Ms. Behaved Style Icon – Lydia Brambila

Lydia, standing, with her friend in fashion, Dena.

Lydia, standing, with her friend in fashion, Dena.

Name: Lydia Brambila

Age: 20

Location: Athens, GA

What you “do” in your own words:

I go to school, play in bands, work at a library, raise a cat, and sleep like the dead.

What is your style philosophy in a nutshell?

I like for my everyday wear to both be super comfy and also make me feel awesome, and crop tops, booty shorts, and sheer, flouncy layers fit perfectly in the center that venn diagram. Skimpy is comfy. And since I don’t have a lot of time, money, or patience, I tend to cut up the cheap shit I buy from thrift stores into something that fits me how I like, which, usually means cutting it pretty short.

Now, since I bike to class and then often have to go straight into work, this leaves me with the dilemma of biking to campus in as reasonably weather-appropriate a skimpy outfit as possible while still having to show up looking somewhat business casual to my job. The solution is something I like to call “business slutty,” which basically translates to “put a cardigan on it.” Maybe a pair of leggings. With the Power of Cardigan, I can go from library-civil desk fairy to half-dressed bike troll in a matter of seconds. Magical!

Where do you like to shop for clothes?

skirted realness.

Skirted realness.

My favorite method is to go to eBay, search for the sartorial object of my desire, and sort results by Price + Shipping: Lowest First. This is how you can score a pair of leggings for about, oh, $0.01 (including shipping), and get the entire rest of your outfit for a price roughly equivalent to a handful of Cheerios. These cheap, easily torn, easily replaceable, and often very, very cute items are usually mass-produced in China and take forever to arrive, which means that by the time they arrive, you’ve forgotten that you even bought them, so when they do, it’s like, Christmas. Sponsored by: YOURSELF. THANK YOU, SELF/YOU’RE WELCOME.

I’m also really blessed to have gracious, stylish friends who host clothes swaps and “swisher” parties where everyone trades the stuff they don’t want, and it’s a great way to cycle out my wardrobe for free. I highly recommend hosting one and inviting all the friends towards whom you bear your worst closet envy. Getting to dig through clothes around my closest friends and developing the ability to feel comfortable trying on clothes in front of other people is one of the most helpful experiences I’ve ever had in learning to feel comfortable in my own skin. Trust me, it rules.

Who are your personal style icons and influences?

I grew up idolizing Selena Quintanilla, because, you know, she’s the fucking bomb, duh. No-nonsense bustiers, fierce eyebrows, red lipstick, and the voice of a siren? Cut to Baby Lydia living in Compton, CA circa 1997, prancing around our trailer park with a shirt tied at the waist and shorts rolled up way, way high and singing “El Chico Del Apartamento 512,” then getting scolded for looking too chola.

Some background: I spent a lot of my childhood helping my parents, two very loving and relatively conservative Mexican immigrants, helping slut-shame chola fashion. They did this with the intention of helping me establish myself as a “formal, dignified” member of society, something I can understand and ultimately appreciate, though it meant learning to internalize a lot of confusing and unhelpful hatred against my body, my ethnicity, my class status, and eventually, my hefty booty.

photo by Stacey-Marie.

photo by Stacey-Marie.

No more, I say. No more. Chola fashion (and identity!) is at the crux of some really important intersectional feminist discourse, and I think that if I ever want to become the fully-fledged, fully-integrated, well-rounded, independent, grown-ass woman I’ve always wanted to be, I’ve gotta get down with Baby Lydia’s early childhood ideals of how to look fly.

On a lighter note, I’m also ALL ABOUT Japanese street fashion trends that blend tuff lady fashion elements (a la Kathleen Hanna and Siouxsie Sioux) with some really cutesy touches. Examples of these are lolita, fairy kei, neo decora, and mahou kei (magical girl) styles, the stuff of dreams: pastels, rainbows, unicorns, candy-colored hair, glitter, and in the case of fairy kei, all of the above plus riot grrrl and Care Bears. The resulting legion of human unicorns wearing pink tulle and brass knuckles casually roaming the streets of Japan ROCKS MY WORLD.

