot of people dress like this. But coming here, not everyone dressed like me. My other style is alternative punk. Not in a basic white girl way, but I wear beanies and printed leggings with graphic tees and stuff like that and it’s just a little more punk than the normal student body here. My friends would describe me as “artsy” and I guess I’ve come to embrace that a lot more lately.
SO: How has your style evolved throughout the years?
LK: Olympia is definitely a progressive-like city where people always dress how they want to. At the beginning of high school, I guess I just dressed like everyone else; I didn’t want to be apart from the crowd in any type of way. And then around sophomore year to senior year, and basically now, I just kind of realized that people are put on earth to be their own people instead of like everyone else…so why not apply that to clothing style? ‘Cause that’s a really easy way to express yourself, I think.
SO: If your suitcase got lost in transit while you were on an airplane, and soon after a fairy appeared and told you that you could save one and only one fashion piece from your luggage, what would it be?
LK: It definitely wouldn’t be something that’s store bought because you can re-purchase things like that. I would say 65% of my wardrobe is thrifted, so I would say one of those thrifted items that I would literally never be able to find again. Right now, my favorite piece of clothing…it’s a black and white houndstooth sweater that I got at Value Village (in Olympia). I’ve had it for a couple years. The style is kind of like 1960’s. I also don’t know what gender of clothing it is. I went to a Paul McCartney concert and I wore that!
SO: Do you thrift often in Spokane?
LK: I haven’t gone shopping a lot here, but I went to The Ark and picked up some things…like this vest. I also bought a really nice ski jacket for only $13 and it looks like it’s worth probably around $100 because of the quality of it! I want to make a trip to the local Value Village ‘cause there are a lot more options there. (The Arc) feels a little dirty. Don’t expect to find something that you love in ten minutes, it takes a lot more like an hour to really get in depth and feel out what you’re looking for.
SO: Any tips to being a more efficient thrifter?
LK: What I’ll do is I’ll be like, “ok, I want to get a button up,” and then I’ll set a parameter for color or pattern. So [I’ll decide] what article of clothing I want and then if I’m looking for a pattern. Whenever I’m going shopping, if I think it’s something I can buy in a retail store or a regular store, I won’t go there. I’ve been thrifting since I was in 5th grade. Back in elementary school, it was out of necessity but then it progressed into something that was by choice. It’s cost efficient and I can definitely find clothes that match my personality a lot more.
SO: Walk me through the outfit you are wearing now.
LK: Shoes: These are my favorite pair of shoes; they’re tan suede and the style of Clark’s. I got them for $15 at Forever 21. And obligatory wool socks to go with them.
Jeans: I got these jeans for like, $8. I always make sure I have three things that are matching; so what I’ll do is, if you look at your body like a template, you have to have things that match up and down it. For instance, [I’m wearing] tan shoes, a tan belt and I was wearing a tan beanie earlier. It matches and it unifies the outfit. The things in between, I chose grey and grey on grey.
Button up: Rolled at the sleeves, like always. I got this at goodwill for $5—it’s Liz Claiborne, and it definitely doesn’t go for $5 at Liz Claiborne!
Vest: I would say this is my second favorite article of clothing that I own. I don’t even know what gender it is. I usually don’t shop for male clothes because I already dress pretty androgynous and people already get confused on my gender… but I’m straight, I promise. Actually, it’s gonna’ get more confusing after Saturday because I am participating in the St. Baldrick’s Cancer Awareness event on campus to shave my head! It raises awareness for cancer and also raises funds for childhood cancer research.
Necklace: I have a twin who goes to WSU, and I actually got these necklaces for us so that whenever we wear them, we’re connected in that way. It says, “you are always in my heart”. It’s weird because it didn’t oxidize and become pink until a couple weeks after I came here (but I had been wearing it for 2 years already) and so I was like, “wow, our connection grew stronger!” My sister and I are really big on the idioglossia.
SO: Did you find yourself trying to dress differently from your twin growing up?
LK: Oh no, we have totally different styles and we always have. She’s always been the girly one and I’ve always been the…not the rebel… but kind of like that I guess. From a very early age, we dressed differently. In high school, the division was highlighted a lot more through our clothing. I adopted leather and earth tones; she stuck with floral and peach. But it’s funny cause people would still confuse us.
SO: If you could only shop at one clothing store for the rest of your life, where would it be?
LK: There’s a dope thrift store in Olympia, it’s called Dumpster Values. Every single thing in the store is my style. It’s not a regular thrift store; it’s like a style thrift store so all of the merchandise is funneled into a specific style. It’s super cool and it’s pretty well known. There’s only one!
SO: What or who is your fashion inspiration/idol?
LK: I don’t want to name any specific people ‘cause then it looks like I’m a copycat. I purposefully try to separate my style a few degrees from the people that I seek inspiration from. I’m really adamant about not copying other people’s styles; I know that I hate it when people copy me. People are always saying that, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”…I think it’s the creepiest and I think it’s insulting so I don’t participate with that! On the newspaper that I worked at back home, there were a couple photo editors who were super cool though. They were the people who I looked to [to be able to] dress like yourself—dress uniquely I guess. I know that sounds really cliché! They were also photographers. I don’t purposefully dress hipster, though, I didn’t realize it was quote on quote ‘dressing hipster’ for a long time. I wasn’t really meant to live in the 2000’s era, I was meant to live in the 70’s.
Occasionally—and it’s weird—I’ll get tips from BuzzFeed! I was just looking at an article the other day about how, if you’re trying to channel your style in a certain way, to “tuck your shirt in like this,” or “wear this style of blazer rather than this kind.” It can give you a direction if you’re trying to develop a new area of style…I would recommend that to people who want to dress out from their preexisting styles!
SO: What is your go-to color?
LK: My go-to color actually isn’t my favorite color. I have a lot of clothing that’s robin’s egg blue. I have sunglasses, tank tops, shirts, socks…like everything is in that color! It’s just a really attractive color on the clothing rack.
SO: What is your favorite student winter style you are seeing on campus this semester?
LK: I see a lot of people with L.L. Bean boots—a lot of girls with those—and I think I’m actually going to buy a pair of those myself. I don’t have any snow boots ‘cause it doesn’t really snow in Olympia. With those, they can be colored and not just earth tones.
SO: If you could choose any trend to make a comeback on campus, what would it be?
LK: I feel like 2014 and the last couple years in general have been years of a lot of throw back clothing—kind of like this mish-mash. Twenty-fourteen hasn’t embodied it’s own era yet which is kind of weird. It’s gonna’ sound really weird, but bell bottom pants…that s***’s cool! Like acrylic, bell-bottom pants. The funky pants. I’ve strongly debated buying them. I don’t want to attract too much attention to myself, but…that’d be so cool.
SO: What’s your secret to dressing (with style) when the weather drops below freezing?
LK: When it’s cold, I’m kind of discovering that I’ll always make sure my outerwear associates with my regular outfit that’s underneath. I won’t just throw on my North Face if I’m wearing a button up but I’ll choose my pea coat instead.
SO: Fashion has been said to be a place where art, culture and history intersect. Do you see any social trends in Zag clothing choices that reflect the do-good nature of our generation?
LK: Yeah, I know that there are certain brands that have recycled fabrics, or clothing in earth tones and dyes that aren’t super artificial—and that’s an environmentally friendly conscious effort for people. I feel like that’s definitely evidence of an intersection between social and artistic expression. But it’s also in a positive way that says, “I’m selfless to the world!”
Thanks for sitting down and talking with GU Style Spotlight, Libby! 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!
Categories: GU Style Spotlight