Mia Jaccarini

Speaking Through Style

Mia Jaccarini
Speaking Through Style

In an age of Instagram fashion and next-day delivery, most of us have near instantaneous access to ever-changing trends and the means by which to acquire them. Practically every person I know enjoys some degree of sartorial experimentation and, for this, today’s fast-fashion climate couldn’t be more accommodating; who doesn’t love receiving their next planned-to-be favourite pair of jeans 24 hours post-clicking ‘order’? This can be appreciated by all who give thought to what they wear (myself included), but lately I’ve been thinking about whether the continuously changing nature of our wardrobes is causing an erosion in the creation of unique and personal sartorial identities. Fashion can be an incredible way to convey a message but, my (probably overly invasive) habit of people-watching has got me questioning whether our desire to create an impression comes at the expense of expression.

When the February sun made an unexpected appearance late last month, I bottled my uneasy awareness of the fact that this probably didn’t mean great things for the climate, in order to help satisfy my curiosity into how people on the streets of Bristol connect with the clothes they sport. In an era where clothes may be representative of culture and status, just as much as individual taste, maybe personal style is less about what you wear and more about how you wear it. Is the durable confidence one exudes, and the ideology that may lay behind it, a statement that trumps the fleeting nature of a day’s look?

Safe to say, I met an incredible bunch of people who uplifted me from my somewhat cynical, albeit dramatic, worries and for that I thank them. Here’s what they had to say:

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Jade Ayino


I’ve lived in Bristol for about 5 months, and today I’ve been exploring. I just want to walk and look and blink and properly take Bristol in. I’ve just been charity shopping and I’ve bought myself a really old version of the Bible. I’ve always been told what stories are in it and, considering it’s something that a large portion of the world believes in, I want to get to know them for myself.

Is your look accidental or intentional?

Definitely accidental. For the last two weeks I’ve been constantly on the go. I was an artist featured in The Female Condition exhibition and it’s been so much fun, but it’s been so hectic, so today I’ve decided to stop for a second. My favourite part of what I’m wearing is probably this top, which was my grandad’s and it says, ‘smile everyday’ in Hebrew. I kind of love that you don’t actually know what that means.

How would you describe your personal style?

It’s me. I wouldn’t want to dress like anyone else and I would want other people to dress like who they feel they are. I honestly dress how I feel. If I’m wearing all black, I probably don’t feel very good, if I’m wearing a black dress, I’m probably feeling somewhat sexy and today, I’m not sure how I feel; I guess I’m feeling a little bit mismatched but I feel good, I feel really good.

I’m a ‘less-is-more’ kind of girl; I’d rather have a couple striking colours on a darker colour. I don’t really like having loads of things on my body. I’ve never really had any money, I’ve never been able to afford a forty-pound pair of shoes, so I’ve developed my style by having to be resourceful while trying to look nice, feel good, but also keeping it affordable.

Do you see a difference between fashion and style?

Definitely. Fashion is fast trends, that whole Vogue thing, those Fila trainers. Style is what you wear and what you put together to make a look into whatever it is.


What’s your view on sustainable fashion?

Everything I have is either from charity shops, car boot sales or is my grandparents’. I don’t fit into anything from H&M or Topshop; their clothes are tailored to one size. I feel like when I go to a charity shop, or a car boot sale, or my grandparents’ wardrobe I can tailor and express how I feel through these random clothes, which may even look kind of ugly on their own, but when you put them together they’re actually really nice.


What song does your outfit embody?

I’m Every Woman by Chaka Khan. I was thinking about the lyrics the other day actually – ‘I’m every woman, it’s all in me’ –  when you actually break that down, you look around at other ladies and it’s like: yeah I am you, we are the same, we are all just our own versions. I would love to have a palace of goddesses, loads of incredible and different women all in one place.

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Amy Cooper (L)


Megan Cooper (R)


We’re twins. We came to Bristol after growing up in a tiny village in the Midlands. The fashion there was really rubbish, very conservative. I think at the start of university we reinvented ourselves and decided that from then on we were going be this person.


Are your looks accidental or intentional?

Megan: Intentional. Definitely. We always think about what we’re going to wear and we do it to send a certain message, I suppose, about ourselves.


How would you describe your personal styles?

M: Maybe a bit aggressive, but different, we always try to be different. We’re both pretty big feminists, we both have our legs out today sort of thing and we do it on purpose and that goes for our hair too. We do want people to know certain things about us. I like the skinhead look – just appearance, not ideology – so I try to make sure that I always have the Doc Martins out, or the hair, or polo shirt or something.

