À La Mode

People often mock the fashion world either for trying to be the most important industry on the planet or dismiss those who believe that fashion is the center of life. What people don’t often admit about fashion, however, is its tremendous power to aid individuals in finding how they want to present themselves to their communities. No matter how much or how little effort people put into creating an outfit every morning, they are obliged to decide what impression they want to make on the people around them.

In her time at Choate, Mayumi Kuze ’19 has unexpectedly recognized the power that fashion plays in her life. “I never thought that I was very into fashion or even had any particular style,” she said. She continued, “I had to wear a uniform in my old school, so I never thought about the things I wore.”

Before Choate, Kuze was not only unaware of how much fashion interested her, but also how it could help her define her self-image. She explained, “I’m from Tokyo, Japan. Most of the things I wear I buy from there, but I look different from most Japanese teenagers. All of my friends back home pursued looking pretty and young. Here at Choate, I started exploring the world of fashion. I just saw so many fashionable people here. Before I came here I never thought that I would even care about fashion, because I just didn’t like what I wore. I thought it was just how I was. When I was wearing things that I didn’t really like, I didn’t really like myself in terms of my appearance either. I thought that everyone else looked prettier than I did, and I didn’t have self confidence. I basically thought that I could change my self image by changing what I wear. Fashion is about the way that people see you but also about the way that you see yourself.”

A place so different from home, Choate let Kuze explore the ways in which she could show herself in a completely independent way. She said, “In Japan, the trend is always very clear. I don’t really like the trends these days. Here, it’s more diverse. At Choate, people wear so many different things. You see some students wearing suits and others wearing sweatpants. I feel like here, everything is accepted because everyone is really different. That’s what I really like about the dress code without the dress code here!” Kuze describes most of the new things that she wears as things that “were trends years ago, like in 1980s Japan. I don’t know, it’s weird.”

At Choate, a place where she feels safe and able to grow, Kuze came to understand that despite what she thought in middle school, fashion plays a crucial part in her life. Without it, she might not have been able to find peace within herself, or able to find a way to show our community what she’s about.

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