Third year dance student Jessica Gray allows ORANGE writer Cinnamon Cornell to take a look inside her closet for another installment of Closet Confessional. Story by Cinnamon Cornell Photos by Andie Rogers
An array of neon-colored Nike tennis shoes, black rugged combat boots and the all-important black pumps that every girl should own make up the inside of this closet.
Oh, and a delicate pair of pink satin ballet shoes — pointe shoes, to be exact.
Farther inside Gray’s closet, years of old dance costumes are mixed in with vintage hand-me-downs from her mother’s closet. At first glance, one sees the crop tops, high waisted shorts and a lot of color.
With an appreciation for floral overalls and crop tops adorned with kittens, Gray says she chooses clothes that allow mobility. “As a dancer, I will put in my earphones and start dancing as I’m walking to class and not even realize it. And if I can’t move in my clothes comfortably and possibly dance in it, I won’t wear it,” she says.
Originally from Dallas, Gray was accepted into the Julliard School of Dance after auditioning, but chose to attend UT once she was accepted into the dance program. “New York was a little scary for me. Being eighteen years old I wasn’t ready to go to New York alone and face the world,” the student says.
As for style, Gray believes that people need to be confident in order to pull off a certain look. She says that pulling off a look is not just about the clothes, but the face, body language and personality. “I can’t just put on a shirt with kittens on it and walk around like a badass if I’m not confident in it,” Gray says.
When Gray first came to UT she joined a sorority to fit in and live the “college girl lifestyle.” She says that after a while, the long t-shirts, workout shoes and shorts were no longer her style. Gray stopped trying to fit in and began rocking everything she enjoyed wearing.
Emulating the style of Lizzy Caplan, best known for her role in Mean Girls as Janis Ian, Gray says she tries to be like the actress — an easygoing person who is always true to herself. Gray pictures herself as an edgy version of Caplan when she wears a T-shirt, jeans and combat boots.
When it comes to the assortment of costumes Gray has collected over the years, each one portrays a unique story. For example, there's a costume Gray wore her freshman year for a performance in Blue Moon. The red tulle underneath the calm blue and grey skirt symbolizes death — a theme employed throughout her dance number in the show. She says the colors associated with her different costumes help the audience understand the meaning of her movements, body language and inspiration.
Gray says she did not find her own style until she found out who she was as a person. Her advice to people searching for their own style is to first and foremost find yourself, feel beautiful in your own skin and commit to that identity.