College is a time of growth – including expanding closets and discovering style


If you never had the chance to see a small twelve-year-old walking the halls of Old Main two years ago looking as basic as they come, consider yourself lucky. And no, it was not your little sister, it was just me – a traditional college-aged student who happens to look a lot younger than I really am. But college is all about evolution, and it makes me both smile and groan while reflecting back at how much I have changed in just a few short years.

“Why did I ever wear that?!”  This has become a common phrase heard among my fellow fashion students.

As a freshman, my shy and simple fashion sense kept me safe, which at the time I didn’t mind because it was long before I was able to identify who I was and wanted to become. My 8 a.m. class made my lifestyle a lot harder to look lovely, as I rolled out of bed to quickly find a pair of leggings, a sweatshirt, and UGGs to throw on, in the hopes of showing up to class on time.

That’s me on the right as a college freshman.


As we’ve learned as fashion students, it is important to express yourself as you see fit, regardless of others’ opinions. As everyone has their own style, I’ve learned to be more accepting of others, in the hopes that it will be reciprocated. After taking our Personal Styling Analysis course freshman year, I was able to work with my qualities, even if that meant working around the things I didn’t like, such as my round baby face. I found it intriguing to learn how the simplest tools can hide or accentuate our appearances. As I realized what I liked and disliked about my body, I was then able to properly accept myself and my style to the fullest.

As the years have quickly come and gone, I have slowly gotten more and more comfortable to wear statement pieces that may have seemed intimidating to the younger me. Finding clothing that fits me just right is something I put work into so I can highlight my body type correctly.

Becoming a little more daring with my fashion choices.

During my sophomore year at Mercyhurst, I had learned to multi-task wearing clothes that hugged me the way I wanted, while also adding something unique to my outfit every so often. As many of our styles’ range, mine goes along with my personality, which can leap from corky, to simple, to comfy, to bold, depending on the day (and the weather).

I am most excited for this school year (my junior year), and to climb out of my comfort zone more and more with style choices that I feel not only good about, but good in. Our beautiful school teaches us many things each year, but my favorite lesson is to not be afraid, but instead be confident. There will always be people who dislike you, who judge you, but if you’re truly lucky, many will accept you. There is no better feeling than loving what you’re in, but also once in a while hearing “I love your shoes!”

Summer before junior year. Bye bye boring black bathing suit…hello funky stripes!

I am so unbelievably happy with my current style and am excited to see what comes next! I have been truly blessed with all of the love that roams third floor Old Main, because without it, I’d still be that shy preteen-looking girl who never learned how to explore and bring out my truest potential. I can’t wait to see and be a part of all of the love that is expressed in the Mercyhurst Fashion Program during this fall semester!

Isabella Stephan, '19

Struggling college student who happens to be a lover of travel, cozy sweaters, and all things dogs. I can recite all ten seasons of Friends, and if I had a choice, I’d never leave my bed.