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Fashion Influencer Emily Stephens is Your Dynamo BFF

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

If you’re into sustainable shopping, vintage fashion, or aesthetics that range from hippie-sunshine to disco-glam, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of Emily Stephens. Aside from being a crochet aficionado and an enthusiastic ABBA fan, Stephens is also an avid thrifter, upcycler, and content creator who got her start on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic when she turned her love for Mamma Mia! and all things retro into a lifestyle. 

Stephens’ Instagram profile, which is now approaching 150k followers, features a gallery of photographs, reels, and stylized videos that showcase her outfits, adventures, recommendations, and snippets from her life as a Nashville college student. Her content is motivational, fun, relatable, and totally groovy in the best way possible.

This summer, I had the opportunity to share with Stephens how her content inspired me as a college student. Not only did seeing her videos make me feel more affirmed when I wanted to wear my own go-go boots and homemade hair kerchiefs to school, but I was also in awe of how much “vintage” she was able to incorporate into her daily life. In turn, she and I realized just how much we had in common. While we bonded over our mutual admiration for Simplicity sewing patterns, rolled our eyes at the challenges of finding bell bottoms that work for our heights, and gushed at the cinematic beauty of our favorite vintage television advertisements. We also talked about Stephens’ style journey, and she shared with me how she found the confidence to express herself so genuinely — as well as a few tips about how she finds the pieces that make her style her own.


follow along so i can teach you how i did it🕺🏼🕺🏼🕺🏼

♬ head over heels – julian | hairingtonsaudio

“This is something I had to learn in my journey of dressing how I wanted regardless of what people thought,” Stephens shared with me. “The truth is, they’re not looking at you. Everyone is thinking about themselves, so most of the time they’re not concerned with what other people are wearing. Even if they are, that is a reflection of them if they have a negative approach to it.”

When I asked Stephens how her outfits were often received by others, she said, “Generally, very well! I don’t think I’ve ever had an experience in public that was negative. Also, I’m also very grateful to go to college and be surrounded by friends who all have their specific styles. That was part of my evolution. In high school and middle school everyone dressed the same, and I figured that to be cool and feel like I belonged, I had to also dress like them. Then, coming to college, I realized that everyone had their own style. I love how we’re all dressed differently because we’re all just expressing ourselves uniquely.”

It was a notion that I couldn’t agree with more, and she and I even talked about how college is such a unique transition because people are much more open to breaking outside of those conventions and trying new things when it comes to how they dress. 

“It’s so cool when your friends all have different aesthetics, and you go thrifting and say ‘Oh, this is so this person!’ and you can just spot it off the rack,” Stephens told me. “I’ve been trying to gear my series on finding your style toward anyone. None of my best friends have my style, and that’s the best part. If someone wants to dress like my style, that’s so cool! But I really want to encourage people to do what makes them feel more in touch with their own self.”

To say that Stephens’ own personal style is ’60s and ‘70s inspired would be no understatement for the girl who cites films like Almost Famous and bands like Fleetwood Mac and The Mamas and the Papas as being some of her favorites. She shared with me that some aesthetic elements from the time that she appreciates the most include ‘60s mod color blocking and the fun designs of lettering and fonts. She even hopes to design a house one day that incorporates elements of ‘70s architecture and wood interiors.

“I was always inspired by that art form; those decades just had so many things were happening for the first time: people coming out of wars, expressing themselves more — in society, in movies, in film. It was different then,” Stephens shared. 

“I love the commercials too. I have a friend named Sam — she’s really into video creation, really into retro aesthetics. When we collaborated and made videos like that together, the marketing was so different. So much more went into it, and today it’s completely changed because our society just keeps getting faster and faster and they want more and more efficiency. In the past, the devil was in the detail.”


outfit details on my insta 🌼🍂🍁🫶🏼✨

♬ there she goes – 🍁

As our conversation transitioned into experiences with thrifting and shopping sustainably, Stephens’ proposition that “the devil is in the detail” really seemed to hold true. As an experienced secondhand shopper and upcycler, Stephens is constantly in search of new statement pieces and ways to rethink clothing’s purpose.

“When I go into a thrift store, I’ll always check certain sections,” she shared. “First, I check the mannequins. No one ever thinks about that, but they’re styled too! Then I check the racks next to the dressing rooms. Everyone puts their discarded pieces there, and one girl’s trash really is another girl’s treasure. Plus, it’s already pulled and you don’t have to dig through.”

Stephens also revealed that when thrifting, it’s important to have an open mindset.

“You have to be a little bit creative — don’t be afraid to push yourself out of what you think you would usually be looking for. For example, capris can be cut into shorts. Scarves can be worn as belts. Big shirts can be minidresses. It takes time to build a wardrobe of your dreams, but it also takes a little bit of your own creative vision to take things and turn them into something more like you.”

And what exactly does it mean to turn something to be more like you? At the end of our conversation, Stephens left me with this honest, moving final piece of advice: “Society tells us that if we change everything about ourselves, we will be happy. But the truth is, we were made for a specific purpose, and when we lean into that purpose, we live our best life. The only way you are truly going to find your style, find your life, and find your people is to truly and authentically be yourself.”

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Emily Clemente is a staff writer at the Her Campus at Florida State University Chapter. She writes campus, culture, and lifestyle articles. Beyond Her Campus, Emily is also a writer for STRIKE and local music magazine The Tally Beat, and she has held staff positions for WALTER, Cellar Door Magazine, and The Carolina Quarterly. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have been featured in literary publications such as december, Star 82, and Jellyfish Review, among others. She currently studies Creative Writing at Florida State University with a concentration in fiction. You can find more of her work at https://emilyclemente.com/