Zoe Onyango

on personal style

Zoe Onyango—On Personal Style


We met Zoe at the shop shortly after our opening this past winter, and we were immediately drawn to her style. After learning that she was a local from the Upper Valley interested in fashion and modeling, it was only a matter of time before we would invite her to shoot a collection with us. Besides being quite stylish, Zoe is smart and kind, with big dreams and a smile that could light up our entire 2000 sq. ft. studio. As you can tell, we've grown quite fond of her dropping by the shop and are so pleased to feature her on the site as our first-ever journal entry.


Tell me about the things you keep in your closet.

I like to have a couple of statement items: patterned pants, sweaters, shirts, etc. And a few basic white or black t-shirts to layer with other things. One of my favorite pieces in my closet is an Obermeyer sleeve stripe sweater I got from you at MAHSHU. I remember the first time I saw the sweater… I knew I had to get it. My closet also has pieces I've altered or embroidered, like this pair of jeans I occasionally sew patches I’ve collected onto.

Is there anything that you’ve held onto for a long time? Could you share a bit about the items that you cherish and would never let go?

I hold onto a lot. I've been trying to get better about getting rid of items I don’t wear enough, or that no longer fit the style I’m into. I cycle through countless bandanas—the first one I ever bought is a bandana I will hold onto for eternity. The fabric doesn’t feel too rigid or constricting; it's black so it goes with a lot of my clothes. A few summers ago, I was thrifting and got my first pair of Dickies overalls. I had been looking for overalls for years and finally saw this brand new pair at the Listen center that had my name written all over it… I don’t think I’ll ever let that pair of overalls go.

How do you handle those “I have nothing to wear” type days? 

When I’m not feeling particularly creative or have something in mind, I often look through my old photos of outfits and choose something I’ve worn and felt comfortable in before. I often run into issues where I have a great outfit in mind and it doesn’t end up looking exactly how I wanted it to. 

Tell me a little bit about yourself—what do you study & what keeps you busy outside of school? Any post-grad plans? 

I am a Government major at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. I’m in a band… I love playing music. I play electric guitar and sing in a band on campus! I recently got a bass and I’ve been enjoying delving into a new instrument. I enjoy drawing, reading, and running. Post-grad, I hope to take a year or two to completely immerse myself in my passions outside of political science – I also hope to travel a bit, I’ve wanted to go to London and Paris. 

What aspects of your life inspire your personal style? Are there any particular people or eras that influence the way you dress?

My style comprises whatever catches my eye… which is very vague—I think I pull from wherever I see inspiration from. I’ve been getting into wearing bright colors. I've gotten a lot of red pieces over the summer and I think sometimes primary or bright colors seem daunting but finding tones that match and compliment the color well makes a great outfit. I definitely do my fair share of Pinterest browsing for inspiration for ways to put together items. 

I know you said you grew up thrifting, would you say the majority of your wardrobe is recycled? 

I’ve been thrifting ever since I was very little, with time and practice I’ve become better at navigating my way around a store. I would say a lot of my clothes are second-hand, though there are few exceptional items and basics that I can justify not getting second-hand. 

How does shopping secondhand influence your buying habits? What’s your approach to buying new? Any go-to brands that you recommend?

With thrifting there's no online catalog of what's in stock… The time you choose to take searching through bins could mean you find the coolest item, and in that way, the labor of thrifting is extremely rewarding. I also think that with thrifting there is this “you just had to be there” feeling in a way I don’t feel with shopping in commercial stores—especially online. I find that thrifted items come with stories and prior lives. It's so cool to incorporate a piece into a moment in my life and then see that same piece become a part of someone else's. 

Are there any specific items that you’re currently searching for?

I’m currently on the hunt for a dark wash jean jacket with yellow stitching. I like to amplify my outfits with accessories so I’m always on the hunt for some cool earrings. I’ve been looking in the jewelry sections at thrift stores more than I used to. I find it interesting to see how my interests have changed over the years—to walk into a thrift store and see what I’ve consistently gravitated to… I never used to look at the jewelry section and now I stop by every time. 

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