How heavily is our style influenced by our surroundings? Jack Supple ’14 went to Berlin, Germany last fall with one self-identity and left with a new, improved and slightly more European one.
Before leaving to go abroad Supple didn’t necessarily consider style among his top priorities, although he was constantly searching to add new, unique items to his repertoire.
“I basically wore sweats and basketball shoes in bright colors,” commented Supple. Supple credits the College for initially pushing him to try out new styles and become more free in his wardrobe choices.
“Before coming to Middlebury I only wore the clothing that my mother and father bought me or that I picked up in college gift shops,” said Supple. Initially in shock in his first weeks abroad, he realized that he had never been exposed to such a vibrant, evolving culture of street style. He’s also from Boston, Mass.
“I got to Berlin and thought why do all these people look 10,000 times more cool than me? I know I have it in me to look as good as them.”
When asked if one article of clothing in particular spawned his new style he responded with an anecdote about his first experience thrift store shopping in Berlin.
“It’s just a bunch of really cool, really old clothes,” said Supple. He described his encounter with one man who owned an upcycling store (a store that takes old clothes and essentially refurbishes them) who sold him a pair of sweatpants made from an old sweater.
“I basically lost my mind when I saw those pants. It’s a great feeling when you realize something was literally made for you,” he laughingly said.
Supple, after hours of contemplating German street style and the European aesthetic decided to put a more conscious effort into his dress.
“Now I like to surprise someone or put something where it doesn’t belong and have it still look really cool,” he said.
In addition, Supple has a new-found penchant for cutting his shirts into different shapes and sizes.
“Just wearing a t-shirt is boring. You can do so much with just a pair of scissors and an old tee,” he said, adding that it is also a good incentive to layer your clothing when your t-shirt is not covering much.
In his Sociology of Gender class Supple learned about Judith Butler’s theory that dress is a performance.
“I think that really applies to me. I enjoy spending time in clothes that I feel good in,” said Supple. He also commented that one of the advantages of having so many cool clothes is that it allows you to try on new identities.
“One of my favorite pieces of clothing was formerly a woman’s blouse and it’s amazing to wear on flowery summer days in the wind.”
The flexibility of Supple’s wardrobe choices demonstrates his wiliness to try on new identities and be constantly involved in the creation of his ever-evolving self-identity.
When asked if he could describe his style in three words Supple struggled to respond. After a couple minutes of thought he finally blurted three words out.
“Adventurous. Disheveled. Dank.”