Putting a personal touch on fashion

By Ellie Rulon-Miller

Tatiana Escobar may be the most fascinating person I have met so far this semester.

The first time we met, I was in my friend’s room when she came in wearing her pajamas, accessorized with an utterly fabulous feathered headband. She said that she made it, and immediately I was overwhelmed with curiosity: what else can this girl do? I immediately asked her if she would like to be interviewed and possibly featured in the first article of my column.

Our interview a few days after this first encounter flowed more like a conversation than anything else. I went to her room, the walls of which were plastered with pages from fashion magazines. She showed me a few other things she had made – the headband, along with another, and a beautiful ring made of supplies from the craft center. I asked about her past as a crafter.

“I’ve always liked doing crafty things. I started doing crafts with the intention to use [them]… in college,” said Escobar. This was about two and a half years ago.

Aside from making accessories, Escobar refashions vintage clothes into current trends or anything else that fits her personal style. She is what has recently been referred to as a “recessionista,” or the economically smart version of a “fashionista.” She is hyperaware of both current trends and what will be popular in six months, and is capable of achieving the same level of chic on a much smaller budget.

Escobar watches runway shows every season. They show what will be in style several months from when the shows happen; she takes that time to peruse Salvation Army and other vintage shops for things that resemble what she saw in the shows, and alter them as needed to make them chic and more wearable. She is justifiably proud of the fact that her creations are eco-friendly.

She even dabbles in concocting her own makeup, buying cheap supplies and combining the colors she chooses to create a personalized look for a fraction of the cost of department store makeup.

While we’re talking, she doesn’t hesitate to drop names of high-fashion designers. Her collaboration of high-fashion trends with the do-it-yourself aesthetic in her own style makes for some impressive creations. She’s knowledgeable of new and old high-fashion runway collections, as well as street style.

She reveals that she is also well-travelled. A Japanese major, Escobar has made the trek to Japan twice and has seen the street style that the country is so notoriously known for. Japan has “the most ridiculous yet amazing fashion,” she said. This is because the Japanese people, in school and at work, are in uniforms which do not allow for very much individual style. When they’re not in school or working, they go all out, she says, wearing elaborate outfits and costumes, most of which are nowhere near cheap.

Escobar draws further inspiration from DIY websites and blogs. There are several which she has bookmarked that she frequents. Some offer tutorials and others supply patterns for making clothes.

Making headbands like hers are easy. All you need is a hot glue gun (or a similar, strong adhesive), headband of your choice, preferably one that is at least half an inch wide, a small swatch of felt and a couple of feathers. First, cut your felt into an oval just big enough to support the feathers. You don’t want it to be visible when you glue your feathers onto it, but for it to be just behind them. Next, carefully arrange the feathers on the felt in the way you want them and, carefully again, glue them onto the felt. For all practical purposes, it’s best to use the kind of glue that will dry clearly. Once that dries, glue the felt with the feathers onto the headband. Escobar’s were on the side and would land just above an ear when she put it on.

Tatiana Escobar isn’t the only person I’ve met in the last two weeks who is into DIY fashions. In my dorm last year it was difficult to come by a person who shared the same passion as me; this year, in my dorm alone I have met at least half a dozen people who share the same passion for do-it-yourself living as me. The mere fact that the thrifty life is getting more popular and more widely accepted is inspiration enough to, at the very least, consume less and create more.

 If you’re feeling super crafty, you can experiment with items other than feathers. Two of my personal favorite additions to almost any piece of clothing are the stud and the grommet. They are prominent embellishments in my wardrobe, in my shoes and sweatshirts and bags. You can buy them at most craft stores. A great place to buy studs in bulk online is angryyoungandpoor.com.

Don’t be afraid to step away from the norm in fall fashion this season and put your own personal touch, whatever it may be, into the things you wear. It’s easier than you could possibly imagine and a lot cheaper and more creative than buying the same clothes that all of your friends have.

Ellie Rulon-Miller can be reached at [email protected]