Bwog sits down with the creator of the popular Instagram page, Barnard Fits.
The Instagram account @barnardfits is a curated combination of self-timer photoshoots, featuring pairings like leg warmers and miniskirts, and daring street style photography that features anything from corsets to maxi skirts. The student-run account showcases the unique ensembles of Barnard and Columbia students, with posts featuring street style and student submissions of their “fit pics.” Scrolling down the @barnardfits timeline provides the thrill of admiring students’ personal style without even stepping foot on campus.
Bwog sat down with the creator of the page, Mia Cucufate BC ’23, to talk about her account’s process and her perspective on student style at Barnard and Columbia.
Bwog: What inspired you to create this account?
Mia Cucufate: It was definitely freshman year, sometime in the fall. I think being on campus, I was always inspired by people’s outfits, and so I wanted a way to capture them and look back, and be like “this stood out to me today.” Growing up, I had to wear uniforms from kindergarten all the way to high school, and so I’ve never really had the opportunity to express myself in the way I dress. Coming on campus, and navigating how I can express myself is something new to me. I was definitely inspired by other people’s outfits and wanted to make a little account because I knew I’ve seen people on those Instagram accounts that are like Subway Creatures, or NYC trends, and stuff like that. So I wanted to do something, but local.
Bwog: How do you get submissions? Is it a team of people running it?
Mia Cucufate: In the beginning, the first few posts were people like my close girlfriends, because I was a freshman and obviously didn’t really know many people. I started off with my friends, and it kind of started to expand with people they knew. Sometimes my friends would send me pictures, or sometimes I’d run into someone and I asked them at the moment. It’s just me [running the account], but sometimes my friends will be like, “Oh, this person’s outfit is cool,” and they’ll send me a picture. I’ve been trying to branch out and do more of an NYC trends or NYC Looks direction where I’ll go up to people and ask [to take a photo of them]. However, it’s just a little hard for me to do that sometimes. Sometimes I’ll just ask for submissions, and I will take any submissions that people send me. I’m not gonna be like, “Oh, your outfit’s trash,” because style is different. You know, if that’s your style, that’s your style, and that’s cool. So I’ll either take submissions, or if I’m out and about, I’ll ask people, or my friends will send me pictures. It just depends.
Bwog: Did you say you started it in the fall of 2019?
Mia Cucufate: Yes. My freshman year, so yes, fall 2019.
Bwog: So your account probably took a really drastic change once the pandemic started, and you weren’t really able to go up to people and take their pictures. How did you change directions with the account when the pandemic started, and what did that look like?
Mia Cucufate: Honestly, the account was more dead than anything. But that’s when I really started to hone in on the “please send submissions.” I was begging for it, and so people would send me theirs. I think I did, like, “please send me your Zoom outfits,” but people just essentially sent me what they were wearing at home. It was the beginning of quarantine, and so it was all like cozier stuff. A lot of it was just submission-based because I was in LA, and there were no Barnard students in my immediate area.
Bwog: What kind of reception have you seen from the Barnard and Columbia community over the course of your account? When would you say that your account kind of started to gain a lot more name recognition?
Mia Cucufate: I want to say this year. This summer 2021, it was at 200 followers, and so it was not that much of a following. Now, I think I’m at 900-something [followers]. I think part of it has to do with Hoot [Columbia’s student-run fashion publication] because I am Hoot’s treasurer. We’re trying to revive Hoot and do more fashion-related stuff, and so people are making associations. There are a lot of other fits accounts that are popping up like Columbia Fits, USC Fits. Temple Fits. Temple Fits’ first post was, like, “I was inspired by Barnard Fits,” so I think it started to pick up this year just because people are actually on campus. Before, there was really no reason to because the account was pretty much dead.
Bwog: I am curious, just because you mentioned the account kind of gaining a wider recognition outside of the Barnard/Columbia community—have any prospective students interacted with the account that you know of?
Mia Cucufate: Yes. Actually, my sister applied to Barnard, and sometimes I go through the “Followers” [of the account]. I’ll follow people back, and I noticed it’ll be, like, Barnard ’26. Or, there was a girl that my sister followed, so clearly someone that’s younger. I asked my sister, and she was like, oh, yeah, she’s applying as well. It’s people who are applying to Barnard or getting accepted into Barnard already looking into different campus clubs or small niche communities that they can join.