Sweetheart necklines are for sweethearts.

Sweetheart necklines are for sweethearts.

If you could live in any era of fashion history when would it be?

THE FUTURE, which I envision as being a wonderland in which all people hover around in a glittery haze, basking in various stages of nudity accessorized by flower garlands and rainbows, relishing the absence of patriarchy. Because, you know, patriarchy was fully dethroned in the World Riot of 2014 with love, laughter, and bullets. Wurrrd

If a clothing line or design house approached you wanting you to develop a line with them, who would you want it to be? What kind of pieces would you want to create?/What do you think about the relationship between body image and fashion?

I wish I knew more about particular labels!? I kind of just tear stuff off the thrift store rack, and if it fits well or has cool fabric or detailing that could be cut into something that fits, I take it. No part of “MY FEMINIST LIBERATION” (OR WHATEVER) has been so significant as the amount of damage that I can inflict on boring, uncomfortable, or unflattering clothes with a pair of scissors and a ruler. I believe that everyone’s capable of doing their own thing and creating pieces that make them look and feel totally rad. Once you get past the fear of “ruining” a piece of clothing on the way to making it fit you, you’re on your way to doing away with the tyranny of unrealistic sizing ethics and to having your wardrobe be completely yours.

Eyes, lips, face.

Eyes, lips, face.

Some background: I spent most of my life feeling like I was too poor and too weird a shape to dress up at all, and so I spent a good deal of time trying to hide my body and disguise any hint of having put any effort into my outfit. “I’m ugly, and people will make fun of me if I act like I’m pretending I’m not ugly, right?” No. No, sweet little middle school Lydia, that’s not how it works. When I finally realized that I could start cutting up my clothes into whatever shape I liked, and that I didn’t even have to HEM that shit, I was hooked.

What are your current favorite clothing pieces, accessories and beauty products?

When I was in an Asheville vintage store a few months ago, I lucked out and found a marked-down black lace teddy from Victoria’s Secret. It’s got garter straps, corset boning, and a built-in underwire bra, and it’s the sexiest fucking thing I’ve ever seen. That very day, I wore it as a top with a skirt, cardigan, and over the knee stockings. I call it “lingerie chic.” I felt like goddamn Bette Davis in civvies.

I’m also proud to announce that after years of painful experimentation, I’ve tested, tweaked, and downsized my makeup routine to FIVE OMNIPOTENT, OMNIPRESENT ESSENTIALS: a cheap-ass drugstore selection of lip stain, mascara, blush, and liquid eyeliner, followed by some Dr. Jart’s BB Cream that I paid for in blood. Put them together, and I feel like a goddamn pin-up. Thus equipped, like a siren on the rocks, I proceed to lure unsuspecting misogynistic assholes to their deaths so as to harvest their blood for more Dr Jart’s. I think that, ideally, this is how femme should work. Like fatale, I mean.

What makes you feel sexy and confident, and what feels comfortable and relaxing to wear? 

Zero fucks given.

Zero fucks given.

Nothing makes me feel more sexy and confident than wearing the blood of my enemies. You can create a consistent all-over rouge out of one very natural shade for your cheeks, lips, and even your eyelids!

In all seriousness, Athens, a college town with a tiny radical element in an otherwise hyper-conservative shitpile, is particularly fraught with cat-callers and other creeps (“LOL YOU’RE A GIRLTHING, LET ME SCREAM AND HONK AT YOU, THAT’S COOL RIGHT, LOL”). Especially since summer’s coming, my preferred state of dress is as few steps as possible away from being naked, so at this point, my best wardrobe strategy is some serious bitch face with a dash of devil-may-care. And after sundown, I throw on an additional taser and some pepper spray to round out my outfit.

Any general style tips you wanna share?

Follow your heart, buy good scissors, and give as few fucks as possible.

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Comments

  1. shannonhumphreys says:

    I love her!,

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