Bold and unapologetically confident, Bijanca Clark ’17 comes across as a serious trendsetter. The term “serious” acts as a double entendre, considering that Clark’s other side reveals an intentional, thoughtful and resourceful approach to style. Both of these sides contribute to her personal aesthetic.
Before our interview even began, Clark admitted that she thinks people view her as intense and intimidating. She owns this reputation, and channels it into an unapologetically bold and glamorous personal style. Each of her looks is carefully selected and curated, down to the hair, makeup and jewelry. Nothing about her look is accidental.
Her housemate Juliette Myers ’17 complimented Clark’s hairstyle during the photoshoot for this profile and asked why she didn’t wear the look more often. Clark responded, “I do. It’s on the rotation,” referring to the variety of hairstyles she sports from week to week.
To understand Clark’s approach to fashion and personal aesthetic, it’s crucial to talk about her intentionality, unapologetic confidence and silliness in conjunction. These many facets of her personality add up to make her stand out around campus.
Clark’s silly side emerged when talking about her favorite trend: playful socks. She implored me to check out her fun socks, saying, “Look at these, first off, you’re going to die! It’s Pocahontas.” She warned us not to “hide them away in black boots,” because that’s what she was accidentally doing. While there were silly moments during our conversation, Clark takes pride in her appearance and her thoughtfulness is clear. This intentionality begins with outfit creation.
“At night I’ll think about what I’m going to wear in the morning. [For] everything I do and wear I think, ‘[What] is my intention?’ What am I doing the next day? What do I need to feel? Then I’ll brainstorm different outfits,” she explained.
A formative part of Clark’s approach to fashion was her economic situation when she was growing up. “We lived in a trailer park. I didn’t come from a lot of money at all, so for me, getting new clothes, like going to Forever 21 when my mom could afford it — it was everything. It meant something to me to feel pretty and to look pretty, because I didn’t have the opportunity to do that a lot, in terms of clothing. Having the clothes on my body is not what makes me feel this way, but it’s like an additive. They give me the chance to ‘do me’.”
Growing up, Clark was frequently complimented on “seemingly having new outfits all the time, but really I was just putting different combinations of outfits together. Like I would use a scarf as a belt. I only had a few things, but I did different things with them.” However, she admits that she used to wear a smokey-eye to school everyday during high school.
Her desire to be an individual extends to reinventing old outfits and keeping her wardrobe fresh. “I will not wear the same outfit twice if I can help it. I’ll switch up the jewelry or the hairstyle,” she said. “In high school, I was so petty. I would tell people that I didn’t have a prom dress, but I had one picked out. I’d show up [at prom], and I’d be like, ‘Oh, this old thing?’… [At Macalester, I realized,] Oh my god, no one has brands. I starting shopping at Everyday People, and I got some great stuff, but I realized that I was pressuring myself to look like everyone else. I was scared. I realized that it was better to be ‘Bijanca, period’ instead of ‘Bijanca, dot dot dot.’”
For Clark, clothes are a tool for confidence, but she doesn’t rely on them for her inner light to shine through. She claims it’s important to “look in the mirror and try to focus on having confidence shine through, instead of changing the outfit” when “you’re feeling bloated, or not that confident about your body.” She challenges herself to “see what happens and how people feel [her] energy. . . work on within, and it shows on the outside.”
Clark has decided to be unapologetically herself. She realizes that, as someone who stands out, “you get looks sometimes, but I don’t have time to care.” Clark has self-described “thick skin,” and she knows what she likes. For example, she exclaimed, “I love fur. It always has to be there. Faux fur. It absolutely has to.” She also loves textures like velvet, pleather and fur. At the moment, her ideal outfit is “dark eyebrows, nothing on the eyes, dark lips, high-waisted black jeans, half tucked-in shirt, coat draped on your elbows. It’s so bougie but chic. I love it.” Clark’s “looks” consist of more than clothing. She considers everything, down to the make-up. In fact, she was the first person in the history of this column to change their hair and makeup for each outfit during the photoshoot.
The following are Clark’s ground rules for pairing make-up to outfits. With a minimalist outfit, she sports eyeliner, dark lip and natural face make-up. Glamorous outfits call for the addition of eyeshadow. Expect her to only apply makeup to her brows, lashes and lips with a “really minimalist outfit.”
Clark hopes to move to New York City, where she plans to “class it up, quality rather than quantity. More expensive pieces.” She also wants to experiment with office wear, explaining that she hopes to hopes to push boundaries with office wear, veering away from the monochromatic and patternless styles.
Clark doesn’t seem ready to slow down anytime soon, and she’ll be standing out and pushing boundaries as far as possible wherever she goes.
“Everyone knows I’m ridiculous,” Clark said. “I don’t even have to say it out loud.”