In Your Closet: Jessica Hernandez on Dad Shirts and Middle School Fashion Choices

This is the first installment of a new series, In Your Closet, that highlights the unique and eclectic fashion styles of the students you see every day at Swarthmore. 

Hernandez poses with one of her go-to outfits

Hernandez poses with one of her go-to outfits

Born and raised in Dorchester, MA, and a Peace and Conflict Studies Major, Jessica Hernandez ‘20 reflected in an interview with Voices on how much her style has changed. She, like most young students, made some interesting fashion choices in her  adolescent days.

“I still remember one time I was going out with my sisters; it was the weekend. I had this fucking pink, striped Aeropostale sweater and it was not cute, now that I’m thinking about it,” Hernandez said. “The stripes were thick as fuck, two different shades of pink, and it said ‘AERO’ across. I just had some plain skinny jeans. I was like ‘Okay, let’s go.’ And my sister was like, ‘What are you wearing?!’”

From the classic middle school-staples like Hollister, Aeropostale, and Old Navy, Hernandez progressed to dressing more traditionally feminine, donning more skirts, tighter shirts, and cardigans. She described her style from that time period as “business casual, but a degree below business casual” with her cardigans and jeans. She also commented on the influences that her two older sisters had on her. “She [her sister] put me onto this website called The Lookbook, so in high school I would look at that and see what other people are wearing. They were just like kind of like of regular people, but you can definitely build a following. It was kind of similar to Instagram, but I don't really check that anymore.”

Although she used to draw inspiration from her sisters’ and other people’s choices, she now solely focuses on how different articles of clothing make her feel. “Now it’s just like how I am feeling and thrift stores. When I go to thrift stores, it’s whatever catches my eye or if I have something in mind that I want to get.”

Hernandez marks her sophomore year of college as the point where she developed her current sense of style. She emulates a very minimalist style, with monochromatic colors of black, white and tan in her wardrobe and the occasional bright colored piece of clothing. 

“This summer, I found a pair of shorts at a thrift shop that were like highlighter yellow, and I thought those were dope as fuck… I have like one or two bright colored shirts,” said Hernandez. “I feel like I still stick to blacks and greys, and some blues, but if there is a bright color[ed] clothing piece and it looks pretty cool, I’ll get it.”

Despite having worn more tight and feminine clothing in the past, her current streetwear style draws her to more baggy, oversized clothing. Thus, very present in her daily fashion choices are multiple “dad shirts” and baggier clothing like hoodies. However, her go-to articles of clothing are a variety of pieces that hold different significance, ranging from purely aesthetic pieces to those with personal attachment. 

Hernandez sits in her chair pointing her feet upward.

Hernandez sits in her chair pointing her feet upward.

Pointing toward the Doc Martens she was wearing, black, Chelsea-boot style boots with small yellow stitching across the bottom, Hernandez quipped, “I have a lot of pieces that I always go for, so like these definitely stay, but I also really like this flannel that I’ve had for like ever since like high school which is really dope.” Hernandez brought out a traditional, oversized flannel that added a pop of muted blue. “Also, any hoodie. Preferably a black hoodie. And the strings have to be tied… The strings make me feel super powerful. I don’t know why.”

An avid thrifter, Hernandez shared some of her favorite thrift shops in Philly and back home.  One thrift shop Hernandez recommends checking out in the Philly area is Retrospect, and, in the Boston area, she recommends The Garment District in Kendall Square, Boomerangs, and Goodwill.

“Clothes are so interesting to me. When I was younger, people would call me a ‘tomboy’ just because I was wearing sweatpants and a hoodie. I think that’s ridiculous!” said Jessica. “It’s literally an article of clothing. I get social norms like who dresses in what; who wears what. Like dude, I’m just covering my body. It’s nothing that serious.”

Photos by Tristan Alston