Behind the Wardrobe // Yonna Kuipers

I created the “Behind the Wardrobe” series, because I believe that there’s a story behind someone’s wardrobe, that there’s more to tell about it than just “it looks pretty”. The first interview in the series is with Yonna, a 21-year-old Dutch student from Schiedam, The Netherlands. She’s in her second year of University College Roosevelt and studies Linguistics and History. And she loves cats. 

My question for you: do you think that there is story behind the wardrobe?

“Yeah! I do think so. I mean, clothes are often someone’s way to express themselves. With clothes, you can express a bit of your personality to the world, without having to say the words. So I do think that, when you look at someone’s wardrobe, you can find stories there.”

I often experience that people think that fashion is something superficial and that it’s just about looking pretty. Do you think fashion is something superficial?

“It can be. I do believe some people buy clothes because of the brand or because everyone is wearing them, but it doesn’t have to be. But maybe because fashion is perceived to be a “women’s thing”, it is perceived to be superficial. I don’t think a lot of men particularly are expected to have a great wardrobe. So I think fashion is perceived as something superficial, but I don’t think it actually is.”


With that said, can you explain to me what fashion means to you, as a person?

“That’s really difficult!”

The question of all questions…

“I’m really struggling, because fashion is this abstract concept of looking put-together, but it is also about trends and style and variations. To me, fashion means looking nice. I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about what fashion is exactly, but I think it’s important to look nice. For myself.”

And would you say fashion is important to you? And if so, how important?

“I do think fashion is important to me. I like to look nice for myself, to increase my self-image, but I don’t think it’s the most important thing. To look nice, I don’t think you have to spend hours and hours or tons of money.”

You said you want to look nice, but do you then dress with a particular thought in mind?

“Hmm… I mean, it has to be comfortable, but I don’t really have a particular style, like ‘street style’ or ‘casual chic’. I don’t shop or dress to fit into a certain style, but I do like to look for certain things when I dress. I like to look proportionate and slimming, but most of all, I want to be comfortable, because I have to wear my clothes the whole day.”

Do you think your outfits send a particular message to the world? Or do you want your outfits to send a particular message?

“I kind of want my outfits to say that I know what I’m doing. Not in a professional way, but in a ‘I know where the clothes go’ way. But most of all, I don’t really care what people think. I do, but not in the sense that I dress differently for them. I dress for me.”


That brings us to the actual wardrobe! Can you describe your wardrobe to me in 3 key-words?

“Casual. Stripes. I have a lot of stripes. And… minimalist.”

Do you select clothing items to fit in to those keywords? Do you keep them in mind when you shop?

“Casual is something that I keep in mind when I shop, because I don’t want to be restricted by my clothes all day. And I just really like stripes, so stripes are definitely a big thing. The rest of my wardrobe just kind of happens.”

I happen to know that you use the concept of the Capsule Wardrobe, can you tell me something about that?

“A capsule wardrobe is a narrowed-down wardrobe and it works seasonally. Every three months, you have a total of 30 to 39 pieces which are the clothes that you wear. So 15 are tops, 9 are bottoms and the rest are shoes, jackets and dresses. But it’s really a good way to save money and to wear clothes that you love and that you love the clothes that you wear. I started with the capsule wardrobe, because I had a lot of things in my closet that I would never wear and now I have found them again and I wear them again. You really actually wear the items that are in your closet and it’s also just a great way to save money, because you only buy clothes once every 3 months, which actually saved me a lot of money. I’m a frequent online shopper and that can get very dangerous.”

So you have items that you switch seasonally, but do you also have items that have a special meaning to you?

“I do, but I don’t wear them that much. I have a couple of dresses that I took out of my wardrobe, such as my graduation dress or the first dress that I bought with my own money. But I don’t really wear them as much, I just really like to have them.”

And you hold on to those items because there’s a story behind them?

“Yes! Exactly! I mean, even with a capsule wardrobe, you don’t throw away the items that you don’t wear. I keep those dresses in storage. I think it’s okay to have sentimental clothes, especially when there’s a story behind them.”


We already talked a bit about one’s wardrobe, but what about style? How would you define ‘style’?

“Style is a narrowed-down aspect of fashion. As in, fashion is the wearing, but style is a reflection of your personality and creativity. Most of the time, you see people and if you know their personality, you can really see how their clothes reflect their personality. That’s what style is to me.”

And how important is style to you?

“I think if you’re being honest with yourself, then you know that style is important. It’s such a personal thing – everyone has a different style, everyone. Even if you fit into the ‘casual chic’ box, you still have your own version of ‘casual chic’ and that’s what I love. Everyone can define your own style and say to the world ‘this is a reflection of me. Style is something that’s very important to me, but of course if you have a different definition of ‘style’, it might not be that important. Even for me, it’s not the most important thing.”

Since style is important to you, do you think that people should invest time and effort into finding their own style? Putting real thought into their wardrobe?

“I think it’s really nice to put effort and thought into it, but if you really don’t care, then don’t. If that’s your personality, then don’t do that –  wear whatever you want. Just wear what you like. But I do think it’s a nice way to do something for yourself.”




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