Fall fashion-forward: Throwing out old rules | The Avenue

Ira T. Martin

As the sun sets on summer fashion, the calendar says that light clothes are out and sweater weather is back. Gainesville is finally starting to notice.

Faced with a few days that have pushed to the extreme and neared 60 degrees, students have been left wondering if forcibly following the fashion calendar and abiding by restrictive style rules is relevant to the Swamp lifestyle.

Valerie Muzondi thinks rules like them — be it avoiding pieces because of body type and gender or not wearing white after Labor Day — belong in the back of the closet. 

The 20-year-old UF graphic design junior is the art director of Rowdy Magazine, a Gainesville-based fashion and culture magazine focused on Gen Z-related topics. She said she doesn’t follow these rules and that they don’t have a place in today’s vogue because they defeat fashion’s creative purpose. 

You can find yourself through your fashion sense, she said.

“Clothing shouldn’t have labels,” Muzondi said. “People should be able to wear whatever they want to wear.”

Fashion rules go as far as making people hesitant to experiment with how they dress, she said. She pointed to TikTok, where she has seen people become more confident and explorative with their style despite formerly being afraid to dress a certain way.

“It’s very dangerous for creative freedom,” she said.

Muzondi used to be too confined and picky in her style, she said, before becoming open to fashion’s potential fluidity. She’s excited by designers and brands like Sean Brown and Mowalola, who break the mold with everything from CD rugs to T-shirt psychedelia. Browsing sites like Tumblr, she’s inspired by the designers and blogs that encourage her to do the same.

Rowdy’s brand is “be whatever you want to be,” she said. Being part of the brand has encouraged her to dress outside of the box and embrace the freedom of her own individuality. 

“I feel more in tune with my creativity,” she said.

Sophia Paige has seen other brands appealing to a more experimental audience instead of sticking to old standards firsthand.

The 18-year-old UF acting freshman has been modeling since she was about six months old. A recent photoshoot she did was geared more toward androgynous, or gender-neutral, fashion, which she said is now seen as powerful by the general public.

Paige said she’s all for the positivity, but raised concerns about companies still holding sexist ideals in the background and only adapting their image out of necessity.

“I love a good power moment,” she said. “It becomes a problem when it’s just a trend and there’s no actual push behind it.”

Pushing against the pretenders are celebrities like Harry Styles, Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, who work to delegitimize disingenuous practices by normalizing androgyny through their wardrobe, Paige said.

People still find it more acceptable for women to wear masculine apparel than the other way around, but Paige said it becomes more accepted as more of these celebrities don gender-neutral clothing.

She attributes much of the shift to Gen Z and Millenials, who have become extremely accepting through an increased understanding of sexuality and body positivity, she said.

Along with promoting additional acceptance, she said college students like her overlook fashion rules because they simply don’t have the time to think about it.

Paige finds far-reaching rules, like not wearing white after Labor Day, especially amusing as a Floridian.

“It’s summer all year long,” she said. “Why would we not wear white?”

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