5C Threads Featuring Bethany Okada

The long, flowing dresses that provide the foundation for Bethany Okada’s HM ‘13 style feel oddly at home at Harvey Mudd College, where nerdiness supposedly runs rampant. It’s not often you run into a chemistry major who likens her style to that of “Gossip Girl” queen bee Blair Waldorf, but it’s one heck of an intriguing combination.

Bethany said she has soft spots for “lace, pearls, volume-y skirts, peacoats. In the immediate sense, I have no clothes that are not dresses or skirts.” She finds fashion to be an effective break from thinking about math and science, and she enjoys how skirts and dresses feel to walk around in. “I really just want to walk around in swishy, witchy skirts,” she said.

Bethany’s style is so iconic (“ladylike,” as she appropriately describes it) that “people get surprised when I wear jeans,” she said.

“I wear whatever I want, and people get used to it. I don’t bother trying to [look] effortless,” she said. While Mudd definitely fosters such pointed individuality, Bethany’s takes the unique form of a relentless, almost austere fashion sense.

“I have easy dresses for lazy days, and have never owned a pair of sweatpants,” Bethany said. “I only buy clothes that I find special in some way, and I can’t find ‘special’ sweatpants.”

Even though she’s not exactly in a fashion hotspot, Bethany says she has refined her style since coming to the 5Cs.

“At this college, people appreciate hats,” she said. “People love my cloche hats: I get tons of compliments. People definitely notice random things I wear, which I use as feedback.”

Bethany’s look is devoid of t-shirts of any sort, but does feature outerwear, socks, tights, boots, maxi-length skirts, “long, awkward, tea-length dresses,” and, more recently, sweaters.

“Prada did sweaters for the fall, chunky and substantial,” she said. “If I had $5,000 I would definitely buy them.” She has been saving up for H&M’s fall collection, a collaboration with French fashion house Lanvin.

Bethany wears this dress gracefully and naturally, with rings and a leather satchel, “older kinds of things” toward which she said she is often drawn. The look speaks for itself: any description I provide will pale in comparison to her remarkable style evident in the picture.

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