Amy: I model myself after American, West Coast, 90’s kind of looks. I don’t wear dark colours, it has to be pastel or something bright. I see fashion as a means of self-expression. I don’t understand when people don’t dress crazy because when you pass by people on the street the only way they’re going to get an insight into who you are is by the way you look.


Does Bristol inspire what you wear?

M: I definitely see people and think that they look like someone I want to be. I like looking out for people who have obviously taken a risk, I don’t know, maybe someone who’s intentionally wearing something conventionally ‘ugly’.

A: I love looking out for people who are wearing the opposite of the current trends. High waisted jeans are currently in fashion, so I look for people who are wearing low-waisted jeans.


What are your views on sustainable fashion?

A: I’m all about that; I’m a fashion student so that’s my thing! Everything we wear is from charity or thrift shops, or second hand.

M: In charity shops it can sometimes be quite hard to find exciting individual pieces, but we incorporate them into outfits and customise them to make them our own.


What songs do your outfits embody?

M: Angry girl music, a feminist anthem; anything that sends a message.

A: Aqua or Britney spears or some tacky noughties pop.


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I’ve recently come out as transgender, so figuring out style is both difficult and liberating. When I was younger, if I wore pink I would be called ‘gay’, which was seen as a bad thing, so now I’m reclaiming all that pink time that I missed out on.

Is your look accidental or intentional?

Both. I’ve chosen what I’m wearing but only out of my clothes that are already clean, everything else is in the washing basket. I do really like this jumper though; I bought it from Topman, although I don’t normally buy things from there because I don’t like wearing stuff that has ‘man’ written on it.


How would you describe your personal style?

I love pastel colours and I like leopard print, so I tend to just buy clothes based on those two things. I wore only black for ten years and now I’m just figuring out colours and how to express femininity, whilst also being comfortable. It’s just a matter of balancing these things out.

You want to express yourself, but you also want to show a connection to whatever culture you feel a part of, so I guess it’s a mixing of those two things. You want to feel individual, but also feel as though you fit in. Humans are social creatures and how they express themselves is how they fit into a society.


What’s your view on sustainable fashion?

I used to shop almost exclusively from charity shops, apart from jeans because finding the right pair of jeans is really hard. Now I’m more about finding a balance, more about buying less stuff. Normally, what happens is that I’ll go to about ten charity shops, not find what I want and then I would feel like I’ve earned the right to go to a shop and buy it brand new. I feel like you need to have quite a specific style, or quite a broad scope, to be able to only shop at charity shops.

I’ll usually wear something until it completely wears out. If I had to buy a cheap pair of shoes and they fall apart really quickly, or if the sole wears through, I think of that as really wasteful, so I think about it in those kind of terms.


Any fashion rules you swear by?

I’m constantly conflicted between what I want to wear and then what’s actually comfortable, but I tend to think mainly about shapes and colours. So, I think about what a silhouette looks like and then whether it all fits into the same colour scheme. Those are the rules I like to think about.


What song does your outfit embody?

I used to listen to loads of punk and now I just listen to Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and stuff in between, so I guess I’m a bit confused as to how my music relates to how I dress. Although I listen to Iggy Pop loads and he usually wears almost nothing so maybe that’s why I’m so confused.



I used to be homeless, I literally lived out of a bag. So that has filtered into how I order my stuff now; any clothes go in any draw. I just pick an outfit out of the one draw; I’m not taking any time on it, it’s all coming out of one.

Is your look accidental or intentional?

Pretty much accidental. My friend just gave me this T-shirt yesterday so I thought I would wear it; I love it because it’s from her independent shop!


How would you describe your personal style?

Predominantly gender neutral and comfortable. I don’t really have any rules; I wear whatever I feel. Bristol definitely inspires my style, it’s full of people and creativity. So many people I know would say that you could wear something in Bristol, but you wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing it anywhere else. Anything goes here; you see men in dresses all the time and that’s cool.


Is there anyone or anything that has significantly influenced your style?

I think my family, mainly. They’re all traditional, old-school hippies. So, everything they do aligns with principles of reducing and reusing – they don’t have bank accounts or IDs or anything. They properly take it back to the basics and I try to channel that sentiment into what I wear.


What’s your view on sustainable fashion?

I’m doing a masters in sustainable development; trying to reduce our waste, reusing and recycling – and that idea is behind everything I do, and that relates to anything I wear too. This shirt was my dad’s and I’ve got it now. Just try to reuse things and swap between friends, try to buy as little as possible. Also, when you swap clothes with friends there’s always going to be a memory or sentimental value behind the clothes you get that you’re not going to find with store-bought clothes.


What song does your outfit embody?

Whatever’s playing.



Photographs by Mia Jaccarini and India Matthews.