By Lina Goelzer
In light of the holiday, I asked a few Yale students to write thank you notes to someone who has influenced their style.
Thank you for being the most stylish soul inside and out. It is your choice in beautiful Pakistani clothes or American garb that always proves to make me look better than I would otherwise! The only person that may give you a run for your money is Dad with his choice in atelier material- especially pants. Those cheetah print trousers that he bought for me always get serious compliments!!
I saw my first-ever pair of Stan Smiths in my dad’s closet. I was a junior in high school at the time, and my style was limited to an obnoxiously preppy boarding dress code (I did rock the bowties, though). Around the time I turned sixteen I had grown enough to passably fit into my dad’s size-large clothing and he had slowly begun to donate to my closet. It started with a few t-shirts and maybe a sweater or two, but I was eventually upgraded to suede winter jackets and button-downs. I would fold the pieces I liked the most and put them at the top of my drawer and hide the rest in the back of my closet, hoping they would come in handy in the future. Fresh from the airport home on Spring Break, I walked into my bedroom and he had left the Stans at the foot of my bed–the usual locale for his highly-anticipated drop-offs. I couldn’t stand the way they looked, so I put them in the back of my closet with the stack of disregarded sweaters, shirts, and ties. I kept, though, them because I trusted him. He wouldn’t buy sneakers recklessly. Two years later when they started hitting the pavement around me in New Haven, I couldn’t wait to get home and pull them out of the back of my closet. I haven’t been without a pair of white sneakers since.
Without speaking a word my dad always made it clear to me how important a personal sense of style is. In elementary school my friends strutted Vans and Etnies but my dad sent me to school in forest green high-top Converse like Larry Bird would wear at the Garden sinking three’s against the Lakers. He would bring me a Swatch from a business trip to Sweden, or a chain from a mine in the Chilean Andes. He dressed me in my first suit for a Bat Mitzvah in seventh grade–the shoes should match the belt, but the pocket square should match neither. He taught me the basics and I’ve grown from there.
I owe so much to my dad, and my sense of style is just the beginning. Te lo agradezco, huevón. Te quiero tanto.
Thank you for letting me rummage through your closet and relive your twenties by putting on the clothes that you yourself wore when you were my age . Most days, when someone compliments my appearance it is usually because I have a scarf of yours draped around my neck or one of the floor-length skirts you made with your own hands brushing against my ankles. I haven't managed to bring back the shoulder-pad look (yet) but for you, I'll keep trying. Your clothes have brought me so much comfort during the past three years in college especially on the days when I feel most homesick--having part of your wardrobe interwoven with mine is like carrying you with me wherever I go.
Thanks for letting me take your very cool clothes! Your overalls, your high-waisted shorts, and your big comfy green jacket are all such staples of my wardrobe, I don’t know what I’d be wearing half of the time if I hadn’t taken all the good things from your closet. You’re my very own fashion hero, even though you used to think Birkenstocks with socks was a fashion trend worth getting behind. I’m so thankful that you’ve always encouraged me to be my own person, not just in fashion, but in every aspect of my life.
Love you always,
I've always appreciated fashion that is cohesive and functional. I'm prone to overstatement in life, and my sartorial tendencies are the clearest balance to that. My younger brother Ken has adopted the same philosophy, and as the saying goes, the student has definitely surpassed the master. I look to my brother for everything from brand recommendations to advice on caring for denim. There's nothing better than having a closer friend with an awesome sense of fashion - and the same shoe size!
In the Spring of my freshman year, a teacher named Usama Canon came to speak at a conference at Yale. Before the talk, I saw him from afar, and something about him sharply captured my attention. He had so much swagger. I turned to a friend and expressed my awe for his presentation. The next thing I knew--Usama was up in my face. I told him I had never seen a teacher with such great attire; he explained and inspired me about the etiquette and human dignity of presenting oneself well.
cover image via friend social