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Big Trend Energy: How I’m Styling 2021’s Key Looks in a Modest Way


Gen Z Says is a series where we tap different members of  Generation Z who will give us the latest insight on what’s cool in the fashion space.

We’ve talked about fashion aesthetics quite a bit on here and how while some people adhere to a single aesthetic, we find joy in taking elements from multiple. It’s a fun way to express your creativity with your style and step out of your comfort zone. There are no boundaries in this case—you can look at each aesthetic and pick and choose what works best for your personal style. Gen Zer Nawal Sari agrees. She adds a modest spin to her favorite aesthetics and mixes in elements that work for her but lets go of anything that doesn’t serve her or her style.

Sari has a variety of modest styling tricks up her sleeve, as people often comment or send her messages asking for styling help or reach out to let her know that she helped them find the balance between modesty and fashion. Keep scrolling to see Sari’s modest take on her favorite fashion aesthetics—you’ll be inspired.

“This aesthetic overall is already super modest and timeless. An adorable floral, pastel or frilly dress and your favorite boots are all you need. Check out your local modest fashion retailer for a maxi (the puffier the sleeves, the better), and make it cottagecore with a cardigan or sweater. If you’re not into dresses, you can achieve this look with linen, pastels, knits, and a silk scarf.

“I love thrifting mini bags and scored the perfect little blue bag that I think pairs really well with all my cottage looks, but a tote bag or straw bag works great also. Don’t forget your books, picnic blanket, and a bouquet of flowers to achieve the full effect.”

“This aesthetic has to be my favorite. I love how I can mix and match so many pieces to achieve the look. It’s also maybe because I feel safer and more comfortable in dark colors. I found most of my “grungy” pieces in thrift stores, which is probably due to the timelessness of this style. Every time I wear a beret and my Docs, my mum comments on how that was in when she was younger too.

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“To achieve this look, don’t be afraid to try something new. I know it can be scary to try new trends when you don’t see people who look like you in that space, but our generation is most definitely changing that. Go for clashing prints and textures that are associated with grunge culture, such as tartan, leather, screenprints, lace, and denim. Try new accessories like berets, hair clips (they look adorable over hijabs), neck scarves, and my personal fave, ties. (I stole my dad’s.) My favorite purchase that fits this aesthetic was my secondhand Sandy Liang apron pants, which essentially are tartan pants with a built-in miniskirt and chain… a dream.”

“This was a safe zone of mine for a while. I love ’70s music, movies, and fashion. The overall aesthetic is comforting to me. Although my style right now is more on the grungy, ’90s-nostalgia side, I still have so many ’70s-inspired pieces in my collection. There’s a way to do the ’70s without the over-patterned chaos we often see. 

“If you’re not comfortable in bootcut jeans, stick to your usual baggy jeans or flowy pants, or even try a layered bohemian skirt. Try a turtleneck and sweater-vest with a classic pair of Converse or even an oversize button-up (definitely try to thrift these) with a fun blazer or coat on top.

“My favorite ’70s piece in my collection is my Penny Lane coat or Afghan coat. The disco decade wasn’t shy with the shoe inspiration either—the higher the platform, the better. Besides classic sneakers, long platform boots, slip platform sandals, cowboy boots, or the current craze of Mary Jane heels work perfectly as well. This aesthetic looks incredible on everyone.”

“This aesthetic is definitely fun and one of the easiest to achieve. On TikTok, it shows up in the form of baby tees, low-rise jeans, and anything Juicy Couture or Baby Phat. For a modest take on this aesthetic, it’s all about accessorizing! Opt for a graphic tee and your favorite pair of jeans, and accessorize with a colorful mini bag, a bandana, and some fun colorful jewelry. Don’t be shy with the layering, and definitely don’t forget your big sunglasses. The thrift stores have so many 2000s gems. I scored a pair of Gucci sunnies for $20. The more chaotic and graphic the outfit, the better.”

Next, My Style Is Purely Y2K—I Tried 5 Outfits Inspired by the Decade’s Greatest Hits

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