Fashion: The Inspiration Behind Jacob Shwartz's Chameleon Style

Jacob Shwartz PZ '20 models his experimental style in the Margaret Fowler Memorial Garden at Scripps College. (Serene Harb • The Student Life)

“My style is just me.”

Fashion is a malleable outlet through which people are allowed to express themselves. In this column, I set out to unpack the ways that people approach fashion. Some view it as artistic expression, while some perceive it as just the skin they wear every day. Fashion, and the concept of clothing in general, provides an interesting subject for understanding the way we choose to present ourselves. It is perhaps an installation of who we are.

This week, I sat down with Jacob Shwartz PZ '20. On my walk to the Margaret Fowler Garden to meet with Jacob, I had cursed the heat, knowing how it could potentially hinder his wardrobe choices. I came into the garden to find him in a sleek white tank top, Americana-inspired black boots, and a shimmering, reflective lavender suit. He was certainly not inhibited by the heat; it was a wonderfully vivid, weather-appropriate outfit. We sat together in the serene Margaret Fowler garden, listening to the trickling of the fountains as we talked.

TSL: How did you become interested in fashion?

JS: I’ve always used clothing as a tool to assert my identity or to assert my feelings, or just my mood or my thoughts. But I think that my interest within when I really started thinking about it more, was probably when I was around 13 or 12, something like that. I don’t really remember a specific thing that caused it to happen. I remember the things I became interested in first. I remember – so I’m from New York – I remember at that time, there was the really famous exhibit at the Met, Savage Beauty, which was Alexander McQueen. If you know his work, everybody knows he’s just an absolutely amazing, brilliant genius. So I would say that.

TSL: What people inspire you in the way you dress?

JS: I would say the people that inspire me the most, in terms of style, are the people that are bold with their style. Just follow no rules at all ... So like Michéle Lamy or Lynn Yaeger, who’s a writer, I think she was at “The Village Voice,” I don’t know where she’s at now. Who else? Bjork, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Prince. It’s a massive list, it just goes on.

TSL: Are there any brands that have impacted your style?

JS: I think I go through phases where I get inspired by certain designers. I would say Acne Studios or, who else? SKODIA, I really like. There have been times with, like, Helmut Lang from the late ’90s.

TSL: What is your creative process like for getting ready in the morning?

JS: I don’t really put that much thought into it. I guess I do think about shape and sometimes color. But I think that generally my color palette is, it’s sort of like, muted color is a good way to describe it. I don’t want to mix a lot of colors into it, but I do want to use color I would say. And also shape, which is sort of how I want my body to be. And also it’s my feelings... my feelings are definitely the major factor in what I choose to wear.

(Serene Harb • The Student Life)

TSL: What are your favorite pieces in your wardrobe?

JS: I think that changes a lot. My favorite piece of all time that actually has been destroyed, it was a pair of pink faux latex pants that I bought in San Francisco. But they’ve been destroyed; they just ripped completely. But I would say now, I have these thigh high high-heeled boots that I just love so much. I never really wear them, but I just love them. I have this pearl choker that I’m a big fan of. And I’m always wearing my rings... while I don’t think this is necessarily a certain item, a staple of my wardrobe is just black jeans. I had a uniform in high school, and that was my little way of breaking the uniform code.

TSL: How would you describe your personal style?

JS: With my personal style, I always think that people’s style should be a bold representation of the individual that they are. I don’t want to agree with the philosophy that we should dress according to trends. I think it should all be your own choice and what you want. So I think that my style is just me. And I think that I change, as I think everyone changes.