Michael Khuth ’20 is a recognizable presence on campus. He’s a first year, so he hasn’t been around for long, but he’s already carved a place in the campus style conscience. I’ve noticed his pretty consistent aesthetic, which often consists of a cotton-candy pink baseball cap, jewelry, pastel and monochromatic shirts, cuffed black jeans and white or black shoes. Fascinated by his consistent and recognizable style, I approached him in the library and awkwardly asked to profile him. When we met, I began picking his brain, hoping to hear about a meticulously-crafted plan for his outfits and clothing picks. When I brought up his personal style, he responded that he had never noticed that, but that he thinks it’s pretty true. He added, “Now that you say that, I feel so unoriginal.” I was surprised to learn about his laid-back approach that emphasizes comfort, color, clothing exchange between friends and social media inspiration. I don’t know what I was expecting to hear, but Khuth surprised me.
The perfect example of his often accidental approach to choosing styles is the story of his pink cap. He recounted how “on the first day of orientation I got a haircut, and it was literally the worst haircut she could’ve given me.” After wondering how he could cover up the disaster, he realized that he had brought a pink hat with him, and he decided to try it out. After wearing it during orientation, he decided that he actually liked the look. He’s worn it pretty consistently since then. Surprisingly, he had never really worn hats before orientation.
Khuth looks at Tumblr and Instagram for fashion blog inspiration. However, these blogs are “good for getting inspiration, but kind of unrealistic.” By “unrealistic,” he means that “the average 18 year old cannot afford this.” Khuth relies more on thrifting to get the job done. He likes the challenge of thrifting, and the creativity it inspires, claiming that’s more fun “because it’s not set out for you. You have to look through all of the clothes.” When he shops, color and comfort are paramount in his decision-making process. In fact, according to Khuth, “I don’t look at size at all. The first thing I focus on is the color, and then how it feels. I like thicker shirts.” Khuth used to shop with his friends in high school for inspiration. He cites two of his female high school friends as some of his biggest stylistic muses, especially since he doesn’t believe in gendered clothing, and often ends up purchasing “women’s” pieces.
Khuth’s focus on fashion and community hasn’t ended at Macalester. He talked about how “everyone in [my] [friend] group trades clothes with one another so that we don’t run out. I leave my room unlocked, and so I come to my room and a jacket might be missing, but then I see one of my friends is wearing it.” Khuth also claimed that he’s often hesitant to take risks, but that he becomes more willing to take risks and to experiment when he sees his friends doing so. This mentality extends beyond his friend group, and he mused about how he often sees people around campus and thinks, “Dang, this is a look. Can I make something similar with something I have?” In the end, comfort is key for Khuth, which fits into his self-described outgoing, yet laid-back, personality. The emphasis on the other important factor, color, arises from his own artistic creations. Khuth is an artist, and he uses his experiences with color to coordinate outfits.
However, he isn’t someone who rocks graphic tees or bold colors. Khuth is drawn to pastels and monochromatic pieces. He talked about how he recently realized that while many Macalester students own bright statement shoes, he sticks to mostly white and black shoes, because “you can match them with a lot of stuff.” He also has an affinity for the black skinny jean, and New Balance sneakers. He has yet to purchase a pair, but he loves the style, and he’s a fan of the normcore look that often accompanies New Balance sneakers. Khuth doesn’t think he could pull of normcore, but he said he enjoys seeing the look around campus.
While Khuth adheres to a muted color palette, he finds other ways to make bold statements. Khuth explains, “My prized possession is a gold chain necklace that says ‘Michael’ on it. I wear it everyday, and it’s so helpful if people forget your name.” He isn’t exactly sure why he often wears gold, but he thinks it may arise from his Asian heritage. Necklaces aren’t the only piece of jewelry Khuth wears. He’s recently taken to wearing one earring, as well as bracelets and anklets. Khuth believes that “sometimes over accessorizing makes it much better,” by helping to elevate a nondescript outfit.
When discussing his friends, and the ways in which they impact his style, Khuth became most passionate and animated. He listed a couple of specific people who inspired him, including his Macalester friends MK and Courtney Mainville.
Overall, when Khuth discusses his current aesthetic, everything seemed recent and somewhat accidental. He would say things like “I started with pastels last year” or “I follow blogs, but it’s a casual thing.” However, whatever the input, the output is a recognizable and seemingly cultivated aesthetic that stands out on campus. It will be exciting where his style will go next.