Bwog: I feel like your account would be such a good idea of your average Barnard student. Like, “what I could be like if I went to Barnard?” I totally would have stalked an account like that if I was applying to college and an account like that existed.
Mia Cucufate: No, it makes sense. When I was a junior and senior [in high school], I remember watching as many “Barnard Day In The Life” videos just trying to understand—if I’m going to the school, what would it be like for me? Or if I’m applying to the school—is it worth it? Do I see myself there? So that makes sense, you know, people are going to try to see who goes there? Will I be able to make a friend? Will I fit in?
Bwog: Have you seen a change in your personal style since making this account?
Mia Cucufate: Most definitely. I feel like freshman year, I was definitely getting into secondhand clothing, but I really wasn’t there yet. I was really experimenting but definitely swayed by trends. Maybe not to the extreme where I was buying everything I could see, but I definitely wasn’t fully aware of my style yet. But through the course of the pandemic, and then being back on campus and having the opportunity to explore myself, I’ve definitely honed it in, and it’s much easier for me to go shopping and recognize that “it’s cute, but it’s not for me.”
Bwog: I have a couple of Speed Round questions. First, what are a couple of your favorite outfits that you’ve seen or posted?
Mia Cucufate: For sure, Barbara Y. They’re wearing a black dress, and I really like it. This is not my style, but I think it looks really good on them. And I just love the dress—my favorite outfit so far.
Bwog: What kind of fashion subcultures do you see a lot either in submissions or on campus?
Mia Cucufate: How do you describe this? There’s one I’ve joked around with my friends—Aritzia Army. It’s dressed up and polished, I feel like you’ll see the girl bosses in that. And then, I don’t wanna say y2k, because, I mean, there are people that are definitely y2k, but I want to say more like the thrifted furry coat, big boots type deal. Those are the ones I’ve noticed more often.
Bwog: [laughing] Sorry, I didn’t mean to cackle at Aritzia Army. It’s just so like “that girl.”
Mia Cucufate: Yeah, I have so many. There’s Aritzia Army, Polly Patrol [for Princess Polly]. It’s just that vibe, you know?
Bwog: Thoughts on micro-trends, and do you find yourself posting things with micro trends to stay current?
Mia Cucufate: I’ll post whatever anyone sends me. Personally, when I take pictures, or when I ask people, I’ll look for people with really distinct styles or something that maybe I wouldn’t wear but, you can just tell that the person is super confident in what they’re wearing. With micro-trends, I personally try not to give into them because, at this point, I’m wasting my money. And I know a week from now, I’m not gonna like it. I know for a lot of people, it’s just what’s easy, because maybe they haven’t fully explored their style, or maybe that micro-trend is just straight-up cute to them. It really just depends on the person.
I don’t think I’ve really showcased people in micro-trends. Like when I think of micro-trends, I think of the House of Sunny tank top dress or the House of Sunny sweater. I don’t think I’ve showcased anything like that. But I guess there are some outfits where it’ll have certain accessories that are kind of popular. Like right now, a lot of crochet and knitwork is really popular, but I wouldn’t say it’s a micro-trend because it’s winter and people are cold. It’s just a seasonal thing if anything.
Bwog: Yeah, no, I totally understand that. You know, sometimes the micro-trend just bangs, and you can’t deny it.
Mia Cucufate: It’s there for a reason. Yeah.
Bwog: Last question: Favorite fashion clothing item or accessory right now?
Mia Cucufate: Bell bottoms.
Bwog: I need to get a pair of bell bottoms.
Mia Cucufate: If you’re interested in bell bottoms, my suggestion is Seafarers or US men’s navy pants. Some of them are deadstock, so they’ll come with tags. My biggest suggestion when it comes to buying vintage clothing or clothes that are really old is to know your own measurements and ask for the measurements of the actual exact item. Because especially with bell-bottoms, they’re really tight on the hip, so if the waist measurement is right, usually the hip measurement is really small, and so you have to size up quite a bit.
Bwog: Thank you so much!
You can view more of Mia’s account, @barnardfits, on Instagram.
Header Design via Elizabeth Walker
Header Image via @barnardfits
@i looove more of this pls