Fresh Out of the Bronx

by The Cowl Editor on April 11, 2019


A rack of fashionable shoes
Photo courtesy of

by Jessica Polanco ’20

Fashion is life, even when you are stuck in an elevator with a stranger. The fit must be trendy and outrageous even if the person next to you is wearing something basic. From head to toe it needs to be fire, nothing influenced by the President of the United States because, let’s be honest, his style is wack. “Style is a combination of your personality and who you are. If your outfit isn’t complimenting you, then what are you doing?” 

Marienny says her ideal outfit is driven by her mood. She definitely knows that if someone comes to save her and that stranger from the elevator someday, she has to be wearing something comfortable. Maybe something from Kim Kardashian’s comfy wardrobe or straight out of Kanye West’s fashion line.

When she welcomed me into her room, I noticed the all-white FILA Disruptor Two’s that carried her. Complimented by an over-sized navy hoodie, gray striped leggings, and, of course, the hoop earrings. Hoop earrings and over-sized hoodies are part of the starter pack if you’re trying to fit in in the Bronx. The Bronx city influences her personal style, and she also believes that it has impacted the wardrobe of many teenagers of color across the world. Although she is a Bronx native, she currently resides in Fairfield, Connecticut where fashion isn’t taken too seriously. She confesses she’s been bullied into thinking her style was ugly because one day she showed up to her high school rocking the same FILA sneakers she is wearing right now, and her friends did not approve. Given that none of her friends, or the preppy white students from her school know anything about wardrobe styling, she saw this as an opportunity to set a trend. About three weeks after she made her mark with her sneakers, she was walking down the school’s hallway and couldn’t help but notice FILAs everywhere she turned. She grew bored of them because looking like everyone around her was a big NO in her fashion world; however, her next trend was still complimented by some sneakers because if she had to live with just one style of shoe for the rest of her life, it would be sneakers. “A girl gotta be comfortable,” she jokes while her tiny, innocent eyes squint.

Representing the shade of most lilac flowers, her walls painted light purple made her vision board pop above her twin bed. I couldn’t help but notice cut outs of the top fashion school in New York and a couple from California. In the mix are pictures of heels, fur coats, shades, brand logos, and a couple of quotes from famous designers, especially the infamous “la vie est belle.” The color compliments who she is, she claims her mother chose the purple but she then confesses that she loves it.

Besides the Bronx, Erica, her mom, has had a huge impact on her wardrobe. They grew up in the Bronx, but obviously Erica has been around longer which gives her permission to pass down some ancient fashion tips. Including the head-high-and-legs-crossed classiness that they both carry. At the dinner table, I couldn’t help but notice that they both held their pinkies up and wiped their mouth after every bite. Meanwhile, Marienny shares that after her, Erica is the only one who knows how to dress at the house. She cringed when I asked what she thinks of her roommate’s styles.

“Today I woke up feeling shitty,” Marienny says. “That’s why I threw on this big hoodie and sneakers. My outfit doesn’t just reflect who I am but it also shows the world how I’m feeling that day. Don’t get me wrong though, you always gotta spice it up. That’s when you throw on the hoops.” She wraps up her statement with a wink, a huge smile and a shrug. Expression is key, and it allows Marienny into people’s worlds.

She is always interested in your personality; good humor goes a long, long way. But if your shoes throw off your fit, she is going to question you. Like, who is this person and why am I associating myself with them? If your outfit is off, then chances are so are you. These are things she’ll think to herself, but her big heart will never allow her to say them out loud. “You are buggin’. I would never hurt anyone’s feelings. I believe everyone has their own style. Some more than others and definitely different from mine.” And it’s true. I have been waiting for her to comment on my wack outfit. I had on some light jeans, a big white tee, and orange slip-ons. But to her, a person always has the opportunity to make a great outfit for any occasion. That is when she complimented my shoes, saying she loved how they made a statement which complimented my outfit. Statements are a big deal and that is what it’s like dressing up for Marienny. Although her moods direct how she will dress that day, looking good will determine how she will carry out her day. “Look good, feel good.” And if she doesn’t, it will break her day, and she will be in a crabby mood.

Listening to J. Cole and eating vanilla wafers with her pinky up, she mentions that the world wouldn’t have color without fashion. “It is a type of art, and in this world, everyone seems to be an artist because we all have to dress ourselves every morning to face the world. If we all walked in our birthday suits, we would have no influence on who we are and, most importantly, it’d be impossible to carry on other people’s styles that have inspired us. Fashion is everything. Each walking person is a statement and a walking piece of art. I am glad I have the opportunity to carry out who I am in a way the whole world can see.” Her eyes begin to water. “Fashion is life.”