5C Threads featuring Leena Kozupa

The newest news is that the ‘90s are the new ‘80s. This makes sense, because the ‘80s actually made a comeback more than ten years ago. Instead of beautified workout attire, the ‘90s offer geometric patterns along with bold prints, cropped shirts, and other strange, ridiculous, yet formalized styles. In its modern revival, we can hope to see more tactful variations on grunge styles, like collared dresses (standout prints, black, pastels), and asymmetric, uniquely-cut clothing.

Additionally, the color currently holding the title of “previously underappreciated yet currently hip” has shifted from fall’s eclectic camel to the under-the-radar navy. A little brighter to welcome spring but still subdued, navy can almost be seen as neutral, as it is the color of denim. This makes it less obtrusive as part of a collection of colors in an outfit, and lends it to accentuation. Basic, yet still quite colorful—the best of both worlds.

Leena Kozupa brought these ideas into light, and I would say that her style validates them. I love that, the day we talked, she wore a cropped shirt underneath a navy cardigan underneath a thick, wool, sweater/coat with a geometric print. So ‘90s, but better thought out. Classier and more careful, but still distinctive.

Leena recalled that she has found gems amongst her mom’s old clothes. The shirt in this outfit is an example. She has also re-sewn and altered some of her finds, including a dress that she shortened. “It was originally ankle-length for a person shorter than me, so it looked really awkward when I tried it on,” she recalled. “So, I saw how it would look knee-length. I really liked that it was navy with a print. It’s a pretty color, the print made it stand out. It was almost like paint streaks, a gold paint streak. It had a collar, which I thought was interesting… Not many dresses are made with collars now. It was surprisingly nice,” she finished.

“So I made it. Now I wear it.” I wish everyone did stuff like this. The world would be a much more interesting place to look at.

One of Leena’s first alterations was to make a pair of pants “super tight,” inspired by a slight punk influence. The next year, skinny jeans appeared. She said she found it cool that stores were making something she had wanted so badly she’d made it herself. I say, she was just a little ahead of her time.

Leena does not have any specific source of inspiration but browses any blog or magazine she stumbles across. She also noted that she sometimes reads fashion books in bookstores, getting into the history of it all.

Stylistically, she finds herself attracted to geometric, bright, and eye-catching designs, but usually only allows one in each outfit, so things don’t get out of hand.

“Personally, I’m a bargain hunter,” she said. She tries to find things that aren’t obsolete, that she sees as timeless, in a sense. She uses thrift stores and vintage stores as they should be used: as opportunities to find cheap, but unique pieces. She only splurges on things she finds truly nice, and only infrequently, to make sure she really appreciates doing so. To her, amassing a wardrobe that fits her style is more than just going out and buying things. It’s about really searching out what she wants, stuff she can imagine herself wearing for longer than just a season or two. For this reason, she likes jewelry and accessories from other places and sees such items as the perfect traveling gifts. “Better than ‘Oh, I got this at Urban Outfitters,’” she joked, making a good point.

And maybe that’s why Leena appreciates fashion—because it lets her express herself. She takes full advantage of it as an outlet, literally crafting a presentation of herself that she finds particularly fitting. For her, fashion is something she contributes to, rather than something she might simply follow.

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