MA's Notoriously Bold Style Icon
September 28, 2017
Three days before my interview with Francesca Wadsworth, Marin Academy’s notoriously bold fashionista, she texted me: “You know how Amy Winehouse’s documentary is called AMY? Call [your article] FRAN…that’s the level I’m at right now.” Although Winehouse and Wadsworth are both infamous for their bold eyeliner choices, Winehouse is no match for Wadsworth: the style icon of MA who undeniably stands out in any crowd she is a part of.
It doesn’t matter who Wadsworth is around; she always remains loyal to her identity and self-expression disclosed in her outer appearance. Her parents have undoubtedly had an impact on her style: “My mom, dad, and stepdad are all super passionate about music. I grew up listening to all different kinds like Wu-Tang, Ludacris, Sublime, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Black Flag, and Radiohead,” she exclaims.
From being exposed to a wide variety of old music at a young age, Wadsworth grew up fascinated with styles of past generations. She idolizes fashion inspired by the elegant Great Gatsby looks of the 20s, hippies of the 60s and 70s, glam and disco of the 80s, and the grunge and punk of the 90s. Wadsworth believes that “it would be fascinating to visit other generations;” however, she wouldn’t want to be born in any other decade.
“This generation is a melting pot of all different types of styles and aesthetics. Today you can be all the things you want to be without being confined to one singular style,” she explains.
The freedom and flexibility to dress however she chooses is something Wadsworth values in her life. Typically this type of universal “freedom without judgment” attitude is designated to one day: Halloween. For Wadsworth every day is like Halloween: “I love that everyone for one day experiences the same kind of preparation for their look as I do on a daily basis.”
Wadsworth curates her outfits with prestige and a furrowed brow; she is constantly mix-matching different articles together to create a masterpiece. Putting on clothes is more than a physical statement to Wadsworth; it is a therapeutic and cathartic way to deal with her emotions. “My emotions tend to translate into how I dress. I get easily frustrated, which is represented more by my punk outfits,” she explains. These include her heavy set of silver chains paired with geometric eyeliner. “When I feel happy, I like wearing vibrant colors that can pop any outfit,” she says. “My best outfits come from those that I don’t plan out the night before. [They’re better] when I pick them in the moment,” she confesses.
Wadsworth’s bedroom contains a multitude of miscellaneous, but significant items which reveal her love of old music and fashion. Entering Wadsworth’s bedroom is like walking into a sanctuary of the past. Band stickers from the 60s, Tibetan prayer flags, and artistic posters line the white walls of her room. My eyes are immediately drawn to the red and blue lava lamps which sit on a recycled 1940s television used as a coffee table. She “conveniently found the TV on the street one day and decided to bring it home.” This would shock me––if it was anyone other than Wadsworth, that is.
When Francesca Wadsworth wants something, she goes after it. It is her watchful eye for transforming the norm into something unique and her instinct to look beyond the surface that separates Wadsworth from the pack. A Betty Boop mug sits on the TV along with a teal vintage record player that blares the 80s punk band Black Flag accompanied by a mannequin bust collaged in various cartoons. To the right of this scene, Piccolo, Wadsworth’s leopard gecko lays in his cage, either completely overwhelmed and partially deaf or captivated by the roar of Wadsworth who knows Black Flag’s lyrics by heart. Wadsworth enthusiastically sways side to side to the beat of the bass drums. There is no doubt that she loves letting loose and dancing without any fears. Even if Francesca Wadsworth is truly afraid of something, she’s not one to show it.
“We were at a conservative country club in Maine, and Fran would walk around wearing these crazy outfits which seemed like some type of rebellion,” Francesca’s mother Jan explains. Despite what her mother says, Wadsworth doesn’t limit the strong innate tendency to express herself.
Wadsworth has been skipping to the beat of her own drum since she was a baby when she didn’t shy away from dressing fiercely. “I always loved playing dress-up and trying on my mom’s clothes. Usually, parents dress their kids, but I always dressed myself,” she reveals. It is easy for me to imagine a young Wadsworth with bedazzled diapers and a gothic binky. Her mother Jan explains, “When Francesca was four, she came home one day and took a pair of my pajamas and twisted them around into like twelve different styled dresses…it was crazy!”
It is no surprise that Wadsworth’s unique sense of style and love of fashion is in her DNA. Her great-grandfather was a self-made tailor from Italy who came to America and opened a clothing factory in New Jersey. He eventually made the first ready-to-wear clothes for women during World War II. A woman’s closet has come a long way from the 40s, and Wadsworth’s collection of clothes reveals this contrast.
Vibrant reds, greens, oranges, and blacks first catch my eye as Wadsworth swings open the giant checkered door guarding her closet. There are clothes piled on top of shoes piled on top of bags. A beautiful mess to have, one might say. After digging through the closet, a neon blue furry top catches my eye. It is unlike anything I’d seen before. If the top itself is not a complete shocker, its previous owner was Wadsworth’s father.
She throws on the top and tells me that her father, a music fanatic, used to go to Burning Man every year where similar clothes were not only accepted but common. It is the passing down from generations and vintage quality that Wadsworth values so much in her style. She tells me that if her house was burning down, “the one thing I would save is my wardrobe because it is irreplaceable just like the memories that each piece holds.”
Wadsworth doesn’t allow people’s judgments to get in the way of doing what makes her life happy, fulfilling, and worth living.
Francesca Wadsworth lives her life by dressing for herself.
She reveals, “the best moments are when I look at myself in the mirror and go, ‘that’s who I want to be. I want to be that girl.’”