Students get creative with alternative fashion trends

A sophomore Hannah Petersen when dressed for this year’s Valentine’s Day, she wears a pink dress with red hearts and neon pink eyeliner. It is an example of how students exceed expectations on traditional clothing. Photo courtesy of Hannah Peterson

The walk through Mullin Town Square or to class can evolve into a boardwalk, inspired by a multitude of subcultures ranging from Y2K to goth and everything in between.

Many students said they believe that college gives them a chance to experiment away from their parents’ expectations and the environment in which they grew up. One of the many ways Pepperdine students experiment is with uniquely groomed clothing, precise colored eyeliner, and vibrant hair colors.

“The environment I grew up in was very conservative,” said sophomore Hannah Petersen. “Both at school and at home, they allowed self-expression as long as they agreed with what they thought. So after I got out of high school and got into college, it was like, “Wow, there’s so much freedom.” I don’t have to answer questions about why I choose certain colors, patterns or navel display levels. ”

Petersen, who has always experimented with her makeup and clothing style, said college finally gave her an excuse to dress and look the way she wanted. While she doesn’t identify with any particular subculture, she said she’s very inspired by TikTok and makeup influencers. Her style uses lots of bright colors, patterns and fun eyeliner to match the colors of her clothes.

Petersen's eyeliner matches her dress.  They are both the same shade of light green with white highlights.
Petersen’s eyeliner matches her dress. They are both the same shade of light green with white highlights.

Petersen said it can sometimes be difficult to dress non-traditionally. Despite the support she receives from her roommates and friends, Petersen said many people treat her differently because of her clothing style.

“There is a very popular demographic within Pepperdine, if you don’t necessarily fall for it, it can be really hard to find acceptance,” Petersen said. “If I wear darker and heavier makeup, I tend to get less receptive responses. But if I do something more colorful, experimental or feminine I get a lot of compliments, but it really depends on who I talk to and who I interact with. “

As a female person studying sports medicine and planning to go to medical school, Petersen said many people are surprised by the way she dresses. A big struggle this year has been learning to express herself and feel good about herself, introducing herself as a professional and being accepted by her department.

The second Hannah Petersen takes a selfie in a car mirror.  She wore neon pink eyeliner on both her eyes and brows.
The second Hannah Petersen takes a selfie in a car mirror. She wore neon pink eyeliner on both her eyes and brows.

Junior Anna Skupin identifies as goth and also plans to attend medical school upon graduation.

She also agreed with Petersen’s struggle with femininity and professionalism.

“Dressing for women in STEM is just this big thing,” Skupin said. “You are expected to keep your head down, focus on your work and if you have a personal style you are out the window, you and your work are not good.”

Skupin’s experience in alternative fashion was very different from Petersen’s. She said that she has always gravitated towards a darker aesthetic. It was only when she lectured at a distance and saw the rise of alternative styles like E-Girl and gothic inspired dresses on both TikTok and her friends of hers that she decided to fully embrace the style.

Skupin said her experience at Pepperdine accepted her fashion choices, but also cites that her decision to study psychology is the main reason.

“Nobody is going to make fun of you in the field of psychology,” Skupin said. “When you dress differently, you stand out here because so many people only wear jeans and a shirt. But I think people like the variety. “

Both students offered similar advice to others interested in experimenting with their fashion. They suggested starting small with an item of clothing and seeing how it makes them feel and how people around them react. If the reactions and feelings are positive, keep adding pieces that fuel those feelings.

Additionally, both Petersen and Skupin have encouraged people to be themselves and dress however they want.

“More variety of clothes and alternative fashion styles is good for everyone.” Skupin said. “You can finally be free to express yourself however you want and to wear things that flatter you and make you feel comfortable and confident. Give it a try, don’t be afraid to buy alternative clothes you like as you may end up discovering something new to incorporate into your everyday style.


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