Bump: Jamie Ma '20, flair on

by Annie Farrell | 1/10/18 2:20am

Combining her love for fashion and social media, Jamie Ma ’20 created a project last fall with a stated mission to explore “the personal and individual styles of the Dartmouth community.” Her Instagram page @dartmouthflair has since attracted over 800 followers and counting.

Ma decided to model @dartmouthflair after a similar Instagram page that started at the boarding school she attended for high school. Ma works hard to ensure that her page represents a diversity of the styles Dartmouth students embrace. That being said, Ma encourages students to reach out to her through the account if they would like to be featured.

“This account is not about what I think is good fashion,” Ma said. “I encourage people to reach out … so that they can be featured because they like their look and they want to talk about it.”

Upon receiving a student request to be featured, Ma sends along a series of fashion-related and personal questions for the student to answer. These questions range from the simpler (“What is your name and major?”) to the more probing (“What does fashion mean to you?”). The answers collected are used to caption the pictures. Emily Morin ’20, the first student to be featured on @dartmouthflair, has a light-hearted approach to fashion. Morin’s outlook on fashion was included in the post’s caption: “To me fashion and clothes are an easy way to have fun and spice up my life. I think it’s a fun way to engage with other people and get to know someone when you like something they are wearing. It is a great way to break the ice!”

Ma’s next step is to meet with the student so that he or she can model a favorite outfit on camera. Ma snaps around 100 photos per session and picks the best three to post on the account. One of the three photos is a close up of the outfit, while the other two are usually action or posed shots.

During the fall term, Ma featured 12 students with uniquely different styles, including herself. Ma, who prefers to have students model outside for the natural light, is still figuring out how she will feature students and their outfits during this winter.

“That’s going to be difficult,” Ma said. “I will probably have to take photos indoors, especially in weather conditions like [these]. I think it is interesting to see how people decide to style themselves in this weather as well. Some people still very much dress up and some people don’t. Really, I just want people to be excited about what they have on.”

Ma is also contemplating expanding the page’s content to feature “flair” outfits in addition to everyday wear with flair. The handle “@dartmouthflair” already hints at the slang designation for outrageous outfits seen on campus, but including these outfits would explicitly recognize flair as an integral part of Dartmouth’s style profile. Ma recently conducted an Instagram poll asking whether flair outfits should be featured on the account, and she received a large number of votes in favor of the idea.

“Flair is such a big thing here,” Ma said. “I think that’s great. People don’t take themselves too seriously. They don’t care too much about whether or not they will be judged.”

Being that Dartmouth is a small school located in a rural area, it does not have as sizable of a fashion scene as schools which are located in big cities. For example, students at Columbia University collaborate on a fashion magazine to highlight vibrant New York City fashion. However, Ma appreciates the laid-back environment Dartmouth’s campus fosters and believes that this atmosphere positively influences students’ fashion choices. Dartmouth’s small community empowers students to try new looks without ridicule.

“There’s less pressure to be and dress a certain way,” Ma said. “I think that comes across in [one’s] style.”

In terms of her own style, Ma is very experimental. She attempts to imitate fun looks she sees on celebrities and finds on Instagram. Her go-to fashion items at the moment are sunglasses and statement earrings, but she likes to test new designs as much as she can. Despite her adept fashion sense, Ma still has difficulty coherently defining her style.

“I have this account where I have people talk about their style, and I have a really hard time talking about [my style],” Ma said. “I think it is because we don’t think about [style] a lot. I don’t think it’s necessary that everyone thinks about it, but it’s not something to be embarrassed about if you care about your style or think about style.”