Sophie Wang’s PO ’14 preference for shorts comes from a place of practicality—she claims that she is ready to run from dangerous animals or climb invisible stairs at all times, which she feels would be more difficult in something like a skirt. This sense of playfulness shows through in Wang’s sense of style.
When I met with her, she was wearing a relaxed floral blouse, light wash jean shorts and a jacket of sand-colored suede with knit sleeves draped across her shoulders. Her perforated loafers were nearly run into the ground, with fraying leather around the toes. But with numerous encounters with rain and sprinklers, the leather had molded to her feet to create an incredibly comfortable fit. On one wrist, she wore a plastic watch with a band that was printed to look like piano keys—a gift from her childhood piano teacher that she rediscovered after it had been tucked away in her room for years. Around her neck hung a penny.
Wang’s heightened aesthetic sense is slightly unusual considering her academic background in biology, which is not particularly known for its concerns with fashion. She also works heavily within the visual arts, though, creating fantastic drawings and paintings when not conducting lab experiments.
These two aspects of her life intersect with each other as well as with her overall sense of style. Whether wearing a lab coat as a paint smock or having to invest in more pants because of her extensive lab work (where only pants are allowed for safety reasons), Wang’s wardrobe is in part a result of the academic influences within her life. Her aesthetic sense as a painter also seeps into her style choices, leading her toward gradients and strong colors in both her clothing and paintings.
Wang did not grow up in a fashion-conscious environment, admitting that her family and friends were not too concerned with clothing. Her style developed from a mix of innate creativity and the influence of fashion blogs, from which she was able to gain the exposure to a wider world of clothing absent from her life in middle school and high school. Fashion blogs and other online resources allowed her to see more that fell in line with her taste and aesthetic preferences, bringing her into a realm of fashion and style that was far removed from what she had experienced in the “real world.”
After several years of developing her sense of style, she is still continually adjusting it as she changes throughout college. She is now growing increasingly concerned with sorting through the clothes she already has and is actively working toward acquiring less. However, during this process of refinement, she fully expects that she’ll probably have a few mishaps along the way.
Though Wang is still in the process of finding her style, she projects a sense of self that belies her supposed need to explore further. When asked to look back on her past, before she had begun to work toward her current style, she said, “It’s strange to me now that the me before could not know about these things.”