Maria Valle Remond
As she files through her closet full of various shirts and dresses, she starts to imagine the new looks she can put together, and a smile begins to form.
She looks down at the bathroom counter, and her eyes begin to light up as she finds the perfect shade of pink eyeshadow to match the shirt she’s wearing.
She takes one final glance in the mirror, admiring the masterpiece she has put together and tells herself it’s time to go to school.
Maria Valle Remond is a sophomore at Carlmont High School who is commonly known for her elaborate outfits worn at school. While many people stare and behold her outfits, they fail to consider what’s behind the colorful sweaters and immaculate eyeliner: what started it all and how she grew into the fashion she shows off today.
Middle school is a difficult time for most students, including Maria. Coming from a family with less money than others, she couldn’t afford some of the clothing items that others could. As she wore the same few things every day, she started to feel depressed and left out from the other girls at school.
“I felt like I could never actually look ‘cute’ according to middle school standards because my family didn’t have the money to buy tons of Lululemon leggings or Brandy Melville shirts,” Maria Valle Remond said.
As she scrolled through her Instagram feed, Maria began to see various images of low-cost outfits that looked like high-end fashion. She started researching more and found a bundle of websites and stores where she could find the items she wanted for lower prices.
“Things like thrifting or buying stuff second hand like on Depop or Etsy can make you look and stand out while not necessarily spending too much money or stressing about brands that others are wearing,” she said.
At the start of freshman year, Maria Valle Remond began to experiment with different types of clothing and makeup. A big part of her fashion is social media. She uses social media not only for inspiration but also as an outlet to inspire others with her outfit creations.
Through thrifting and shopping for clothes, she has managed to find something that she can always rely on to make her happy. Even if she is in a lousy mood, planning out outfits or finding new pieces of clothing can still make her happy. Not only are her fashion and makeup choices a mood booster, but they’re a confidence booster as well.
“Thrifting and shopping for unique pieces cheer me up so quickly; perfectly matching makeup to my new outfits is so fun. It’s gotten to the point where my life could be falling apart, but if I like the way I look that day, I’m in a better mood,” Maria Valle Remond said.
For Victoria Valle Remond, Maria’s sister, this change in style has been an opportunity to watch her sister grow as a person. As she began to wear bolder outfits and makeup, Victoria noticed a shift in her sister’s personality as well.
“She has become more sure of herself in ways that don’t have anything to do with fashion. She’s willing to take more risks, [is] more curious, and listens to her gut,” Victoria Valle Remond said.
By finding something that she is so passionate about, Maria has created a potential career for herself. She wants to take up a career in fashion but doesn’t want to be an average fashion designer or model. Her ideal job is to be a stylist or fashion art designer, both of which involve creating specific looks and concepts for models. While fashion stylists put together the model’s outfit, makeup, and hair, fashion art designers create the whole magic that comes from photoshoots. They not only style the model but also design the background and environment of the shoot. She is especially drawn to these career paths because of her current skill set and interests in the fashion industry.
“I like these two career options more than, say, a fashion designer because it’s closer to what I already do by myself. And unlike fashion designers, I don’t make my own clothes yet or know how to sew,” Maria Valle Remond said.
What stops many people from dressing the way that makes them happy are the social expectations for dressing for school. People are bound to stare and talk about things outside of the norm, which creates self-image issues, especially among teenagers nowadays.
Maria had the same issue when she wore her first intricately-planned outfit to school. Among her peers, she got many looks and comments about her outfits. However, what she found was that the majority of the judgments were compliments about what she wore, which significantly boosted her self-esteem.
Although many people are scared to dress the way they want, they can look at Maria Valle Remond’s story for guidance and motivation. Through her determination to make herself happy, people can gather the same strength and courage that she did to change their lives and dress the way they want to without worries.
“Dress in a way that makes your face light up as soon as you look in the mirror. You can’t always escape the looks or backhanded comments you might get, but dress for yourself above all else,” she said.